A Workflow for Everything
When I first launched my photography business in 2005 I had a process for everything. Every process lived in a operations guide which detailed how to do basic stuff like file paperwork to more involved stuff like workflow for each photo assignment. Since I was not getting many assignments at all I was able to refine the process and run a tight ship.
Part of the operations guide was marketing. The marketing section detailed how I would market on each day of the business week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I would email prospective clients. Tuesday and Thursday's I'd follow up with a call. I would document the results so that the following week if I didn't hear back from the prospects I'd know what to do.
Two years later I was super busy with work which I credit to the marketing section of the operations guide. I loved the success that came my way but also because I got busy with assignments I stopped marketing and smoked a ton of weed at client parties. While fun that was a mistake and by the time the economy slowed down the clients I did have dried up. With no other active leads and with the shit economy I was forced to sell the studio, short sell my home in Phoenix and relocate to Miami.
For some time now, I've been moving back to the very basics of running my business. There's a deep level of pride I feel with crafting a beautiful deck to accompany an estimate or working with a bookkeeper to keep my books tight or building prospects in my local market. The obvious area of my business that sees immediate results from care and craft in my business is imaging. Photography, motion and other forms of media production are the core products of my business. To make the products their best, using the right tools are critical to the job. For years now I've been practicing getting my image right in camera. It's a practice I learned when shooting film and is one every photographer should strive for. Unless you're creating with the intention of heavy post work you want to get your image as right in camera as possible. Further, you also want to capture your audio or video as close to perfect as possible in your video or audio device. Being sloppy with these procedures is leaving the results up to chance which, if that's what you're selling, being sloppy instantly categorizes your product as low-end.
Being sloppy may be careless but do not confuse that with shooting loose. Shooting loose is part of a style. Think of shooting loose like loose fitting jeans whereas being sloppy is having old jeans you have not washed after working on your car. If you're shooting loose that just means you're not so concerned about angles or if the image is perfectly sharp. Those are simply aspects of a style and as such are elements to be controlled just like if one were to light a scene with a high key or low key light.
A part of me going back to basics is embracing Creative Cloud. In the 90's the tools I used most were from Adobe and Macromedia (which Adobe acquired). In school, these were the tools I used and I know them well. Even back then the toolkit of the apps was vast, far more than I'd ever use, but it should not be the objective for the artist to learn all the tools in the toolbox. Just know they're there in case you need them. Knowing the right tools in the toolbox that fit within your workflow are all you need.
I've experimented with tools like Affinity Photo and others all of which have some nice stuff going but none compare with the overall flexibility or quality I get with CC. What hurts the work is bouncing from one app ecosystem to another. Having finished some assignments with Capture One or another RAW editor just adds complications to my work. What's worse is even the larger companies like Apple have other priorities than supporting professionals and as we all seen with Aperture or the Mac Pro you don't know when Apple will abandon its professional user base. Macintosh or Windows 10 are both good so having a toolset that works well with both is important to running a smooth ship. What will get you into rough waters is wavering from your workflow and knowing that if Apple one day decides to discontinue the Mac (unlikely I hope) I might be on a Windows system in the future or I might be fully on iOS (more than likely). Thankfully, my Creative Cloud workflow will work just as good if not better on a Windows machine so any downtime will be minimized.
Just like getting hung up on what camera, lens or lighting tool is best, getting hung up on workflows will also disrupt your business. A solid workflow that can withstand change shows pride in one's craft and will help you navigate rough waters as you're able to focus on the important things which in the end are often the very basics of your business.
What workflows have you been using for years that you can't imagine living without? If that tool were to go away, what's your backup plan?