One of my favorite things about being a photographer is that there is never a shortage of things to learn more about and improve upon. As I mentioned the other day on Twitter, it can also be pretty overwhelming. After all, with so much stuff to learn, where do you get started?
While I enjoy Top Ten lists I don’t like that so much gets left out. So disclaimer: this list is really just my opinion. (I suppose most Top Ten lists are just opinion!). In any case, if you’re learning about another subject right now that you think other photographers would find useful then leave your suggestion in the comments!
I’m starting with a lay-up. You can always be learning more about photography! To put it another way, you should never stop learning about photography. Try to always be practicing new techniques, perfecting the fundamentals, experimenting with new ideas and taking risks!
Learning about learning? Huh? I think every photographer should be learning more about the best and most efficient way for them to learn. In this way they’ll be able to get the most of our their time spent learning.
I know that I learn best by reading, watching videos, and taking copious notes. That might seem similar to the way most people learn, but I’m pretty specific about things. I take notes on my computer because it syncs with my phone and iPad (and the internet) – so I can always update notes when think of something new. I tend to watch videos on my computer because they’re easy to pause and rewind (and my notes are on the computer as well).
And when it comes to reading, I usually take out a ton of books on a subject (libraries are handy). I don’t read a ton of books cover to cover; to be honest most books aren’t very good. I usually read the book jacket, table of contents, skim the index if it has one, head straight for the valuable content, take notes and then return the book. Occasionally I’ll read entire books that I think will be valuable, but not often.
Also, audio books are a great way to get through a lot of content quickly (great for listening to in the car).
The point is that photographers (everyone really) should be figuring out the best way for them to digest and retain new information.
3. Graphic Design
The internet is where business is happening right now. Given that so much interaction takes place over the internet it only makes sense that those businesses with the best online presentation and design will appear the most professional.
This is reason number one to learn more about graphic design. Even if you don’t do much graphic design yourself and hire people to design your online brand, you still need to know whether or not it looks good! If you’re willing to learn to do some of your own graphic design, it’s going to pay off for you big time.
Clients notice when you send them a piece of branded material (newsletter, price sheet, questionnaire) that looks amazing.
Besides designing your own marketing material, having a better understanding of graphic design is going to directly improve your photography, most strongly in terms of composition, but also when it comes to things like album design, notecard design, etc. We have made graphic design a priority for our business since day 1, and believe it has had a big role in our success thus far.
When was the last time you saw a video online? Either on YouTube, or Vimeo, or embedded as an advertisement? It’s probably almost every time you log on.
As some of you may know, most new DSLRs have the ability to shoot high definition video (720p-1080p). There are a handful of industry leaders working to promote this very accessible technology, but to be honest I’m surprised by how slow the majority of photographers are latching on to this.
Yes it’s different, and yes it takes work, and yes it’s something else to practice and learn more about – but it’s the future! We’re lucky to all be at relatively the same starting point. This technology is what we make of it.
All I can really say is start learning more about it, and practicing shooting it now in order to gain a significant competitive advantage. We’ve seen a large increase in demand just in our little corner of the market. It’s coming.
Time is money. This couldn’t be more true for professional photographers.
From my perspective there is a widespread problem I’m going to call ‘excessive outsourcing’. In order to save time photographers are hiring other people to sort and process images, design albums, print, and even handle customer service.
The problem with this is two fold:
1. Photographers aren’t learning how to do these things themselves, which means they aren’t learning the skills essential to their craft! These photographers may be successful in the short-term, but in the long term they’re going to lose business to other professional craftspeople who can do the job better (because they know how) and cheaper (because they don’t have to hire anyone).
2. Photographers who outsource may not be learning how to properly manage their time. They may be outsourcing because they don’t have the time for those tasks, which means their decision to outsource is based on time and not efficiency. Those might seem like similar things (time and efficiency) but take a closer look and you’ll see how easy it is to be inefficient even when you’re outsourcing the majority of your work. Work has a way of filling the exact amount of time you have.
How does this relate to workflow? Time is money. Don’t immediately jump to outsourcing if you don’t have enough time, first try figuring out ways to make your workflow more efficient.
Practice sorting and you’ll get faster. Reduce the amount of time you spend processing your images by getting better images out of camera. Batch your photos and then make minor adjustments. Design your own albums, and create your own templates. Spend some time creating great canned response e-mails and you’ll cut your e-mail time in half (and use Gmail!).
We recently purchased a printer so that we can handle some of our own printing and it’s already saved us time and money. Before you think to outsource think how you could do it faster yourself (check Google to see how other people are saving time doing the same task).
Now, this isn’t to say that outsourcing is always bad. We just think photographers should be very proficient at the tasks that are essential to their art (like editing, sorting, communicating with clients), before trusting it to someone else. By all means, outsource your legal and accounting!
Ready to learn the other 5 things? Click here to read the rest!
Even though this list isn’t finished, if you feel like leaving a suggestion for the Top Ten in this post go ahead!