Capturing Behind the Scenes | Photography Education


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In this photography business Q&A session, I share the answers to a few questions asked on Instagram. Hit play below or scroll down to read the post.

Hey friends! Here we go with another edition of Q & A. There are four questions. 

1. How do you create behind the scenes videos and photos from sessions? 

There are three things that you can do to get behind the scenes videos from sessions. 

The first and most obvious is to have another human take them. Whether that means you bring an assistant with you or you ask your clients to help, either way, is great.

You can literally hand your phone to the dad and say, “would you mind taking a video of what’s going to be going on here and make sure that I’m in it.” Easy peasy. No client is going to say no to that. They’re going to think it’s super fun. Half the time they’re taking their own behind the scenes stuff anyways.

And if you see them doing that, just ask them, “Hey, can you text that to me? I love behind the scenes footage.”

So what do I do when I’m recording a full behind the scenes session? I will bring a tripod and I will literally put my phone in it, hit record and record the whole thing. I’m moving the phone around. I’m going from room to room. I’m turning it in different directions. Yes. There’s a lot of stuff that I have to crop out and cut out because it’s weird.

I always ask my client ahead of time, “Is it okay if I record behind the scenes during the session, I’d love to show my students or show it on social media.” 99.9% of the time they say, absolutely.

Another thing that you can do, which I’ve done before. There is a hot shoe mount off of Amazon that fits your phone. It’s expandable for different size phones and it can go either direction.

You put your phone in the mount and hit record so that you’re recording the whole time while you’re shooting. You’re not getting any images of yourself, because obviously, you’re behind the camera, but you’re getting tons of action shots with your phone. It’s just on your camera, you hit record and let it go.

The last thing is this. If you just want little snippets and you don’t want the whole thing or a whole big production, literally keep your phone in your pocket. And every time you move the family into a new location, a new pose, a new set up, whatever. Just tell them you’re going to do a 15 second recording of the scene before.

You can piece those together for a reel or a video or whatever. It doesn’t have to be complicated, our iPhones are so capable of beautiful footage. Especially if you’re in a bright home or outdoors, the quality is fantastic, so don’t be afraid to use it. And behind the scenes is really fun.

Whether you’re asking about it because you want it for reels or to use it online it’s really fun. You’ve just got to get in the habit of it, just like anything else. It’s very easy to get to a session and totally forget that you had intended to take behind the scenes footage. What I personally do is set an alarm.

I set an alarm on my phone for five minutes after the session started to remind me that I want behind the scenes. Generally, we haven’t actually started the session yet. We’re still talking, we’re still walking, we’re still getting set up, unpacking gear, and whatnot. So I see the alarm go off and I’m like, oh yeah, behind the scenes footage.

2. What’s a good way to manage my editing time?

I have five tips for you here.

Number one, before anything else, you need to be really certain of your style. Specifically of your editing style steps, techniques, and what you want your final image to look like. I say that because in the beginning, when you’re first starting out in business, or as a professional photographer, I feel like editing is so hard and it takes everybody a hot minute to figure out what is them, right!

It’s easy to want to emulate everybody else’s editing style or to get easily distracted by new, pretty, and fun things. Especially if you’re still learning Lightroom or Photoshop or whatever you edit with. You can get so interested and distracted by all the cool tools and all the cool filters.

You’ve got to figure out what your jam is so that you know how to consistently recreate that around all of your images.

If you are constantly playing with different styles and techniques and presets and actions and all that. It’s going to take you forever. And every session is probably going to look different and that’s going to be super frustrating.

Second thing, you 100% need to be creating either presets in Lightroom or actions in Photoshop for your style. Whether you are creating something from scratch that is custom to you or using somebody else’s presets that you’ve purchased somewhere and then tweaking them to your liking.

You need to be using either presets or actions because the whole point behind them is to save you a ton of time. You need to just Google or YouTube how to create an action or a preset and do that. That is going to save you a ton of time. 

The number three tip for cutting down and managing your editing time is to be a firm culler. Over-delivering in your galleries and not culling enough is going to create more editing time.

They don’t need 25 images of one pose. They don’t need a family session gallery of 300 images. Be a firm culler and don’t look back, get those image numbers way down. 

That leads into number four. Don’t over-deliver too much. Yes. I want you to over-deliver because it’s always great to underpromise and over-deliver. You’ve probably heard that before, and that is true for sure.

If you promise family session clients approximately 70 images, you don’t need to go more than 100. And if you are, you are not culling down enough. Cull down so that you are over-delivering a little bit, but not a massive massive amount, because again, that’s just more editing time.

You have to be a solid culler.

I am ruthless you guys. I cull so fast and I literally do not look back. I will come home from a session. Maybe it was a newborn session and it was two hours and I shot 1100 images, which is bananas.

I will cull it down first pass to 200 or under  Then I cull it again, probably in half. I am ruthless and I want you to be that way too. This will save you so much editing time. 

The Number five tip for cutting down your editing time. When in doubt, outsource.

Outsource, it is worth every penny. If you do not love editing, don’t. Period. End of story. I edit the sneak peeks for every session, which is approximately 10 to 15 images from every session. Everything else gets outsourced. I pay approximately 50 cents an image. Maybe that sounds steep to you. It’s not when it saves me hours and hours and hours a week, it is worth every penny. So if you are really, really, really struggling after all of those other four. Then you need to look into outsourcing because it will free up your time, free up your mind. 

No, you’re not taking that cost out of your profit. You are building it into the cost of your sessions so that they cover it. It’s not eating into your profit but just know that outsourcing is a great, great option.

3. Mini Sessions: Other than good client preparation. Do you have tips for helping keep the time limits?

I think a lot of people see at-home mini sessions and they think, how is that different than a regular family session at home, right? Wouldn’t you naturally just shoot the same and end up being way underpaid. 

If you don’t manage your time, the answer’s, yes. 

There are two things that I do for at-home mini-sessions that have really helped with this. Number one, before I arrive I set two alarms on my phone. I set one alarm to give me a five minute warning. And then I set another alarm that is five minutes after telling me that we’ve gone over time.

When I arrive at a home mini session, I tell my client, “Hey, I have two alarms set on my phone. We are going to work fast and furious, but once the second one goes off time is for sure done and it’s time for me to go.” I’m laying that expectation out there and I’m setting the alarm on my phone.

The phone is going in my pocket and the volume is all the way up. When the first alarm goes off, if the family didn’t hear it, I will say, okay, our first alarm has gone off, we have five more minutes. 

What that means though, is I will actually shoot for 10 more minutes, but the session they’ve committed to only has five more left. That tells me to either do our final setup or one last thing. Or maybe if we’re in a really great place and we’ve already had a really successful session, we can start to wrap it up at that point.

The second thing for mini sessions at home and being successful, let’s just play devil’s advocate. Maybe the session was awesome. These are brand new clients. You’ve never met them before. And you are totally jiving with them. You were obsessed with their home. The light is great. The kids are being fantastic and you just don’t want it to end, like as a creative, you are just on fire.

In that situation, if time allows, meaning if you or they don’t have somewhere to be, pull the mom aside and say, “Hey, this is going so great, can I shoot like 10 or 15 minutes extra?” She’s not going to say no, but here’s the key in that situation, you have to firmly cull your images.

Just like what I said with editing, most of the time you have promised a certain amount of images. That is one of the keys to being successful with your mini-sessions is delivering what you’ve promised and not going way over. If you have only promised 15 images, you are not going to send them 75 fantastic images. You’re going to send them the images that matter, the 15, and then you’re going to maybe add 10 more and that’s it. 

If you find yourself with just so many more images, maybe you reach out to them and see if they want an upgrade, but don’t just do it for free because then you are losing money.

4. Google reviews. Yay. Nay. What’s the story there?

100%. Yes. Google controls the SEO, you have to make them happy. Google reviews are a huge piece of that puzzle. If you have not set up Google My Business yet, it’s totally free and very important. You can customize it with all of your business info, images, website etc. Your Google reviews will also live there and when you have Google My Business set up it meshes all together. This tells Google, this is an active business. This is a business that’s making efforts that people are engaging with. It makes Google happy, which makes your SEO happy.

One of the great things about Google My Business is that you also get a shareable link to your reviews. Whenever you are sending your galleries out in your workflow, you can include this in the gallery email, if you want.

I like to include it in an email that goes out four or five days later, it’s kind of a follow up. This way they don’t have to go searching the internet, trying to figure out how to write a Google review. In this email, you have asked for it and explained why it is important to do. They’re more likely to do it. 

For sure, Google reviews are very, very helpful in your SEO. The other thing that they are great for is it gives you something to use on your website or use in social media captions or in social media graphics. Once they’ve left your business that review you can share those words as marketing material anywhere. So it is a win-win situation for Google reviews. Absolutely do them.

If you are interested in getting on my weekly subscribers list I would love to have you! I send out a Monday morning newsletter called Lifestyle Lessons and it has 3-4 tips, tricks or pieces of information. Easy Peasy.

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