How to Keep Your Sessions Fresh | 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 three questions. 

1.  I am bored with all my sessions right now! We’re in busy season. We’re shooting a ton. So this artist is bored. What are some ideas to get me through the end of the year? 

I have three things I’m going to tell you.

First, I want you to reframe your thinking. This is not the time to be our most creative, artistic, visionary selves. This is the time that we are serving. We are doing many sessions and working overtime. It’s going to feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. You probably are getting some images that you’re excited about, but it’s not going to be every single session.

Secondly, especially if you’re shooting mini sessions, you need to be like a robot. Do the same three to five poses, games or prompts for every single session. It’s going to be boring, but remember you have reframed what this Fall busy season is. This is about getting them those holiday card photos. That’s okay. 

My third tip is you just need to muscle through. Have three to five games/prompts/poses in your back pocket that you’ll use with everyone and walk into every session thinking of it as I am here to serve my people. You’re going to have reframed that thought and you are going to do the same thing over and over again. 

2. Can you tell me about outsourcing editing?

I also got another question asking for tips about working through the details with edits when you do start outsourcing.

It’s a little tricky getting an editor to be on the same page as you, so I’m going to combine those things together. I use The Image Salon and have used them for four years. There is a process and it does take time. However, the longer you’re with your editor, the more perfect things are. For example, I got back a day of mini sessions last night. This was five different families (about 150 images) and I made zero changes. It took me about seven minutes to go through and make sure I adjusted some crops because I do the cropping. Then I exported and sent them all off.

It is worth it in the long run, but now is definitely not the time to be reaching out and starting that relationship. You want to do that in January, February or March when you have the time and the bandwidth to build that relationship.

I want you to know outsourcing your editing costs money and takes time, but you’re going to build both of those things into your process and into your business. Those costs get billed into what you charge your clients. That timeline of how long it takes them to edit gets built into your timeline. During my regular year (the eight months of the year that’s not busy season), my turnaround time for my clients is between two and three weeks. A lot of standard image salon turnaround is seven to 10 days. That allows me to have some time on the front and back end in case I cannot immediately dive into their images. But in busy season, my clients are hearing from me that it is a five week turnaround. I set my fall session schedule knowing that turnaround time. I am done shooting holiday images the first week in November because I have built in that timeline.

Speaking to the question about how I work out the kinks with an editor and get everything just right – there are two things. Number one, you need to create a preset or multiple presets so that they have a base to start from. Number two, I always edit at least 5 to 10 images from every session before I send it to them and they are highlighted a different color in Lightroom so that they can see that they have examples. I do this because I am 90% in home (that means everybody’s got different light and color casts). In the beginning you can also schedule a Zoom call with them and walk through it and share your screen and talk about stuff.

Do that as many times as it takes, they do not charge you for that. They want to get it right as much as you want them to get it right. 

3. What is the deal with AI culling? 

After Shoot is who I’m going to talk about because that’s who I’m using. I can’t speak to everybody, but After Shoot is a program where you pay an annual fee, you download it to your computer and you upload a gallery at a time. What it does is it culls. Yes, it’s magic. But here’s what I want you to know and where people are getting confused. It is not a human, it is a machine. After Shoot culls based on technical errors, duplicates and blurry/closed eyes – it does not cull based on the moment/vibe/feel. I just sent my session from this morning through After Shoot. I took 720 images and it dropped down to 300 in six minutes! 

You can set what levels of culling that you want and it also learns your preferences. After you’ve gone through about 10 sessions in the program, it learns what you consider closed eyes versus what it considers closed eyes. For example, if you are photographing a sleeping newborn, their eyes are closed, but you want those. Also, if you are photographing a lot of moms who are looking down at their children, it appears that the eyes are closed, but you want that. 

Here’s how it has changed my process and why I think it’s a game-changer. I am utilizing it to get rid of the garbage and to cut my images in half immediately. It is running while you’re doing other stuff. That was six minutes that I spent responding to emails and preparing for my Instagram live, not culling images.

I take the After Shoot cull and I import it into Photo Mechanic. That’s what I’ve always used for culling and I very quickly go through and I will cull it down to about a third. Those are going to be what I keep. Anything that makes it through the Photo Mechanic cull will not take me more than 10 minutes because I’m a very quick decider. 

I will import those into Lightroom, start choosing my sneak peaks, get those edited and then I will do one final pass and delete. For this gallery that started around 700, After Shoot culled down to 300, Photo Mechanic got it below 200 and then I’m going to import those into Lightroom and I would probably cut it in half. So, probably a hundred final images for this family. If you know that you just need help getting through the trash, After Shoot is wonderful. 

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