Benjamin Franklin once said “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”
And no truer words have been spoken, well apart from “its finger licking good!”….but lets not get on to the colonel and his tasty chicken fillets. :P
As photographers, most of us tend to have creative brains, which in my own experience, tend to work in the most annoying way imaginable. Logic and coherence is thrown out of the window for a machine gun of random, inconsistent, inspiration, an attention span of a 5 year old, and the tendency to daydream for 15 minutes a time in the middle of your current task. The best way to describe a creatives brain (taken from a meme I once saw on Facebook) is like an internet browser, with thirty tabs open all at the same time. Not very productive or time efficient, to say the least.
So over the last couple of years, I have been taking the time to add organization in to, not just my workflow, but my life in general. It is something you have to work at, trial and error, and eventually you will find the techniques that work best for you. Turn them into routine, and slowly but surely you will begin to become more efficient, and with the amount of time saved, more productive with your images…which at the core of everything is what we all want to do, create more mind blowing photos!
If you are one of those rare creatives that have both the creative brain and the logical brain, then damn you, damn you to hell I say!! Hopefully God blessed you with a small manhood to even out the balance hahaha…you may not need to read this post, but here are 6 ways I added structure and organization to my own workflow and routine.
Have you ever been sat on the bus, or at work, and like a tightly clenched fist to the face, an idea hits you! BAM!! This is the best idea you have had, ever! If Carlsberg did ideas, this would be the best idea in the world!! Smiling, you continue with your journey home, or current order at work. Later that day, you sit down, out comes the laptop, you are about to get planning that crazy new idea you had……but wait! What the hell was it. Like a mind ninja, you try to navigate the dark realms of your memory, but nothing!
This unfortunately was a true story, and it happened on many occasions. Eventually through necessity, I knew I had to get these ideas down the moment I had them. This is where Evernote comes in to play.
Evernote is a cross platform, freemium app designed for note taking, organizing, and archiving. The app allows users to create a “note” which can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notebooks can be added to a stack while notes can be sorted into a notebook, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched, and exported as part of a notebook. (Description from Wikipedia)
To make a long story short, it is pretty much a digital note pad, which you can have on you at all times…..all you have to do is create an account, you have the option of free or various paid upgraded accounts. Once you have your account, it will sync any notes you make to all your devices, which is very handy.
Every time I have an idea on the move, I pull out my phone, open up the app, quickly and easily type in my idea/note, and save. Boom! Its that easy, a digital library of photo ideas are always stored and at hand any time you need them. The interface is very simple and easy to use on both the phone and desktop device. Another good use for Evernote is to store passwords and private information like bank details etc, just be sure to enable the passcode lock so only you can open up the app.
2. Organize your folders
One of the best ways to be organized, and one of the most efficient ways to save time, is to make sure your computer device and folders are organized. How many times late at night have you been asked by a client for that one document, that seems to done a Houdini and magically vanished form your device. Frantically you search the desktop, aiming four lettered words at your innocent monitor (its not his fault you know), whilst the blood pressure in your head reaches level 11!
The folder system you create can be as complicated or as simple as you like, as long as you know you can get to any folder you want easy, and hassle free.
My folder system is to have one main folder on my desktop screen, that parents all the other photography related folders. For example I called mine simply files and folders (you can be more specific to make it easier). Once I open up this folder, I have all my child folders relating to my photography, such as Facebook upload folder which holds all the re sized images for Facebook. I have a stock folder which holds all the stock images that may be used in any new images, which when opened reveals more folders. Each folder is named after image subject, like Car stock folder, or tree stock folder, and so on.
Every time you save or screenshot an image for inspiration, add them to an inspiration folder, so next time you want to recall that awesome image you saved…you know where it is at, at the click of a button. Here is my inspiration folder, I am planing on being even more efficient and organizing the inspiration images into subject, like lighting, composition, colour etc….again refining it down further and to make finding the image that I want easier.
It may sound obvious and simple, but the amount of times I have seen a fellow photographer and their failed attempts to find an important document when under pressure is ridiculous. Get your folders organized!
3. Get a wall calendar
We all have a calendar on our phone right? You go through your apps, find the calendar, swipe to the right month, next you search for the day click on the day to see what you have booked in zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, oh sorry you fell asleep. Now try doing this all on your phone, whilst a client is on the same phone waiting for you to give him said dates and book him in…….you need the finger skills of Beethoven! One of the cheapest but most efficient tools I bought this year was a large A1 wall planner. Yes, i just typed those words! That ugly wall planner you used to see on your school room wall, or at your dads office at work, is a godsend for efficiency and saving time.
The reasons: Its big, its on your wall, you can see it from the other side of the room…..you don’t have to go through twenty clicks and swipes to write down a booking. As simple and as stupid as this sounds, it truly is an effective time saver. Place it on a wall that is in eye view at all times and you don’t even have to move from the seat whilst engaged in a phone conversation, you can see every week, day and appointment wrote down. Sometimes old school is better! And you can buy one from amazon for as little as $20.
4. Task sheets
In the early years as I progressed in photography, I noticed the bigger my ideas got, the more work I had to do before, during and after a shoot. Gone was the good old days of picking up my camera, and shooting on the fly, hoping I would get something at least worthy of a social media upload. Everything had to be planned. Now I thought I could keep all this information in my head, my brain was overloaded with where the location was, the angles I would be shooting from, how I wanted the model to pose, how I wanted it to look in Photoshop after…….and the list goes on. Now if you have been taking any notice of this blog post, you will have worked out by now, this is not my kind of brain. So every shoot, I would be under pressure, forget at least one thing I wanted, or needed to do. Only later would I find out, and proceed to smash my face in to the wall with frustration!
So eventually, after numerous occasions and the lack of a wall due to face damage, I came up with he idea of task sheets! Very simple yet very effective. These task sheets are like check lists with points I need to remember, which I fill in before every shoot. It covers planning, shoot plan, shoot day, post processing and uploading of the images. I do not shoot without filling one of these in. You have to be strict with yourself and turn these techniques and using them into routine. Since I began using these task sheets, productivity on a whole for me has risen quite sufficiently.
Below is a one page from the task sheet, but I will include a download of the whole task sheet for you to use, or get ideas for creating your own.
Again, these can be as simple or advanced as you wish, just be sure that it saves time, not creates time.
Click below to download the task sheet
5. Organizing your finished images (in Lightroom)
Recently I had a feature in a magazine, they wanted to cover my work, so as part of the feature needed a selection of my work. I opened Adobe Lightroom, and began to, as I always did when looking for finished images, browse through the entire catalog of photos. If you were new to photography this would be acceptable maybe, you wouldn’t have many images and were probably unaware of how to organize your images. Me on the other hand has 19266 images to search through, and should know better when trying to become a more efficient worker (slaps myself across the hand!). Finding the images was a slog, so following on from organizing my desktop folders, I got my finished images in to the correct order. I created a final images collection folder. Now selecting, has become far quicker, easier and enjoyable!
Now, if you haven’t organized your final photos in Lightroom, I highly recommend you do. It is this simple:
Make sure your left side panel is activated. (shown in the image above).
Scroll down to collections, and click the plus symbol on the right hand side. Select create collection.
Name the collection Final images, or something similar, and click create.
You now have a folder to hold your finished images. You can either click on an image, hold the button and swipe it in, or hold down CTRL, click on a number of images, and the swipe them all in at once.
6. Social media
Social media is one of those entities which is a gift and a curse. On one hand it is opened up borders, knocked down social barriers. We are all but one PM away. But on the other hand it consumes your time, like a child consumes chocolate on Christmas morning. It distracts, and is one of the reasons we tend to end up procrastinating when we should be writing blog posts. Social media is vital to business, it is a necessity! If you are not on social media promoting your business or work, you are at a large disadvantage
Now I’m not sure about you, but I use more than one social media, and I’m guessing most of you do, probably. I have accounts on Facebook, Google +, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. So not only does social media consume time by distraction, it wastes more precious minutes by having to multi task between each social platform, uploading work, updating a status and answering messages. It may as well be a second day job. For the big companies the solution is easy, they just hire a social media specialist….But for us normal, everyday folk, we have to manage our own.
This is where Hootsuite comes into play!
Hootsuite is a social media management system for brand management. The system’s user interface takes the form of a dashboard, and supports social network integration’s for all the social media platforms I mentioned, and more. It is all your accounts in one place at the same time. The Hootsuite dashboard is pretty simple to use, just follow the quick step by step guide when you first sign up and you should be flying within minutes. It lets you have numerous social media streams on the screen at once, which means no more switching between Facebook to twitter, back to Facebook etc. Not only that, you can schedule posts all at the same time for weeks in advance, which alone is worth signing up for.
The way I used the post scheduler was, take one day (usually Sunday) and spend 2 hours, creating content including status updates and image uploads. I would then schedule them throughout 7 days to fill up a whole weeks worth of social media, and then go through the same routine the following Sunday. The amount of time freed up from doing this was immense, I had so much extra time I began yoga…..well not really, but if I liked yoga, I could haha .
Other great features of this tool are suggested posts, if your ideas for content runs dry. You can have more than one person managing the account, if you are lucky enough to have a team who control your social media. It is all cross platform, so whether you are on a train or at your aunties birthday, as long as you have your phone or tablet, you can always keep track of what is happening online.
There are plenty more features, but for my own personal use, I mainly use the schedule post feature and the multi stream dashboard.
Hootsuite lets you sign up and have a basic account for free or you can upgrade to various paid accounts.
So hopefully implementing some or all of these techniques will help you become a little more efficient or save you some time. You may already use some these techniques already, or at least heard about them, but if you have any of your own, leave them in the comments and we can all benefit.
Remember Organization is key!! The more efficient we become, the more time we save, the more images we can make. And that is what it is all about!