26: Ten Photography Tools to Make Your Life Easier

Pro Photographer Interview Series: Episode 26
Photography Tool Round Up To Make Your Life Easier

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With all of the practical tools that we’ve discussed in the past episodes up to this point, I wanted to take a moment and list some of the most useful services and software in one post. I briefly discuss tools that make processing your photos easier, as well as services that cover gear rental, social media, hardware, online education and even earning a (semi) passive income from your own photography knowledge. Some of these have been recommended by past photographers on the show, while others are ones I have personally personally incorporated into my workflow. Depending on the niche of your photography business, some of these may be more easily applicable than others, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find something here that will make your life easier, and that’s what it’s all about.

Workflow Tools and Software

  1. Adobe Lightroom – After being mentioned repeatedly, I finally incorporated it into my workflow, and it has make a ton of difference. In fact, I just got done shooting a sizable wedding, and it drastically shortened the time it took turn those photos around and get to the proofing stage with my client.

Phil Ebiner from Episode 2 has a Lightroom Crash online course. It has awesome reviews, and has nearly a couple thousand students: Learn Adobe Lightroom and Start Editing Photos Like a Pro (formerly Adobe Lightroom 5 Master Training – Complete Crash Course)

Phil Ebiner also mentions Phil Steel’s Lightroom Course: Lightroom made Easy

  1. Topaz Labs SoftwareTopaz DeNoise in particular does some great work, in my opinion, fixing grainy photos while still preserving detail. I had my fair share of grainy photos when I first started shooting, and still run into the occasional grainy photo that I want to “save”. Check out some photo comparisons so you can see what it can do, or check out this video:

    Use the coupon code Zenjoyable to get 15% off any product in their store.

 

Social Media

  1. Buffer: It makes staying on top of social media easier. Recommended by Damien Franco in episode 4. It gives you the ability to write a bunch of posts at one time, and choose which social profiles to send them to. It spreads them out throughout the day or week so that you don’t have to be at a computer all the time in order to have a social media presence.

Hardware

  1. Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 Lens – An affordable gem of a lens, in my opinion, and one that I use regularly now. Very reasonably priced, when held up against comparable lenses out there. Some photographers say it’s like having a couple prime lenses in one.

It’s so popular, that at the time of this recording, there’s a backlog for the Canon mount series in the United States. Being the impatient type, I drove my tail to Canada to get mine (even paid Canadian taxes, youch). However, I must mention that it’s for cropped frame APS-C sensors only, so if you have a full framed DSLR, it won’t work properly. Just a heads up, folks.

  1. LensRentals.com: This site is where I regularly borrow camera bodies and lenses, and has proved to be extremely helpful. Their process is quite efficient: order online, and they ship you the goods. When you’re done with it, you simply ship it back in the box, with the label they provide. It’s a nice option if you’re looking to try out a piece of equipment before you’re ready to buy it, or if you need a back-up body for the occasional wedding. Their sister site, LensAuthority.com, even sells used equipment if you’re looking to save a nice chunk of change but still receive high quality, tested equipment.

Online Learning

  1. Lynda.com: Great general resource for online learning.
  2. KelbyOne.com: Great photography courses, taught through videos.
  3. CreativeLive.com: Online classes for the creative mind.

Passive Income Opportunities for Photographers

  1. Skillfeed.com– This site has been quite helpful as I build my passive income portfolio. At the time of this recording, they pay on a per-minute-viewed-basis, and are relatively new. I’ve begun to make a modest passive income off of it, and it’s been quite encouraging. I even met the Skillfeed crew in office this past September 2014. They were awesome.

Time to bare all.

Here’s a screenshot of my earnings page so you can see to the penny what I’ve been making this year. It’s grown from $1.44 in the first month to $474.64 in July, so keep in mind it takes time. It is NOT a get rich quick scheme, but if you put in the hard work, it’s worth it. At the moment, it’s not enough to make my mortgage payment, but it’s enough for groceries, and a bit of my car insurance, which is really, really nice. I have far fewer nights where I wake up sweating about how I’m going to pay the bills. 🙂

Skillfeed_Stats_Sample

10. Udemy: This site is also part of my (semi) passive income portfolio. It’s less passive than Skillfeed in that there is more interaction with student questions and discussions, and it also has a different payment model. You can set the price of your course, or simply make it free. Several of our interviewees for the podcast have courses on this platform and are earning income from it.

Extra Tool: An Honorable Mention

11. PhotographersEdit.com – This service looks promising. After you upload your photos fresh from a shoot, they will cull and retouch them. A few days ago, I referred this site to a photographer friend who was overwhelmed with wedding photos to edit, and the next day he signed up and placed his order. We’ll see how they turn out. At the time of this episode, I have signed up for an account but have yet to use their services.

Check them out for yourself. If I’m particularly impressed with the service, I may come back and write a detailed review.

 Did I leave anything out? Let me know what tools have helped your photography business in the comments below.

 

6 comments
Mike Wolfe
Mike Wolfe

Nice job!!  How many Skillfeed courses do you have on the site?  I submitted my first 3 this past week.  (Not photography related) 

Chamira
Chamira moderator

@Mike Wolfe Thanks, Mike! And that's great to hear that you submitted your first handful of courses. I'll have to check out yours. Way to go! A little extra income never hurts.

I currently have 39 "courses" published, although some of those are "Skillsnacks" (under 20 minutes). As you can see from my earnings screenshot, one of the important things to remember with Skillfeed (and any online teaching platform) is to be patient and persistent. :)

Mike Wolfe
Mike Wolfe

@Chamira @Mike Wolfe  That's awesome!  I appreciate you sharing actual earnings!  That's how I get my motivation!  Would you mind posting or sharing how you have done since July?  How many minutes do your videos average per month?    Have the numbers gone up, down or leveled off?  I think skill snacks are crucial to success!

Chamira
Chamira moderator

@Mike Wolfe @Chamira  Since July, numbers have gone done across the board (not just for me, but for the Skillfeed instructors in general). My total from August-November was $685.64. Such is the nature of online courses, although I'm not complaining, since I consider it extra cash.


I can pinpoint a couple factors that brought my numbers down: One of my courses was cycled off of Skillfeed's Home Page, which accounted for a significant drop in minutes watched, naturally. Also, they've changed their search algorithm since then. 


In the end, I'll just keep plugging away and adding courses. Perhaps I'll actively market my courses at some point too. :)

Mike Wolfe
Mike Wolfe

@Chamira @Mike Wolfe  That's how its been with every source of residual income I find - somehow it always end up dropping off - but I keep pursuing!  I also tried Udemy but my sales are horrible!  If theres any other way of creating residual income that you know of - please share!  I have photos/footage on Shutterstock & Pond5 - they make me abiut $150-$250 per month/per site.  I am considering buying a drone to do aerial footage this summer, here in Colorado. 

Chamira
Chamira moderator

@Mike Wolfe @Chamira That's great to hear that you're making side income from Shutterstock and Pond5 - it all adds up. Drone aerial footage seems to be becoming a "thing" here (Michigan), so it sounds like it's definitely worth giving it a try in your neck of the woods. Could be a fun experiment, and drones seem to be surprisingly affordable.


As for other avenues of income - I'm actually in the process of creating some online courses on my own platform (Wordpress), in addition to Udemy and Skillfeed.


Other than that, I sell a handful of affiliate products, all of which are quality products, most of which I use myself.


It definitely is a process, that's for sure. Keep pursuing!

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  1. […] get paid on a per-minute-watched basis. I mentioned this as part of my passive income strategy in Episode 26 of the Podcast, and even posted a screenshot of my earnings in the show notes. The progress has […]