We all know businesses aren’t built overnight, and we all know that there are tools that help us succeed. If there’s a hole in your workflow, your gear, your entire process, it can be easy to feel off-balance.
Throughout my workflow, this is the best photography business software, gear, and other items to help maximize your workflow and client experience.
(Note: While many of these links are just to regular websites, some of them may be affiliate links in which I earn money through referrals. But you can click with confidence knowing I’d rather throw a lens off a cliff than recommend a program that isn’t worth your time or money.)
It’s no secret, that I’m low-key obsessed with Fujifilm equipment. (We all know it’s a cult). I’ll be breaking down my entire Fuji bag in a future post, but I always highly recommend that folks at least rent and try it out once just to see what it feels like compared to large DSLRs.
Additional Reading: Why I switched from Canon to Fuji
All of my lights are Godox V350F speedlights, to accommodate the size of my mirrorless cameras! In the past, I’ve also used and loved the larger Godox V860II lights. And I’m a firm believer and user of Magmod light modifiers – they make it so when I do have to use flash, I can make it look and feel as natural as possible.
All of my memory cards are Lexar cards, and not for any particular reason other than that’s what I’ve always used. I use primarily Lexar 128gb cards. Most cards errors actually occur from damage when inserting/removing, so I like to minimize this when possible! Plus then I so rarely have to think about whether or not I need to change it – and that delegates more brain power to creating images. I use two cameras at once, so cards for each camera, and change them out between ceremony + reception.
There truly isn’t one brand that outperforms the other when it comes to harddrives. The key isn’t what brand drive you use, but how many. Remember to have backups on backups! For my year, I use WD My Passport 5TB harddrives. I have four each year: one for spring/summer, a backup of spring/summer, one for fall, and a backup of fall.
Sometimes I want to try out a new piece of equipment, or there’s a job that requires a specialty item. For this I turn to my local Minneapolis rental business, West Photo! They have a wide range of items for rent, and if you pickup Friday and return Monday, they only charge you for one day.
For equipment rentals that West Photo doesn’t carry, I turn to LensRentals. They have a great reputation for gear quality and timely deliveries! (Interested in trying them out? Here’s a link for $25 off your first rental!)
Indie Film Lab
For those sessions and weddings where I get to break out the film, I always turn to Indie Film Lab for processing and scanning.
Datacolor SpyderX Pro
Why spend so much time editing to color perfection if your monitor is off? Regularly calibrating the screen you edit on will ensure accurate colors to the edits you make. I love how easy it is to use this Datacolor SpyderX Pro and then I can edit knowing everything is perfect.
Could single-handedly be the best investment I ever made, Photo Mechanic 6 is a software from Camera Bits that make the culling process the easiest thing you’ve ever done. It loads previews for all your raw files so they load near instantaneously, making it so you never waste time on a blurry, loading image. Using Photo Mechanic, I can cull 2000 images in just 15 minutes. Just saying that feels insane! It truly belongs on the list of some of the best photography business software. Plus Photo Mechanic is a one-time-purchase software – so no monthly subscriptions, so continual cost. Purchase once and use forever, with updates. (And I’ve tried the AI and automatic culling programs – and I choose Photo Mechanic over them time and time again).
Need I say more? The absolute classics when it comes to photo editing, Lightroom and Photoshop. I use them through the monthly Adobe Photography Plan.
Sometimes I need something to help take the mental strain of editing off, but I feel like outsourcing is an extreme route. For those sessions, I use a Lightroom plugin called batch.ai. Batch is an AI powered editing plugin that uses a handful of anchor images to edit your entire gallery. Imagine the Lightroom Sync tool, but on steroids.
I’m an extremely efficient editor already, and I’ve found that Batch doesn’t really make my editing time that much less. It does however, take me a lot less brainpower to edit a wedding gallery and I don’t experience that tiredness at the end (or the dread, if I’m really far into the season!). It’s a useful tool during those super months to help keep me alert and focused on the task at hand. Try it out here!
Edited by Artists
Though I’m an incredibly fast editor, sometimes during busy season I’m working at two, sometimes three events in a single weekend. For those weeks that are overwhelming, I turn to my editors at Edited by Artists to help keep me on track and deliver incredibly fast turnaround times to my clients. They are also reliable to lean on if I go on vacation, run into a family emergency, or anything else that comes up! Their rush options are great, and I love working with a single editor who learns my specific style to deliver perfectly every time.
I can give so much of the credit for my super fast editing to Loupedeck. Their Loupedeck+ editing keyboard has preset buttons for many of the functions for Lightroom, with additional options for assigning your own custom functions. I’ve been using this keyboard for 4 years, and it has paid for itself a thousand times over in ease, functionality, and time saved.
Communication/Delivery of Images/Products
A CRM, or customer relations manager, is a lifesaver in your business. It helps you centralize all the items related to serving your clients including contracts, invoices, communication, etc. I’ve tried so many of them and they were all too complicated, or were SO expensive – with features I was paying for, but never using. I wanted something simple to use, that allowed for automation but also manual interactions. Iris Works was the one for me! They also have a booking software that can be used for mini-sessions and regular sessions, so your time-and-time-again clients don’t even have to reach out. Iris Works is continually making improvements, and has a user program where you can submit ideas and things you’d like changed.
Image files from professional cameras are huge. Now imagine trying to stuff all your favorites onto your website, or trying to fit them all into an online gallery with a space limit! SpaceSaver is an incredible program that removes unnecessary information from image files, and dramatically reduces the file size. (Another similar program is JPEG Mini!). You can also export multiple sets of images, if you’d like to reduce overall size, but then export a second, social media sized set of images. The possibilities are endless! And if you’re still delivering images on usbs, you can purchase smaller sizes – there’s so many good uses. I can attribute my lightning fast website to this program. And for a one-time $50 (with discounts usually available!) it truly is one of the best software for a photography business.
I wasn’t a believer of online galleries until I starting using Pic-Time. They are beautifully arranged and laid-out, and they even include a slideshow creator. They are easy to use, easy to share with family/friends, and my clients LOVE the store that’s built right in – so they don’t have to reach out to me for every print/product order. Many photographers will pay for a small storage plan and expire galleries, but I utilize the unlimited plan and keep every single gallery up and running – why limit the time, downloads, or sales? If you’re interested in trying out Pic-Time, use the code EUZFZ5 for one month free!
For my wedding clients, I do image reveal parties – we meet up in their home after their wedding, and we watch a presentation of all their wedding photos! They get to invite family and friends, who have food and drinks, and I get to hand-deliver some surprises along the way. This wouldn’t be possible without SmartSlides, a program developed for creating photo slideshows. They have licensed music and an extremely intuitive editor that allows me to group images, choose songs based on speed, and they even have a beat-matching feature for that extra punch. Plus I can integrate the slideshows directly into Pic-Time for others to see, and I can download the slideshows to deliver to the couple as well. SmartSlides pays for itself time and time again, and has earned it’s place among the best software for running a photography business.
Within that same Pixellu parent company, SmartAlbums gives me the ability to quickly design photo albums for clients. It’s easy to drag and drop images, rearrange them, adjust the layout based on the orientation, and more! I also love using this software to pre-design albums and host digital versions, so clients can get a sense of what an album could look like for them before they’ve even chosen to order one.
Miller’s Professional Imaging
An incredible print company (available through the Pic-Time gallery, as well), Miller’s was the first professional print lab I started using when I began offering physical products over 8 years ago. I can order a full set of 70 prints on a Monday morning post-wedding, and they’re often on my porch by Tuesday night (with free shipping). Need I say more? Invest in printed artwork, and your client experience will change tenfold.
With that same physical product mentality, PhotoFlashDrive has a number of gorgeous options for delivering images. If you still go the flash drive route, they have so many options to fit your brand. My favorite product is the walnut print boxes with the acrylic lid – they are so beautiful, and often stop my clients in their tracks. Plus they offer a number of branded items, if you’re interested in extra gift giving for your clients.
I previously hosted my website on a different host, and it was always running slow and wasn’t as responsive as I wanted it to be. I switched to Showit and I cannot look back! The drag and drop setup is SO easy to use, it’s intuitive to create elegant designs, and there’s so many designers that sell templates too! There is a little bit of a learning curve with the blogging, since it’s hosted through WordPress, but once you get the hang of it you’re golden. It’s so simple to create a website that feels incredibly true to your brand, while being able to continuously update it. Plus the customer service is bar-none – I can run into a problem, ask a question through the chat, and have it resolved SO quickly. A website is one of the necessary software for your photography business, and Showit is the best.
(Though they host websites, you’ll need a separate host for your domain – I use Google Domains!)
Like mentioned before, you want that website to be lightning speed. Rather than upload hundreds of images to a blog post, I use StoryTailor to host them! It’s a lovely program that helps you create layouts for blog posts, and hosts the images separately, away from your website. This helps keep your site fast, and it looks SO professional! You can also use their integrated SEO functions, and add text and more. It saves so much space on your websites and create a remarkable visual presentation of your images – it’s a no-brainer software for running your photography business.
Do you use any of these items too? Did this help you fill a gap in your workflow? I’d love to hear your experiences below! And of course, if you’d like a more tailored conversation, reach out and we can set up a mentoring call – I want your business to serve you and run smoothly, and to give you your time back.