Tips + Techniques

How to Avoid Easy Workflow Mistakes

December 19, 2019

By Ashley Beasley

© Luke and Ashley

Losing a meaningful photo like this one would be devastating to your clients for generations. Follow the tips below on how to make sure that doesn't happen.

Each month, Ashley Beasley is breaking down the stepping stones to becoming a six-figure photographer. She last wrote about seamlessly incorporating off-camera flash. Check out more of her ways to solidify business success in the industry at the bottom of this article.

Thirteen years ago, we had the most beautiful little girl, making Luke and I first-time parents. As photographers, you can believe we took many pictures of this sweet, beautiful angel of ours. Every moment that we could, we documented. Her milk-drunk smiles and cute napping face had us carrying our camera everywhere, trying to capture these fleeting moments. Our first year with our girl was documented through the lens of new parenthood.

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You can imagine the devastation and the tears that were shed when one day, our hard drive failed us. All of our precious memories of our firstborn’s first year were stored on one drive, and they were gone like that. I cried for days, and 13 years later, it still pains me. We tried to get the hard-drive restored, but it was useless. We searched the computer and all our files, praying that the photos and videos were elsewhere. Unfortunately, we were left with nothing but our memories, and we all know memories fade over time.

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This is why photos are so important. Pictures remind us not only of that specific moment but rush in all of the emotions and details to the front of our minds. To say I was devastated at the loss of these precious photos was an understatement. 

We learned a hard lesson before we even opened for business, and this experience bled into our business when we launched in 2011. We knew right away that we could never make this workflow mistake again, especially when it came to paid clients who trusted us with their precious memories. We were going to do everything we could to protect those images.  

To have a successful photography business, we believe that you must have a reliable workflow set up when it comes to digital media. Organization from the camera to your backups will give you and your clients the peace of mind that their precious memories are safe and accessible. 

After mentoring countless photographers, we have discovered the top mistakes photographers make when it comes to their digital media workflow. If you are making these mistakes, it’s okay! We all make mistakes! We want to encourage you to go back, fix it, and build a strong foundation in your business so that you can continue to move forward.

Mistake #1
Not prioritizing this part of your business.

As creatives, most of us are right-brained, meaning we think like artists and we love getting right down to creating our art. When it comes to the business side of things and understanding the technology, we tend to get bogged down and ignore the importance of this step. Most of us don’t understand the ins and outs of computers and hard drives, so we find it easy to either skip this part of the business or not fully commit to learning and creating a workflow that makes sense. Focus some time on ensuring that your images are backed up correctly.

Mistake #2
Assuming only one backup is good enough.   

We have heard many horror stories. One that we hear over and over again is that photographers are relying on their client galleries as their backup system. Photographers are deleting the images because they are running out of space and have no understanding of how to resolve this. What if they needed access to the RAW images? What if they missed an image that the client is asking for? Deleting images because of a lack of space is never a good idea. Creating a system where you have external and online backups will allow you to back up your images in various ways without taking up space on your computer.

Mistake #3
Using poor-quality hardware.  

Many photographers purchase hard drives and equipment for their needs. As a professional photographer, you need to think about the future. Most hope their businesses will grow, and it is essential to purchase hardware that supports future growth. You also must consider what you edit on. Is it a laptop or a desktop? Perhaps it is both. What you use will determine the correct hardware that you will need to purchase to ensure proper backup.

Mistake #4
Taking a relaxed approach to organization.  

When you are in Lightroom or wherever you store your images, you should be able to navigate quickly and locate files in an organized folder structure. This comes down to metadata and naming your images correctly. If you shoot a wedding for a couple named Pete and Caitlin, then call the images Pete and Caitlin. Include the dates and keywords in the metadata. We have had clients return to us years later, asking for specific photos because loved ones have passed. These were photos that were not included in their online gallery, and we were able to locate them quickly because our catalogs are organized and easy to navigate.

These mistakes can easily be fixed before catastrophe strikes your business. In the eight years that we have been photographing weddings, several hard drives have crashed. However, because of the backups and systems we have in place, we have ensured all of our client’s images have been protected.  

If you are not sure where to start, we have put together an easy class that will show you step by step how to buy the right equipment for your business and follow our tried-and-true digital media workflow from beginning to end.

Ashley Beasley and her husband, Luke, are a photo duo based in Virginia who run their own education platform called Luke & Ashley Education.


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