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Most people think professional photography comes down to just having the right cameras and lenses. These tools are essential, but a solid workflow is often the secret ingredient for capturing and delivering amazing work—distinguishing between good and great photography. The challenge is that there isn’t a script to follow for effective workflow. There are foundational tips that can help photographers at any level, but at the end of the day each photographer has to find their groove and determine a workflow that fits their style and environment.
Like any artist, it took some experimenting for me to develop my workflow and find the tools to make it work. Along the way, I identified three core points that are essential to developing an effective workflow:
- Think through the process
I didn’t think through my workflow very carefully in the early stages of my career, and looking back it’s easy to see why some shoots were harder than they had to be. Trying to create an efficient workflow from scratch, on the spot is almost impossible, especially as shoots become more complicated and clients more demanding. Even just a few minutes of thought about how you want to setup and layout your equipment prior to showing up on-site can make a world of difference. If you really want to get a solid plan in place, get a good sense of the environment you’ll be shooting in and sketch out your setup. Not only will this make your workflow more seamless and efficient, but it will make setup and teardown a breeze.
- Have the right technology
Today, photographers are incorporating more and more technology into their workflows, to speed the editing process so they can take on more projects. In order to do this well, though, you need the right technology to complement your professional creativity. Camera equipment is a given, but having the right laptop, cables and external storage to backup all your projects can save huge amounts of time and keep your work moving smoothly. For example, if you have a laptop that’s more than a couple of years old, look at a replacement, The speed increases that you gain from outputs like Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 are 10-20 times faster than stuff you may be using now. That’s minutes not hours of waiting when moving, saving or mirroring work.
- Go with the flow
Sometimes your workflow plan is perfect … until you take the first picture and it just starts going downhill. Unexpected things happen on shoots. Whether changes in weather or equipment malfunctions, things happen and you need to be able to go with the flow. Staying cool under pressure is what separates the pros from the Joes. Have a backup plan in the back of your mind just in case, and if (when) something goes wrong, you’ll be ready—or at least you won’t feel completely overwhelmed by it. There are lots of ways to get to where you need to go. Don’t feel trapped but open yourself up to more experimentation. Lots of my “experiments’ started out as ways to find new solutions to a problem.
Again, workflow is all about what is comfortable and works for you, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but these foundational tips can help get you started on your workflow journey.
About Jeremy Cowart:
Jeremy is an artist at his core specializing in portrait photography, having worked with some the hottest names in entertainment, such as Taylor Swift, Tim Tebow, The Kardashians, Sting, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Heidi Klum, Gwyneth Paltrow, The Civil Wars, Emma Stone, Courtney Cox, and Ryan Seacrest, just to name a few. He also has a special focus on technology, serving as a member of the G-Technology G-Team. You can find is work on ABC, FOX, A&E, F/X, Discovery Channel, ESPN and in print with outlets like People, US Weekly, ESPN Magazine, USA Today and the New York Time.