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Top 5 Most Valuable Purchases for Photographers (aside from gear)

Investing in my own business was something I put off for too long. I held onto money tighter than I held onto my time. It led to working long hours and weekends, doing and re-doing things over and over, headaches trying to figure out everything on my own, and ultimately - burnout.

It finally clicked when I heard these three things from wildly successful industry leaders that stuck with me and (not to be dramatic, but) changed my life and business forever:

1. Money is a renewable resource, time isn't. 

2. You have to spend money to make money.

3. Investing in education/your business is like the moving sidewalks at the airport - we're all going the same direction, but some of us are going to get there a lot faster and be a lot less tired.

Below, I'm sharing what I think are the top 5 most valuable purchases for photographers (aside from gear). Obviously, investing in good camera gear is crucial (if you want to know what's in my camera bag, I’ve laid it all out in a here for you). But right now let's dive into some of the less obvious, but extremely valuable,  purchases that you can make for your business.

In this list I've included things from my own shop as well as other products I find valuable. Including my own products is not meant to sell you, but to give you information and tools that I wish I would have had at the beginning of my photography journey. Having them would have saved me so much time and headache.

So without further ado, here's my list of the top 5 most valuable purchases for photographers:


1. Camera Settings Guide

Shooting in manual can feel like a nightmare if you don’t know what all the settings mean, how the settings interact with each other, or how to adjust them based on your location, lighting, subject, and desired effect. 

There are quite a few factors to take into consideration when adjusting your camera settings: How many subjects are in the frame? Are they on the same plane? Are they moving? Are you moving? What are the lighting conditions? What do you want your depth of field to be? Not to mention white balance, flash, and a whole slew of other factors you might encounter.

So, I created a camera settings guide for you, where we will walk through the basic components of your camera and cover aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and flash in depth. 

I’ll teach you how to deal with some of the trickiest lighting situations and give you my own sweet spot for each setting. 

Like I said, having a nice camera is important for photography, but if you don’t know how to use your camera, you aren’t going to get quality results. And on the other hand, if you aren’t at the point of investing in a great camera, knowing how to use just about any camera properly is what makes a great photograph.


2. A Client Management System

A client management system (or CRM), was one of the biggest game changers for my business. I've been a loyal user of HoneyBook since it's launch, and I can't imagine running my business without it. 

HoneyBook gave me the first taste of outsourcing, and creating streamlined workflows and automations. As my business grew, and I was managing clients at all different stages, it became overwhelming to manage them and not let any step of their workflow fall through the cracks. HoneyBook became like a virtual assistant to me. The platform takes care of all my contracts, invoices, client information, questionnaires, client communication, and more. It streamlines your workflow, enhances client interactions, and provides the necessary tools for financial management and growth.

By simplifying the business side of photography, you can focus more on the creative side of being a photographer and doing what you love. 

PS. With the link above, you'll get 50% off your first year!


3. Client Toolkit

Keeping with the theme of client management, a CRM is only useful if you know what to include inside.

The Client Toolkit is a bundle of templates, guides, and a mini course helping you through every step of your client workflow. This toolkit includes my Client Workflow Roadmap (that you can also download for free), my own personal templates (the exact ones I use for my own clients) for your contact form, emails (x10), client questionnaires (x3), and wedding timelines (x4). These templates have been developed, tweaked and tested over my 10 years in business to be polished, thorough and intentional in order to build a rapport with my clients, provide them with helpful information, learn more about them and their session, and best prepare us both for the best photos and experience possible. 

With this resource, you'll be equipped with a full client workflow from inquiry to final gallery delivery and beyond, plus everything you need along the way. In the video course, you'll learn exactly how to plug them into HoneyBook and set up automations so your clients are taken care of every step of the way - not only serving your clients well with an amazing client experience, but also taking dozens of tasks off your plate!


4. Contracts

I know, not the most fun item on the list. Personally, every time I heard someone mention contracts I wanted to just pretend that part of my job didn't exist. It sounds so intimidating and, for creatives like us, all the legal talk can become the most stressful part of running a business. 

You might be questioning whether these are really necessary for your photography business, and sure, you might be able to skate by for a bit before contracts become necessary, but when they do, without one in place, it can cost thousands and a lot of heartbreak and headaches. 

Hiring a lawyer to write contracts for you can cost a pretty penny, and buying a contract online averages $500. So I decided to do things differently. I want you to be legally protected without breaking the bank, so I created 6 different contracts written by my own contract lawyer - all available in my shop for just $47.

They're as simple as copying and pasting and filling in a couple blanks.

Whether you're full time, or just doing photography on the side - contracts are a must have for so many reasons. They not only protect you, your business, and. your finances, they showcase professionalism and legitimacy to your clients, lay out clear expectations, and show care for your clients - protecting them as well as you. 


5. Presets

Are you tired of spending hours, and I mean hours sitting in front of your computer meticulously going over every single photo trying to get the edits right? I've been there. That’s why I spent years (and focus a huge portion of my career) creating versatile, timeless presets that would work consistently across all different lighting, subjects, and gear. Maybe I'm biased, because editing is such a big deal to me, but I think presets are one of the MOST valuable purchases you can make; especially for your time. 

I have created five signature preset packs for Lightroom, as well as LUTs presets for videographers, a collection of collaboration packs with other photographers, and mobile presets to help make editing easy, consistent, and effective in achieving the results you want. Your time is so valuable and using a preset isn’t cutting corners or cheating, it’s choosing to be efficient in your business and time management.

My presets are created to be versatile, natural, and timeless. They have been tested for all kinds of gear, lighting situations, scenery, and skin colors. Ask the 20k+ photographers who have used them in their own work, I'm confident they will save you so much time and make editing a breeze!


In review, my top 5 most valuable resources for photographers:

1. Camera Settings Guide
2. Client Management System
3. Client Toolkit
4. Contracts
5. Presets


I hope one of these resources are helpful in pointing you in the right direction, and that you find them useful in taking your photography business to the next level!

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