For Photographers

Time Management for Photographers

May 18, 2023

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I'm Ashley!

 Just your average Mom trying to keep the chaos as organized as possible! I'm an enneagram two, a coffee addict, and a firm believer that warm sunshine and salty air can cure all. 


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As photographers, we’re always thinking about how to grow our businesses. It makes perfect sense that most of our efforts focus on building a portfolio, booking great sessions, and marketing to our dream clients. All of those things are worthwhile efforts, of course. But even if you’re great at all three of them, your business will stall out unless you add an essential fourth tool to your proverbial toolbelt: time management. 

Managing your time matters — in fact, it’s essential if you want to grow. The truth is, it takes more than being a great photographer to build a great photography business. It can be fun to dwell in the creative parts of our brains, but we have to find a way to enter “admin mode” and manage the business side of our creative ventures, too. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by work these days, it might not have a single thing to do with your photography skills! Learning how to master our time is a superpower that gives us the space we need to let our creativity truly shine. Thankfully, we’ve learned a thing or two around here about time management for photographers.

Top 10 Time Management Tips

  1. Make a plan. 

This might seem obvious, but it’s important to turn your general idea about what needs to get done into a real, actionable plan. Jot down everything in your brain. When you see it spelled out, it will probably feel much more manageable right away! Once you have a plan in hand, executing it becomes a breeze. 

  1. Track your time. 

This is especially important if you’re just starting to build your photography business. It takes time to learn how long you’ll need to complete certain tasks, from answering client emails to culling a session. Make a note of how much time it takes to check things like editing, emailing, and interacting on social media. (And bonus tip: try not to judge yourself if you feel like you should be faster, especially when it comes to photo selection and Lightroom edits.) 

  1. Work smarter, not harder.

Photography is an art, and some things can’t be rushed. But automating other things is essential — it will save you so much time and brain space. Two of my best time hacks? Settling on a great set of Lightroom presets (one of my essential everyday business tools!) and using email templates for quick client inquiry responses. My signature style is captured in the presets I’ve created, which means I typically only need to make minor edits for individual photos. And like most photographers, many of the emails I send are the same! I have templates that make it easy to deliver a gallery, answer FAQs, or send pricing details to a potential client. 

  1. Break up big projects. 

If you’re a tried-and-true creative like me, your brain is often all over the place like mine. When I have a big project to tackle or a lot of tasks to complete in a day, segmenting my work into bite-sized pieces helps me actually check them off the list. 

  1. Sync your calendars. 

Keeping your workflow in sync with your personal life stops you from rushing around, missing obligations, or double booking yourself. I cannot recommend a calendar sync highly enough! When I can look at my kids’ schedules, my personal appointments, and my photo sessions on one screen, life feels less like chaos. Plus, I can clearly see when I have time to edit galleries and do admin work. 

  1. Try sprinting. 

No, I don’t mean literal running – it’s called the Pomodoro technique and it’s incredibly helpful. Working in 25 minute “sprints” has been scientifically proven to be super effective, and I am here to vouch for it, too! If you struggle with marathon workdays, this will help you power through (and work faster, too). 

  1. Find your distraction-free zone. 

It sounds so simple, but if you want to get work done, focus on work. When you sit down to do business tasks, smash that “do not disturb” button on your phone. In fact, I’ve found it’s even helpful not to “mix” business things. Don’t listen to educational podcasts while you’re also trying to respond to important emails – focus on one thing at a time and you’ll find that your focus goes up and your “time spent” on any particular task goes down. 

  1. Set boundaries. 

In a perfect world, we could all say yes to every job. But in reality, working well means refusing to take on too much. If you’re new to the photography business, you may not know exactly how much you CAN take on, and that’s okay — but if you’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked, it’s a neon sign to book a few less sessions next month. We’re in this for the long haul, friends, so we have to protect ourselves from burnout. 

  1. Try a “top three.” 

If your list feels overwhelming, prioritize! On any given day, it’s unlikely that you have more than three essential tasks. Put those three at the top of your to-do list and dedicate yourself to checking them off. Even if you don’t get to the rest of your list, you’ll feel accomplished and unstressed — maybe even unstoppable. 

  1. Take a break. 

Don’t forget to eat, move, play, and enjoy life. There’s so much more to life than just being productive, and building a business isn’t the only thing that matters. Creating balance and finding fun in your life will actually make you a better business owner, too! 

The Perfect Photography Workflow

Just kidding – it doesn’t exist! Time management for creatives can feel tricky, but the perfect workflow is the one that works for you. Just remember to keep your business organized (taxes, files, galleries) and get work back to your clients in a timely manner. After those two things are prioritized, the rest is up to you. Manage your time instead of feeling like the clock is constantly managing you. 

Go with what works for your body, your season of life, and your schedule. If you’re an early bird, edit those galleries while you sip your morning coffee! Night owl? Answer emails after everyone in your house is asleep. Kiddos going to daycare three days a week? Block your work time (and even your sessions when you can!) within those hours. Remember, you hold the power here. This business is YOURS, and you get to define what success looks like for you. 

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