What Does Anne Do All Day?!

posted on: December 3, 2007


A lot of people think that being a wedding photographer is a glamorous life, afterall, we only work on the weekends right? HA! I'm sure that at some level of star power it becomes slightly glamorous- but until you get to that point... it's a lot of hard work, and right now I find myself working 16-20 hour days because of the pressure to get everything done before the holidays! If I were a "shoot & burn" photographer, it would definitely be easier because I wouldn't really care about the quality of my work, but from the moment I started creating images for other people... I just couldn't do it. I HAD to look at the images and make them ALL perfect. It was like I suddenly had developed OCD (not to make light of anyone who seriously has this illness). Well, this year has been a huge lesson in how that is not at ALL possible with just one person bringing in a full time workload.

So, as a little educational segment, I'd like to explain a bit about the process (aka: workflow) that my images go through that makes what I do different from something that can just be printed from a point & shoot camera... (which, if you need a new one for the holidays, I'm happy to give you some suggestions!)

  1. Wedding Day - capture images in RAW format, with professional Canon cameras, lenses, and flashes and with a really good knowledge of light and composition
  2. Backup - Download all images to backup hard drive and to main hard drive
  3. Favorites - Select and give extra special developing to my absolute favorite images, turning them into the works of art that I originally felt and perceived when I first captured them, start to feel like maybe I don't suck too badly
  4. Slideshow & Blog - Export images in different sizes, select music for slideshow, stitch music together if needed, add watermark and extra sharpiness to blog images, upload blog images to flickr, upload slideshow images to personal sever, write blog post
  5. Edit - realize that even with great cameras, lenses, and lighting, pictures only look "OK" and that some are just downright awful and should never be seen in public. Delete the downright awful pictures and keep everything that could be mildly career destroying, but might be interesting for a grandkid to find in 80 years.
  6. Develop - Take the mildly career destroying images and clean them up with color and exposure corrections, maybe a slight crop or straightening in the event that I happened to be walking at a tilt on the wedding day (note: images cannot be printed from undeveloped RAW files, these are "digital negatives")
  7. Upload & Archive - When the stars have aligned, I can upload all of the images from the wedding in 1-2 days. Usually the stars are scattered all over the place and it either takes forever to upload, with constant babysitting, or I just mail off the final images. All of the final images are archived on servers in California, and then finally placed on the online proofing website- Pictage. Pictage then has to verify all of the files to make sure none of them are corrupted before releasing them to you. If there are any corrupt files, I have to go back and fix them.
  8. Print & Burn CD/DVD - Double check to make sure DVD image numbers match Pictage image numbers in order to prevent future headaches and ordering confusion, burn a copy to send and a copy to keep, print with personalized image
  9. Album Design - Assemble favorite images into an initial draft design for an album using geometric equations of golden mean mathematics (j/k!!)
  10. Album Customization - Get feedback from client about album design preferences and create changes
  11. Album Printing & Binding - Album is hand-printed and hand-bound in the united states, sent to me for final approval, and then sent to client for happy enjoyment!
  12. NEXT!

In the past, every step of this process was being handled by me (except 11). However, this year I encountered several disasters which taught me that it was going to be impossible to do all of this on my own. So, I hired people to help me with the steps that I felt comfortable turning over to someone else. As of right now, steps 5, 6, 7, 9, and 11 are all being taken care of by people I've hired- allowing me to focus on the things that really need MY special touch and attention.

Aside from everything above that needs to happen with each wedding, a lot of similar steps are required for each portrait shoot I do- but because those are much smaller, and I tend to use portraits as a creative playground to get a sense of each person's aesthetic, I handle more of the workflow on my own. Then there's also time meeting in person, on the phone, or over email, responding to the 50-100 emails I receive each day (which in itself can take hours), preparing images for promotion or contest, taking care of special orders, organizing financial records, TRAVELING (because I live in the middle of everthing, but close to nothing), and oh yeah... sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom! Did I forget to mention that I also have a husband, friends, and family that like to see me once in a while? A dog that needs walking and feeding, a house that needs cleaning, a car that needs to be maintained, and, and, and, and...

As you can see... even with plenty of people helping me, I still have more "work" than I have hours in the day. All of my "personal" time usually centers around eating a meal or trying to sleep. The only thing I don't have right now, which might actually give me some of my life back, or at least work only 80 hours a week instead of 100+, is an office manager. I've been developing an entire list of things that an office manager could help me with...

  • Burn & Print CDs
  • Mail items
  • Create slideshows
  • Pull together images for magazines
  • Prepare images for web/blog
  • Publicize images
  • Tag & organize images
  • Download & backup images
  • Make album changes
  • Enter Contract Info
  • Create birthday & anniversary ecards
  • Order gifts
  • Accounting/Receipts
  • Track inquiries and create mailing lists
  • Build a blog book
  • Organize office
  • Frame & hang images
  • Collect Reviews
  • Write Press Releases
  • Create Newsletters
  • Organize archives
  • Run bank errands
  • Babysit FTP connection
  • Place & track orders
  • .... and the list goes on....

Even though it would be nice to have one right now, I've already spent a lot of time interviewing different people for the other jobs that I've outsourced, and because that took a lot of time, I know that finding an office manager who I would LOVE to work with and who can do all of these things independently is no small task.... especially in Terre Haute, IN. Of course, having an office manager also means I would need to be somewhat presentable each day they came to work for me... but I guess it's a small price to pay for getting a little of my life back!! If you actually read all of this... I could just hug you right now... but I have to get back to work!!!

24 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Anne, you're my hero! I totally appreciate your honesty and willingness to share with your peers in this industry. (I totally follow your PHOTO LOVECAT blog too.) It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who gets bogged down with the mundane side of the job. Thank you for making time to blog!

  2. If I was close to you I would be all over this job! Good luck on the search and enjoy the starbucks :)

  3. ryan estes10:36 AM

    Ha! I feel your pain... now imagine what life is like for we photographers who actually have OCD! :)

  4. Suzie Heath11:25 AM

    You are so there, Anne! It may seem overwhelming, but I can't wait to get to the point where you are.

    Congrats on getting this far - you ROCK!!!!!

  5. you are adorable!!!

  6. Um, WOW Anne!

    First I LOVE the photo of you! CUTE!

    Secondly, thanks for putting a workflow out there! A lot of clients wonder why they can't see their entire take 2 days after the wedding. Sigh.

    Can't WAIT to meet you at Flourish! AND wish I lived closer so I could bask in your knowledge more than on the blogs.


  7. Agh, that is exactly how I am feeling today! Its bad enough having all that to do in no time whatsoever, without something going wrong aswel (i.e. computer failure, lab sending wrong prints etc. etc.). I really want more work, but I hate all the admin! I hope you get the time to hire an office manager soon and get your life back.

  8. AMEN!!!!! I am so glad to know that I'm not the only one FREAKING OUT right now trying to do it all myself!! I was a studio manager for years, and I thought that was tough - but this doing it all alone is hard work!

    I hope you hire someone awesome!! Key ingredients to look for in a great Studio Manager - problem-solving, multi-tasking, detail-oriented, someone who cares as much about your clients as you do (or at least close) and a little OCD will go a long way towards keeping you organized :)

  9. Kim Kelley2:24 PM

    I SO want a picture like that!! I am such a Starbucks addict. LOL Too stinkin cute Anne.

  10. Love the starbucks photo! I don't know if we are on your list of weddings you're trying to finish before the holidays, but if so, don't worry about it. We aren't in any rush.

  11. Chad Franz2:59 PM

    Anne! I'm feel ya! And btw, that shot is cute as hell...you need to get Alex a 24x36 of that for Christmas! :)

  12. I wish I lived just a bit closer to you and I would love to help. But, I live just east of Indy. I hope you're able to get caught up soon and be able to take a deep breath once in awhile.

  13. Rob (Humbled Eyes Photography)3:28 PM

    Well said!

  14. Wow, looks like I'm in for a lot more work! Good thing school will be out of the way soon. Let me know if you seriously consider hiring an office manager...even though it sounds like you want a hot guy to do it!

  15. This is really great information Anne. I puts "full time" into meaning.

  16. Thank you for sharing the reality of being a photographer and all the back end work that is involved. Thanks for taking time out to meet with me today....

  17. Your list looks exactly like my list. :) It can be overwhelming, huh? You're a step ahead of me hiring others to take some of that burden from you. I'll get there eventually. Love the Starbucks pic, by the way!!! Very fun!

  18. jamie9:22 AM

    guess i'm not the first to love on the starby's pic, but it is truly awesome!
    If i didn't already have a job and live zillions of hours away, i totally think it would be fun to be your sidekick :-)
    Hope all is well!!!

  19. Love this post, but the pic is too cool!!! Anne, you rock!

  20. I know, isn't Chelsea sweet? She was so relaxed for the photoshoot and really made the images work! And ya know...it really IS too bad you aren't in Detroit still because you could have a cost-free office manager (me) and I could fulfill my internship for next semester!

  21. girl- you and me are one in the same- we have the EXACT same workflow- seriously! I am with you on every step and the who studio manager thing- ugh! I'll be working 90+ hour weeks until I finish up my october and november weddings... I feel your pain! Oh, and I'm from Indiana, too! All the best! We should chat on facebook!

  22. "pictures only look "OK" and that some are just downright awful and should never be seen in public. Delete the downright awful pictures and keep everything that could be mildly career destroying, but might be interesting for a grandkid to find in 80 years."

    Oh, Anne! I always adore your photos so much, I find this so hard to believe!

    Care to share who is doing the other work for you? I need to find someone to hire, and as you've said before, when one needs to narrow down options they often go for referrals and word of mouth recommendations. Not ads. ;-)

  23. don't suppose you'd want a west coast studio manager? I love your work and have been quietly following it for a while now. Would love to be your studio manager if you ever move to the Bay Area!

  24. Oh Anne, if I only wasn't a stay at home mom and wondering how everything will get done already... LOL

    I would love to help you if you get in a pinch! ;)

    I still want to "meet" you sometime and just soak in your fun personality. (I think our little poodles might like to see each other too. ha!)


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