Today I'm continuing my series for photographers in which I share tips for organizing and systematizing your workflow. And when I say "workflow," I don't mean it in the narrow sense of post-processing. I mean the entire customer experience and set-up of our businesses. If you're just joining us, click here to find a complete list of the posts in The Workflow Series and get caught up!

As mentioned above, this series is not going to narrowly focus on workflow in the sense of post-processing alone. But in the name of helping those of you who are dying a slow death behind your computers, I am starting there. I want to share tips early on in this series that will help save you time and free you up so that you can focus on growing your business by implementing some of the strategies I will be sharing down the road.

Today we're focusing on the most time-consuming part of our post-processing: color correction. I've talked with countless new photographers, and the theme is always the same: they're all getting burned out and buried under a mound of editing work. There are generally three main reasons for this. When I share these reasons, hopefully you will identify with one or more of them. I know I have been in all three camps at some point in my journey. The good news is, there are steps you can take to work through them and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The three reasons why photographers spend too much time behind the computer editing are:

#1 -- They are new to editing and are still trying to find their style and learn how to color correct efficiently.

Just like every photographer needs to train their eye and refine their shooting style, we need to train our eye and refine our style in how we post-process our images. This is a vital part of a new photographer's journey, and while it can't be skipped, the goal is to learn quickly, define a consistent editing style and then delegate the bulk of this tedious work. Today I'm not going to go into depth on the how-to of color correcting. It's not important to me if you use Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, or what specific method you use. I'm more concerned with the big picture of how color correction fits in to your overall workflow. And that it doesn't consume your life to the point where you have no time to grow your business. If you are interested in learning more about the how-to of color correction, click below for some related blog posts:

Histogram Demystified
Color-Correcting Skin Tones
Behind the Image Posts

If you find yourself in this camp, make it your goal to learn Lightroom, or whichever tool you've chosen, as quickly and as well as you can. Devote yourself to defining your style through your post-production to the point where your photos have a very consistent look to them. There's nothing more telling of a newbie photographer than images that are all over the place editing-wise; a different effect or action used on each photo. If you want even more help in this area than what you find in the above posts, I'm available for one-on-one coaching sessions.

#2 -- Their perfectionism is keeping them tied to their computer.

I'm a recovering perfectionist myself, and I've yet to meet another photographer who is not so passionate about their work that they want it to be as perfect as possible. Perfectionism is ok to some extent, but it has its place. For me, that place is confined to the images I post on my blog, on my website portfolio, and those I send in for publication. In a nutshell -- my very favorite photos from each shoot. So I allow myself the indulgence of being perfectionistic about these handful of images. In Part 2 of this series, I talked about how I rate images during culling. Eighty to 100 images per wedding are marked as favorites. And those are the ones I perfect. The rest are used either in the album or posted online for proofing purposes. The additional album images don't need to be perfect, because if they end up in the approved album design, they will be further retouched before the album is ordered. The images that will be online for the client to proof are just that -- proofs. If you're perfectionistic about proofs, you're really just being selfish. A friend of mine once said, "A client doesn't want a perfect image. They want a good image fast." So at some point, if you hold unyieldingly to your perfectionism, you're not doing it for your client, you're doing it for yourself. It's a waste of time to be perfectionistic about proofs. After all, they may never be ordered or used in a product. Making them look decent is perfectly acceptable.

#3 -- Their business is growing and they're doing it all themselves.

If you did your homework from Part 1 of this series, you'll know that if you don't want your business to die at a young age, you need to let go of some of the technical work of the business and become a manager and entrepreneur. There are many things you're going to need to let go of and delegate as you grow your business, but one of the first ought to be the bulk of your color correction and editing work. Once you master editing enough to define your style to the point where it is teachable to others, and once you muster the strength to let go of some of your perfectionism, you are ready for this step. And I can guarantee that you need to do it before you think you're ready. There are a number of options for off-loading the bulk of your color correction and editing. You can bring on an intern, hire an employee, or outsource the work to an outside company that specializes in doing it. Since this topic is huge, and there's much to say about it, I'm going to continue this thought tomorrow in the 4th part of this series. We will explore the pros and cons of interns, hiring in-house, and outsourcing. Stay tuned!

Click here to read Part 4 of this series -- Delegating & Outsourcing.

To find out about more resources I offer photographers, click here!
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