As a professional photographer, I know how sometimes it can feel like you lack a support system. It can feel like you have to wear so many hats to be able to operate your business effectively, and the truth is you really want to spend more of your time doing what you actually love: taking pictures. The good news however, is that there are a lot of really great professional photography resources out there that can give you that support that you need, and make the business side of all of this seem so much easier.
Some of these professional photography resources are free, some aren’t. Everything from gear and equipment rentals, to entirely digital photography resources like website development and email. Some may not apply to you at all, but we guarantee you that some of these tools you have never heard of, but can likely benefit your photography business.
Camera gear and equipment
- BorrowLenses – Being a professional photographer means always being prepared, and being able to adapt to different situations depending on the shoot. This shouldn’t mean however that you have to buy a new lens every time a specific situation calls for it. You can rent top-rate gear, for a fraction of the price.
- Amazon, Adorama, B&H Photo – These are the best go-to sources for most camera gear. You will see more competitive prices on other websites like “Abe’s of Maine” and random places like that, but those are most likely refurbished, grey market, or aftermarket gear, and won’t come with the same warranties and quality guarantees. It’s up to you, but if I’m spending thousands on expensive photography gear, I’d much rather pay full price and know that what I’m getting is straight from the manufacturer.
- KEH Camera – buy and sell used gear. Also get your gear replaced.
Camera/lens research – These three sites are great at getting a better understanding if a new camera body or lens is right for you.
- Dxo Mark – This site uses algorithms and scientific tests to determine the optical quality of lenses and the cameras they are paired with.
- Ken Rockwell – Ken provides very helpful reviews for a wide variety of camera bodies and lenses. A lot of it is still one guy’s opinion, so take it with a grain of salt, but it’s definitely still helpful.
- DP Review – Buying guides, and a really helpful community of other photographers willing to offer advice and recommendations.
Backup your photos!!!
To anyone who takes photos, either professionally or not, the thought of losing your irreplaceable work is beyond frightening. Hard-drives fail (this is a fact of life), computers get stolen, broken, and infected by malware. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. Many photographers like myself use redundant or duplicate external hard-drives, but even this isn’t enough.
There are simply too many variables to consider, too many possible catastrophes that could mean everything from your recent trip is suddenly and irreplaceably gone. My heart is sinking into my stomach just thinking about it. That is why you need an additional, automated, off-site backup solution, but one that isn’t crazy expensive or ridiculous to instal.
Enter Backblaze. The automated cloud solution that uploads the entire contents of your selected files to a secure server, and easily allows you to restore them at any time.
- Backblaze is easy, it runs in the background. The first upload will take a LONG time, but do it now, and then every time you add more photos, they automatically upload and you can have peace of mind.
- Backblaze is cheap at just $5/month for unlimited uploads. Yes, you read that right. They also have great customer support when I thought I had misplaced some files, and they quickly showed me how to recover.
Do it now, because your photos are simply too important to not have redundant options for backup. Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and all the others are simply not a sustainable long-term option, as they get more and more expensive, and only back up when you remember to.
There are incredible apps out there for photographers, too many to list here. These are the ones that we at Travelstoked use on a regular basis.
- The Photographer’s Ephemeris – My favorite app for planning and understanding lighting direction, and lunar cycle depending on geographic location. Pretty much indispensable.
- Photo Pills – A great alternative the The Photographer’s Ephemeris, used by many pros.
- Sky Safari – This app tracks the night sky and lets you plan out shoots for night photography.
Post-processing software for photographers
- Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop – The Photography Creative Cloud plan is a pretty good deal when you consider the power and capabilities of these two programs.
- ON1 – Award winning photography software and plugins. People often use these to add a “finishing touch” to their photos out of Photoshop.
- Photo Mechanic – use this to stay organized and speed up your workflow.
- Luminar & Aurora HDR for Mac – Made by Macphun, these advanced processing platforms are very powerful, and are endorsed by a lot of photographers such as Trey Ratcliff.
- Photomatix Pro – is another great HDR merging program.
- ShootDotEdit – Outsource your color correction and post-processing for wedding photographers.
Professional photography website resources
If you are serious about your photography, you need to have a well-curated, clean online presence. But it’s really not enough just to have an Instagram and a 500px account… you need your own website. Luckily, there are many photography resources out there that help with this:
Photography Websites – Not much of a website coder? Want something that looks great, but has done most of the work for you? Website hosting platforms specifically for photographers are a pretty great, and can be fun to customize. Some of the top platforms are:
- SmugMug, Photoshelter, Wix, and Squarespace are all great options, just find the one that is right for you by using the free trials that are available.
- Blue Host – Alternatively, developing your own WordPress site is much easier than it used to be, with some really fantastic free themes specifically for photographers. You do have to arrange your own hosting however, so we recommend companies like Blue Host. It’s cheap, easy, and you can launch your new WordPress website right from there.
SEO for photographers – Do you understand how much potential there is to grow your exposure online and generate passive income with your photography, all through SEO? Do you know how to attract clients and brands to you, all while you are out taking pictures? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a far-underused tactic for photographers to grow their brand online. Here are some of the select SEO-related tools that we have found to be the best:
- SEM Rush – One of the best keyword research and keyword tracking tools out there. Try it for free.
- Google Search Console – This is a free service, where you can track the progress and look for issues associated with your website.
- SEO for Photographers: The Complete Course – We get so many questions all the time about Search Engine Optimization, that we decided to create a comprehensive learning experience. Check it out, and start getting more clients, sales, and
- Set up Google My Business for your photography website.
Email list and audience building – If you want to build customers, not just visitors, then you need an email list. If you want a way to instantly communicate a new product, service, or promotion to an audience who already knows and trusts you, then you need to build an email list. Simply put, start building an email list. These two platforms are ideal for a photography blog. They take care of all the functionality, and simply allow you to communicate with your audience in very targeted, thoughtful ways.
- ConvertKit – Our preferred platform here at Travelstoked, we love using ConvertKit.
- Drip – A great alternative to ConvertKit, with similar functionality. Both Drip and ConvertKit stand apart from other services like MailChimp in a lot of ways (we’re going to cover this in a future article, sign up for our email list to stay tuned).
- Tip: add a custom email signature to all your outgoing mail. Never miss an opportunity to get the the word out about your photography business and what you have to offer.
Wall preview tools to assist in generating print sales, like those available in services such as Art Storefronts can be very helpful.
Logo designs – appearances are everything, and having a well-designed, professional logo can be the difference of a sale or a client, or missing out.
- 99designs – When it comes to hiring a designer, you get what you pay for. Meaning that when you are ready to pay up for a real quality logo (like the Travelstoked logo for example), then 99designs is the place to go. You submit a creative brief and answer some preference questions, and then dozens of designers start submitting mock ups to you! Within four days, we had selected about eight out of the 55 designs presented to us to proceed to the next round, where you get to submit feedback and get unlimited revisions. The final result is the logo we are using today.
- Photo Logo – If on the other hand, you are mostly just using your logo as a watermark, then this company does a pretty cool signature-styled logo design for your business. It’s elegant, professional, and has a nice personal touch.
Resources for exposure and client opportunities
The internet is a wonderful thing (sometimes). Photographers have created some fairly amazing communities, platforms, and sites that can greatly accelerate your opportunities for exposure. I also love being a part of all these communities of other photographers, because they are a great source for continuing inspiration.
- Outdoor Photographer
- National Geographic: Your Shot
- Photo Contest Insider
Professional printing and marketing resources
- Bay Photo
- Nations Photo Lab
- West Coast Imaging
- Blub – Photo books that can be exported directly out of Lightroom. You can also sell your photo books through Blurb or directly through Amazon, which is pretty cool.
- Animoto – Animated videos that allow you to create next-level marketing materials.
Finances and admin
Invoicing and account management – An often overlooked necessity of managing a successful photography business is an airtight way to manage all your current and future business prospects, send out invoices, track expenses, etc.
- Picr – a soon to be released software for professional photographers. It looks like a promising one-stop-shop that offers a dashboard for everything you might to keep track of in your photo business.
- QuickBooks Self-Employed – I use this to keep diligent track of my expenses, mileage, and deductions as I go, and it definitely helps me get the best possible tax return. The app that comes with it is super easy, I recommend checking it out (use this link and get a discount).
- Sample invoice templates
Copyright protection – The paid version of ImageBrief provides great copyrighting protection services for your photos. For some more information, Photoshelter has a great article on some of the frequently answered questions regarding photography copyright, and why you should pay attention to it.
Photographer’s Insurance – This is a whole massive topic that requires it’s own post. Just know that if you are a photographer, who travels with your gear and relies on it for income, then you should probably have some type of photographer’s insurance.
We hope this collection of professional photography resources will help you to grow and scale your photography business. While some of these services require upfront investment, if you are serious about growing your business then you need to take the right steps to get your name out there. Think of any good resources for photographers that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
Click below to get the free 2017 SEO Checklist for Photographers. Unless you’re a hermit, your business inevitably relies upon establishing your digital presence. So don’t tip-toe around the issue, but take charge of your website and start growing your photography business online today with SEO!