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With every passing year, it seems clients are expecting more and more from their photographers, which means we may need a lesson in productivity. Kat Dalager (@3etheLTAgency) goes even further and foresees the change of the very word photographer in her “Predictions for 2016“:
“The word ‘photographer’ will change. Maybe it will be ‘image maker’ or ‘content maker’ or ‘capturer.’ Whatever it is, it will reflect the expanded capabilities of the role.”
I agree with her and believe that in order to embrace the ever-increasing roles we find ourselves pushed into, we must become exceedingly efficient in our productivity. 2016 will be the year, where I take that productivity to the next level, integrating the technology, cloud based services, apps and automation software I use in my business.
Here are 11 tools that help me, solve my productivity puzzle:
The backbone for this virtual productivity is SalesForce – the CRM that’s been running my business for over 7 years now. Every account, contact and job lives in this cloud based service [learn more about SalesForce here: “I got my head in the cloud (along with all my data)“].
This year is the year where this automation will get flushed out. I’m already using the amazing integration between Evernote and SalesForce, which allows me to attach all job related records automatically. Now any creative brief, handwritten note, job estimate, permit, release, receipt, rental agreement, … is tagged with a job number in Evernote and appears in the digital job folder in SalesForce as if by Magic.
Every job, event and task that get entered in SalesForce automatically creates a counterpart in Asana, via Zappier. Asana is my project management software, where I can split up a job in an actionable To Do list. Every contact that’s added on my phone is automatically entered in SalesForce via IFTTT (IfThisThenThat). Zapier and IFTTT are two amazing automation softwares that enable you to use apps and cloud based services to stay productive.
I love traveling into extremely remote areas on assignment. There’s something about filming in the amazon rain forest, photographing a hidden monastery in a desert wadi or shooting video on a snow-covered airstrip in the Himalayan foothills, that recharges my creativity. On the flip side none of these places have electrical power. That can mean packing in extra batteries or figuring out a way of generating power to run all of your digital devices – from laptops to light meters, from cameras to cell phones.
When I go far off the grid, I rely on solar energy to supply all of my power needs in a portable, yet powerful package. The solar panel I travel with folds up to the size of a paper back book and can charge my GoalZero Yeti 150 solar generator in about 8 hours of sunshine. This package ran a 2 week documentary film shoot in the peruvian jungle, keeping all my gear charged – including my MacBook Pro I used to download and back up my footage.
Since that trip I carry the smaller GoalZero’s Sherpa 50 in each one of my bags. These little battery/inverters can power a GoPro (or two) on a multi-day time-lapse, top off my laptop or charge a couple of batteries (or devices) in the field.
Here’s a few tips when planning your next off-the-grid production:
For more travel tips check out 7 tips to keep your gear working on the road.
This blog post was first published on the American Society of Media Photographer’s Strictly Business blog.
Ahh, the “No-can-do” attitude. It’s your best friend, when it comes to being creative. “Nope, not gonna happen” is music to my ears. “No way! You’re crazy.” I’ll eat up that attitude all day long. “No! That’s a crazy idea.” Love it!
However here’s the rub: No-can-do is great as long as it’s not your attitude, but everybody else’s attitude about your idea. They can say No to your idea as much as they want. It’s you who mustn’t say No, when it comes to your next creative challenge, your next adventure, your next big thing.
Others will say no to what you are trying to do, without giving it a second thought. Want my advice? Ignore them. (More about that in rethink who you listen to.)
I get it. The unknown is a scary place. Getting ready to do anything for the first time makes all of us nervous. The important thing is not to let that fear immobilize you. (It’s ok for everyone else to be afraid of taking that step, actually it’s beneficial to you, when everyone else is scared of what you’re about to attempt.)
Case in point:
A couple years ago got to film a corporate documentary in Afghanistan. Looking back now, it was one of the most intense and fun adventures I’ve had in a while, but now that the film is finished and has won international awards, been screened a film festivals and was the subject of a TEDx talk, it’s easy to forget than literally everybody I talked with before I went, had said No.
No – I shouldn’t go. No – I was not sane even considering this project. No – I was not going to come back alive. No – they wouldn’t do anything that crazy. No …
You know what?
There were only 6 people, who were willing to listen, willing to give their advice, willing to not dismiss this outright and –in the case of my wife– willing to let me go. Everybody who told me no before the project, now thinks this was one of the best things I’ve done. Funny how their no turned into a yes.
You know what I’ve learned? Almost everybody can give you the wrong advice – that’s easy. Very few people will take the time to listen and think through an opportunity with you and help you ascertain if it’s a risk worth taking.
Let me thank my heroes here again: Thank you Jacomina, Judge, John, Hugo, Scott and Jerry. You guys saw the YES, where everyone else saw no.
That “No” you hear in your head or feel in your gut, is your experience going into self-preservation mode. It’s far less risky to not try something new, but it’ also far more boring and less exciting. Without risk there is no reward. Now there are times that you should listen to that little voice screaming NO! Actually every time the action you’re about to take involves serious risk, you should probably listen, however how much risk you’re comfortable taking, is up to you and in direct proportion to the potential gain.
Don’t use this feeling as an excuse though, live on the edge of your comfort zone – preferably on the outside edge. Push yourself to try something you’ve never done before. Carefully weigh the risk and the potential reward, find some heroes that can are willing to see the past all the naysayers and follow your dream.
If you’re looking for some practical advice on how to reduce risk, how to quiet that ‘No!’ in your head, check out the ultimate cheat sheet on taking risk.
[This post was written for ASMP’s Strictly Business blog.]
I just spoke about sound in my “How to step up your video” at WordCamp Miami. “Sound” I said “is more important than visuals“–especially to us photographers. We want to make video look pretty, which means sound often come a distant second. Actually I believe the most important thing in video is story, because without a good story, you’ve got nothing, zip, nada, but I digress.
We often dismiss sound over sight, but sound adds richness to a movie. Do this experiment – watch a movie for 5 minutes on mute and the next 5 minutes with your eyes closed, but the sound playing. Which sense enabled you to follow the story line easier? In general I’d argue hearing. If you’ve been photographing for any length of time, you’ve got the visual part of video down anyway.
Check out the article I wrote on Strictly Business, the blog of the American Society of Media Photographers, on audio for photographers called “Listen to this!” You’ll learn how come I absolutely love sound guys, why you should wash out your ears, why I record everything twice and what the biggest technical problem is when capturing audio with DSLRs.
Check out this case study on sound with some cool actual audio recordings of doing it right (and not so right), while interviewing pilots in flight above Afghanistan and why the most important piece of equipment for video has nothing to do with video.