My simple workflow for shooting photos for online use - the happy solopreneur

It’s always been important for me to have brand consistent imagery for use on social media and my website. But it has always been a difficult task for me to create images quickly and inexpensively. While I do occasionally hire professional photographers for headshots and other image needs, for the quantity of images I need, using a professional photographer isn’t always practical. For any work that is repeatable and that I do often I try to create a workflow. My workflow is the repeatable steps I create for efficiently handling routine tasks. I have always struggled with a workflow for taking photographs and videos for social media and my website. Although I use technology  everyday, for some reason having a technology workflow for video and photography has always gotten the best of me. Recently, I made some breakthroughs and wanted to share some of the things I have learned that have made shooting photos and videos. For me, a successful workflow has to accomplish a few objectives:

  1. Equipment needs to be easy setup and break down. I have limited space in my home office so I need to be able to move and store it easily.
  2. The images need to look good. Good for me means all photos are crisp, well-lit and on-brand.

The investment in equipment needs to be reasonable. My general philosophy for making investments is to start cheap and upgrade as needed –  and that has been my approach for photography equipment as well.

Based on my recent revelations, I have created this super-simple, low-cost equipment list and workflow for shooting photos for social media and my website.

Equipment

Camera
I’ve tried both my I Phone and Canon camera for shooting. For now, the Canon camera produces better overall results. I use a Canon Rebel T3 which is Canon’s entry level DSLR. I have had this camera several years, but never used it as much as I thought I would until now. I am pretty sure that I will upgrade my camera in the not so distant future, but for now, it does what it needs to. The image quality is great and it has just enough features for me. So if you are looking for a good camera with a reasonable investment, check out the Rebel T3.

Tripods
I have an old heavy tripod that I use most of the time. It’s one that I have had many years. In fact,  I had it in the stack of items to be donated and at the last minute I retrieved it – and I am so happy I did. I’ve had this tripod so long I can’t find this model anymore, but it is a standard issue tripod that stands about 5 feet. I also have a light weight tripod that I use occasionally. I use it less often but it has it’s advantages – mainly that it is compact and easier to move around. The lightweight tripod is available on Amazon.

Lighting
Purchasing this light kit was definitely was a great upgrade. Before I purchased the kit, I was using a hodge podge of rigged lights and was getting mediocre results. This kit gives me the versatile lighting that I need at a terrific value. The lights are both portable and light weight. They fold up into a carrying bag which is useful for storing. The lights are easy to set up and breakdown, and after using for several months, seem durable enough.

Remote Shutter Release
I alternate between using the timer on my Rebel T3 and this remote shutter release. The shutter release controls the shutter button on the camera so I can be both photographer and subject. This one is nice but I will eventually look for one with a longer cord.

My workflow

Earlier I spoke about workflow, here are the general things I do when shooting.

  1. First, whenever possible, I shoot as early in the day as possible. The natural light is better and I find I have far less interruptions so I make shooting the first thing I do. Once I set up lights and do hair and makeup, it takes about 1 – 1/2 hours and can usually get a several good images.
  2. When I am planning on shooting, I try to pull my lights out the night before and decide the general setup/location. I pull any accessories like pillows, plants or art and begin to visualize how everything will look. I also decide what to wear and I will where to make sure everything is on brand.
  3. The day of shooting, I set up the lights and do some test shots just to see how things look. I adjust the camera for placement.
  4. I then do my hair and makeup and get ready to shoot.
  5. I then test again and review the test shots. I check to make sure nothing is in the frame, that the lighting is good, and make sure the shots look the way I want them to. I’ve learned that small details like a wrinkled shirt, stray hair or misplaced earring can be huge distractions. Some of these things can be fixed afterwards, but it’s far easier to fix in the shot.
  6. I shoot my intended shots and then may play around with camera angle, position and placement. More is better and occasionally the shots are the ones that are captured when I am goofing off.
  7. I download the images immediately check them again, looking at lighting and details. If all is good, I use select my favorites and use Photoshop to retouch the images, correct blemishes and color correct if needed.

Now that I have gotten more comfortable, I plan on investing in some additional props and equipment. My takeaways are don’t be afraid to play around with lights, equipment and make incremental investments in equipment and setup as needed.