Just hop online and do a quick search of senior photography (or any industry really) and you’ll quickly become overwhelmed with options for courses, masterminds, templates, resources, and more. It has never been easier to jump feet first into a new industry, niche, or marketplace than in today’s digital age. But how do you know what you need, if anything, education-wise? Or would hire an assistant to help run your business make more sense? Keep reading and we will break it down.
First, let’s talk about Templates & Actions for photographers, and senior portrait photographers to be specific. These are great to fill immediate needs in your business. Grad card season coming up and you need a streamlined way to present your clients with ordering options. I highly recommend this Grad Card Catalog by A-List Creatives and their selection of grad cards templates. Templates are an effective way to present cohesive and professional product options to your clients. Actions can also be a very simple way to streamline your editing workflow. I personally do not use purchased actions in my editing, I have a very true lifestyle. For photographers with say a light & airy aesthetic or a dark & moody look to their images, a signature action that fits their look can streamline their editing and reduce the time spent on each image, while also creating a cohesive look. Both templates & actions are great tools for photographers to have in their arsenal. Both are also extremely useful for any level of photographer from beginning to seasoned pro.
Now let’s discuss Guides & Courses… I’m a huge proponent of courses and education when you’re starting out. From workshops to find your editing style and hone your photography skills to courses to help with pricing and business savvy. You can never know enough about basically everything when you are operating a small business. A great one-stop shop for educational resources for new and mid-level senior photographers is the Senior Style Guide, where many seasoned professionals lend their expertise on a variety of topics from marketing to editing to shooting basics. In my 10+ years in the industry, I will caution you. It is very easy for anyone to label themselves as an educator, put together a shiny website and sales page and sell their “education” without necessarily having the business success to back it up. It seems everyone in the last 5 years at one point has had a guide or course to sell, to earn that lucrative passive income. Do your research, look for reviews and browse through their actual business website before signing on to learn from someone. Make sure they walk the walk of the talk they’re selling if you catch my drift. The longer you’re in your business, the less you should rely on education from within our industry though. Now don’t bring the pitchforks at me just yet, hear me out. Once you have become an established senior photographer, to further grow your career and business, I suggest looking outside the industry for further education. Seek marketing advice from advertising professionals, not fellow photographers for example. As you grow you will want to evolve and bring in new ideas from outside the senior portrait industry to set yourself apart from the sea of others, who are all learning from the same mold.
So where does hiring an assistant fit into the conversation? For senior photographers who aren’t new and learning the ins and outs of running a studio. How many of these guides & resources have you purchased, to try and learn something new or stay on top of industry trends, and now they are collecting virtual dust? There comes a point in your business, where you become the visionary and business leader. While you need to know the ins and outs of running the business and industry trends, you also need to be the captain that guides the ship vs the crewman who rows the paddles. Buying all the guides and resources in the world, once you become established, won’t automatically move that needle for you. You’re in the throws of running a business now, and adding a new piece to the puzzle will take up time you already don’t have. This is when having an assistant will actually help your business grow. Everyone is talking newsletters and reels now, but does the idea of adding a new marketing task leave you stressing over when you’re actually going to be able to do it all? Hire a social media marketer or an email manager. Is your business thriving with a booked schedule, but that leaves you no time to push your marketing because of all the images you have to edit? Hire a retoucher. There are assistants who can help you with basically any task that just bogs you down at this point. Rather than buy another piece of education, that you don’t have time to implement anyway. Start outsourcing your workload first, and then give yourself room to expand.