5 Time-Saving Tips for Photographers

5 Time-Saving Tips for Photographers

Photography can be very time-consuming. Over the years, I have picked up a few workarounds, so hopefully ,you can avoid the hours and days that I have pilfered away. These are my five time-saving tips.

Build a Central Smart Catalog 

If you are anything like me, you have 30 hard drives and nowhere near enough USB ports. For years, I battled this alongside both working from home and working from my studio. That was until my friend showed me how he had a portable drive that acted as a smart previews catalog for every photo he had ever taken. Now, it took me three weeks to set this up, but right now, from the comfort of my home, I can edit or search for any image I want, pop it in my newly created render folder, and then, when I turn up to work in the morning, I can export them. This saves me a hug amount of time and allows me to do a few more hours of work once the kids have gone to sleep.

To do this, start a new catalog in Adobe Lightroom and add a drive at a time. Don’t copy, just add. Then, highlight all of the images and head on over to build smart previews. This is not a quick task, especially for someone like me, who has a decade's worth of work, but it has opened up new possibilities in terms of where and when I can work.

Charging Station

I stole this from Casey Neistat. I have all of my chargers Velcro’ed onto wooden and metal boards with tacks holding the cables neatly in place; these cables then cascade into a central multi socket, leaving me with only one plug at the end. These are then mounted to the wall with a couple of screws. Pre-psychopathic cabling, if I wanted to go away to shoot for a week, it meant organizing all of my chargers and suitable cables, finding plug converters for whichever country I was in, and then sorting through the inevitable cable monster. Now, I just remove the screws and walk off with the entire set up. 

Label Your Plugs

Go buy yourself a white pen. These things are great for writing on pretty much everything. If you end up with a similar setup to me, where you have about a million plugs all running various vital bits of kit, at some point, you will have gone to unplug your fan heater and then look on in horror as your computer goes black. Every plug in my studio has its purpose scribbled onto it. I have then organized where the power goes to try to save any really stupid moments where my brain overrides the labeling. 

Label Your Batteries 

If you have ever shot weddings with another Canon shooter (I can’t speak for any other brand, as I have no idea), you will get to the end of the night and start the classic “I am missing a body cap and three genuine Canon batteries” conversation. I have my surname written on every single one of my batteries, not because I am paranoid about losing them or a friend pinching a couple, but because it saves so much time when sorting through kit. I would add that it is worth marking your lens and body caps too. I also have mine numbered from 1-20 in the order in which I purchased them. I try to use them in chronological order too; this way, I know when they all need replacing. 

Format Your Cards 

Once you have backed up your files, pop the card back in your camera and hit format. There is nothing worse than having a card in your camera and not being 100% sure if it is backed up in three locations already. Make sure that you have them backed up correctly, and then, hit format. It will save both time and stress. 

What are your time-saving tips?

Log in or register to post comments

13 Comments

Richard Bradbury's picture

Naming the batteries is a good call. I have recently misplaced 3 LP-E6 this may of prevented that.

Chris Jones's picture

Pretty much the only thing I miss from lightroom after switching to capture one, the ability to export from a smart preview :(

Reginald Walton's picture

If LR had Sessions, I would go back. But I love Capture One, but wish they would support the HEIF file format.

Reginald Walton's picture

I immediately take my RAW files and copy them to my hard drive before I do any importing into my editing software. Once I do that, my computer takes over and automatically upload them to my iDrive and Amazon cloud accounts.

Alex Ragen's picture

I suggest formatting the cards in camera before a shoot too. Not a time saver but it does ensure that the card is OK. If you can format it you can write to it.

Stuart Carver's picture

Ive convinced myself that the majority of cases of 'I had an SD card crap out on me' is because people dont look after them, in the form of formatting regularly etc. i upload mine to a hard drive as soon as i get home (or a my passport pro if on holiday) then format the cards before putting my camera back in the bag.

Catherine Bowlene's picture

Labeling the plugs and batteries is a must. I started doing it a long time ago and it's a real time-saver. I also like using photoworks or lightroom presets to add one to many photos if my clients are OK with this. It doesn't work for portraits tho, but for some shootings it is a magic wand.

Stuart Carver's picture

My tip for charging is, get rid of the OEM chargers that are large, clumsy and can only charge one battery at once and get a 6 port USB hub, some short braided USB/Lightning cables and a couple of those cheap dual charge USB chargers... then grab a UK/Euro/American plug lead and a tech pouch and you have a compact all in one charge solution for 6 devices at once.

My last holiday i charged the X-T2, 4 more batteries, my ipad, phone and power bank all off one socket, and didnt even need one of those annoying plug adapters as i had the euro cable already.

G R's picture

Anytime I buy a new memory card, I label it with the year that I purchased it. That way I know exactly how old my cards are.

Dana Goldstein's picture

So much of it is labeling for me: Wide pieces of gaff tape label all front and rear caps so I can return all parts to each lens easily. Every carrying case of every modifier is labeled. Every bag holding the soft grid of every modifier is labeled, and it's packed in the case of its modifier. Every charging cable is labeled to show what piece of gear it charges. All these steps make it easy not only for me, but for my assistant, to find what's needed amongst my gear, even if it's someone I've never worked with before. Also a form of labeling: I changed the prefix name of my two bodies to be my initials followed by 1 or 2. This way, if images are showing a consistent problem, I can go back and see which body they were shot on.

David Cannon's picture

Scott Choucino How do you label your camera batteries? With a sticker or a certain type of marker? I haven't really found an option that is as durable as I would like.

Richard Bradbury's picture

Hi David.

You could use a PT label machine. Scott just writes on a label if I remember correctly for the last time I assisted him.

I am yet to label mine but may well done after losing 2 Canon LP-E6 batteries.