Often, we’re talking about the latest and greatest camera body or lenses to help our photography business flourish. However running a photography business requires many more tools than just a fancy camera, lens or even lights. We are all using other tech tools to help us manage our lives easier, and run our business more effectively. So without further ado, here is the list of seven tech items all photographers should be using.
1. Square Card Reader
If you’re not familiar with Square at this point, its about time to get acquainted. Square is a small card reader that you’re able to plug into your smart phone and immediately accept credit card payments for your business. The best part of all about Square is the rates, its a mere 2.75% per swipe, and the card reader and service beyond that is absolutely free. Also, their website makes it easy to manage payments with their analytics, and the money is usually deposited into your bank account within the next business day.
2. Google Drive
Formally named Google Docs, Google has developed a comprehensive tool box that every photographer should be using. Google Drive is essentially a web version of Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and more all available on the internet for free. Perhaps the best part about Google Drive is the ability to share the documents with friends, and even modify documents and spreadsheets together, in real time.
One practical use I had with this was when I was building a group shoot with another photographer a couple years ago. We were able to build a spreadsheet on who was attending, and who was not, and mark everything paid or unpaid. It quickly and easily made two scatterbrained photographers taking payments look like a well oiled business machine.
Another great tool within the Google toolkit is Google Calendar. I use this for all booking, and like Google Drive, multiple people can view and edit specific calendars. So if you have multiple people sharing studio space it allows you to have multiple people editing and filling up time spaces.
When Spotify was announced for the United States, I was pretty much immediately sold. Spotify is a lot like Pandora, as it allows you to legally stream music from your favorite artists. However, where Spotify differs is that it lets you build a radio station of your favorite musicians, but also lets you listen to their entire collection in a pick and choose format. That's right, you can pick and choose what songs you’d like to hear, as if you have them downloaded and in your iTunes Library.
4. Bluetooth Speaker
This one lies right with Spotify above. A bluetooth speaker will allow you to play your music wirelessly and without the hassle of a traditional speaker system. And with it being bluetooth, you’re able to stream music from your phone, your subjects phone or any other tech devices that you may have laying around. Most of these speaker systems are small, practical and have the option of being battery powered. So not only do they work great in studio and indoor situations, but they are also great for when you’re shooting the great outdoors. I personally use the Logitech UE Mobile Boombox, but feel free to do some searching online to find the one that is best for you.
If you've shot outdoors at dusk, or night, you probably already have a flashlight in your bag. Auto focus systems have not yet reached perfection in focusing in low light situations so a flashlight can sometimes be extremely useful and practical. When shooting a subject at night, you’re able to use the flashlight to focus on their face, turn it off, and shoot with a strobe firing. Its the only surefire way to make focusing at night not a completely headache. I personally recommend the high powered LED flashlights, as they’re like spotlights in your pocket. However, many smart phones have apps available that can be used in a pinch. Apps for the phone can be found for free in your respected app store, and physical flashlights can be found for under $10.
I find having a GPS system is extremely helpful during the photography process. Not only does it make location scouting a complete breeze, but with everyone having GPS on their phones these days, it also makes it easy to find places to meet without the hassle of giving detailed directions. I personally, live in the desert, so I’m graced with miles of desolate terrain that is able to provide some interesting locations for photo shoots Its so much easier to give coordinates to someone rather than painstakingly looking for them in a sea of sand. The ability to geotag interesting locations as you’re driving (I usually accompany it with a photo from my phone) makes location scouting incredibly easy. Pocket Scout is a great app that allows you to save photos of and geotag locations while on the move (Available for iOS & Android).
[GPS apps range from free/$10 available in your app store]
Mint is by far my favorite web site and app on my phone. For those unfamiliar, Mint is arguably the best finance application available today. It allows you to add all of your bank account and credit card information onto one site, and manage your finances with ease. Aside from that, it gives you financial advice after watching your spending habits, and sets budgets for you to help you save. I've also used its wonderful credit card finding tools to find a new credit card with the best benefits and lowest APR rate that helps me with my financial lifestyle. And perhaps the best part of Mint is the fact that its all free (and secure). Go to their website and create an account if you haven't already, and watch as Mint turns into your ultimate digital financial adviser.
Certainly there are plenty more tools that we use in our day to day lives that makes running our businesses easier. If you have any other items to contribute to the list, feel free to add them in the comments below.