7 Tech Tools All Photographers Should Use

7 Tech Tools All Photographers Should Use

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

SquareReader

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.

 

[Square Card Reader is 100% free, however have a 2.75% processing fee per transaction]

 

2. Google Drive

GoogleDrive

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.

 

[Google Drive is 100% free with a Google Account]

 

3. Spotify
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.

Spotify
This works especially well if you’re shooting a subject in studio. I often have clients come into my studio space, and immediately pick their favorite genre, or even artist to play during the shoot. The diversity and wealth of music in their library allows you to get your clients comfortable during a shoot, and ensure the music is always playing.

 

[Spotify Premium is $4.99/$9.99 a month; However the ad version is free]

 

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.

BlueTooth
[Bluetooth Speakers range from $20/$300 dollars depending on the brand/quality]

 

5. Flashlight

Flashlight

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.

 

[LED Flashlights range from $4/$200 depending on brand/quality; Phone apps can be found for free]

 

6. GPS
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]

 

7. Mint
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.

Mint
[Mint is 100% free]

 

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.

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42 Comments

Sadly Mint doesn't support Germany

Same goes for SquareUp!!

K. Bryant Images's picture

I love the square reader. I have the PayPal reader too and they are great resources for client payment.  Especially PayPal since it goes directly to your PayPal account and you get it out with your PayPal debit card.

Funny you use the term "surefire" in your decsription of flashlights. My absolute favorite go-to flashlight is the SureFire E2D Defender. Military/law enforcement grade with amazing light output from a very small package, and what's more, the beam is very even, unlike the donuts or hotspots you get with lesser flashlights. That means you can actually use this flashlight as a fill or spotlight to hilight subjects on a dusk / sunset shoot. I use the older halogen version, but they now have an LED version that's brighter and still has the smooth beam spread.

http://www.surefire.com/e2dl.html

Paypal offers a great card reader as well. 

I will never post/upload my account info/CC info online. NEVER!

You are secured from hackers/whatever.You are not secured for them.
They can do whatever they want with your data.
LOL

Square is a joke! When you have an issue with a transaction, try to get some help! It's really a JOKE!
No customer service, very very late email responses (takes days), asking you to find the solution in a "forum" instead of providing help... NO MORE, thanks.. :( Square is not a "real" service provider at all. Sorry, I had bad experience with them more than once and could not put up with extremely  low customer service.
I recently switched to PhoneSwipe and I really am not promoting them here but boy! what a big difference! Please don't take my word on either Square or PhoneSwipe, but don't get Square just because it's posted here on fStoppers. 
Thank you.

I use payware cardreader, supposedly better encryption and they will not take a dipusted transaction out of your account without proof that it is fraudulent.

Andy's picture

what about FLINT guys?

Andy's picture

n yup, PayPal has a card reader now.

3 of 7 tools are not available in my country :) Proper title would be 7 Tech Tools that US photogs should use..

This is why I love Mint - http://www.fastcompany.com/1381747/data-mining-mintcom-demographic

Square is notorious for problems with their "email only" customer service, as well as holding large funds for days, sometimes months at a time with very little communication to their client.

Good for small funds, sure, not for serious businesses, though.

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