5 Online Tools for Independent Photographers to Expand and Inspire
There is nothing I love more than being out on an assignment, camera in hand, navigating the elements of the world while trying to capture the best images possible. The act of taking pictures is engaging, dynamic, often challenging and sometimes even inspiring.
And then, once the shoot is over, I have to pack up my equipment, trek back home, and face the daunting task of post-production, editing images, marketing my services, chasing more gigs and all of the other tasks that come up when you make your living as an independent photographer and/or videographer. It’s often when I sit down to face my computer for the first time of the day that I get hit with a wave of motivation to cook a three course meal, do five loads of laundry and clean my apartment until it sparkles (simultaneously, of course).
I know I am not alone here. As a creative professional that is much more attached to the “creative” part and less to the “professional” one, it can be a big challenge to tackle the computer-based side of your job, which is more focused on expanding your business, marketing yourself and dealing with all of the other tasks that come up in between shoots. If this story sounds familiar to you, then read on: the websites and services listed here will help you expand your photography business, improve relationships with your clients, and just may inspire you to keep going when you have a batch of 1,000+ images sitting in Lightroom, waiting for your attention. They will help you save time with the computer-based tasks you may have avoided and allow you to focus more on the things you love to do, whatever they may be.
Become a graphic design professional with Canva
Depending on where you live, you may find that the market for photographers is completely saturated. If you are looking for new ways to stand out amongst the crowd and expand your offering to potential clientele then Canva is the website for you. With this platform, almost any graphic manipulation you can dream of can be applied to your images.
Turn your pictures into save-the-dates, posters, collages, holiday cards, or invitations with Canva’s endless amount of easy-to-use graphic elements. It’s also a great resource for creating eye-catching marketing material for your business such as social media posts, email marketing layouts, business cards or flyers. Upload your photographs to Canva, get creative with the straightforward design process and watch your business flourish as a result. Did I mention that Canva is free? That’s right, this resource will cost you all of nothing. And if you want to go deeper into designing, there are very reasonable pay per element and subscription plans.
Buy yourself more time with Fiverr
If you also suffer from computer-induced ADD, chances are you’re trying to find ways to spend less time in the office and more time in the field taking pictures. Fiverr is a great resource that can help you do exactly that. This website allows you to hire professionals for a quick, one-off gig. They have hundreds of Photoshop and Lightroom experts waiting to help you process and edit your images for a mutually agreed upon fee.
I recently had a batch of group photos from a wedding where I had to Photoshop a dozen heads in order to turn them into images where everyone was smiling with eyes wide open. Rather than spend the time in Photoshop cutting and pasting heads – exactly the kind of time-consuming, detail-oriented work I don’t enjoy – I hired a Photoshop expert on Fiverr to do the work for me. Yes, the money cut into the profit I made for shooting the wedding, but I was able to spend that time doing other things that I am better at and enjoy more, like face-to-face time with potential clients and building up my photography portfolio.
Don’t forget, buying yourself time can make you a happier person. Don’t take my word for it – read the research here!
Turn your photographs into moving works of art with Plotagraph
Technology is moving fast these days, especially in the field of photography where the line between DSLR and video cameras becomes more blurry with each update. This same blurring of technologies can be seen in finished products as well. There was Vine, then Boomerang, GIFs, and now… Plotagraphs.
Plotagraphs add movement to still images, resulting in a stunning and mesmerizing cross between a still picture and a video. There are also Cinemagraphs, which use video to create the same effect, but for simplicity purposes let’s stick to Plotagraphs. There are various ways you can offer Plotagraphs to clients – corporate websites and Facebook cover photos are some that immediately come to mind.
Keeping up to date with changing trends and technologies and integrating them into your business is a great way to stand out and win over new clients. It will help you find your niche in an ultra-saturated industry. Not every photographer will want to spend the time creating a Plotagraph. However, if you are one of those who loves tinkering with the minute details of your images and want to offer something extra special to your clients, then this may be a great jumping off point for you.
Pin your clients’ vision on Pinterest
Pinterest often gets a bad rep for overly airbrushed images of impossible DIY projects and living rooms that take shabby chic to a really crazy level. I encourage you to look past the pictures of nail art and “wanderlust” tattoos and utilize Pinterest as a business resource.
While I can’t vouch for it as a tool for marketing your work, I do think it’s a great resource to better understand a client’s vision for a shoot. If a client has something really specific in mind, chances are they can express their vision through a Pinterest board. Alternatively, if they aren’t sure what they want to accomplish in their shoot, I ask them to create a board to gather images that help express the vibe they are going for. That way, I can aim for a similar look while shooting.
I also use Pinterest for self-improvement and inspiration, for example – to look at best practices for group posing or to get new ideas for creative maternity shoots. I’m all for trusting your unique vision as a photographer, however, if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired you now know where to go.
Free resources to the rescue
I may be biased, but in my opinion Wix is the most versatile, easy to use, and visually stimulating place for building a complete photography website. There are also lots of great features that will help you grow your business including a customized SEO plan, a plugin that lets you integrate online bookings, and even an option to add an online art store to your site.
Especially exciting for event and wedding photographers is Wix Photo Albums, which will make sharing large batches of images with clients a breeze. Unlike other client sharing galleries that tend to keep their branding in some form, this feature lets you create your own branded website for each gallery, which then can be shared with everyone who wants to access the images. The gallery will easily direct visitors back to your website, which, if all goes as planned, will result in more bookings.
Now it’s time for you to take these resources and run with them.
By Tracy Levy
Tracy Levy is a professional photographer and videographer.