When I first started my photography business over 15 years ago, little did I know how much time I would actually spend not taking photos. I was naïve back then, thinking working for myself I would have extra time and days off. I was wrong about that however; as I began to grow as an artist as well as a business owner, I have discovered the art of process mapping. This type of organization, focus and clarity was a challenge at first. With a background in Fine Art- Oil Painting, I was not taught much about running a business or how to get my systems in place, heck I didn’t even know I needed a system. Through the struggle, many tears, help from various friends- thank you for Vanessa, Heidi, and Lexi, I have created my process maps.
The Wikipedia definition of process mapping is: “Business process mapping refers to activities involved in defining what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard a business process should be completed, and how the success of a business process can be determined. The main purpose behind business process mapping is to assist organizations in becoming more efficient. A clear and detailed business process map or diagram allows outside firms to come in and look at whether or not improvements can be made to the current process. Business process mapping takes a specific objective and helps to measure and compare that objective alongside the entire organization's objectives to make sure that all processes are aligned with the company's values and capabilities.”
Since I am the only one in my business and I have not hired any outside help yet, I execute each box of my process. I felt that it would be useful for my fellow business owners to learn about process mapping. On the other hand since most of my clients are business owners, I felt I should share what my process is and what to expect when working with me. Creating process maps for every aspect of my business has been daunting but worthwhile and helped save me time as a result. Below is an example of a process map defining my portrait photography session; beginning after the client has decided to work with me.
Client and I have had contact; we have discussed package options, and they have decided to go with BNP for their next portrait session.
In the initial email I send an intake form, which is an editable PDF with clarifying questions regarding the type of session one might want. At this time, we will determine where the shoot should take place, what time of day, what clothes should be worn, how many images you need, and so on.
After reviewing the intake form, we will have a phone call solidifying the location, time and the date of your photo session.
I will then email over a contract, which will be signed and sent back, and payment is received. I do require payment before we begin shooting.
The day before the photo session, I will send an email or text reminder of the time and location of our photo session.
The morning of the shoot, I will do a tarot card reading. I can share the results with you if you so desire or I can keep it to myself. This process helps me connect on a deeper level and grounds me in the process.
I will then meet you at the location.
We will say hello, check in and address any concerns you might have, choose outfit options in case they have evolved since we spoke previously and begin a short grounding meditation. The purpose of this exercise is to calm any nerves you might have about having your photo taken and come into the present moment leaving the rest of the day or week behind.
Next I will begin taking photos. During the shoot, I will do what is necessary to have to you comfortable and looking your best. I will help you pose, we will play with light, and we might even laugh a little. The purpose of this part is to have fun and capture the spirit of who you are. Now is the time where we get to play!
Following the above steps, we will check in again. Make sure we have covered any poses, locations or shots you may have wanted. See if there is anything you would like to try that we have not already and just make sure the session feels complete. If everything feels complete, we will end the photo session.
Coming next is what I call my “processing” time. I will cull, select or pick, the winning images. If images are out of focus, you are making a bad face, or I captured something that just isn’t that great this process will weed those problems out. I promise this process is for your own good. I will not remove any images that you might like.
With the selections made, I begin to process the RAW (NEF) files. Raw files are, “ A camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital camera, image scanner or motion picture film scanner. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited with a bitmap graphics editor. Normally, the image is processed by a raw converter in a wide-gamut internal colorspace where precise adjustments can be made before conversion to a "positive" file format such as TIFF or JPEG for storage, printing, or further manipulation, which often encodes the image in a device-dependent colorspace. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of raw formats in use by different models of digital equipment (like cameras or film scanners).” I do not share my RAW files with clients since processing them is a part of my creative process. It would be like a writer sharing their unedited books or a musician sharing the first cut of a song in the studio without any sound adjustments being made.
Most people do not have access to read RAW files, so I will then convert them to JPG for you. JPG is the most universally used digital image file and can be uploaded to social media sites and other platforms seamlessly. If your web designer, marketing firm, or graphic designer needs a different file type, other than RAW, just ask me! I can quickly create other versions. Once the JPGs have been created, I will review them one more and see if any slight adjustments or culling needs to be made.
The entire “processing” process typically takes 5-7 days. I always try to have your images returned to you within a week. In select instances, where I am unable to deliver within that time frame, I will keep you informed of my progress and my new projected date. Once the images are completed, I will upload, backup and deliver your photos. I will send the photos via email with a link to a ZIP file. A ZIP file is a series of compressed files with lossless data enabling me to send more information (or files) faster. When you receive this link, double click on it to decompress. Double clicking will automatically create a folder on your computer containing all the original resolution processed images.
Social media comes next! I will post a sneak peak of my favorite one or two images from our shoot on Facebook.
You may or may not need help with the selection of you images. Since my packages delineate how many photos you receive, I can help you decide. Looking at photos for many years and every day, I have a trained eye to help you with this decision. I use a system I call, “Hell Yes!” and it is fun.
Our process is now complete.
One thing I will do is ask your permission to be added to my mailing list. Lastly, I will invite you to visit my social media sites since this is where my most up to date work will be.
Contract is closed.
Thank you for traveling with me through my photographic process. I hope this helps ease your mind about our upcoming shoot and gives you a clear picture of what to expect. Having your photograph taken is meant to be fun. Humans are innately photogenic put in the right circumstance. It is my passion for creating a pleasant experience while working with me and create beautiful images that you share proudly.
If you area business owner and interested in creating your process map, please visit Lucid chart and you can sign up for a free 7-day trial. If you are getting stuck on how to create your process, work with a friend. Begin by speaking what your process is. Then you can take the time to write it out once you have dictated what your process is.
Hope you all enjoyed this post. If you have not already please sign up for my mailing list and visit my Facebook page. Thank you for listening!