Shooting images is often the part of photography that receives the praise and that photographers find the most exciting, engaging and aspect they are most drawn to. Then comes editing, which can feel daunting after shooting your heart out during a client session when all the alchemy of the elements is coming together. It’s these moments we may initially be excited to load the images into Lightroom and begin culling to find our absolute favorites, but time after time, we can find ourselves with an overload of images to edit with more and more shoots scheduled down the pipeline.
It’s in these moments we probably all resonate with a little all too well we need to find a way to stay motivated and, pardon my language, but get shit done. Editing is part of our job, and while it may not be the part that pulls at our hearts, it’s the part that takes the images from camera worthy to client worthy.
Here are my top 5 tips for staying motivated to edit your images and deliver them to the client in a timely manner.
Cull Without Mercy
This sounds dramatic but a ruthless culling session ensures you’re not editing so many photos from the same session you find yourself getting bored during the editing process. Edit with passion and cull only the most emotive images you created. These images will be the ones that will speak and evoke heart from your clients. If you’re giving a chance to almost every photo when you’re culling, your editing will take easily twice as long. Saving time helps keep up your motivation.
Begin setting up a timeline schedule for how you want to cull, edit and deliver your work to your clients… then stick to the schedule as much as you possibly can. A great schedule is to load and back up your images as soon as you arrive home from a shoot. Cull within the next 48 hours. Edit within 1-2 weeks, depending on how busy you are. Place your schedule in your calendar with the name of the session as reminders so you stay on track. Setting a routine leaves less room for you to edit when the inspiration strikes and turns it into a foundational piece of your everyday business practices.
We often lack motivation when a process is daunting. Make the process easier for yourself by using presets either purchased or created on your own. Using presets (and applying them on import) can save time, making the process run smoothly and efficiently.
When you wait for motivation, you may wait forever. When you discipline yourself, you’ll do it whether you want to or not. Moving from motivation to discipline often takes someone holding you accountable. Accountability is an amazing way to keep yourself on track– especially if you’re a people pleaser or if you worry about disappointing someone. Find a friend, another photographer, or your hired-out-help to keep you accountable with your timelines. Knowing that someone believes in you and will be checking in can often motivate you to perform on schedule, and the idea that they’ll check in and you won’t have a good report can also be the motivation you need. Accountability can also come in the form of committing to a 365-day project or by joining a group.
Bills, Bills, Bills.
Sometimes it comes down to the black and white. If you don’t edit the photos and deliver to your client you don’t get paid. We all have bills to pay, we are all working hard for the money we earn. Money is a BIG motivator for so many people so if you have to post up your bills on your way beside your computer to get your ass in gear, do it.
I get it, staying motivated can be hard. Especially during the first trimester of my current pregnancy, I wasn’t feeling any sort of motivated. I had Gary help me cull images and had to remind myself daily that even though I started into this career because of pure passion and now, some days I need to remind myself that discipline keeps my career moving forward. When you find ways to keep yourself motivated, you’ll find yourself continually stretching your own perceptions of creativity and success and will turn into the photographer you always dreamed of being.