From shutter to finished product there are tools I rely on. Some obvious… my camera, lights, and editing software… while others go a little more unseen. I want to talk about some of the less obvious tools in my photographer’s toolbox.

I won’t claim every one of these tools is necessary for everyone (the title said should, not must), but for me, these are all tools that have made a huge impact on the success of my business.

Tether Tools

Tether Tools Logo

If you know me and you’re thinking, “he only bought that cable because it’s orange”… well… … …you’d be absolutely right. 

I could talk to you about the exceptional build quality. About how proper cable management, and high visibility cables help create a safe studio environment. Which is all true. But honestly, I just really really love the colour orange. It makes me happy.

So yes, I admit it, I bought my first Tether Tools product (a 15’ USB cable + the Core Controller) because it was orange. However, since that first purchase I’ve learned that their brand is essentially synonymous with high-end quality. 

Tethering is a key component of my workflow.

Tethering provides immediate redundancy and accessibility. Every image I take is near-instantly available on my laptop, and shortly thereafter uploaded to my cloud storage. This means that within a few seconds of taking a photo I have multiple backups, in multiple locations, and it’s accessible from my primary editing computer.

Tethering assists with coaching. Years ago I watched mentor Peter Hurley use a tethered setup to provide constructive and positive feedback to his client; I’ve been doing it the same way ever since. 

Tethering provides me with quality control. When the image appears on my monitor I’m much more able to gage lighting, focus, etc from a calibrated larger monitor vice the back of my camera.

Honestly, tethering just helps me sessions flow… and Tether Tools makes the best of the best gear in support of that.

They’re also just great people. As a company Tether Tools are wicked supportive of the photographers who use their gear. One might call them cheerleaders. It makes it very easy to support a company watching how they support us in kind.

Sprout Studio

A good Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) is essential for any business to thrive. 

Your CRM is your database of client details, organized to suit your business needs. It’s your history of communications with those clients, easily accessible when required. Your CRM will streamline and automate how you interact with your clients, greatly reducing the time and energy required to maintain those relationships.

Your CRM is your personal assistant, making sure your business runs smoothly.

The hardest part of finding a good CRM, honestly, is simply choosing which one is the best for you and your business.

There are a lot of CRM Suites available. And many of them cater directly to photographers, acting as a Studio Management Suites as well. I tried many of them, each of them has their strengths and their weaknesses, but it was Sprout Studio I finally settled down with.

Sprout Studio stood out. They are at their core an amazing CRM, but they also offer many additional tools designed to assist photographers manage their studios. 

With Sprout Studio I:

  • Collect my clients information (lead generation)
  • Automate the initial communication (lead confirmation)
  • Book leads into sessions (automated proposals and scheduling)
  • Automate reminders, questionnaires, etc (pre-session communications)
  • Provide a gallery after the session (proofing and selection)
  • Document and receive payments from the client (basic invoicing)
  • Receive reports and analytics (basic accounting)

With other CRMs I had to look elsewhere for a good automated scheduling application (e.g. Acuity), or a good client proofing gallery (e.g. PixieSet). Sprout Studio provided me the exact same functionality in a single location, perfectly embedded with the rest of the CRM. And by allowing me to drop my subscriptions to the other services, it also saves me money.

I talked before about how I love supporting companies that in-turn support their users. Being a member of Sprout Studio feels a little bit like a community. The users help each other out consistently. There is always open conversation between us and the Sprout Studio team. You honestly get the impression that they are paying attention, and give a shit about helping people become more successful through their software. I like that.

Also; they’re Canadian.

Full disclaimer; the links to Sprout Studios are affiliate links. On the plus side, if you use them, there’s a coupon for 20% off waiting for you.