I often receive questions about business-workflow, estimates, usage fees and other issues that none of us likes to deal with. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid these things. In the beginning of your career, long before you are running studios in London, Paris and New York with lots of employees, agents and accountants and screaming fans, you’ll have to deal with it yourself.
One thing I can’t emphasize enough is the importance of good software. When I started my business there was not much around. At first I tried a combination of Word, Excel and some cheap address-software. My information was cluttered all over the computer, little bits and pieces here and there, no structure whatsoever. After doing that for a while, I realized that I needed a different solution. I purchased FileMaker Pro (a highly customizable database software) and designed my own studio software. Although it took me several months of programming (a few hours here and there) I ended up having a complete software solution that accompanies every single project from the moment a clients calls all the way to April 15, when taxes are due. Estimates, different usage fees, terms & conditions, invoice, delivery memos, casting sheets, model releases, call-sheets, reports – it’s all there.
Am I suggesting you should sit down and program for a couple of months ? Absolutely not. Here is the good news: In recent years several different software companies have created software packages specifically designed for professional photographers. These programs are affordable (some even free) highly customizable and have been tested and approved by many industry professionals. I highly recommend to get one of these software solutions, it will probably be one of the best investments you’ll ever make. Here are some that I know about: BlinkBid In my opinion the most complete package of them FotoBiz PhotoByte A free download If you know of any other (good) ones – please send me a link, I’ll be happy to list them here.