Podcast Episodes

036 | Workflow: Building an Efficient Photography Workflow as a Parent

September 6, 2022

I once had a time (and soul) sucking editing workflow. I’m sharing the tools I’ve used to set a new foundation to maximize family time!

I'm Dan!

Photographer, podcaster, extreme empath, and certified life coach. I help photographers enjoy more family and personal time while growing their business.


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Are you in need of a solid and efficient workflow for your photography business? In this episode, I’m sharing how I transformed my wedding photography post-shoot workflow from a time-sucking, overwhelming, and ridiculous process that I dreaded into a couple hours of work per week. I’m opening up about the mindset shifts that I experienced over the last few years, the changes I had to make, and the boundaries I decided I needed to set. All of this while full-time dad-ing three kids under five. Listen as I explain the tools I’ve used to set a new foundation for myself, and where I plan to go from here. 

The Focused Photographers Podcast was created based on the idea that the most incredible tool for learning is a deep dive into any given topic from multiple perspectives. Join us every other week as we explore important topics, with host, Daniel Moyer and a variety of guests offering different perspectives! Make sure you’ve hit that follow or subscribe button on your favorite podcast player to get notified each week as we air new episodes!

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The part that we all struggle with (4:09)

What happened that made me put boundaries in place (5:58)

What do you do to change? (10:15)

The boundaries I’ve set (12:36)

How I built upon the foundation (16:23)

Parkinson’s Law (17:37)

Decreasing your time behind the computer (22:01)

Where do I go from here? (24:54)


Focused5 Newsletter

Episode 022: My 2022 Work/Life Balance Experiment



Wedding Instagram: @DANIELMOYERPHOTO



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Review the Transcript:

Hey, photographer friends. I’m Dan Moyer and welcome to the focused photographers podcast where photographers gather.

This episode is about how I transformed my wedding photography workflow. From a time sucking, overwhelming, ridiculous process that I dreaded. I’d fully love the prior pre wedding client experience poor, I get to know my couples on a deep level. But the post processing everything to do after the wedding was just very difficult and overwhelming for me. So I transformed this process over the last couple years into a couple hours of work per week, all while full time dating three kids under five.

Before I really dive into this episode, and the boundaries that set in place, and some of the mindset shifts that I made, I want to share just a couple of updates, that really happened this summer, the summer is always a bit slow for me. And this summer was no different. It’s just because of family time and my wife used to be a teacher. So I just always blocked off the summers and really didn’t take much. So this particular summer, I really took to get focused and really decide what I want the future of you know, this platform to be and some of the big things that I wanted to plan as it were coming. The biggest thing that’s going to affect everybody is that this podcast is going to go to just a straight up bi weekly format. And I realized that I can be way more consistent that way.

But that means that the monthly topics that I’ve done in the past, were all I’ll have, you know topic for the month, and it comes out, you know, last June was creativity month, and then there was another month on work life balance and things like that, instead of just a monthly barrier. I’m just going to say just like this, this is the first in a series of X episodes coming up that are gonna be on this topic. So the perfect segue actually is that this episode that you’re listening to right now is the first episode in a series of four episodes on workflow. And I have three other amazing photographers who I’m really excited to pick their brains and share those episodes with you. So I’m really thankful to have Koli, James coming up, Sam Hurd and my very good friend, Colin Coleman, all coming on to talk about their process and the way that they approach workflow and Systemising and automation and all those fun things.

So it’s gonna be really awesome. So that’s going to happen every two weeks for the next couple of weeks. So I think there’s gonna be two in september two in October, all on the topic of workflow. And the last thing before we really dive into this episode is that I want to share this bolo resource that has been slowly expanding, and I love it. And it’s the focus five newsletter, I love writing. But I also really love not spending a lot of time on social media. And I feel like the newsletter is a way that I get to not be on social media, but also put content out there that is very succinct and relevant and is easily archivable and come back to Kabul. Is that a word? Yeah, that’s a word, something that you can easily come back to, because we’re all on our email all the time. So if you are interested in you know, relatable stories, business ideas, go to focus photographers.com/newsletter, I’ll send you an email every single Thursday, just with some ideas, relatable stories, all that kind of stuff, no fluff, no spam, you can unsubscribe anytime. It is just strictly educational content. So again, focusedphotographers.com/newsletter. All right, let’s get into this episode.

So I recorded this episode a few times. And it’s actually a tough one, because it’s not just about workflow. But it’s all the things that go into having an efficient workflow before you can before you can actually even get into the business of doing things. You’ve got to have this like right mindset. And going through some of the stuff that I shared actually was kind of difficult. So I deleted it and rewrote it and re scripted this episode and recorded it and then re recorded it and it just did not come together. So I’m gonna go with my heart on this one. I’m just gonna let it come out the however it’s supposed to come out. So I’m sure you’re probably thinking like, well, well, well, what did I sign up for hear this is only just about workflow. It is about workflow. But in order to even have a solid workflow, you have to have a solid foundation for which to function on.

If you are a photographer, there’s a good chance Well, if you’re listening to this, you probably are a photographer, but there’s a good chance you know, a thing or two about burnout and being overwhelmed and overworked and behind unworked I think the creative part comes naturally to so many of us, but the organization side of things and the system side of things and the managing ourselves doesn’t really much. This is what I hear all the time from my students and photographers that I talk with is that getting systems down for everything is the part that we all struggle with. And I am the exact same way. I actually had pretty good so I was a photographer before I started my own business in January 2010. I worked for Another photography studio for like five years and that the boss of that company super awesome.

I learned so much from him. He was all about systems systems for everything. And what I learned from that is that systems are really good for creating these repeatable, non creative things that freed you up for later, when you need it to be creative, you have the brain capacity to do it. But here’s the thing, though, is that having systems and a way to do things doesn’t mean that their time saving systems shirt might save you some. But systems for repeatable things are totally different than time management, the two of those things are mutually exclusive. They, they may be like shake hands a little bit. But just because you have a system for something doesn’t mean that that system is automatically going to make you much faster.

Throughout this whole time though, I thought that I had really good systems for everything, but nothing will challenge your systems and organization and time management skills like having kids looking back, our first cut actually didn’t change too too much for us. She was in daycare a lot of the days of the week. But when things really got tricky is in late 2019, actually, quite literally the middle of 2019, we were found out that we were blessed with twins, that was a big surprise, because there are no twins on either side of our families as far as any of our parents and grandparents know. But yeah, so we’re surprised with twins. And that really through quite a few tricky things. And I’m I’m going to skip a lot of the the nitty gritty details, because I ended up thinking that it was unnecessary. And when I first scripted this, I added so many details of like what was going on and what was happening and what made it hard.

But then I realized that I didn’t want my struggle with three kids and all stuff to make it seem like I was downplaying anybody else’s struggle. Because whether it’s three kids, or five kids, or one kid or no kids, we’re all going through stuff, we all have little things that are tripping us up or, or big mountains that we have to get over. And just because you know this is my struggle doesn’t mean that you’re going to take something else away from this. And I just wanted to say that nobody struggle is worse than somebody else’s. We’re all going through. And I’m right there with you. And this is a little bit of my story. And what happened that made me change things put some boundaries in place. So my wife is in the corporate world, she’s a supervisor, not much flexibility, while she does have pretty good flexibility in terms of her company, but like she’s got to be on with clients, she’s got to be in meetings with her team. She’s a supervisor.

So there’s not much flexibility in those terms. I’m self employed, I make my own schedule. So it’s natural that I have more flexibility and freedom. And I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about. So when we came into the pandemic, with basically three under three twins and a three year old, it got really tricky. Because our kids are home around the clock there, there was this period, that was probably the the hardest part for me was that I was spending so many hours to feel like in the nursery, right, like a normal day was get everybody out, feed him all that stuff. But then Regina would go down for a nap and would take her 30 to 45 minutes to get down for nap then I come downstairs, get Henry Take him upstairs, try to put him down for a nap.

And that would take 30 to 45 minutes again. But then I’d come downstairs have maybe a half hour then Virginia would be back up. And then we play we do that whole thing over again in the afternoon. And then we do another bedtime thing. And our twins were terrible sleepers for so long. And we’d often be up there overnight, three to five times. And the twins were sleeping in the same room together. So they’d wake each other up. And it was just complete madness. But here’s the thing, though, is I still needed to get stuff done. I still had a business to run and other ventures to do. But the truth is I you know, after three months, six months, I don’t even know that time just was like a warp in that time. I had nothing left. Like I just there was no reservoir, there was no reserves to dig into. And if I’m being truthful. And this is hard to say there was times where I like resented my kids. And I realized like that is I mean this in the most the best way possible, right? Like I love them. They’re amazing. I have really fun times with them.

And I had fun times with them through the whole thing. And these like extreme highs were often met with extreme lows, and I love them. But also like it was just very difficult at some times and I just wanted to have that innocence in that chill that kids get to have. I know that like other people out there just like nodding their heads. And there’s all these like, like I said, there’s all these different levels of of struggle. But when I realized like, forget about the circumstances that I had, what I realized there was a problem is when I couldn’t just take a deep breath and remind myself that things were going to be okay. Those like feelings of sadness and dread would come seemingly out of nowhere and would just hang around like my own personal invisible storm cloud and just and just sit with me and I could not shake them and that’s when I knew that things were not in the best place and that here’s the point though, is that that mindset that gray cloud hanging over us Not the foundation for which growth can happen, that is not the foundation for being super productive. You can grow from that place. But you need to get out of that place, you need to work on yourself first before that real growth can happen.

So here’s the part where it’s like, alright, well, I’m in this like, not great place. So what do you do to change? I’ve been in like, not as deep of this kind of place before. And I’ve done some reading on, on how to make myself feel better, and, and all that. But like this time was different. I could tell this time is different for everything I said before, but I decided, the best thing I could do for myself was to find somebody outside of the equation outside of the family, like I tell my wife, everything, I’m very open with her. But I just needed somebody who was outside of this situation that I’m in who could just help me and hear me and listen to me, and offer me some guidance. So the first thing that I did was I got a therapist, and it took months actually to get one and find one. But it was literally the best decision I could have made at the time, I think the best analogy I’ve ever heard of having a therapist is this one.

And actually, this is the best thing I’ve ever heard about depression also, like just a minute ago saying how you have this like sadness, or this dread or anxiety that just pops up out of nowhere. And I cannot remember where I heard this analogy before. But it’s like you’re driving down a road. And all of a sudden, boom, you’re just like in this black hole. And you don’t know how you got swallowed up into the black hole, you don’t know how your car got swallowed up into the black hole. But you you’re just there. And then finally you get out of the black hole. And then you’re driving down the road another couple of days later, whatever and all sudden, boom, you’re like in this black hole. It’s like what the heck. And you’re just like, it’s all encompassing, there’s black everywhere, it’s heavy, it’s dark. And finally you get yourself out of it.

And you’re going down the road again, another couple of days later. And just before you dive into this black hole, you catch a glimpse of it coming up, right. And every day, it’s kind of the same thing. But you you have this kind of awareness now of the black hole coming and soon it gets you get closer and closer to being able to slow down just a little bit for you in the black hole. And finally, you’re able to slow down completely walk right up to the edge guide your car walk right up to the edge and take a look here, we’re actually able to tiptoe around this black hole and move past it. I think that’s what he did for me. And that is a much better place for growth to come out of when you’re able to look through some some of these things and, and look at some of the situations you’re in objectively and be able to get some space from them. So with some of the tools that my therapists gave me and some of this clarity and relief, I started to feel I had some some realizations and put some boundaries actually into place. Now I’ve talked about some of these things before and I have a whole episode. It’s episode 22, called my work life balance experiment. I dive really deep into this experiment that I’m doing this year and the boundaries I set up, but I’m gonna give you a 500 foot view.

And now I’ve got like eight months, nine months worth of these things that are really working for me, and and really helping me out. So I realized the one of the big things I realized is that the lack of attention I was giving myself and my family really got to me, I could not be overloaded and overworked and giving my family the scraps of what was ever left. Your family doesn’t deserve that either. And that was something that weighed on me where I would show up to something or I’d have time off and my brain would be elsewhere I’d be tired of being overworked. It would be back in the office where I have all this stuff to do. And my family didn’t deserve that, you know, we all start businesses to have more freedom. And we end up working 24/7 Because of you know all the stuff that I’ve said before about how we’re not good at managing time.

And it just it just gets away from us. And there’s so many things that distract us. So the first thing that I did when I had this realization that I needed to give my family more time and need to give myself more time was to set up boundaries. And here’s a couple of things that I did. First, I think my wife and I, like I said I’m very open with her. I think we got on the same page. What we really do well, I think now we’ve really gotten into routine is to own our calendar, family time gets scheduled first and so to our date nights, and we were pretty consistent with them even through the pandemic. Sometimes it was just like us sitting on the couch, having a yellow bar in between running up and down the stairs trying to you know, soothe our twins and get our oldest back to sleep. But that was like the first thing owning our calendar. All stuff goes in there. We schedule our family time we schedule our date nights, that stuff comes first.

The second was nothing happens on Sundays around here. Nothing from a work perspective. There are no calls, there’s no sessions. There’s no shoots, no weddings, no engagement sessions, nothing it is just for fun. Emily, so I know that even if the week is absolutely madness, that I have something coming up, or whether it’s we go to the pool or to the zoo, and we just get to have a little bit of something. So even if I’m not in the best brain space, we can still have some quality time. And I can show up, even if it’s just for a little bit, you know, I’m saying. So, the third thing, those are kind of the two family things, the two biggest family things that that we put into place. The third was me time. And I’ve talked about this quite a bit where it’s hard to have me time when there’s three kids running around all the time. I’ve always been an early riser, it still sucks to wake up early. But I’ve realized that I’m a much better dad, a much better husband and a much better person when I get to get up early. And I do have a little coffee action, and a walk. Those are the two things that really stick some kind of movement, and then some coffee.

I mean, you know, coffee, the first thing in the morning is great. So that’s that’s pretty much what’s stuck. Now I’m into a zone where I get it work out and all that stuff. But it really started with coffee, a walk. And then if I had time, some meditation, right, that was the boundaries, I set up for the family side of things, because that was it took some clarity. But that was the biggest stuff that was really eating away at me. So now with with that me time and that family time carved out, that was the foundation that I laid to be able to start really making a difference. So here’s where I really started to build upon that foundation. I used to work all the time, even when my daughter was in daycare, even before she was in daycare, I worked all day, all three of those days that she was in school or in daycare, and the two days that we had daddy daughter days where we go to the zoo or the museum or whatever.

I remember complaining to my wife all the time. And I just didn’t have enough time, right? Like I would die now to have three full days worth of of undistracted focused work. But the truth is, I was working so inefficiently I was working at a coffee shop, I was jumping from task to task I was working at Friends places instead of just sitting down buckling up, you know, whatever that saying is, and just getting my actual work done. And here’s the realization I had kind of middle the pandemic, I could no longer work the way that I worked before the pandemic and pre twins. And what really got me fired up is this idea. And I’m gonna feel very fancy here quoting Plato, I think that Plato says, Well, what I have written down is necessity creates innovation. I think Plato’s actual quote was, necessity is the mother of invention or something like that.

I like necessity creates innovation, there was no other way for me to get work done, other than to just fit it into these time pockets. Now, follow me here, this is gonna get a little technical, but it’s so important. Parkinson’s Law is an idea that’s used a lot in productivity. If you take one thing away from this episode, it is Parkinson’s Law. Listen to me, Parkinson’s Law, it comes up all the time. The formal definition is that work expands so as to fill the time allotted for completion. Give yourself here’s an example. Give yourself an hour to complete a project. It takes an hour, have you ever forgotten the start time to a session and you have 15 minutes to get ready? It’s pretty amazing how quickly you can get ready? Or how about if you have eight weeks to turn in your contract to turn around a wedding? Guess how long it takes to turn around that wedding? We see it in in everyday life, too. Like, there’s that new eight lane highway that was built that’s going to solve all the traffic problems. Well, guess what more people start driving because the road is bigger, and the things are gonna get there faster. Traffic does not get any better.

Huh, how about that? Guess what happens? What happened when I started putting in this family time this me time. I have these time blocks that are naturally built in right? My kids are napping at this time. I know they’re napping around this time. I know I’ve got family time here. I know I’ve off this time. I’ve got these other time blocks that now I fit work into Parkinson’s Law in work, right? It gives you time blocks to work in. So we can start intentionally giving ourselves these time blocks, right? Like I’m working on calling a wedding. And I go through this wedding. And I start with this. There’s a thing called the Pomodoro method, which is a way of you implementing Parkinson’s Law where you set a five minute timer and I start going through the photographs and I go through and I count up the amount of photographs that I’ve called in that five minute period I give myself a 32nd break or a minute break. Then I set the timer again and I go back to it and I create a little game out of it.

How many photographs that I call out of that in the next five minutes and you start going through and you create a little game how quickly can you go how how quickly can you break up this task? The key is to set time for yourself to work within. This is time blocking. In an episode coming up with Kohli James this month. She talks about how a productivity mentor that she’s working with helped her set up time blocks that she’s actually doing Certain things during certain times. The key here is to implement this intentionally. When you’re calling a wedding or editing a wedding, set a timer for one hour, turn off your email, turn off social media set, Do Not Disturb on your phone, and just focus on this one task for one hour, you can like I call it embracing the suck, where it’s like, okay, I know that this is the thing I have to do, I’d rather be doing other things right now.

But if I can just sit here for an hour, and get three hours worth of work done in one hour, even two hours worth of work done in one hour, I’m gonna get that back somewhere else where it’s really meaningful to me, that is incredibly motivating to be able to say, alright, I’m just gonna sit here, I’m gonna bust this out, because then later I get to enjoy something. And that delayed gratification is something that is really tricky, because we want it now and all that stuff. But once you start training yourself to get into this mode of okay, I’m going to do this now. So I have more time later, I’m going to do this now. So I have more time later, that is going to be tremendously helpful. Start doing that start implementing this like time blocking process, I’m actually working on this project right now, that is the biggest, scariest, most ambitious project I think I’ll ever have in my personal career. And the very first step is creating a mind map.

Before I started in the process that I’m working on, I actually tried to do an outline all by myself, and it took forever it was, it was frustrating, because I was just all over the place. I did this mind map, he says in 15 minutes, sit down, write your topic in the middle, circle it and just start drawing lines off of it and adding circles and filling in. I did 215 minute rounds. And then a five minute round on the end. And I got more done more clarity more written out in that 35 minutes, then a couple of nights tinkering here and there on what I wanted this new project to me and how I wanted to have it take shape, it really works. Try it the next time you’re sitting down for a task. So after that, once you start blocking out these timeframes, it’s time to start looking for ways to decrease your time behind the computer. And that was my next step as well.

I dabbled with outsourcing previously. But I really decided to sit down and commit myself to making this work and not being frustrated by the initial results. But looking towards the end and saying, Okay, if this is where I want to be where I can come home from a wedding, call it, edit it, and basically have it done in a day or two. And then in a couple of weeks, I can send it to the couple, but I’ve got all this free time. And this is actually we’re going to be a really great conversation coming up with a very good friend of mine, Colin Coleman, and the end of this, in the end of this series on workflow about how he created what he calls part time work for a full time salary. It is this is the key right here is being able to implement other people into your process to free you up. And if you’re anything like me, you automatically think why can’t afford it. And that may be true. But I actually heard a quote on a podcast recently, Michael Hyatt was mentioning how like way, way, way back when when he was first starting out, the host of the show said we’ll have you know, how do you suggest you go about finding talent and team members.

And he’s like, listen, just for anybody who’s listening, if you wait until you’re 100%, no, you have the money, you will be stuck in the same place forever. And that really hit me like a ton of bricks recently, I knew that I should outsource because I just thought that that’s what it how you get time back and all that stuff. I didn’t commit myself to the process of going through and revising the editor and writing the edits and learning how their system was supposed to work. So look for somebody to take this part off of your plate. And then once you get it back, you either give that person feedback, or if it’s an AI company that you’re working with, continually send your edits in that way that algorithm is learning how you like to edits, learning what changes you make, and the more you do that, and the more you update your profile, the closer it’s going to be and the more time you’re going to get back. Now, sort of switching gears here, you know, my outsourcing, well outsourcing has allowed me to really cut my editing times down by like 75% It’s allowed me to feel much better at all these different things and not neglecting my business and not neglecting my family while filling my soul with passion projects like this podcast in my newsletter and a bunch of other projects I’m working on. But workflow is not just post production. It’s not just all that stuff that you do after the wedding. It’s all these things.

It’s the mindset that I mentioned. It’s um, you know, having this solid foundation to create a life that you want to be able to do and the more that you start looking at these building blocks and the stumbling blocks as well the more clarity that you’re going to have. So the only thing that I wanted to share last is where do I go from here because this is definitely not I’m not perfect yet, right? Like, I’m still dropping the ball in certain areas. And I sort of recognize two areas that I could go from here. And to really make myself more efficient to be able to spend more time with my family and just unload my brain even

more. The first one is I’m, I’m working with a company or I have a subscription with a company called notion. My buddy Colin, who’s episodes coming up soon, he actually mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago, and it’s like a Trello, or a click up, except that I feel like it’s way more powerful. It’s like the tavae of all the different task management organizations software’s out there, except I feel like it is it’s so so so powerful, right? tavae is not that pretty, but it’s definitely the most powerful of all of them. So notion is this really amazing organizational software, it’s a life management software, it’s kind of an everything software. And you can really create any kind of tracking any kind of the, what they have is they have these things called blocks. And you can use the blocks to organize yourself and create these templates for you to be able to fill in and, and organize your life. So I’m really spending a lot of time in there for both get focused for my personal business, for everything from organizing recipes, and workouts, all the way through to managing my content and recording places for ideas and running them through a workflow and all these different things. So really organizing myself in that season, because I’ve got so many projects going on, and I want to kind of tie them all together. And then the last thing that I really want to focus on coming up is dialing in even more on this whole owning my calendar thing where we’ve got family times blocked in and that kind of stuff. But I really want to set up several days per week that I know that I’m going to have engagement sessions on these days and calls are going to be on these days. And I’m going to, you know, have new client meetings these days or this night might be a night out to go meet with clients or something like that.

And I really want to get that set up. So I sort of have this structure throughout the week where I know what’s coming up when I can just get into that routine. So this has been a lot in this in this podcast. There’s a lot of personal things that you know, I thank everybody out there who’s listening and who writes in for letting me to just be vulnerable and share. So in my story, there’s some fix stuff like that Parkinson’s Law thing, but I really think that that was a game changer for me that just by changing how I think about time allows me to be more efficient. So thanks everybody, again for being along on this episode today and being along on this journey. So if anything sticks out to write to me, Daniel ad focus photographers.com. I’m also on Instagram a little bit here and there at get focused photographers right to me. Other than that, thanks so much for tuning in and make it a great day.

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I'm Dan! Life Coach, Photographer, Extreme Empath, and Podcaster.

I'm a full time wedding photographer since Jan. 2010.
Smitten Husband since 2014
Dad x Three (one plus twins), certified life coach, Phillies fan and extreme empath. 

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If money management 
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Within this guide is how I systemized my business finances, got comfortable with a budget, paid myself a regular paycheck, crushed over $70k of debt in 4 years and have more financial freedom than ever.
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