After speaking with a few freelance and full-time photographers, I soon realised how many were just using a simple calendar to manage all their work.
There’s a lot more to a photography business than just managing clients and scheduling in shoots. You need to constantly update your portfolio, share on social media, keep track of client progress, delivery times, contracts, invoices, website updates, SEO, content writing, following up clients, collaboration with models and the list goes on!
The first step before looking for a project management tool, I want to make it clear that you need to be using a digital calendar. I don’t care which one you use, jump on it now. I personally use Google Calendar and it’s synced across every device I own (iPhone, Pixel, iPad, MacBook Pro and even Google Home). A calendar is crucial to photography project workflow because you can see your week or month schedule at a glance.
Here are my recommended project management tools:
Over the course of my 15-year career, I’ve used almost every project management tool under the sun. I’ve come back to Asana 3 times. Asana went through huge changes over the years. I may have missed certain features for some tools, but this is my personal review of these tools.
Free for small fries.
Kanban board ready (check ‘Kanban workflow for photographers’)
Ability to choose list view or board view
Ability to tick off a card as ‘complete’
On all devices
Mirror tasks onto other project boards (this is amazing for collaboration).
If your team grows, or you need other paid features, it gets expensive real fast.
Unable to drag and drop photos onto mini cards (you need to open the card task before dropping a photo).
It seems like Asana stole many good ideas from Trello. Trello’s a board only project management, so if you’re into lists, you’ll find it hard to adjust to Trello. I’m a Kanban board guy so I loved this tool (till I moved onto Asana). Trello looks and feels amazing, the reason why I moved was that it didn’t allow you to mark cards as ‘complete’. Which makes it very hard to work in a team environment.
Easier to use than Asana
Smoother than any other project management tool
On all devices
You don’t pay for users, you pay for power-ups (features, plugins, add ons)
Can drop photos/files onto any mini card
Can’t mark cards as ‘Complete’ (deal breaker)
I tried using Monday for a full day. I gave up. It’s probably because I love using the Kanban board method of working and Monday isn’t Kanban friendly. There were too many features and templates that I just wanted to stop using it after a day.
Template for almost everything
Project overview advantage. Much better for teams (collaboration)
Hard to navigate around
No Kanban focus
I’ve also used to do list apps like, Remember the milk, Todoist, Wunderlist, Actions by Moleskin. I feel these are like the mini checklist versions of a project management tool. You won’t be able to manage contracts, check on work in progress for a client with these little apps.
My final recommendation is Asana. This is what I use for all my clients and marketing plans for my photography business.
This very blog article is also listed in the ‘Website’ project under the ‘SEO’ column.
I usually start each month by building out a mind map of the overall plan. I use a tool called Coggle. It’s amaaaazing.
Once I plan to take over the world on Coggle, I start creating projects in Asana, then add in columns and cards to complete these projects. Once all the projects are created, I create my own personal board and mirror over the tasks I need to complete for the week.
It feels so good to use these tools to keep on top of my photography projects. Better to start early, to save your arse later down the track.