Photographers are, at their hearts, creatives. But in 2016, being a photographer also means being a bit of a techie. As professionals place greater and greater emphasis on production and post-production techniques, all of us are looking for ways to optimize our workflows with digital tools. Today, I’d like to feature a few recent discoveries you can use to do your job better and faster than ever before.
If you’re a photographer who shoots weddings or portraits, or works in any other potential album-selling niche, Pixellu SmartAlbums is an investment you should consider making. This incredible software makes the time-consuming (and frankly boring) process of designing an album quick, easy, and fun. Used by thousands of photographers, including many of the top professionals in the world, SmartAlbums is a game changer.
What’s more, the company recently released their new version—SmartAlbums 2—and it’s taking the photography world by storm. The feature that stands out to me most is Cloud Proofing, which allows you to show an album draft to your clients in an eye-catching presentation and makes communication fast and clear. After you send your client an album link via Cloud Proofing, they will see the album draft in a gorgeous, professional presentation. Clients can flip through album pages and leave feedback using the commentary feature. The clients’ comments show up directly inside SmartAlbums, making revisions incredibly simple.
SmartAlbums is available for a fully functional 30 day trial here.
A big theme across these tech tools is saving time, and that’s no different with Scoutt. I know many photographers who spend hours every week just driving around looking for new and interesting places to shoot. Scoutt is here to save you all of that time in the car or out walking around. How? By crowdsourcing location scouting through a community of photographers sharing locales and helping each other find cool areas to photograph.
Scoutt is set up like Google Maps, with pins that mark locations photographers have shared. When you click on these pins, you get a description, location name, and images from photographers that have shot there. It’s extremely helpful and can save you a ton of time otherwise spent location scouting—and exploring the site is lot of fun even for non-photographers. Check out Scoutt here.
Solar-Tracking Mobile Apps
Photographers are slaves to light. Knowing where the sun is going to be in the sky when you’re shooting somewhere outside is crucial to creating stunning imagery. There are a ton of mobile apps out there that help photographers track the sun’s position and visibility, but I think the three below are the best ones available right now:
Lumy is one of my favorite iPhone apps. This little app is extremely simple, but it tells you when the “golden hour” will start for sunrise and sunset on any given day. You can check today’s conditions, or you can look into the future. This is super helpful when you’re scheduling shoots with clients. All you have to do is open the app and you’ll know immediately the ideal time to have everything ready to go.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris (especially the Skyfire feature)
I only discovered this awesome app recently, but The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) has long been a popular tool for landscape and night sky photographers who need to track solar and lunar positions throughout the day. The Skyfire feature, however, takes things to another level. It generates a heat map signifying where the app has predicted the best light will be during sunrise or sunset. The apps creators say the feature is at least 80% accurate, and usually more so.
The last of the three sun apps I chose to feature is called Sun Seeker. Similar to TPE, Sun Seeker shows photographers where the sun will be at a given time of day. But the app goes even further: it can take control of your camera and show you, in real time, where the sun will be in the sky in whatever space you’re standing. This is great for planning shoots ahead of time, as it allows you to visualize the angle at which sunlight will be coming in through windows or where shadows will be cast outdoors.
These are just a few of my picks for tech tools that can help make photographers’ lives easier and less stressful. Let me know what I didn’t mention: What tech tools or services can you not love without?