How To Audit Your Business as a Professional Photographer

By Anete Lusina


There’s never a better time to audit your photography business than now. Instead of waiting until the end of the year to audit your business, finances, and goals, make it a regular habit. Set a monthly or quarterly reminder, and give yourself a day to dive into every nook and cranny of your business. 

If this is your first time doing an audit, don't worry. We'll discuss the importance of auditing your photography business and provide a step-by-step guide on how to do it effectively.

What is a business audit, and why should you do it?

Think of a business audit as a regular health check. Reviewing your systems, finances, and goals will give you a more transparent view of your business. As a solopreneur, you’re involved in every aspect of your business, which is great. But without a conscious decision to step back from client sessions and editing images, it can be challenging to see where your business is going. 

Business audits aren't just about numbers and spreadsheets. You should also consider your health, lifestyle preferences, and personal goals. After all, you are the most important asset of your photography business, so your well-being is a top priority for it to run efficiently. 

Review how you spend your time

Looking at your to-do list or planner can give you a rough idea of how much time you spend working. But have you ever tracked how much time you've spent communicating with your clients or helping them plan their shoots? Even a quick Instagram reply adds up to time spent working.

Tracking your work time gives you valuable insight into every work-related activity. But don’t rely on your memory—instead, try time-tracking apps like Timely, Clockify, Harvest, Toggl, or any built-in tracker in your customer relationship management (CRM) software to get more accurate data.

A weekly tracking report will give you an honest overview of where your time goes. It may surprise you how much time some of the tasks actually take! You can use the business audit data to make better-informed workflow changes–we have just the masterclass you need for nailing your post-production process.

Update your services and pricing

When was the last time you updated your photoshoot and product pricing? It's often a job left for the end of the year, but there's no reason to wait 12 months to update your prices.

We recently interviewed Wedding photographer Miles Witt Boyer and discussed his pricing philosophy.

“Why would you raise your prices annually when you’re getting hired weekly? You should raise your prices incrementally every time you book because you become more valuable every time you pick up a camera.”

In your audit, keep the following in mind:

    • Inflation - Update your photography fees to reflect the inflation increase. As a business owner, you can make regular adjustments to keep up with the current cost of living. 
    • Photography packages - Can you make your packages more profitable by changing your deliverables or fees? Have you noticed clients ask for something you don’t offer on your website? It might be time to give your packages a refresh.
    • Inefficient services or products -  If any services or products you offer clients aren't worth the time and effort, it may be time to remove them. You can also cut services if they no longer align with your current lifestyle or goals. Think of it as an emotional or creative ROI to help you avoid burnout. 
    • Physical product markup - Have any photography labs increased their product or shipping fees? Ensure your photography product markup reflects that so you don’t lose out on potential profit.
  • Branding expenses - Client gifts and packaging costs all add up. Make sure your investment is worth it and reflected in your photography fees. 
  • Paid subscriptions There may be some paid apps or software you don't use, or you can consolidate some to avoid paying twice. Take a look at free alternatives to paid subscriptions if you want to cut your spending—like Narrative Select’s Free Plan for faster culling with smart features.

Give your gear a checkup

Your photography equipment is your trusted companion to help deliver beautiful client galleries. Make sure to give it a regular checkup (besides keeping it safe and clean). If you're wary of cleaning or calibrating it, check out local photography stores or repair shops offering photography gear checkups.

Remember your office equipment too. Look at your cloud storage and external drive workflow to check all sessions are backed up and that your file system is organized so you can find client files fast. External drives and memory cards can fail, so it’s always a good idea to upgrade them after a while.

Improve culling and editing workflow

How much time do you spend culling and editing your photography sessions? Probably more than you’d like to. An average full-day wedding could take 2 hours to cull and 14 hours to edit, according to a 2022 survey

And with culling the biggest frustration for professional photographers based on our photography census, it makes sense to speed up your post-shoot workflow to cut down on time spent at your desk.

You can outsource editing to another photographer, editor, or professional editing studio. This can be particularly helpful during the height of your peak season. If you want to keep the costs down, you can edit during the quieter months yourself or use AI editing tools like 

You can outsource culling the same as editing. Or better yet, use professional culling software like Narrative Select so you’re still in complete control of the images that make it into your client’s gallery. 

With Select's AI-assisted tools, you can cut culling time in half. Let's say you spend an average of eight hours culling manually in Lightroom each month. If you switch to Select, you can get around five work days yearly by speeding up your culling. That's five days to work on other parts of your business or enjoy guilt-free time off. 

Outsource business tasks to save time

You don’t have to do everything yourself—your energy and time are finite. Outsourcing tedious, time-consuming, or frustrating tasks can help you avoid doing things that drain you or take too long. 

Consider outsourcing:

  • Business admin and communication
  • Brand strategy 
  • Accounting and filing taxes
  • Social media management
  • PR and advertising
  • Blogging
  • Client album design

Update your website and SEO

Small, regular website updates are the way to boost your website’s search engine optimization so your clients can find you online. You don’t need to redesign your website each time. Instead, add SEO-friendly blog articles from your latest shoots (check out Narrative Publish for faster blogging), update website copy, check if your site design is mobile-friendly, refresh your portfolio, and ensure no links or pages are broken. Set up a checklist template to make the process easier and faster.  

Review client contracts and image releases

Any paperwork you give clients or subcontractors should be checked for accuracy and up-to-date information a few times a year. You may encounter situations that prompt you to add a new clause in your contract (don’t forget to consult a legal professional). Being protected means you can concentrate on the aspects of your photography business that you enjoy the most.

Improve or learn new skills

Let’s not forget about upskilling yourself as a business owner and a professional photographer. You may leave education for quieter months but keep an eye out for upcoming events, webinars, or courses you can sign up for.

Level up your business skills:

  • Sales strategies
  • Workshops and educational courses on running and scaling a business
  • Work on your niche through specialized workshops such as destination weddings or studio newborn shoots
  • Marketing and branding 
  • SEO 
  • Financial planning
  • Mindset (challenging beliefs about money, confidence, and standing out in the industry)

Improve your photography skills:

  • Off-camera flash 
  • Flat-lay workshops for styling products and props
  • Portrait workshops or courses
  • Learn something new to add to your portfolio, such as videography or bridal boudoir for wedding photographers

Don’t forget about self-care

Health and relationships can suffer when you run a business. Your mental and physical health matter, but what that looks like in practice will differ for everyone. Plan adventures to look forward to, schedule time for yourself or to see your friends, or do anything else that helps you switch off from work mode and reduce stress. You’ll come back to your business full of creative ideas and energy.

We hope our business audit guide will help you get started. With your photography business always evolving, regular audits will keep you on top of everything. 

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