Top 10 strategies for streamlining your high volume photography workflow.

November 7th, 2023
man wearing blue cycling gear and helmet riding a road bicycle at high speeds

High volume photography is exactly what it sounds like–photographers taking a large number of photos. This type of photography typically happens with the same backdrop or at the same location. Think of photographers who catch the action moments in sports events (soccer, baseball, etc), horse shows (English styles and rodeo), and dance performances. These photographers tend to be hired by an organization but make the most of their money by selling a large volume of prints and/or digital files to the massive number of attendees/athletes at these events and gatherings. 

As you might imagine, working in high volume photography requires efficiency in workflow management. This type of photography demands efficiency, creativity, organization, and great teamwork. High volume photographers or studios that specialize in this type of work need to have a developed strategy in place to work through the photoshoot process with ease.

Concept of workflow in photography.

When we talk about workflow, we mean having a standardized process each time you take a photo–depending on the type of photographer you are, this workflow might be regimented or loose. Workflows give a game plan and thought to logistics. For high volume photography, a workflow is essential–there are too many moving pieces not to have a step-by-step process, which can help minimize errors and maintain quality. This workflow should be standardized across every high volume photoshoot you take on and implemented in your day-to-day.

Common challenges in high volume photography workflow.

Developing and implementing a workflow for high volume photography will surely solve many problems for you, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. For instance, as you take on new jobs, you may find that there are issues with your workflow, so it’s important to be constantly monitoring and adjusting when obstacles come up.

Another challenge you may face is the teamwork aspect of high-volume photography–you often need more than one photographer to fulfill client needs. Whether you are working with other photographers on a freelance or collaborative basis or you are working for a company and have other photographers as your coworkers, this type of collaboration can be challenging. If you own a photography company and are hiring photographers for your high volume photography business, you will need to create a workflow and take the time to teach it to your photographers. If you’re collaborating with other photographers on a high-volume project, it’s a good idea to meet up and discuss a workflow and get on the same page ahead of the event.  

We’ve put together actionable strategies to enhance the efficiency of your workflow in high volume photography by disseminating expert techniques and insights. We’ve made it easy, so get your notebook ready for tips! 

four female dancers kicking a leg in the air in sync on a stage

10 expert techniques for enhancing efficiency in high volume photography studios.

1. Use advanced photography equipment. 

In order to take a large number of photos at once and upload a high volume of them quickly, you’ll want to invest in lenses and cameras that will allow you to do so. We can’t stress how important efficiency is when it comes to high volume photography, so investing in cameras that have the technology to connect and upload to a computer immediately is a must. Take advantage of the technology available and purchase cutting-edge equipment that can take high-quality photos–remember that while sometimes this type of photography is catered to a large number of sit-down portraits, other times you might be shooting a sporting event. Depending on your specialization, you may want equipment that can do both.

If you’re going to be doing corporate headshots, you’ll want to invest in other equipment such as backdrops and lighting kits. Depending on what stage of the photography business you’re in, or the type of high volume photography you’re specializing in, you may want to consider purchasing or renting your own studio.

Remember, time is money so the investment in good hardware is worth it.

2. Implement automation. 

The need for automation within a workflow, especially one where time is of the utmost essence, should be a no-brainer. When you’re able to save time on a repetitive task that can be done for you, you’ll want to invest the time and money in setting it up. Automation can include confirming clients, scheduling bookings, image processing–everything but the process of taking the actual photos!

You can implement automation into a number of areas of your workflow… and you should! Look into different automation software that can help you, many of which you can implement right into your website. Here are some things you could automate within your high volume photography workflow:

  • Scheduling photoshoots
  • Pre-payment for package selections
  • Session reminders with location and other shoot details
  • Image culling and processing
  • Retouching
  • Final gallery delivery

3. Efficiently use photo editing software. 

One thing about high volume photography is that editing can’t be done to the same extent as it might in other types of photography. With the sheer number of photos you’re working with and the timelines you’re on, there isn’t usually the option to put a high degree of editing into your shots. That being said, there is some editing that comes with high volume photography. This doesn’t mean sacrificing quality for speed – there is still the expectation of high-quality images when you are in high volume photography. But you will need to invest in good photo editing software. Lightroom and Adobe Bridge are two popular options. Once you know how to use the software tools, it speeds up your editing process and ensures your editing job is high quality.

4. Create a structured workflow.

We’ve talked a bit about workflow already, now we’ll talk about the importance of the structure itself. Having a good workflow involves sitting down and formalizing a process – creating a step-by-step guide that starts with scheduling clients and moves right through payment and photo delivery. Defining and creating a structured workflow is essential in helping you implement it and will also help when you go to train staff. 

You can always change your workflow too. Just because you have a structure in place, doesn’t mean it can’t be adjusted. The most successful business owners frequently analyze what is working and what isn’t, looking to improve and modify their workflow. As you get more comfortable in your process and find out what works best for you and your team, don’t be afraid to make these changes.

5. Hire and train professional staff.

Having a skilled team of photographers is an important part of any fast-paced, high volume photography business–you need to have the right people in place in order to deliver on time for your client. That being said, you may need to hire a competent and reliable team of staff to fulfill your high volume photography deliverables. Depending on the size of your photography studio, you may want to include hiring into your workflow. For many volume photographers, this includes hiring someone in an administrative role who has the skills to work with your photography software and handle clients, as well as other studio and photographic assistants. While training takes time, include it in your workflow so it’s more manageable. This can include:

  • Daily check-ins with staff
  • Scheduling training 
  • Ongoing skill development
  • Communicating the means of maintaining collaborative software
  • Fostering an environment for learning

Lastly, it’s always important to constantly monitor and adjust your workflow. Keep lines of communication open with your staff, welcome feedback, and keep working to enhance the efficiency of your business and workflow. 

three riders and horses making a jump during a race at the San Siro hippodrome in Milan

6. Adopt batch processing. 

We’ve talked about the importance of having photo editing software, now we’ll dive further into the actual editing portion of your workflow. Batch editing is an important part of any high volume photographer’s workflow. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s exactly how it sounds–editing a large amount of photos at once. You can do batch editing on whatever photo editing software you are using, whether that is Lightroom, Photoshop, Bridge, or another tool. You can set up presets for LUTs (Look Up Tables) which can either help you with color correcting or editing. There are also a number of preset options to take advantage of.

Whether you choose to purchase pre-made or to make your own presets, it’s vital that these are established and the process is structured so you have the most efficient workflow. 

7. Maximize the use of a Digital Asset Management system. 

File management is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to high volume photography–it’s something that’s going to help you automate and deal with a large amount of volume as you work with your photos. Digital Asset Management systems are also known as DAMs, Adobe Bridge is an example of one of these software tools, but there are a number of options you can choose from. The benefits of digital asset management include the ability to organize your files, collaborate both internally and externally, improve consistently, and ultimately make your job easier and more efficient. Do some research to find a digital asset management system that will work for you and implement it into your high volume photography workflow.

8. Plan for capacity.

Capacity planning is an important part of the logistics when it comes to preparing for a high volume photoshoot–you need to have clearly laid out expectations between you and the client. As you build out the contract, ensure that you have the capacity to fulfill this obligation, meaning human resources (in photographers and staff) and time. Oftentimes, high volume studios can provide services that other photographers maybe can’t, such as offering same-day delivery. With high volume photography, you need to learn how to maximize your time and have a quick turnaround in delivery to clients, while also not over-extending yourself. You’ll likely find your capacity will increase as you improve your own high volume skills. When it comes to capacity planning, ask yourself these questions:  

  • Can I meet the client’s requests? 
  • How many photographers will I need? Do I have enough?
  • Do I have the equipment, both in hardware and software?
  • How much time will I need to deliver?
  • Are we clear on expectations of deliverables and timeline?

9. Maintain your equipment.

Within your workflow, build in reminders for regular equipment maintenance. It can be frustrating and inconvenient if something breaks down, and costly if something happens during a job, potentially slowing down your process. Your photography equipment should be maintained, cleaned, and serviced regularly, which can include professional servicing, proper transferring and storing, delicate wipes, and regular use of protective gear. 

Maintenance should also go beyond your camera equipment–make sure your computer and its necessary programs are up to date and operational so you don’t run into any issues when trying to meet a deadline. Stay current with updates and new installments as needed.

10. Embrace cloud-based storage solutions.

Using cloud-based storage and client gallery solutions is an absolute must in any photography business, but especially in high volume photography, as it helps with the collaboration between photographers. Using a cloud-based system to store your photos means that all of your photographers have access to the photos regardless of where they are. We love cloud storage for its flexible accessibility. Using this type of storage can aid your efficiency and helps streamline communication. There are a number of cloud storage options available–do some research to find which ones work for you. You need to invest some money into this technology, but by going beyond the free cloud storage options, you have more storage and can secure your data integrity by limiting who has access, both within your team and for your clients. 

By following these 10 steps, you’ll be able to build a workflow that works for your high volume photography work. Use this framework to develop a workflow that will help you optimize your efficiency and help you with maintaining high-quality deliverables. Remember, automation, training a good team, using good software, and defining your workflow are all integral to your success as a high volume photographer!

And don’t stop now. Pose questions to other photographers about what works well in their high volume workflows and what areas they’re looking to improve. You’re part of a great community!


  • Cheryl Dell'Osso

    Cheryl is the Director of Content Strategy at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer at Portraits by Cheryl and Seniors by Cheryl in Raleigh, NC. Cheryl has mentored countless new photographers looking to build successful photography businesses.

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