First in a series.
“Photography” — the process of capturing a split second in time on film or in a digital file.
“Project management” — the process of managing a project from beginning to end.
For many photographers, the second of these processes is an afterthought. But to produce your best work and create and maintain a successful photography business, a disciplined approach to project management can make all the difference.
In this series, I will demonstrate how the practices, processes and software packages employed by top project managers around the world can help you as a photographer.
Photography Meets Project Management
First, let me share a little about my background. I have managed several extensive photography projects of my own, including A Bann For Life, 1/365 and Hidden Newcastle, each of which have involved countless hours of development, shooting and research.
Additionally, I currently have a second job in which I provide project management to public-sector recruiters throughout the United Kingdom. I have studied and used the PRINCE2 methodology in this role. PRINCE2 was initially developed as the U.K. government standard for IT project management, but its use has since spread beyond the IT environment and to more than 50 countries.
Combining what I’ve learned from these experiences, I will cover a number of topics in this series, such as:
- initiating your photography project;
- developing your project plan;
- organizing your project into stages, such as planning, design, shooting and post-production;
- tools and techniques for each stage of your photography project;
- controlling risks and external factors;
- identifying the best project management software for the needs of your photography business.
Why Project Management Is Important
In beginning this series, I suppose the first question to answer is this: “Why do photographers need to care about project management anyway?”
After all, anyone can run a project, can’t they? You just need to make a task list, set a budget and produce a final deliverable — right?
While you might be able to get away with this approach for a while, as your business grows and your projects become more complex, your work — and in all likelihood, your client relationships — will suffer.
Most of us have personally experienced the effects of failed projects, both on a large and small scale. The world is littered with overblown, costly mistakes that were originally promised to be the best and shiniest buttons in the box.
In almost every case, these failures are the result of poor project management.
Project management isn’t about having a rigid, inflexible structure for everything you do. It is ultimately about studying all factors associated with your project, planning for those you can influence and preparing for the potential impact of those you cannot.
This is the best way to ensure we deliver final products that meet client requirements, are produced on budget and avoid unnecessary risks and errors.