TOOLS & RESOURCES
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Digital Photography School
Digital Photography School has a monstrous collection of photography articles, including tutorials and reviews. They also have a great collection of ebooks and courses teaching everything from landscape and portrait photography to post-production.
Since 2010 CreativeLive has been live-streaming video courses for free from some of the biggest names in photography, as well as a wide range of other subjects. The courses are available to purchase if you miss the live stream.
Stuck In Customs
Renowned landscape and travel photographer Trey Ratcliff made a name for himself by bringing HDR photography to the masses. He has a bunch of great tutorials on his website Stuck In Customs, which teach landscape and travel photography, as well as HDR and post-production techniques.
Craft & Vision
Living up to founder David duChemin’s mantra “gear is good, vision is better”, Craft and Vision has created a bunch of excellent ebooks that will help you develop the craft of photography. They are by far some of the best resources available to help you grow as an artist.
If you want to learn lighting for portraits, weddings, products, you name it, Strobist is the place to learn it. There’s a wealth of free content on the site that will take you from novice to expert.
If you want to level up your photography post-production skills, Phlearn is the place to do it. They have an impressive collection of free and premium video tutorials on Lightroom and Photoshop techniques with plenty of humor thrown in.
One of the most useful post-production techniques you can learn as a photographer is exposure blending using luminosity masks. Shutter Evolve has a fantastic exposure blending course that teaches you step-by-step how to do it. It’s a more intermediate to advanced technique, but if you want to take your landscape or real-estate/architecture photography to the next level, it’s worth the effort.
If you want a portfolio website that includes everything from unlimited photo storage to print sales, SmugMug is what you’re looking for. They offer a range of plans depending on which features you need. Get 15% off with this link.
Another portfolio website service popular with photographers, PhotoShelter offers a couple of unique features such as self-fulfilled printing and the ability to license stock directly from your site. Read a full comparison of SmugMug vs PhotoShelter here.
Included free with Adobe Photography Plans, you can upload your photos directly from Lightroom to Adobe Portfolio and create a site to display and share your photography.
If you want to start a photography blog, you can’t go past WordPress. Hosting 30% of the internet’s sites, WordPress is incredibly powerful, and can be used for everything from a simple blog to a full-featured website with a photography portfolio and e-commerce.
Your website is only as good as your web host, and SiteGround is the best. Fast, secure, and reliable, not to mention impressive 24/7 support.
Choosing the right theme for your WordPress blog is never easy. If you want something that’s built to not only look great but function well and load fast, StudioPress Themes are the way to go. This site’s theme is built by StudioPress and works like magic.
If you’re not tech-savvy and just want an all-in-one service that gives you everything you need for a professional web presence, WP Engine is what you’re looking for. It also includes every StudioPress Theme free.
Keyword research is critical to getting your website found by Google, and Ubersuggest is the best free tool to do it. It also has a bunch of other great tools like traffic, backlink, and domain analyzers.
Start A Blog Course
Problogger is a great place to learn how to make money blogging, and they offer a free course to help you start a blog, along with a ton of other useful content.
As you build your blog traffic, you’re going to want to collect emails from people who are interested in your work. It’s bad practice to email them from your own email address. Mailchimp allows people to sign up to your email list so you can send them newsletters.
Just like photography, writing is a skill that takes practice to improve. The right tools can help you, and Hemingway is one of those tools. You can write directly into the web app or paste your text in and it will analyze it and make suggestions for improvements.
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
Adobe has made the leading software for editing photography for decades, and they’re not going away. There are three Photography Plans to choose from, including either just Lightroom or Lightroom and Photoshop. You also get cloud storage included with your subscription.
If paying a monthly subscription for software isn’t your thing, Skylum’s Luminar is a great alternative. It doesn’t offer all the features of Adobe’s software, but for a much lower cost, you get a pretty powerful product. The AI features are particularly impressive. It can be used as a standalone application or as a plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop.
Aurora HDR Pro
Built in partnership with Skylum and Trey Ratcliff, Aurora HDR is the most powerful HDR tone-mapping software on the market. You can create some very natural looking HDR photos or something more surreal if that’s your thing. The software is very user-friendly and like Luminar, can be used as a standalone application or plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop.
Many photographers prefer to avoid HDR software and blend exposures manually in Photoshop. If this sounds like you, Raya Pro by Shutter Evolve is a great tool for speeding up the exposure blending process by automatically creating luminosity masks. It gives you complete control over the process and helps create beautifully blended exposures much faster.
There are a few free photo editing tools available and Dark Table is the best of them. You can’t expect to get anything like the insanely powerful features of Lightroom or Photoshop, but it’s a good place to start if you have no budget for software.
SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS
In order to use social media to its full potential, you need a strategy. Buffer can help by scheduling your social media posts at the optimal times for each social platform. This allows you to add posts anytime and have them publish at set intervals, even when you’re away from your devices. It’s free to schedule to posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Instagram is an important tool (or obsession) for many photographers, and Later can help with creating and scheduling your posts. It helps you research keywords, plan your posts up to a week in advance, and even visualize how your feed will look. Later also includes a detailed analysis of your account.
If Pinterest is your jam (it should be if you’re a photographer), Tailwind is by far the most useful tool to help you find success on the platform. At its core it’s a scheduling app, but it does so much more than that. Features like ‘Tribes’ and ‘SmartLoop’ will help you grow your audience and website traffic massively. You can also use Tailwind as an Instagram scheduler.
This nifty little WordPress plugin makes it far easier to get the right images from your blog on Pinterest. Tasty Pins lets you set Pinterest titles and descriptions, set hidden images, block some images, and force others to be pinned.
Finding the perfect hashtags for Instagram never a simple task. Display Purposes makes it a little less tedious by making suggestions based on up to three that hashtags you enter.
Being a photographer is different to being a designer. If you’re one of the many who find design a painful chore, Canva has your back. It’s a free web app that helps you create beautiful designs for use on your blog, website, or social media. You can use or modify one of the many templates or create your design from scratch.
Sometimes you come across a tool that does everything you want it to and more. PhotoPills is that tool. It’s a mobile app that helps you research and plan your on-location photos. There are too many features to list here, so go read this article.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris
If there is one feature I wish PhotoPills included, it would be a web app. Instead, we have The Photographer’s Ephemeris. It’s not as feature-rich as PhotoPills, but it’s great if you want to research and plan your photos on a big screen.
Chances are you already have Google Photos installed on your devices, but you’re probably not using it to its full potential. It has a number of great features, such as photo editing, creating shared collaborative albums, powerful search by location or person, and the ability to free up space on your phone without deleting photos.
Yet another great feature of Adobe Lightroom is the free app. The Lightroom camera is far better than most camera apps that come bundled with devices, especially because it allows you to shoot in RAW. It also allows you to sync your photos between the mobile and desktop apps if you have a Creative Cloud subscription.
Being able to pull your phone out of your pocket and show someone your portfolio at any given moment is a necessity if you have a photography side hustle. This is where the Smugmug app comes in. You can show your photos and galleries off in all their glory as well as upload unlimited, full-resolution photos from your phone. Yet another reason why SmugMug is awesome.
CLOUD STORAGE SOLUTIONS
If it’s free online storage you want, Google Drive will give you more than any of the competition. 15GB won’t get you far, though. It’s great for backing up and sharing files and documents, but if you want secure backups for all your high-resolution images, you’re going to need A LOT more than 15GB.
If you follow the 3-2-1 Photo Backup System you know you need a copy of your photos offsite (preferably online). Backblaze automatically creates unlimited backups of your photos and any other files that you choose from your computer and any connected hard drives. This means you have everything backed up, not just your photos. You’ll be glad you did if disaster ever strikes.
Before you create a website for your photography, you’ll need a domain to park it (your web address). Domainr is a tool that will tell you if your desired domain is available and even help you make an offer to buy it if you really want it.
One of the key parts of photography business is getting paid. Invoice.to is a free invoicing web app that does just what it sounds like. It also allows you to get paid via PayPal, which leads me to…
The digital payment giant PayPal lets you do everything from send invoices to request money to make online payments and everything in between. They’ll charge you a premium for it, though.
Sending and receiving payments online has thankfully become much easier and cheaper thanks in part to TransferWise. It give you virtual bank accounts in a growing number of countries to receive transfers and can send payments to almost any bank account in the world for a very reasonable fee.
Selling products online is easy if you have a WordPress blog. The free WooCommerce plugin allows you to sell virtually anything, even digital products. There are a ton of add-ons available to make it more functional, but it works great right out of the box. It’s perfect for selling photo prints.
Building your own online store isn’t for everyone. If that’s you, the e-commerce platform Shopify might be a good fit. It’s a one-stop-shop for everything from buying a domain to marketing, displaying, and selling your products. They even offer a 90-day free trial.