How to organize a photo studio? Case of Bolshakova Studio

    Tired of wasting time figuring out what is happening in the company? Information is lost in WhatsApp's endless group chats? Broken communication within the team? Does tracking your (un) completed edits swell your head? The load on employees is unclear, and in general, who is doing what now?

    If at least two of the above questions can be answered in the affirmative, we ask for cat. We talked with the famous Moscow photo studio “ Bolshakova Studio ” and they shared their experience in solving classic management problems.

    Right now is a 13 minute video chat. Below is a summary of the quotation interview.

    Brief information about the studio

    Founder - photographer Ksenia Bolshakova.
    Team - 8 people + freelance retouchers.
    The studio has been around for 7 years.
    Direction: subject photo, b2b.
    Clients - several hundred. Famous: Oriflame, Faberlic, MAC Cosmetics, Lady Collection, Bacardi, KFC, The Snow Queen, Stockman.

    Some studio work

    A brief history of the problem

    At first, when the studio consisted of only a couple of people, they used VK. The main thing - there it was convenient to communicate and attach files. As the team grew, the chats moved to WhatsApp, where they created a group for each project (for each client).
    “When the number of groups begins to multiply exponentially, it becomes uncomfortable”
    With the further growth of the studio, a new problem was revealed. It has become impossible to keep track of what is happening inside the company, what specific employees are doing and what they are doing.
    “It took a lot of time to find out what is going on, to find out information that settles in someone’s heads. There is no common space where this information can be found. ”
    The company first thought that it was time to transfer all processes to a single platform for work, and Trello was chosen as such an instrument. But there faced new problems. There were two main ones: access and communication.
    “A person either had access to everything that happens on the board, or to nothing. And I wanted the employees to see only what concerns only their part of the work at this stage ”

    Solution found!

    In the process of searching from hundreds of alternatives, the studio chose the “YouGile” system. It became easier almost immediately. First of all, the team was pleased with the opportunity to conduct all the processes on one board. We managed to do this by setting up access to different columns for different employees: a group of photographers sees only their columns, groups of retouchers - their own. Managers see and control the entire process.

    The next simplification of the work was due to the fact that each card is a project and the location of the card in a certain column indicates the status of the work. A retoucher can run several projects at the same time, of which, say, three can be in work right now, and four more are being checked by the client. And at any moment the client appears: “I have edits!”. The manager makes changes to the checklist of the card, the retoucher enters the system and in a single place sees what he needs to do. And having done all the work, he can in the built-in chat on this card inform about the end of the work. Previously, the retoucher had to copy the list of edits from the chat to WhatsApp somewhere in his notes and mark them there.
    “Now this is not necessary, checklists are in YouGile, everyone understands at what stage the work is going. Also, in the task card, both the manager and the photographer and retouchers can communicate in order to clarify each other some points and all participants in the card see this conversation. Information does not settle between two people. ”

    How the process works

    The studio works with clients on one main board, which logically is called “ORDERS”. Also in the project there are several more boards that only the administration has access to and on these boards administrative issues are discussed. A separate board with work standards, separate boards for working with finances, equipment inventory, as well as work with clients, which does not directly affect the filming process.

    Each order from the client - this is a separate card on the board - goes through a cycle of seven stages. Each stage is a separate column. There are seven of them:

    Incoming application »Waiting for goods» Shooting »Retouch» Studio »Client checks» Delivered.


    Retouchers from this chain have access only to two columns: “Retouch” and “Studio checks”. When the retoucher does his work, he unsubscribes about it in the chat and transfers the task to the “Studio checks” column.
    “Just look into this column to immediately understand what is happening in the project. And it is clearly seen at what stage each of the projects is now ”
    In the chat inside each card, studio employees discuss the project, upload files or necessary links. In the “Description” section of the card, TK is entered, which indicates the format for submitting photos, basic requests to the retoucher and reference photos.


    Checklists in the task

    The most important part of the card for the studio is checklists (subtasks). The checklist heading is the date the client received the changes. As you complete the edits, the retoucher marks them with checkmarks and this process is additionally visually noticeably displayed on the board. It is not necessary to enter the task to see the progress on the task.

    There can be any number of checklists, they are not deleted and you can always see the whole process of working on a project.

    What makes YouGile useful

    Ksenia calls the advantage of the system that you can go to YouGile at any time, anywhere in the world and see what is happening in the studio. Previously, in order to find out the details, one had to contact the manager and even other employees. Now the whole picture is clearly visible who is doing what and, accordingly, the load on each person. It is immediately clear that one retoucher, it turns out, is overloaded, and the second is sitting idle. You don’t have to keep all this in mind.

    Speaking of “ all in one place" Retouchers, of course, are most welcome. They have the largest amount of work in the studio - a bunch of edits, text information. Previously, all this was spread over chat rooms, mail, skype, etc. Now they have everything in one place. According to experience, the retoucher receives the greatest stress from the work as a result of a misunderstanding of what needs to be done when he does not understand the instructions or when all these small instructions are in different places. Now everything is in one place, and if there is no information in the card, it means that it is not anywhere else.

    Especially in the company note the ability to communicate in tasks. Previously, all employees communicated with the manager. Photographers and retouchers did not communicate with each other. But in most cases, the manager cannot answer the clarifying questions of the retoucher on his own, there are a lot of specific vocabulary. And the manager had to first translate everything into his own language, then into the language of the photographer, and then transfer everything back. Spoiled phone as it is. Now everyone is connecting to the chat card and the retoucher can directly ask questions.

    It has become easy to introduce new people

    “At first I was afraid to connect a new person to the new system, it seemed to me that he would have to explain a lot and introduce for a long time and we worked through WhatsApp, but a day later I realized that no, I can’t do that. I immediately began to introduce a person, even if I understand that he came for a week or on one project, I immediately connect him to YouGile. And for the first time I see that a new tool, new software, does not cause any resistance at all to people who have never used it ”
    During the invitation of a new person, he can be immediately placed in the desired group, whether he is a photographer or a retoucher, and upon entering the system he will immediately see only what he has access to. 3-5 minutes of explanation on Skype with a screen demonstration, and the very next day, employees are surprised: “God! It’s so cool, it’s so cool, you have such a high organization. We didn’t see this even at TsUM! Everything is very convenient, simple, logical and very easy. ”

    But TSUM is famous for its huge volumes of work and most professionals involved in the field of subject photography have somehow worked with it.

    Key advantageYouGile photo studio calls communication efficiency. Because before there were a lot of links, a lot was lost in different chats, mail and other ways of communication, and also - communications were built around people in whose heads all this settled. Now the company’s communications are going around the project, the current task, where all information is stored and supplemented by all employees. Everyone can go in and see the progress of the project.

    Video lessons

    Yougile YouTube Channel
    “It’s easy to introduce a new person to the system, because YouGile has several understandable video lessons, which are not extended over time. Because it’s psychologically impossible to watch the manual for 40 minutes. They are short, 5-10 minutes, there is only the essence. It’s clear, methodically, and for everyone that someone doesn’t understand, you can simply drop the link »


    Separately, the photo studio notes quick support for YouGile. In most cases, the response from the support service comes within 20-40 minutes after contacting. If something was not clear from the video on the channel, you can always ask for technical support.


    We, the YouGile team, thank the Bolshakova photo studio for the interview and the opportunity to share our experience. Soon we will lay out some more successful and not very successful cases of implementing the project management system. For example, there is a very illustrative example of implementation at a Russian plant manufacturing cranes.

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