Personally I believe that the difference between a good photo and a great photo is planning and patiences. This is especially the case with client work where you have a clear objective to capture an image or images that tell a particular type of story. Now I’m a very big fan of paperless workflow and I use my ipad a lot for tracking and managing my business. All my paperwork is 100% in the cloud and has been for a number of years. That said there are somethings I just can’t do digitally, I need to sketch it out in a notebook. I have a notebook that I use just for sketching photo shoots, lighting set-ups and even sun and camera positions. I recently did a number of images for a university with an amazing campus. I had to capture a number of different images at a number of different locations and some with talent. I always scout the location and find the positions I like the best. Then I will sketch out a map and place my camera positions options. Later I will place in sun positions for different times of the day along with the elevation of the sun, very important. When needed I time things like street lights and windows lights. Once that is done I can number my locations so I know where to start shooting first then my second and third location and so on. This helps to maximize my good light at each location.
Here are two shots of the same location, one is just the scouting photo and the other is the final images. In this case I dropped the talent in after, something that is becoming more common with digital.
This system of sketching out locations and the sun position is very helpful when shooting interiors as well. If you have to photograph a number of rooms it is more effective to know what room to be in at what time and which windows will be getting strong light etc. I also use my notebook for portraits where I will sketch out lighting and posing positions, framing etc. If I can I tape in polaroids I might have taken just so I can see the shoot when I look back over my notes. After and during I always make notes about the shoot that I might find useful the next time.
The image I posted of the cover of my notebook, you can see that I mod the covers to allow me to attach something to write with. I normally attach a pen and pencil or maybe two different colored pens.