Light Blue 5 is here!

Light Blue 5 brings a host of new features to our award-winning business management software for photographers, making your admin easier and helping you run a busy and successful photography business. To find out what's new in Light Blue 5, read on!

Contact grouping

  • This makes it really easy to deal with groups of people on their shoots (e.g. family or corporate photographers). You can specify one Contact as head of the group (ie the one you want to communicate with), and then other Contacts as group members.
  • When you’re working with Contact records – for example, sending emails, mail merging, exporting, printing labels and so on – you can choose to use either information from the Contact you’re on, or information form the head of their group. That means, for example, that you can have a child as the primary contact for a shoot, but use their parent’s information when you’re sending letters or emails to them.
  • For more info, see the Contact Grouping video tutorial.

Contact tagging

  • Contact tagging lets you manually tag individual contacts and quickly pull them out of your database.
  • Tags are great for keeping track of things like categorising leads you’ve received according to the types of shoot they're likely to be interested in (e.g. you could create tags for 'newborns', 'seniors', etc).
  • They're also brilliant for keeping track of which promotions you've included contacts in (e.g. '2014 New Year promo', '2014 summer promo').
  • You'll find them in the right-hand column of a Contact record.

The inbox

  • A hub for your incoming information, the inbox lets you import emails from Mail on a Mac and Outlook on Windows.
  • It's searchable, and really easy to convert an email into a new enquiry.
  • You can also link your website’s contact form directly to your Light Blue account, or put up a form requesting information about a wedding so that you clients can fill it in directly rather than posting you a piece of paper.
  • We've created a plugin for WordPress that works with Gravity Forms and is really easy to use, or (for the techies!) you can write your own connection to our API using your favourite scripting language. Find out more about that on our API page.

Custom Reports

  • Light Blue's List View is a great way of generating your own reports, but up to now you’ve had to recreate them every time you need to run one. Now, using the new Custom Reports, found in the Reports menu, you can save the columns and queries which go with them, to make it really easy to bring up your favourite reports on how your business is doing.
  • We’ve provided some examples of custom reports to show you what’s possible and to get you going!

And there's more!

Edit Sales after you've invoiced them

In Light Blue 4, once you’d created an invoice, it couldn’t be edited. Sometimes, however, you need to make a change to one you’ve already sent; in Light Blue 5, you can now edit invoices once they’ve been created, which gives you the flexibility to deal with customers changing their minds.

Shared accounts

You can now share your Light Blue account with other photographers who are using Light Blue. This is particularly useful for photographers who are collaborating with others but want to keep their own business information separate (you can set up a separate Light Blue account for your joint venture, and switch back and forth between the two accounts as necessary) and for anyone who's managing a chain of studios or a franchised business (each separate studio can set up their own Light Blue account, and give 'head office' access to it).

Saving you time

  • Appointment Types let you create templates for appointments, making it easier to set up standard appointments. For example, you could set up an appointment type for viewing sessions that allocates a particular member of staff, books a room and blocks out a set amount of time.
  • You can now delete more than one entry from linked records, activity, schedule and requests by selecting multiple items before clicking the delete button.
  • We’ve added ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons to several dialogs, such as on Shoot Schedule or Requests, making it faster to jump between long lists of items.
  • You can now save field orders when you’re performing a data export, so once you’ve got it set up just the way you like it, it’s easy to re-use.
  • We’ve reorganised the Preferences window to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.
  • Text-based custom fields on Shoots and Contacts can now be set to auto-complete as you're typing, saving time when you’re entering data.

Being even more useful

  • You can add pictures to Contact records, so you can get a quick reminder of what your clients look like before meeting them again.
  • Contact ages are now displayed in months for children under two, to help portrait photographers better prepare for shoots.
  • You can now select options for calendar feeds – so you can have one for just your portrait shoots, or one for a particular staff member, for example.
  • You don’t need to have ‘processed’ and ‘unprocessed’ subfolders in your Shoot folder any more – instead, you can simply import a single folder of images against a shoot.
  • On the Sale screen, we’ve added a ‘Salesperson’ popup that lists the staff you’ve set up in the Resources section of the Preferences window. This lets you track how each of your salespeople are doing. Of course, we’ve added a report to show this information, too; that’s under Custom Reports in the Reports menu.
  • When you’re linking pictures to a sale item, you can now choose pictures from any shoot, not just the shoot to which the Sale is linked.
  • You can now group shoot requests together, which is invaluable for wedding photographers (eg ‘Formal groups’, ‘Detail shots’, etc)
  • We’ve really improved the efficiency of the application, so it uses less CPU (and therefore doesn’t drain your laptop’s battery) when it’s idling.

Keep track of time off

It’s now really easy to keep track of when people are out of the office, or when equipment or rooms are unavailable, with our new Time Off features. You can block out time from the built-in calendar, with just a double-click on the relevant day, and any sessions or appointments which clash with time off will be shown in red, so you can easily see if you’re scheduling something when you’re not available.

Calendar & Home screen improvements

  • We’ve made it easy to offer alternative dates for your enquiries by allowing you to add extra sessions to a shoot from our built-in calendar. When you confirm the booking, you’ll be asked if you want to confirm just one session or all of them.
  • On the Home screen, today’s events are highlighted to make them more obvious. If you don’t have any events scheduled for today, we indicate where today would be so that you can quickly see which events have already happened and which ones are coming up.
  • There’s now an indication as to whether events are scrolled out of view in the built-in calendar, so you don’t miss anything that’s taking place at a different time of day.
  • You can now set the built-in calendar to start the week on a Sunday – one for our American friends!
  • Our built-in calendar now shows the current time when you’re on week or day view, so you know how long you’ve got left before your next shoot.

Communicating

  • Email templates can now use attachments, so it’s easier to send brochures and forms out to your customers.
  • You can now create emails to a found set of contacts, using your default mail application. (This is intended for when you want to email a few people with things like booking confirmations, etc.; for bulk marketing email we still recommend exporting a set of email addresses from Light Blue for use in a mass-mailing service such as MailChimp.)

Printing

  • You can now print envelopes, or print addresses via a Dymo label writer.
  • On Mac OS X, we’ve been able to really improve the quality of printed text. On both Mac OS X and Windows, we’ve improved the quality of the customisable branding that you can add to our built-in templates.
  • You can now print the task manager and calendar, as well as being able to print several records in one go, which is great for when you need to resend several invoices to a customer.
  • When you print a price list, we now include your branding; we also ask if you want to hide the cost and profit information – meaning it’s much easier to send price lists to your customers.

And much more…

Light Blue 5 is full of minor tweaks that we've made to make it easier for you to manage your business. The full list would be far too boring to detail here: in fact, we'll be pleasantly surprised if you've made it this far.