Light Blue 8.0.3

We’ve released Light Blue 8.0.3, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 8.

  • You can now use the “Add To Found Set” section of the Records menu to add a Resource to a selection of records, and the “Remove From Found Set” section to remove a Resource from a selection of records.
  • Our QuickBooks invoice export now includes the invoice due date and the linked shoot’s title and shoot type.
  • The “Tidy Popup Menus” housekeeping command now allows you to tidy the purchase item Name field.
  • Added .cr3 and .raf file extensions to the list of unprocessed file extensions supported by our picture renaming feature.
  • The background activity window no longer contains an item unhelpfully labelled as “Description” when you first open it.
  • Updated the printed version of workflows to show email and text message steps correctly.
  • On Windows, the staff login dialog now focuses the password field when it opens to save you needing to click or tab into it.
  • Fixed a problem where underscores in contract mail-merge values could appear as \_
  • Fixed a problem where charts section could fail to take percentage discounts into account.
  • Fixed a problem with the “Staff Shoots” report that prevented shoots from being included more than once if multiple staff are assigned to it. Enquiries and cancelled shoots are no longer included in the report.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause macOS contacts to be published to an account other than the default account.
  • Fixed a database error message that could appear when using the Sales list view with both the Photographer and Salesperson columns.
  • Fixed extra text that could appear when printing a contact record.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause an attachment to be duplicated when sending emails in quick succession.
  • Fixed a printing problem that could cause the rightmost column to be cut off the Purchases section of a tax report.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause unsaved changes to be lost when dragging an attachment into an email.
  • Fixed a problem with updating workflows when upgrading from an early Light Blue 8 beta.
  • Fixed a problem where setting a custom label for a contact method wouldn’t display that custom label until you enter the phone number or email address.
  • Fixed a couple of unexpected quits that could occur in unusual circumstances.

Take control of your email with Light Blue

Light Blue includes powerful email features that you can use to respond to enquiries, stay in touch with your clients, save time, and keep all of your communications together in one place.

When a new enquiry comes in to Light Blue via email or your contact form, you can use an email template to craft the perfect response. Using a template saves you time (because you don’t have to type it out!) and makes sure that you don’t miss out any important information (because you crafted your email template in advance). But Light Blue’s email templates also allow you to personalise your responses, using intelligent mail-merge tags that customise it with your client’s details and always allowing you to add your own touch to the message before you send it to your clients.

When you’re sending an email from Light Blue, we recommend that you send it from your own email account. Using your own email account looks professional and helps your messages to get through to your client. You can add as many email accounts as you like, and if you need a hand with setting them up then we’d be delighted to help.

When a client replies to an email you’ve sent from Light Blue, the reply goes to your email address but it also appears in Light Blue’s Inbox. This makes it really easy to keep track of all of your communications with your client, because you’ll have copies of the emails you’ve sent and your clients replies in one place. This is especially useful if you’ve got more than one person working in your business, because the messages that your team are exchanging with clients aren’t spread out over lots of different systems.

If you receive an entirely new email from a client (e.g. a new enquiry), all you need to do to get it to appear in Light Blue is forward it onto your unique @lightbluecustomermail.com email address. All of our subscribers get one of these special email addresses, and anything that you forward to it will appear in the Inbox. From there, you can turn it into a new enquiry and send a reply using one of your email templates.

Light Blue 8 added lots of email and text messaging enhancements to Light Blue. As well as streamlining existing features, we added powerful automation tools that allow you to schedule messages to be sent to your clients. For example, you can set up automatic reminders that cut down on frustrating no-shows. You could also use an enquiry workflow to automatically send follow-up messages to a prospective client.

We’ll be showing you how to set up and use all of these features in next week’s webinar, and we’ve also produced a series of helpful video tutorials that you can watch at any time.

Sign up for the webinar at 13:30 GMT, Tuesday 19 February!

Get the year off to a great start with Light Blue

We hope that 2019 is going to be full of happiness and success for all of our customers, and that enquiries have been coming in thick and fast over the Christmas and New Year period.

Light Blue is full of tools that can help you respond to and follow up on those enquiries, quickly confirm bookings with your new clients, and get your invoices paid quickly. We’d love to help you get the most out of those tools!

Free, personalised training

We’re always keen to make sure that you’re getting as much as possible out of Light Blue, and you’ll find loads of helpful resources on our website: excellent video tutorials, in-depth webinars, and responsive email support.

We also offer one-to-one training via screen-sharing software, which allows us to offer personalised help to make sure that you’re getting the most out of Light Blue. Whether you need a hand with setting up a particular feature, or want to ask our advice about how to approach a particular situation, we’ve got experience of working with thousands of photographers around the world.

We’re offering all of our customers a free 30 minute screen-sharing session. All you need to do is book your one-to-one session by the end of February!

Click here to book a free screen-sharing session!

The Societies of Photographers 2019 convention

The Societies of Wedding & Portrait Photographers convention is one of the highlights of our calendar. We’re looking forward to talking to photographers during the extensive trade show on the Thursday 17th, Friday 18th, & Saturday 19th January. There’s a wealth of talks and masterclasses being held during the convention, and we’ve listed a selection that we think are well worth a visit!

New venue

This years convention sees a change of venue to the Novotel London West in Hammersmith.

Free tradeshow registration

The pre-registration for FREE trade show tickets has now closed but if you use the promo code: LightBlue19 you have until Friday evening to register for free.

Our shortlist of talks

Helen Bartlett

Helen runs one of London’s most prestigious family photography businesses. Working both nationally and internationally, she creates beautiful images for her clients who return year on year for her distinctive images of their families. Helen has been an ambassador for Canon since 2017.

Staying creative is vital for a successful photography business, both to engage and retain clients but also for the personal evolution of you as a photographer. With fifteen years in the family photography business, Helen will discuss the methods she uses to keep on pushing her work forwards. Using examples, Helen will show you how to create visually interesting pictures in different circumstances and give you tips to take away and implement in your own sessions.

Lisa Beaney

Lisa grew up in West Sussex on the South Coast of England. She started her photography career 12 years ago. By education she started out as a computer programmer working on flight simulators before moving in to IT consultancy specialising in configuring and installing computerised accounting and business systems.

For Lisa photography is about observing what’s around you and then making a connection, either with people or maybe just the elements around you. Without that connection she is just another photographer.

Making any connection takes time, which as a professional photographer isn’t always easy on a time limited commercial shoot, that’s why she loves project based work, this gives her time with her clients and or surroundings.

On Lisa’s last Tattoo project she spent many hours talking with clients, there is always a “why” story behind a tattoo, some were rebellious teenagers, others had experienced life changing events. It’s often an emotional experience, but worth every minute. It’s only then that she knows the look and feel she wants to capture.

Lisa has won many awards in social photography and enjoys passing on her technical skills to others. She has also been awarded her Associateship in Photography and holds a Diploma in Photographic Practice.
She is also a Master of Photography for the Photographer Academy and runs training around the UK on behalf of various trade organisations as well as speaking and judging at photographic events. Lisa also provides one to one mentoring and training at her Studio in West Sussex.

Lisa feels lucky enough to represent some great photographic companies and is a Brand Ambassador for ZEISS and Permajet and a Brand Advocate for Album Epoca.

When she is not busy taking photos she normally out running. Lisa enjoys Ultra Marathons and Adventure races and finds inspiration from the landscapes and people that take part. If you want to connect with the elements, wild camping on the side of a mountain is a good place to start.

George Fairbairn

George was born outside of Chicago, is obsessed with all things science (particularly space) and moved to the UK for his love of proper football, a full English breakfast, and Yorkshire puddings. George turned down a scholarship for photography to the Art Institute of Seattle after High School because he didn’t want to move away from Chicago two years later he was stationed in England in the US Air Force! Since coming out of the service, George has turned his attention back to photography and is now an advertising and editorial portrait photographer.

George loves capturing humour and genuine personality in his portraits. Specialising in advertising portraiture George has had the privilege of shooting advertising campaigns as well as promotional and commercial portraits for bands, musicians, and celebrities. George is also a social media content creator producing stop motion animation for digital marketing content creation.

George has been a photographer for, or currently shoots for magazines such as Kerrang!, Rocksound, Total Guitar, Rhythm, and more as well as shooting for brands such as Zeiss, Hollywood Records and the BBC. George still thinks the English weather isn’t all that bad and has hopes of Cambridge United one day make it into the Premier League. Though George resides outside of Cambridge, he works frequently in London as well as across the UK and Europe.

Robin Goodlad

Robin Goodlad is a multi-faceted photographer from Dorset, specialising in documentary weddings, lifestyle portraits, and food photography. After appearing as a contestant on BBC Masterchef he applied his love of food to photography and has never looked back. He now runs a successful food photography business alongside his wedding photography, and the two perfectly complement each other.

When not working on these he can be found immersed in the outdoors, photographing the majesty of the landscape to feed his creativity. Rather than being a clash of styles, these genres fit together harmoniously, and he uses elements from each to influence each other.

He is immensely proud to have won international awards in each genre, including Pink Lady Photographer of the Year Food Photographer of the Year 2016, and finalist in 2017 and 2018

Panikos Hajistilly

After 25 years working with Canon, Olympus and Nikon as a camera technician (repairer!) – and workshop supervisor at Nikon for 10 years, Panikos thought he’d open a studio. So in 2002 he did it. His first year’s turnover was over £500K, in five years that grew to £865k, and he was managing a team of 18 staff! Panikos was running a massive machine, but all he wanted to do was be a photographer. So in 2009 he went alone, and eventually built his own home studio, that he’s very proud of, he’s having great fun! He loves photographing people of all ages, pets and places. As long as Panikos has someone to photograph, he is happy!

Panikos has gained a few qualifications and awards along the way, a Fellow of the MPA, Master Craftsman with The Guild, and Associate with the SWPP, which shows he has gained a little experience along the w

Tigz Rice

Tigz Rice is an expert boudoir photographer and retoucher who knows Wacom and Adobe inside out and will help you to get the most out of your images! Her talks are full of time saving tips, tricks and techniques, you will learn how to edit your images quickly and effectively by taking advantage of fully customised Lightroom presets, whilst utilising Wacom technology to speed up your processing time!

Margaret Soraya

Margaret started her photography career 14 years ago and has become a successful photographer, shooting weddings and landscapes throughout Scotland and the Outer Hebrides. She has been awarded many accolades amongst which are MPA Travel & Landscape Photographer of the Year 2013 and 2014 and 2016 and MPA Overall Scottish Photographer of the year in 2017.She has been published in National Geographic Traveller, Outdoor photography magazine, Photo professional magazine, Build It magazine, Scotland on Sunday, The Press & Journal and The Herald. Margaret is best known for capturing the essence of wild, remote places such as the Outer Hebrides and Loch Ness. In addition to this, she takes on around 5 travel assignments per year worldwide.

Annie Armitage

These days, the most popular way to sell images from a family or wedding shoot, is to present them online to clients. After all, it’s convenient and easy for the photographer as well as the client isn’t it?
However, Annie saw a dramatic increase in her turnover when she changed to in-person sales (IPS) nine years ago, after selling online to her family clients for many years.

In this masterclass, Annie will share how she transitioned from online to IPS and then progressed to employing her own viewing consultant. She will talk about the benefits gained by someone else visiting clients on her behalf.
She will also tell you how she prepares the client, share her shoot-to-sell techniques, and give you tips on how to find the right person to sell for you, and the contracts you’ll need to have in place.
In addition she will discuss the benefits of using online galleries in conjunction with IPS, advise you on what to take to the viewing session at a client’s home, and talk about the follow-up service and how best to present orders for delivery.

Julia Boggio

Julia Boggio is a London-based, celebrity family photographer. She has won several awards for both her business practices and her photography, including the SWPP Children’s Photographer of the Year for 2016 and 2017. Julia has been a full-time professional photographer for 12 years, having started in weddings then moved into family portraiture and fine art. She is known for her colourful, quirky style that aims to bring out everyone’s inner superstar.

Aside from photography, Julia is also passionate about helping creatives to run better businesses. With a degree in Marketing from Rutgers University and 10 years’ experience in advertising before her photography career, Julia is uniquely placed to teach good business practice to photographers. She regularly speaks on the subject and has her own online training community, Lightbulb for Creatives.

Jocelyn Conway

Jocelyn, also known as the celebrity baby whisperer, has achieved Master Photographer status, holds a Fellowship, two POTY titles and judges for The Societies of Photographers.

Pioneer of the baby bump bowl, Jocelyn strives to create unique and beautifully artistic family portraits.
Since establishing her business over a decade ago, Jocelyn has photographed hundreds of pregnant ladies, babies, young children and families from her central Liverpool studio she is also the portrait photographer of choice for several local celebrities and premier league footballers.

John Denton

If you include skin in your photography then you need to master a number of techniques for retouching it. Whether you’re a family portrait or wedding photographer you’ll have encountered the issues caused by imperfections, colour casts, skin reddening, stray hairs, blinking eyes. Given John’s background in working in the art nude genre then all these issues are magnified in his world.

Allow him to guide you through a range of retouching techniques he employs to improve images and lessen the impact of imperfections using Lightroom, DXO Optics and Photoshop. You’ll learn techniques to remove imperfections, clean up backgrounds, mask in colour controls, colour grade your images, dodge and burn to shape your images, effective use of Liquify and much more. Whatever your level of experience then there will be something for you.

Gary Hill

Gary is one of the most well respected (and busy!) portrait photographers in the country. His primary focus over the years has been portraiture, fashion and boudoir while more recently he has concentrated more on classical and fine art portraiture, achieving numerous accolades along the way.

Despite having his own thriving portrait business, Gary still finds the time to travel the length and breadth of the British Isles running various education courses and 1-to-1’s with photographers and has become one of the most sought after mentors in the country. Primarily his training centres on the technical aspects of shooting portraiture, from lighting to posing the model and all the way through to post production.

Damian McGillicuddy

Damian is a commercial, editorial and portrait photographer with more than three decades of experience. Photographing numerous genres, from fashion to sports, politicians to musicians and celebrities to motorsport, Damian’s prestigious clients include Olympus, L’Oreal, Aston Martin and Vogue.
Gaining over 670 international awards, Damian has also achieved 12 Photographer of the Year titles, 10 Fellowships, a Double Grand Masters, and a Grand Master with Double Bar.
As well as continuing to produce outstanding photography for his commercial and social clients, these days Damian can also add the title of Educator to his list of achievements. Damian’s Mentor Me On Steroids continual professional development programme boasts some of the most decorated photographers working in the industry today. Damian finds the fact professional photographers choose to learn photography and business from him an even greater testimonial than any celebrity endorsement.

Maria Michael

The face behind Detheo Photography, Maria Michael has been a professional photographer for over 8 years. Whilst her business covers a variety of photographic genre, it is her Specialist Pet Photography that has been her passion from the start and the area in which she has started to gain notoriety in.

Maria’s years of dedication to developing her knowledge and her unique approach to this genre have not only enabled her to work for many private clients, but has also seen her commissioned by industry leaders in both the Pet Insurance Industry and Veterinary Practice.Having taught Pet Photography workshops throughout the UK, Maria has also been invited to speak at photographic shows, universities and camera clubs. In early 2018 Maria’s work drew international attention and in November she was flown overseas to share her story and photography and to teach others.

20 years ago, if you had asked Maria Michael what her future would look like, she never would have mentioned Photography! At that time it was not even something she considered a hobby, she just loved to capture photographs of family and friends, events, places she would visit etc. not realising that even then, her need to preserve memories was her driving force.

In 2005, whilst working as a Senior Social Work, one incident was to change her life forever and be the catalyst to the start of a new journey. A journey that would find her confronting, physical, psychological and emotional challenges.
Now, after 8 years of running her own business, Maria hopes that her experiences can help to inspire others. She also wants to start raising the profile of Pet Photography and to promote greater respect and understanding about just how important a service it is.

Brian Muir

Brian Muir runs Air Image Photography, based in Ayrshire, South West Scotland. He is known throughout the UK for his location portrait work, mixing ambient light with artificially created light from battery powered flashes to create stunning images in weddings, fashion & beauty, school proms and more. With experience in Graphic Design and Digital Artistry, Brian also is known for using his skills to create marketing for products, theatre posters and social media.

Kels Noades

Kels has been a photographer for over 17 years, she has worked as a secondary school teacher as Head of Art and taught photography in numerous schools and for adult education. She has been running a successful family portrait company since 2007 doing both studio and location shoots in 2017 she expanded to a second studio in Hampshire.
Kels has had numerous speaking engagements on the business of family photography and even appeared on SPTV at SWPP 2015!

Lisa North

Lisa North has been self-employed since 2000, following a long and varied career in the Banking industry. Her transition to self-employment began in 2000 following a bad accident. Her recovery required many different therapies.
Inspired, she started a complementary health business alongside her day job. Using the network skills she had acquired in her previous career she quickly developed links with local groups and businesses and the therapy business became her full-time occupation after just 2 years.

The photography career came about in a similar way when a long-standing back issue from the accident forced her to retire from long days at the massage table, and a much-loved photography hobby became a business.
She has been a professional photographer for the last five years, with a high street studio in South Norfolk. Her work is varied including weddings, studio work and commercial commissions. She holds her Licentiateship with the SWPP, and has won awards with the SWPP and the Guild for her work. Her personal development is undertaken with Damian McGuillicuddy as part of his Mentor Me on Steroids programme. Her therapy qualifications include Relaxation and Sports Massage, Reflexology, Reiki, Indian Head Massage and Thermo-Auricular Therapy.

When not working Lisa loves getting into a good novel on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. Holidays are relaxed affairs in remote cottages around the UK.

Paul Wilkinson

Paul is one of the UK’s most sought-after photographers and is hugely in demand for his distinctive images (and the laughter that goes into creating them!). With a life-long love of photography and a passion for creating beautiful, timeless images, Paul Wilkinson has established himself at the very top of the profession as a people photographer. He is a Fellow of the SWPP and the MPA and has won an array of national and international awards for his work and is now an International Judge.

Paul runs an exclusive boutique studio between Oxford & London, offering bespoke photography to clients including scientists, premiership footballers, chiefs of industry and people who simply want to treasure memories. He is the Partner Photographer to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons voted the number 1 hotel in the UK and he has built a business to match their extremely high level of customer services in all aspects of photography experiences.

He is a trainer, speaker and author in the photography industry, with his book Mastering Portrait Photography being one of the best sellers in the UK.

Light Blue 8

Light Blue 8 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. We’ve added new automation features and made lots of improvements to Light Blue’s email and text messaging features, helping you to book more shoots, cut down on no-shows, and free you up to spend more time on delivering great images to your clients. We’ve also added new features to Light Blue’s client portal, and lots of other changes that will help you to run a successful business.

“Light Blue 8 has definitely saved my assistant time and saved me mental stress. I work from home more, focusing on editing and family time while Light Blue handles my customer service.” – Tara Marie

Read on to find out more about the big new features in Light Blue 8, or click here to see them in action on our video tutorials page!

Automate your emails and text messages*

Light Blue 8 introduces some big improvements to our workflow features that allow you to automate the routine emails and text messages that you send. For example, shoot and appointment reminders or enquiry follow-ups can now be set up in advance and automatically applied to your shoots and contacts.

“The new automated message feature has enabled me to concentrate on other things and not worry about forgetting to send reminders, etc to my clients. This has saved time which I can spend on editing & marketing.” – Raymond Redfern

“We’ve practically cut no-shows to zero. It also means that we’ve been able to spend more time on business and brand development.” – Grahame Smith

 

Image & file uploads in forms*

Photographers love Light Blue’s online contract signing and forms features, and now our forms are even more helpful because you can use them to ask your clients to upload images or files to you.

If you’re doing in-person sales, you could use this feature to ask your client to send you a photo of their living room before a viewing session. If you’re photographing a wedding, you could ask the couple to send you a copy of the spreadsheet that they’re using to organise their wedding day. Or, if you’re organising a corporate photography job, you could ask your client to upload their brand style guide.

“Adding image uploads to our forms had an immediate organised impact on our sales and workflows. Portrait clients are able to send us pictures of their rooms, which help us and the family to picture their wall art on their walls back home, getting the right sizes and finishes to compliment their interior. Our average sales doubled.” – Simon Gorges

Enhanced email and text message features*

Sending emails and text messages is much faster because they are now sent in the background, freeing you up to carry on using Light Blue while they’re being sent. Emails can now be composed in a separate window, allowing you to compose multiple emails at the same time or carry on using other parts of Light Blue while you’re composing an email. Light Blue 8’s email and text message features have received a lot of tweaks and improvements to make them faster and more convenient to use!

Other workflow improvements

Light Blue 8’s workflow improvements go beyond our new automated message features, with enhancements that make them both easier to use and more flexible. We’ve also made it possible to export and import workflows, which allows you to share a workflow with someone else or import one that someone else has shared with you.

Speed improvements

Light Blue doesn’t rely on a fast internet connection, so you can use it when you’re offline or only have a slow internet connection. That means that we can make our apps really fast, and we found a couple of new ways to make Light Blue 8 even quicker than previous versions: upgrades that require a database upgrade are now 20x faster, and the Inbox and Outbox load a lot faster for studios that have tens of thousands of incoming or outgoing items.

And much, much more…

Behind the scenes there are hundreds of tweaks and refinements to make Light Blue faster, better and more intuitive. You can read the full release notes here.

“Light Blue takes care of all the organising and admin (which I’m bad at) and allows me to focus on the customer experience in the studio (which I’m good at ). Clients think I have my shizzle together! That allows me to be more creative. Light Blue’s designed by photographers for photographers and is quite simply the best on the market.” – Jenny Beckett

A free upgrade for all of our subscribers

Subscribers to Light Blue’s online services can update to Light Blue 8 by using the ‘Check For Updates’ command within the Light Blue desktop app.

If you already have a Light Blue licence, but don’t subscribe to our online services, the best way of upgrading to version 8 is to add a subscription. As well as being able to upgrade for free, subscribers have access to Light Blue’s most popular features, including our online contract signing service, forms, online invoices, and enhanced email and text messaging features.

 

 

* Some of Light Blue 8’s new features require a subscription to our online services.

Light Blue 8 release notes

Light Blue 8 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. We’ve added new automation features and made lots of improvements to Light Blue’s email and text messaging features, helping you to book more shoots, cut down on no-shows, and free you up to spend more time on delivering great images to your clients.

Read on to find out more about the new features that we’ve added to Light Blue 8!

 

Automate your emails and text messages with workflows

Requires a subscription to our online services

Light Blue 8 introduces some big improvements that allow you to automate the routine emails and text messages that you send. For example, shoot and appointment reminders or enquiry follow-ups can now be set up in advance and automatically applied to your shoots and contacts.

We’ve achieved this by allowing you to include emails and text messages in your workflows. Workflows could already include tasks and appointments, and you can now include templated emails and text messages. You have control over when your automated messages will be sent by telling Light Blue how many days before or after a shoot, enquiry, etc, you want them to be sent, and at what time of day they’ll be sent out. You can preview your workflow messages, and you add your own personalisation or customisation to your automated messages as well as using Light Blue’s flexible mail-merge tags.

Workflow messages are automatically rescheduled if the date that they’re based on is changed (e.g. if a shoot is rescheduled). If you’re using automated messages as part of an enquiry workflow (e.g. to send follow-up messages to your clients), they’ll be automatically deleted when you either confirm or cancel the shoot.

If you need any help setting up your workflows, get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help you get the most out of them.

Please note:

  • Workflow message features require Light Blue 8. If you add a workflow, reschedule, or change the status of a shoot from an older version of Light Blue, workflow messages might not be handled correctly. If you’re going to use workflow messages, please update all of your computers to Light Blue 8.
  • Support for workflow messages has also been added to our mobile app. If you’re using the Light Blue mobile app, please update to version 4.3 via the App Store.
  • You can use most of Light Blue’s mail-merge tags in workflow messages, but a few of them aren’t supported. If you use any mail-merge tags that aren’t supported in workflow messages, you’ll see a warning in Light Blue.

Other email and text message improvements

Requires a subscription to our online services

  • Sending emails and text messages is much faster because they are now sent in the background, freeing you up to carry on using Light Blue while they’re being sent.
  • Emails can now be composed in a separate window, rather than in a dialog box. This allows you to compose multiple emails at the same time, or carry on using other parts of Light Blue while you’re composing an email.
  • You can now use one of your email templates when you’re replying to an email.
  • You can easily add contacts’ email addresses to an email by clicking the new + buttons that appear next to the To, CC, and BCC fields.
  • We’ve added a reply-to field for emails sent from Light Blue.
  • Text messages are now included in the Outbox.
  • The number badge on the Outbox shows the number of draft messages and messages that have errors. It’s shown in grey if there aren’t any errors, or red if there are any errors that need your attention.
  • On macOS, Light Blue’s dock icon now shows you the number of items in the Inbox that need your attention.
  • If you’re using the “Pending Items & Unread Messages” filter in the Inbox, marking an email or text message as read no longer makes it disappear straight away. It will only get hidden when you reload the Inbox or change your filters.
  • The “go to linked record” contextual menu command for emails in the Inbox now includes any contacts that Light Blue has automatically recognised based on the sender’s email address.
  • We’ve improved how timezones are handled when you manually schedule an email or text message to be sent in the future.
  • Images in emails can now have alt text.
  • When you reply to an email that included attachments, you now have an option to include those original attachments in your reply.
  • Fixed a problem where adding a signature to an email reply could put the signature below the quoted text.
  • When emails or text messages are sent or scheduled, their status in the Activity panel now updates as soon as it happens.
  • When you duplicate a text message template, the new template is now named as “[Original name] copy”

Other new workflow features

  • You can now export or import workflows, which allows you to share your workflows with other photographers or import a Light Blue workflow that someone else has shared with you.
  • Added “Add Workflow” buttons to shoot sessions (instead of making you go into the session’s options menu to add a workflow to it), custom date fields, and the appointment date field.
  • When you click an “Add Workflow” button for a field that allows you to specify a default workflow (e.g. the shoot enquiry date), instead of only allowing to add that default workflow the “Choose Workflow” dialog is now presented and the default workflow is pre-selected for you. This means that you just need to click the “Add” button if you want to use the default, but can select an alternative workflow if you want to.
  • The “Add Workflow to Found Set” menu command now allows you to add workflows to shoots based on their start date or enquiry date. Any shoots in the found set that don’t have your selected type of date are skipped.
  • You can now set a default confirmation workflow for appointment types.
  • Added a “Today” option to the list of key dates you can base a workflow on. The “Custom Date” option already defaulted to today, but this new option will provide a more understandable option.
  • Changed the “Delete Outstanding Tasks” command from the Activity panel options menu to “Delete Outstanding Items”. This will delete uncompleted tasks and unsent scheduled emails and text messages, but leaves any future appointments.
  • When you change the status of a shoot from “Confirmed” or “Completed” to “Enquiry”, Light Blue now offers to tidy up outstanding items (in exactly the same way as when you cancel a shoot).
  • You can now reassign multiple tasks to another member of staff from the Task Manager, or change their category.
  • Added an “Assign Workflow Tasks Without Allocated Staff To Logged In User” preference to the “General Preferences” section of the Preferences.

Online contract signing, forms, online invoice payments, and API

Requires a subscription to our online services

  • Shoot and contract forms can now include image and file upload fields. You add these to your form or template like any other field (although they can’t be included in contact forms, mostly for security reasons) and clients can use them to upload an image or file to you. If a client uploads a file to you, the filename will be included in your notification email and in the Inbox, and the uploaded file will appear in the shoot’s Activity panel. Being able to request an image or file from a client is useful in lots of situations, such as asking a client for a picture of a room they want to hang wall art in for a viewing session. Warning: although we’re not allowing image or file uploads in contact forms, you should always treat files that have been sent to you by anyone else with a certain amount of caution!
  • Added a setting to contract templates that allows you to choose whether (and which type of) booking fee you want to charge for that contract.
  • Added support for separate Stripe and PayPal details for each client portal brand, so you can have payments going to separate accounts for different shoot types. Please get in touch if you might be interested in this feature.
  • We’ve added an option to not CC you into client portal emails that we send on your behalf (e.g. when a contract is published, etc).
  • Incoming data sent to your account via Light Blue’s API now includes a date field that you can use in queries.

Fundy client order import

  • You can now import Fundy Design Suite orders into Light Blue. You’ll find commands for importing Fundy files in the Import section of the Records menu.

Speed improvements

  • Upgrading Light Blue’s database is much, much faster than before. In our tests with large databases, it’s now 20x faster to upgrade your database.
  • Loading the Inbox and Outbox is now much faster when they contain large numbers of items.

Inbox and Outbox features

  • The Outbox date filters have been changed so that you can more quickly find what you’re interested in. The “Today”, “Yesterday”, “Last 7 Days”, and “Last 28 Days” options no longer display messages scheduled to be sent on future dates, and you now have “Tomorrow”, “Next 7 Days”, and “Next 28 Days” options that will show you scheduled messages. The default option is now “All Dates”.
  • Added “Create Enquiry” and “Link To Existing Record” buttons to emails opened up from the Inbox, to save you needing to close the dialog and use the buttons in the Inbox.
  • When you’re previewing incoming data (e.g. from a contact form) that includes an email address, a new “Reply” button allows you to create an email to the first email address included in the data.
  • Text messages that you open from the Outbox now display their linked record and can be linked to a different record.

Sales and invoicing

  • You can now export a set of invoices in a format that is easier to import into QuickBooks.
  • We’ve improved the “Issue Credit” button on invoices to make it easier to credit or refund a wider variety of invoices.
  • You can now choose to include the Payment notes field when printing a receipt.
  • You can now choose to include the shoot type on a printed invoice or quote.

Calendar and Home screen

  • Added an option to display week numbers in Week and Month view.
  • We’ve added an option that allows you to display cancelled shoots in the built-in calendar.
  • We’ve added an option to include cancelled shoots in the results of quick searches. This is turned off by default, to avoid cluttering your search results with cancelled enquiries unless you’re specifically searching for one.

Reporting

  • The various data export commands that used to live in the File menu have been moved to a new “Export” sub-menu in the Records menu. This is a more logical place for them to live, is more consistent with the “Import” sub-menu, and removes clutter from the File menu.
  • The list view now remembers any column widths that you manually adjusted, and restores them when you go back to that list.
  • In list view, selecting a quick query that doesn’t include any records no longer takes you back to detail view.
  • In the query dialog, you can now query on the “role” of resources linked to a shoot.
  • You can now use “Invoice Number (without prefix)” and “Invoice Number Prefix” in the query dialog, lists, and data exports. You’ve always been able to use the full “Invoice Number” field in these situations, but these new options give you more flexibility.
  • We’ve added new fields that you can use in queries, lists, and data exports: “No. of Confirmed Shoots” has been added to the Contacts section, “First Appointment Start Date” has been added to the Shoots section; and “Shoot Start Date” and “Most Recent Payment Method” have been added to the Sales section.
  • When you’re running a report, the report options dialog now defaults the most recent reporting period and output options to the options that you used for that report.
  • Calendar notes are now included in the “Today’s Information” report.

Other changes

  • Google are making a small but important change to their Google Calendar API, and Light Blue 8 is now ready for this change.
  • Improved the design of the staff login window to make it more welcoming when you launch Light Blue, as well as clearer in its purpose.
  • We’ve updated the APIs that we use to publish contacts to the macOS Contacts app, which makes publishing contacts much faster (and future-proofs this feature in case Apple decides to stop supporting their old API). This requires macOS 10.11.
  • You can now import individual contacts from the macOS Contacts app, as well as importing an entire group of contacts.
  • Added a housekeeping command that marks any Sale records in the current found set as paid.
  • Notes fields on Windows now have spell-checking enabled.
  • Added a timezone setting to the Preferences window and setup wizard. This allows us to implement the %CurrentDate% and %CurrentTime% mail-merge tags in workflow messages.
  • Added %ShootAcceptedQuoteTotal%, %ShootNetAcceptedQuoteTotal%, %ShootPaidTotal%, and %ShootOutstandingBalance% mail-merge tags.
  • We’ve made our German localisation more comprehensive, and included both formal and informal options to give you a choice as to how formal you want to be when printing invoices, sending contracts, etc.
  • When you set up a new database, we now create a default email signature for you.
  • When you’re merging two contact records, spaces are now ignored when deciding whether to deduplicate a phone number.
  • When linking a shoot to a purchase item, the “new record” button shouldn’t be available.
  • The field label for custom paragraph text fields can now wrap onto extra lines if the label you’ve specified is long.
  • Fixed a bug where duplicating time off wouldn’t publish the duplicated event to Google Calendar or the macOS Calendars app.
  • Fixed a bug where printing a single record from the list view could print the wrong record.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when trying to attach a PDF of the built-in calendar to an email.
  • Fixed a database error that could occur when using an unusual combination of related sections in the query dialog.
  • Fixed a bug where shoots created via the API might not use their shoot type’s default session length.

Merry Christmas from the Light Blue team

Although we’re still hard at work here in the Light Blue bunker this week, we thought we should take some time out to let you know when we’ll be available to help anyone who’s going to be busy over the Christmas and New Year period.

Whether you’re a wedding photographer who’s looking forward to dealing with all of the new enquiries that tend to come in after Christmas, or just someone who’s using Light Blue to maintain their ‘Naughty or Nice’ list, we’re here to help. We’re going to be taking a bit of a break though, so we won’t be answering emails quite as quickly as normal between Christmas and New Year.

  • We’ll be offering our normal email support hours until Friday 21 December.
  • We’ll be offering limited email support on Monday 24 December.
  • There’ll be no email support available on the UK holidays of 25 & 26 December.
  • We’ll be offering limited email support 27, 28, and 31 December.
  • There will be no email support available on the bank holiday of Tuesday 1 January.
  • Normal email support will resume on Wednesday 2 January.

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers a restful and enjoyable Christmas, and best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2019; thank you so much for choosing Light Blue.

How Making Tax Digital affects Light Blue and UK businesses

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is part of the UK government’s plan to make the country’s tax system more efficient. It’s something that we’ve been keeping a close eye on for a while, and it will (probably) start to come into effect in 2019.

You only need to pay attention to MTD in 2019 if you are based in the UK, registered for VAT, and use Light Blue to produce the figures for your VAT return. The scope of MTD will be widened in the future, but it’s very limited at the moment.

HMRC’s current plan is that MTD will require businesses to start submitting their VAT returns via compatible software from April 2019. However, there’s some uncertainty as to whether this will actually happen: as recently as November the House of Lords seemed to be trying to tell HMRC that dealing with Brexit and MTD at the same time might not be good for either businesses or HMRC.

We’re always keen to find ways to help photographers in their day-to-day business, and meeting the needs of MTD is no exception. If this first stage of MTD does indeed go live in April 2019 then we will make sure that Light Blue is able to help you with it.

At a minimum, we’ll make sure that the VAT return figures from Light Blue can be exported in a way that will work with an easily available MTD tool. As the scope and requirements become more clear, we’ll be able to investigate ways that Light Blue can be even more beneficial to our customers.

Key points to take away are:

  • In 2019, you’ll only need to be concerned with this if you’re VAT-registered.
  • There’s a chance that MTD will be postponed to 2020.
  • Helping you to meet the requirements of MTD is important to us.
  • We’ll be making sure that we have tools and features in place to help you meet those requirements in time for MTD’s implementation.

Light Blue 8 public beta

After lots of hard work here at Light Blue HQ, we’re very excited to announce that we’re launching a public beta of Light Blue 8 this week.

Light Blue 8 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. We’ve added new automation features and made lots of improvements to Light Blue’s email and text messaging features, helping you to book more shoots, cut down on no-shows, and free you up to spend more time on delivering great images to your clients. We’ve also added new features to Light Blue’s client portal, and added lots of other changes that will help you to run a successful business.

If you subscribe to our online services, we’d be delighted to give you access to Light Blue 8 before its official release in January. You’ll be able to use all of its new features while we’re putting the finishing touches in place for the final release.

To find out more about Light Blue 8, get access to the beta, and learn how it can help you to be even more organised, please join us for one of our Light Blue 8 beta webinars. Sign up using the links below!

Light Blue 8 beta demo – Tuesday 11th December, 11:00 GMT

Light Blue 8 beta demo – Thursday 13th December, 16:30 GMT

Scheduled maintenance

We’re going to be carrying out some scheduled maintenance work on our servers this weekend, which is going to require some unavoidable downtime.

We’re carrying out this work at 06:00 GMT on Saturday to minimise any disruption. We expect our servers to be offline for roughly 10 minutes.

Because Light Blue’s desktop and mobile apps can be used without an internet connection, most of Light Blue’s features will continue to work during the downtime.