Light Blue Success Stories – GWS Photography

GWS Photography keeps clients up to date with the help of Light Blue 7Grahame Smith LMPA is an award winning weddings, portrait, and dog photographer, based in Dunbar, Scotland.

After a lifelong interest in photography, and a short lived career as a trainee aircraft technician in the RAF, Grahame (assisted by his wife Allison) embarked upon the journey into professional photography in the early 1990s. And now (with the ongoing support of Allison and daughter Annie), runs the busy, and incredibly well organised GWS Photography… with a little help from Light Blue!

Having used Light Blue for several years now, it’s become an important part of our ‘always on’ workflow… and the new additions to version 7 have been brilliant for us.

We run quite a tight process for following up enquiries… and the implementation of integrated emails & texts has cut out no shows almost completely.

Using templates for emails & texts, we can keep in touch with clients right up to the last minute, without having to leave Light Blue, and having a ‘paper-trail’ of all parts of a conversation in once place, helps with keeping track of enquiries and bookings too.

So by the time we make our courtesy phone call to a client on the day before the shoot, we know they’ve been sent all the necessary information, and are fully versed in how we operate, and what will happen on the day.

Knowing that a lot of email ends up in people’s spam folders, being able to send a follow up text as part of the workflow to say that we’ve sent the requested information has become an invaluable part of the process with Light Blue 7.

Combined with the existing  features – such as integration with Shootproof – Light Blue provides a really effective business marketing, sales and planning platform.”

Click here to try Light Blue 7 free for 30 days!

Come and see Light Blue at The Societies’ trade show!

We love meeting photographers and hearing how they’re using Light Blue to grow and streamline their photography businesses, and we’re going to be doing just that at The Societies’ 2018 convention and trade show, which runs from Friday 12 January to Sunday 14 January.

If you’d like to find out more about how Light Blue can help you to run a successful photography business, we’d be delighted to see you there. We’ll be running demos throughout the day on stand K8/K9 in the King’s Suite, and coming to see us at the show is the perfect opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about how you can put Light Blue to work for your business.

Free one-to-one training at the show

We’re going to be running demos throughout the show for people who are new to Light Blue, but we love seeing existing customers so please come and say hello!

This year, we’re also offering free one-to-one training at the show. If there’s anything that we can help you with, or that you’d like to talk to us about, you can book a free 20 minute session with us so that we can give you our undivided attention.

We’re only able to offer a limited number of one-to-one sessions at such a busy show, so please make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Unmissable masterclasses at the convention

One of the things that makes The Societies’ convention much more compelling than many other trade shows is the extensive masterclass programme that’s running alongside the show.

We’ve got acclaimed children’s photographer and Canon ambassador Helen Bartlett working with us on the Light Blue Software stand throughout the show, and she’ll be presenting a masterclass about how to find your own style of photography on the Sunday afternoon.

There’s going to be dozens of other great speakers at the convention who are already using Light Blue to run their businesses, and we’ve put together a list of some of the highlights of the programme on our blog.

Unmissable masterclasses at the SWPP 2018 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 Friday, Saturday & Sunday. 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!

 

Helen Bartlett

The exceptionally talented Helen Bartlett is giving a masterclass all about Finding Your Style in Family Photography on Sunday 14th Jan from 13.00 to 15.00.

Since 2003 Helen Bartlett has built up one of the most respected family photography businesses in London. With an approach focused on natural pictures taken on location, and always in black and white, clients book her for her distinctive visual style.

In this Masterclass, Helen will discuss her approach to photography and offer guidance on finding your own vision within your family photography work. This isn’t a ‘shoot like me’ workshop, rather a look at how to improve your own work, and focus your photography to help you build your brand and improve your business.

Catherine Connor

Catherine’s going to be busy again this year. She’s an enthusiastic and engaging speaker and we’ve had the pleasure of hearing her share her knowledge and experience with audiences at a number of shows and conventions in the past. If you’re able to get along to (at least) one of her seminars, you’ll certainly find it worthwhile!

Annie Armitage

Annie will be delivering A Beginners Guide to In Person Sales on Sunday 14th Jan. Eight years ago, Annie changed from selling online to her family clients and adopted an in person sales (IPS) model. Since then, she has seen a dramatic increase in business turnover.

Annie’s Masterclass will cover how she transitioned from online to IPS, then progressed to employing a viewing consultant, and the benefits this has brought to her business.

Julia Boggio

Julia established her photography business in 2005 and has since become one of the most well-known and respected portrait photographers in the luxury family market. With multiple awards under her photographic belt, she has looked after many notable clients from all over the world.

She’s delivering a couple of classes:

Lisa Beaney

Lisa is one of only thirteen Adobe Certified Lightroom Experts in the country, as well as being an award winning wedding and portrait photographer. She’s delivering a number of interesting talks during the convention, which are well worth a look:

Margaret Soraya

Living in the highlands of Scotland Margaret has found a niche wedding business which is the mainstay of her business. However, she also shoots commercial images, being published regularly in Build it magazine and Homes and Interiors and Scotland on Sunday. Her landscape work of Loch ness has been recognised widely and she takes around 5 worldwide travel assignments throughout Europe and beyond.

Learn all about Margaret’s work in her two masterclasses:

Elli Cassidy

Elli Cassidy of Mini Memories Newborn Photography will be delivering a couple of really interesting talks at the convention:

Lee Broders LLM

Lee will be sharing the experience of his legal training and his perspective as a photographer to deliver a couple of vital classes that will be of benefit for any professional photographer.

Jocelyn Conway

Jocelyn’s delivering a couple of Newborn related talks, which will be of value to anyone working in (or considering working in) that photography specialism:

John Denton

John’s taken a particularly interesting and meandering route into photography and has some great stories to tell!

He’s passionate about sharing his approach to working with light and models. If you can make it to one (or more) of his seminars during the convention, you’ll be sure to find it a worthwhile (and entertaining) experience!

George Fairbairn

There’s a couple of interesting classes from George at The Societies of Photographers 2018 convention, which you may find worthwhile:

Vagelis Giotopoulos

Vagelis is going to be  exploring wedding photojournalism and explaining how he creates memorable images for his clients to treasure forever.

Robin Goodlad

Robin is a multi-faceted photographer from Dorset, specialising in documentary weddings, lifestyle portraits, pet photography and food photography. He’s delivering a couple of interesting talks:

Ross Grieve

With the strong emergence of mirrorless cameras on the market, photographers have never before had such a range of cameras to suit their needs to choose from.

Ross is going to take you through his journey from DSLR to mirrorless.

Jakob Gronkjaer

Jakob’s talk about Shooting Away from the Studio at Home and Abroad on Sunday 14th looks like it’ll be fascinating. Planning for an on location shoot can be as simple as taking your main body with a 24-70 lens with you and wearing your most charming smile… or it can be as complex as requiring a government-approved translator to explain exactly why hanging off of a 6th Century BC railing is justified ‘for the sake of the art’.

Panikos Hajistilly

Multiple award winning photographer Panikos Hajistilly runs a successful – and beautifully equipped – home studio in North London and will be delivering a few talks:

Cass Davies and Gary Hill

Cass & Gary are delivering a whole series of interesting talks relevant to portrait photographers:

Emma Joanne

Emma Joanne, principle photographer of Shotgun Photography has been shooting Weddings since 2010 and Gay Weddings since 2012, which she now specialises in.

She’ll be delivering a seminar at 2018 convention about The language of LGBTQ Love on Sunday 14th

Scott Johnson

Scott’s masterclass on The Art of Bride and Groom Portraits on Saturday 13th will be valuable to many photographers.

He will be giving a short Keynote on posing and lighting techniques, followed by a walk in and around the hotel to show you that amazing images can be had at ANY venue.

Audrey Kelly

Audrey will be sharing her knowledge and experience with a couple of seminars at The Societies of Photographers 2018 convention:

Damian McGillicuddy

Principal Photographer and Educator for Olympus UK – and one of the most decorated photographers in the world – Damian will be sharing his years of experience with audiences at convention.

We get to enjoy seeing Damian speak at shows throughout the year and always find them enlightening, fun and entertaining.

Steven Neeson

Steven is a multi Award Winning Wedding & Portrait Photographer based in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He’s delivering a couple of talks at the convention which will be valuable for wedding photographers:

Lisa North

Lisa will be Demystifying the Networking Maze on Sunday 14th. Lisa is an avid networker, belonging to several local and national groups. She also gives presentations at these meetings, welcomes new members, and has set up and run networking groups for ladies in business. Today recommendations form the backbone of her established photography business in Norfolk.

Neil Shearer

Commercial sports photographer Neil Shearer will lead an action packed day giving you the chance to shoot professional athletes in a state-of-the-art Crossfit Box. You’ll learn what’s involved in Shooting a Commercial Look Book on Thursday 11th.

Magdalena Sienicka

Magdalena will show you her recent Award Winning images featuring children and will also tell you the stories behind these images. You will discover how she works with children and how she poses them. Magdalena will also talk about how she styles each session using simple tricks without spending a fortune on props and dresses.

Paul Wilkinson

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. Paul’s masterclasses will be well with a look:

Light Blue 7

Light Blue 7 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. With improved email and text messaging features, a brand new charts section, expanded options for online forms, and a whole host of other new features and enhancements, Light Blue 7 is focused on helping you to communicate with your clients and grow your business.

Improved email options*

Subscribers can now send emails via Light Blue, and make use of great features like HTML formatting and being able to schedule emails to be sent in the future. You can also send emails directly to your Light Blue account, which makes it really easy to keep a copy of all of your clients’ correspondence linked to their records in Light Blue.

“The simple addition of letting me use our Google email account in Light Blue has simplified our response to enquiries to perfection.” – David Armour

” Emails being linked directly to shoots and contacts has made communication workflow so much more streamlined. In fact, I am blissfully unaware of all the filing and attaching that goes on in the background. This is how management software should work. It does the legwork while I get on with running the business.” – Peter Nutkins

Charts

Light Blue’s reporting features have been enhanced with a new Charts section, which allows you to generate insightful reports that help you to grow your business in just a couple of clicks.

Multiple brands for forms, contracts, and online invoices*

Your client portal can now include multiple brands, allowing you to use different formatting and branding options for your forms, contracts, online invoices, and emails.

More customisation options

Light Blue’s detail views are more customisable than ever, and you can simplify them even further to show just the information that’s relevant to your business.

And much, much more…

Behind the scenes there are thousands of tweaks and refinements to make Light Blue faster, better and more intuitive. You can read the full release notes here, and we’ve gathered together the video tutorials that cover Light Blue 7’s new features into a convenient group for you.

A free upgrade for all of our subscribers

Subscribers to Light Blue’s online services can update to Light Blue 7 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 7 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 our new email features.

 

* Some of Light Blue 7’s new features require a subscription to our online services.

Light Blue 7 release notes

Light Blue 7 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. With improved email and text messaging features, a brand new charts section, expanded options for online forms, and a whole host of other new features and enhancements, Light Blue 7 is focused on helping you to communicate with your clients and grow your business.

Charts

Light Blue’s reporting features have been enhanced with a new Charts section, which allows you to generate insightful reports that help you to grow your business in just a couple of clicks. They’re really quick and easy to use, and give you an intuitive understanding of how each part of your business is performing.

Improved email sending (requires a subscription to our online services)

You can now send emails via Light Blue, and make use of great features like HTML formatting and being able to schedule emails to be sent in the future.

Emails that you send via Light Blue are automatically saved to the Activity panel of the record that you sent it from, which helps you to keep a complete history of all of your dealings with your client together in one place. You can use a variety of HTML formatting options within the emails that you compose in Light Blue, and the emails that you send can also have your client portal branding applied to them.

Send emails directly to your Light Blue account (requires a subscription to our online services)

Emails can now be sent to your Light Blue account, which removes the need for importing them from Mail (on a Mac) or Outlook (on Windows).

Each Light Blue account has a unique email address (e.g. 1234@lightbluecustomermail.com, you can find your account’s unique email address in the ‘Email’ section of the Preferences window) and any email sent to that address will be automatically imported into your account. Records from the main sections in Light Blue also have their own unique email address (which you can get via the options menu on each record’s Activity panel), and any email sent to this address will be automatically linked to that record. You can forward an email from a client to this address to import a copy of the message into Light Blue, and any emails sent from Light Blue will automatically include your unique email address in the reply-to header so replies from your clients will come back to both your normal email address and your Light Blue account.

Multiple brands for forms, contracts, and online invoices (requires a subscription to our online services)

Your client portal can now include multiple brands, allowing you to use different formatting and branding options for your forms, contracts, online invoices, and emails.

Scheduled sending of text messages (requires a subscription to our online services)

Text messages can now be scheduled to be sent in the future, allowing you to set up reminders in advance or prepare a campaign to be sent out at a specific time.

Sending text messages via a dedicated phone number (requires a subscription to our online services)

Text messages can now be sent via a dedicated phone number. This is particularly helpful for customers in countries that aren’t supported by our existing text messaging service (e.g. the USA and Canada) because it’s available in a wider range of countries. You’ll rent a dedicated phone number from us, and any text messages that you send from Light Blue will come from that number. Replies will be imported into Light Blue’s Inbox, and you can also have them forwarded to your own phone.

If you’re interested in this feature, please contact us for further details.

Shoot tags

You can now apply your own customisable tags to Shoot records, and use those tags to quickly find a batch of records.

More customisation options

Light Blue’s detail views are more customisable than ever, so you can simplify them even further to show just the information that’s relevant to your business.

We’ve also added new types of custom fields (custom text fields can now be turned into single line fields, paragraph fields, comboboxes, or checkboxes) and added an option to move your custom fields into their own tab to free up valuable space in the Shoots and Contacts sections.

Trash

We’ve added a trash can feature to Light Blue where, instead of being deleted immediately, records from the main sections in Light Blue are moved to the trash. This gives an opportunity to restore those trashed records if you realise that you made a mistake.

Record duplicating and merging

We’ve made Light Blue’s helpful ‘Duplicate Record’ command more handy by promoting it to the toolbar, so whenever you want to create a new record that’s similar to an existing one (e.g. setting up a new price list or form) then you can save yourself a load of typing by using this feature. We’ve also add a record merging tool that can help you out when you realise that you’ve accidentally ended up with duplicate contacts, bookings, etc. Light Blue’s record merging tool allows you to quickly combine the useful information from a pair of records.

64-bit support for macOS

The macOS version of Light Blue 7 is now a 64-bit application, which should ensure that it continues to run well on future versions of macOS that reduce support for 32-bit applications.

Hi-DPI support for Windows

Light Blue now supports Hi-DPI screens on Windows, as well as Retina displays on Macs.

Other changes

Behind the scenes there are thousands of tweaks and refinements to make Light Blue faster, better and more intuitive. Here’s a quick run-down of the highlights…

Forms

  • You can now add checkbox fields to forms. Custom fields that have been set up to display as a checkbox in Light Blue will automatically display as a checkbox on your forms, and you can also add miscellaneous checkbox fields.
  • You can now add popup menu fields to forms. The shoot ‘Location’, ‘Enquiry Source’, ‘Referral Source’, and custom fields can be displayed as popup menus in your forms by supplying a list of the options that you want to include in the menu. You can also add miscellaneous popup menu fields to your forms.
  • Form fields can be hidden, by supplying a default value that will be imported into Light Blue when the form is imported. This can be applied to the shoot ‘Location’, ‘Enquiry Source’, ‘Referral Source’, and custom fields.
  • You can customise the ‘Submit’ button’s text for your forms.
  • Each form template can now have its own ‘thank you’ URL, which is used to take your client to the specified page when you use the form as a contact form.
  • You can make clients confirm their email address by forcing them to type it twice into forms.
  • Name fields in the contact sections on your forms are now optional.
  • Shoot type menus on forms can default to “Select a type” to make your client pick something rather than just go with whatever your default is.
  • When you’re adding a form to a shoot, you can now see which contacts will be included for each contacts section. This is a handy way of checking, for example, whether you’ve correctly labelled the bride and groom for a form that includes a ‘Wedding Couple’ section. We’ve also made it more obvious when a contacts section doesn’t include any matching contacts.
  • We’ve added customisable versions of the %ContractURL%, %FormURL%, and %InvoiceURL% tags that you use in the emails that are sent when you publish a contract, form, or invoice. You can now specify your own custom link text (e.g. %ContactURL:Please click this link to open your contract%) and you can also specify a button that has the same styling as the submit button in your client portal (e.g. by using %ContractURLButton%, or %FormURLButton:Click here to open the form%).
  • We’ve removed the automatic “preamble” text from the email we send you when someone fills in one of your public forms, to make the preview that appears in email apps more useful.
  • We’ve added an optional email template that can be used to send a customised acknowledgement email to the ‘Main Contact’ of a contact form.
  • Submitted forms can now be printed from the Activity panel

Contracts

  • Requiring a drawn signature (as well as a typed one) is now optional for contracts and contract templates.
  • We’ve added a %ContactSignatoryFullNameAddress% mail-merge tag.

Calendar

  • We’ve added an option to the Day view, which allows you to split your calendar into one column per resource. This is particularly helpful for businesses with multiple photographers, rooms, etc, who want to easily see which times are booked up for each resource.
  • The ‘All-Day’ part of the Day and Week views automatically resizes depending on the number of all-day events.
  • The currently selected event is now more obvious.
  • Enquiries are now more distinct from confirmed bookings.
  • Days that aren’t part of the current month are more obvious in the Month view.
  • The calendar can now be filtered by shoot type and appointment type.
  • Displaying events from macOS calendars is now opt-in, to avoid confusion from newcomers who might think that they’re seeing duplicate events if they’re publishing events from Light Blue to a calendar on their Mac.
  • Improved loading speed if you’re displaying lots of events from your macOS calendars.
  • Appointments, time off, and calendar notes can now be duplicated from the calendar or Home screen.
  • Added a “Personal” category to time off.

Calendar feeds

  • You can now create calendar feeds that only show that you’re busy, without including any details for the events. This is handy if you want to give someone a feed that they can use to see when you’re available, without giving them any confidential information.
  • You can now include Calendar Note records in your calendar feeds.

Shoots

  • You can now import shoots (as well as contacts) into Light Blue. This is helpful if you want to import historical data into Light Blue when you’re first setting it up, but it’s also helpful for anyone who wants to import a set of leads into Light Blue as shoots rather than contacts.
  • Added an option to highlight shoots and appointments that are scheduled outside of your business hours, by colour-coding the event’s date and time. If the event clashes with another confirmed or unconfirmed event then that colour-coding takes priority, otherwise out-of-hours events are highlighted in purple on the Home screen, Shoot records list, and Activity panel.
  • You can now specify multiple default resources for your shoots, so that when you select a shoot type you can now have multiple staff, rooms, and equipment added to the shoot.
  • We’ve added a ‘Mark Found Shoots as Completed’ command to the Housekeeping menu, to help you keep the ‘Current Events’ list on the Home screen manageable.
  • When you add a member of staff to a shoot, the ‘Role’ field now defaults to the job title that you set up for that member of staff in the Preferences window.
  • Added a ‘Copy All Email Addresses’ command to the options menu on the Linked Records panel.
  • When cancelling a shoot, linked appointments are now cancelled instead of deleted. We’re also offering to delete scheduled emails and text messages that have yet to be sent.

Contacts

  • We’ve added an optional ‘VAT Number’ field, which you can enable or disable in the ‘Finances’ section of the Preferences window. If it’s displayed, it appears on Contact, Quote, Sale, Purchase, and Payment records. When you link a contact to a Quote, Sale, Purchase, or Payment, their VAT number is copied across along with their name and address. If the VAT Number field is being displayed, it will also be visible on your printed records, and included in the ‘Export Financial Data’ and ‘Tax Report’ commands.
  • When an address is linked to more than one record, the number of linked records is displayed and you can use the options menu for that address to quickly find all of the records that share that address.
  • We’ve added options for including a contact’s notes, history, and to-do list in our built-in printing template.
  • Added a ‘Default Website Label’ preference.
  • Improved importing from the macOS Contacts app for contacts with company details.

Sales, quotes, and purchases

  • We’ve added “A Different Percentage Of The Balance…” to the list of options for the ‘Create Sale’ button on Quotes.
  • We’ve added a ‘Calculate Net & Tax Amounts From Gross Total’ button to the purchase item editing dialog, as an alternative to typing in the net and tax amounts of the item separately.
  • Added an optional product code field to price lists, sale items, and quote items. You can enable this feature from the ‘General Preferences’ section of the Preferences window.
  • Added an optional production instructions field to sale and quote items. This is included in the new production order. You can enable this feature from the ‘General Preferences’ section of the Preferences window.
  • You can now track both the salesperson and photographer on Sale records. We’ve also added a new sample custom report called ‘Photographer Sales Performance’ that allows you report on each photographer’s sales. You can enable this feature from the ‘General Preferences’ section of the Preferences window.
  • Added an optional production order, which is a new built-in template that can be printed or saved as a PDF from a Sale record. You can enable this feature from the ‘Printing’ section of the Preferences window.
  • We’ve added an option to include a space for a client signature on invoices, production orders, and quotes. You can enable this feature from the ‘Printing’ section of the Preferences window.
  • You can now choose to include your client’s primary phone number and email address on our built-in invoice and quote templates. You can enable this feature from the ‘Printing’ section of the Preferences window.
  • Custom fields can now be included in our built-in invoice, quote, and receipt templates.
  • When you’re invoicing a sale, Light Blue now warns you if the invoice date is older than today, or older than your most recent invoice date (if that date is in the future).
  • You can now save a bespoke product from a sale or quote item to your price list.
  • You can now select a different email template when you’re setting up an invoice for online payment.
  • When you add a new contact to a purchase, we now default the Type field to “Supplier”.
  • We’ve changed the default VAT reporting period for Ireland to four months.
  • Added a method of bulk changing the Sale Status field to the Housekeeping menu. This is only displayed if you’ve enabled the Sale Status field.
  • Sale Status-related quick queries are no longer displayed if you haven’t enabled the Sale Status field.
  • Fixed a problem where, if the decimal separator is not set to ‘.’, applying credit to a sale would ignore the pennies.
  • When using the ‘Export Financial Information’ command, if the contact name is blank we now include the company name instead.
  • First name mail-merge tags (e.g. %SaleBillingFirstName%) now work when the name is a single word.

Activity

  • You can now filter the Activity panel to show or hide specific types of activity.
  • The Task Manager can now be filtered by task category.
  • You can now reschedule a selection of tasks in the Task Manager to the same date.
  • Documents can be exported from the Activity panel.
  • We’ve added a ‘Bulk Delete Documents…’ command to the Housekeeping menu, which allows you to delete all documents with a particular file name from particular sections. This is helpful if you’ve mail-merged lots of large documents, and want to delete them to free up some disk space.

Inbox

  • Added ‘Received in the last 3 months’ and ‘All received dates’ options to the filter menus.
  • The Inbox’s count of unprocessed items is no longer limited to items from the last 28 days, because you can now display items of any age in the Inbox.
  • The default action for emails and text messages in the Inbox is now to preview the message, instead of linking it to a record.
  • You can now create a new contact record from an email in the Inbox, as well as being able to add a new enquiry.
  • When you import a contact form submission that only includes contact details, Light Blue now gives you a choice between importing just the contacts or linking them to a new enquiry for you.
  • When you accept an online invoice payment via the Inbox, creating a Purchase record for the transaction fee is now optional.
  • We’re no longer creating the ‘Light Blue incoming emails’ folder in the macOS Downloads folder if you haven’t enabled importing emails from Mail.

Templates

  • Added a link to our mail-merge documentation to the Contract Templates, Document Templates, Email Templates, and Text Message Templates sections.

Localisation

  • All of the text that appears on forms can now be translated.
  • You can now specify the words that will be recognised by Light Blue for “weddings”, “bride”, and “groom”.

Other changes

  • When you’re typing in a time field, Light Blue is better at preserving any minutes value that you’ve typed if you edit the hour.
  • Saved queries, custom reports, data exports, and import orders can now be renamed in the dialogs that you use to load and save them.
  • Improved the efficiency of the ‘Backups (Previous Versions)’ folder, by only keeping backups from the last five Light Blue upgrades.
  • The ‘Export Records’ dialog now remembers that last set of fields that you exported for each section.
  • Added a hidden feature to the ‘Export Records’ dialog, where holding the Alt key down while opening the dialog will export just the currently selected record.
  • Light Blue’s static web gallery generating features are now hidden by default, because we’re planning to remove them in a future version of Light Blue.
  • We’ve hidden our product workflows feature by default, because it’s not used by many customers and sometimes causes confusion to people who are new to Light Blue.
  • We’ve changed the default left margin for your clients’ details on invoices, quotes, and receipts. Hardly anyone seems to use windowed envelopes now, so we’re now defaulting the left margin of their name and address to match the rest of the invoice.
  • You can now specify a mail-merge template that will appear in the Print dialog for all sections, not just sales, quotes, purchases, and payments.
  • We’ve removed averages from most of the reports that are available in the Reports menu, because they often didn’t add anything useful.
  • Fixed a layout glitch that could cause the detail panel tabs to appear underneath other fields.
  • Added an email template export / import feature.
  • The ‘Export Records’ command is now renamed to ‘Export Single Record’ when you open the File menu with the Alt key held down, to make that hidden feature a bit more discoverable.
  • On Windows, saves that trigger an immediate data sync (i.e. the app isn’t already syncing or waiting to do a data sync) no longer suffer from a delay before reloading the saved record.
  • Added ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ buttons to the template translation editing dialog.
  • Added a ‘Mark as Completed’ / ‘Mark as Uncompleted’ command to the Task Manager options menu.
  • On Windows, we’ve changed that way that Light Blue monitors its documents, template files, etc, for changes to make it more efficient. You shouldn’t notice any changes, apart from lower CPU and power usage.

Using Light Blue to help send a festive message to your customers

As Christmas approaches, many photographers are turning their attention to contacting their customers in order to send their season’s greetings. You’ve been adding information to Light Blue throughout the year, and now’s a perfect time to get that information to go to work for you.

Using Light Blue you can find the records of customers who matter the most to you, and then use various tools within Light Blue to send them a festive message.

Querying for records

In an earlier blog post, I wrote in some detail about using the query dialog to dig deep into your data & find records that you were interested in. You can design a query to find the contacts that you’re interested in reaching – perhaps all of your customers who’ve spent over a certain amount?

Once you’ve found the records that you want to send something to, you can use Light Blue to help you to reach out to them.

Printing address labels or envelopes

Printing your customers addresses onto labels or envelopes en mass is really simple. After performing your query, simply click Print/Send and choose the Labels / Envelopes option to print all of the primary addresses of your main contacts onto labels or envelopes.

Using mail merge documents to send a personalised letter

You may want to send a personalised letter that you plan to enclose in a card. We’ve got a handy tutorial all about using your own word processor to generate template letters:

There’s also a comprehensive list of all of the mail-merge tags that you can use in Light Blue, which will populate your template documents with information from your records.

Exporting email addresses to Mail Chimp

If you plan to send out a lot of emails in one big festive mail shot, you could export a spreadsheet of your customers email addresses to upload to something like MailChimp. Using the results of the query you ran earlier, simply click File > Export Email Addresses to save a CSV spreadsheet which can be uploaded as part of an email campaign.

 

ClickBook follow-on bookings are now being sent to Light Blue

For members of the Click Group, Light Blue has an integration with the ClickBook booking system. We’re continuing to work with the developers of ClickBook v2 to make our integration more helpful to photographers using our systems.

We’re pleased to announce that ClickBook is now sending details of follow-on bookings made in their system to Light Blue.

When you’re setting up your job types in ClickBook, you’re able to create job types that book out chunks of time in multiple rooms. For example, you could have a shoot in your studio that’s immediately followed by an instant viewing session in your viewing room. Or, for a studio that offers makeovers, you could have a workflow where clients start off in your makeup room, then move to the studio for their shoot, and finish the booking with a viewing in your viewing room.

When you’re setting up your job types in ClickBook, you can use its follow-on booking settings to assign a separate room to each part of the job. You can also tell ClickBook which part of the booking should be turned into a shoot record in Light Blue. All of the other parts of the booking will be added to Light Blue as appointments linked to that main shoot record.

If you don’t use follow-on bookings in ClickBook, or if the first part of the job type is always the shoot, there’s nothing that you need to change. If you have appointments that take place before the shoot, all you need to do is update your job types in ClickBook so that it can tell Light Blue which part of the booking is the shoot.

Here you can see a booking that’s been received via ClickBook, which has follow on appointments associated with it, too. You’ll notice that there’s two appointments linked to the shoot – the makeover appointment occurs before the shoot, in the makeover room, and the viewing appointment occurs after the shoot in the viewing room.

 

Building a professional image to your customers with Light Blue Software. 

This is the second in a series of articles written by photographer & Light Blue customer, Nick Church, about how Light Blue has helped him to grow his photography business.

In my previous article, I discussed how Nick Church Photography relies on Light Blue to handle all aspects of my bookings, customers and shoots to free up creative time. However, during the pre-sales stage it is important to give your clients the best possible impression. This article explores how I do this, and how Light Blue helps me put a professional face on my business.

You can be the most talented photographer in the world but if you are unable to offer professional, informed interactions, potential clients may never see your brilliance! It is disappointing to lose a booking because the client doesn’t like your photographic style or your prices. But it is downright criminal to lose one through being disorganised, missing an appointment or generally looking like you are not up to speed on them or their wedding.

After learning the hard way, the first thing I do with an enquiry is enter all the information I have, even if it is just first names and a potential date, into Light Blue. After all an enquiry is just a shoot that has not yet been confirmed.

I respond to requests for package details using email templates. This means I can send branded Package Details to my clients with the email automatically referencing their wedding date and venue. With Light Blue this takes about five seconds, and I can do it while out and about using the mobile app! A speedy and professional reply always impresses, and perhaps the response gets to them before they consider contacting other photographers!

As SMS, Facebook messages and emails start to flow, the details increase. Having all this information in one place allows valuable interactions with your customer to continue throughout the booking process. Before I arrive for a consultation, from my phone, Light Blue will give me all the information from my phone about the clients and the booking. Being knowledgeable about their interests and kids’ names may not seem relevant, but builds a trusting rapport with your client.

Workflows are used in Light Blue to drive your processes to ensure things happen in the correct order and at the correct time. I have set up my ‘enquiry’ workflow to give me a set of tasks with an appropriate gap between them, to keep the client consistently informed at every key stage:

  • The first response to the enquiry happens immediately. No-brainer.
  • The second response is an informal follow up two days later. Maybe you would want to leave it a little longer, say a week. Too soon and you seem pushy, too long and they make have forgotten about you and drifted into the open arms of a pesky competitor.
  • Third, fourth and final chase ups are around one week, one month and 6 months. If they are still ignoring you at this stage, they are probably not interested, but I have had two bookings come back from the dead like this, and given it all takes so little time, it’s worth the investment.

Another workflow can be attached to appointments. When you have an upcoming meeting, you can use Light Blue to add a reminder to confirm with your clients so that all parties remember the appointment. It looks polite and organised, but this feature has saved me a wasted journey on more than one occasion. If a client goes cold, better to know the day before you sit at a venue on your own for an hour.

I have recently started entering the wedding day schedule and any requested shots into Light Blue. I can then email all this information to the client for confirmation, again all on headed stationary with your consistent branding, using mail-merge document templates.

Continuing your customer service after a shoot is important too in fostering future business opportunities. Remembering their anniversary and sending a card might be the difference in getting a valuable recommendation.

Light Blue’s online services provide digital contract signing, online payments, and allow you to create shoot records directly from enquiry forms on your website. This deserves its own discussion and will be discussed in a later article. Watch an introduction to the Light Blue online services

Nick Church Photography might be a small business, but letting Light Blue do some of the admin for me, I can present a confident and consistent front to customers that will match the quality and creativity they will get through my photography.

Start your free 30-day trial

 

Using Light Blue for non-photography related work

We’ve made Light Blue a powerful and versatile tool for running your photography business. We understand that photography businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and with different needs depending on your particular genre(s) of work.

What you may not know is that Light Blue can also be used to help organise other types of work, too. On his blog, Light Blue customer and London graphic designer, Jason Miller, talks about how Light Blue is one of his invaluable “tools of the trade”.

Light Blue is principally designed for photographers, and because your photography business is based around shoots, Light Blue’s based around shoot records, too. But if you swap the word “Shoot” for “Project”/”Job”/”Event” it can easily apply to any other client-driven business.

Using ClickBook v2 with Light Blue

The new ClickBook system has been integrated directly with Light Blue, so ClickBook v2 bookings will appear directly in your copies of Light Blue when you sync it to our servers.

Using ClickBook with Light Blue requires you to be using Light Blue version 6 or newer, and to have a subscription to our online services.

Light Blue doesn’t use Google Calendar to send your availability to ClickBook v2, instead we use our own API to do that. In order for Light Blue & ClickBook to communicate, you need to give ClickBook your Light Blue API key, which you can get by logging into your account page. ClickBook v2 already contains a link to the member area on the Light Blue site to allow users to set up their API key.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Within Light Blue we have the concept of “resources”, which covers rooms, staff and equipment. ClickBook takes the list of rooms that you’ve set up in Light Blue and presents them to the people who are going to be booking in sessions for you, so you need to set up at least one room in Light Blue. There’s a short tutorial which covers everything you need to know about resources.

In order to accurately display your availability to ClickBook, you need to make sure that you’ve added all of your shoots, appointments, and time off into Light Blue for the relevant dates, and assigned the appropriate resources to those shoots & appointments. Events that don’t have any resources assigned to them will block bookings for your entire studio.

Here are the different scenarios you may have for your resources, and what they mean regarding your availability for ClickBook:

– A shoot/appointment with the relevant room resource (e.g. “Studio”) linked to it: ClickBook will not be unable to book jobs that require that room for that time.
– A shoot/appointment with other resources linked to it, but not the relevant room resource (e.g. “Studio”): ClickBook will be unable to book jobs that require that room for that time, since the Studio is available
– A shoot/appointment with no resources linked to it whatsoever: ClickBook will not be able to book any jobs for that time (we don’t know what resources are in use here, so mark everything as unavailable)

You can also use Light Blue’s calendar notes to present information to ClickBook (e.g. a note saying “Newborns only today”).

Whenever Light Blue is running  and you’ve got a connection to the internet, Light Blue will automatically sync with our servers once a minute. If, for whatever reason, you want to force Light Blue to sync with our servers right away, you can do so by clicking File > Sync Now.

If you need any help with setting up your ClickBook v2 account, there’s a tutorial video from Feedzon which you can watch, here.

Should you need any help regarding Light Blue, you can contact us for free by emailing support@lightbluesoftware.com

If you’re switching over from using TPO, we’ve got some more information on how you can arrange to have your TPO data imported into Light Blue, here.