Farmers’ Market


We’re excited to announce that we’ve been nominated for an award for Best Software for Photographers in the Farmers’ Market awards. There’s a variety of other categories to vote in, with many worthy nominees, too. We’d be truly grateful if you could spare a moment to cast a vote:

Vote for Light Blue as ‘Best Software for Photographers’

There’s a whole host of really interesting & worthwhile talks being held at The Farmers’ Market and we’ve shortlisted a few that we thought were especially useful.

Protect yourself: Contracts & Dealing with negative situations – Emilie White

As well as being a busy UK based Wedding Photographer, Emilie White used to be an intellectual property Lawyer. So she has a detailed knowledge of the law and what is required in a contract. She will share her insights as to what should be included to protect yourself and be clear as to what happens with our images.

Learn more & book tickets here.

Fix it in Photoshop – Tigz Rice

Tigz Rice is the Photography Farm’s resident geek girl on all things Adobe. Expect a rattling two hour demo of quick tips and tricks in Photoshop, like swapping heads in a group shot, creating panoramas, creating droplets for resizing images, reducing redness in skin, quick selections and cut outs, changing the colour of an object, using content aware tools, sharpening an image, creating actions… Tools to handle absolutely anything a client might throw at you!

Learn more & book tickets here.

Shooting as a Duo – The Twins

More and more photographers are choosing to shoot as a twosome or upselling a second shooter to clients. But how do you make the partnership work?
The Twins, who have been shooting together since 2012, will take you through the business – branding, marketing, website, and how to divvy up the admin.
Then there’s the wedding day itself. The Twins will tell you how they plan the day, define their roles, and how they work together to ensure seamless storytelling.

Learn more & book tickets here.

Nailing the Candids – Lee Allen

As both a music industry and wedding photographer, Lee Allen knows the power of a good candid shot as well as techniques for insuring that you get some killer ones. So we asked him to lead a class on shooting them at weddings. This session is both an examination into what elements form great candid shots and a practical hands on class with shooting elements.

Learn more & book tickets here.

Compatibility with macOS Mojave and iOS 12

In the very near future, Apple are going to release macOS Mojave and iOS 12. Because many of our customers like to upgrade their Macs, iPhones, and iPads as soon as new operating systems become available, we’ve been testing the latest versions of our apps with both new operating systems.

Light Blue 7 and the latest version of our iOS app appear to work well with Apple’s latest operating systems. However, we can never be entirely sure that Apple won’t change something before the release of either operating system, so please read on for the important health warning…

Health warning

As with all major operating system updates, it is a very sensible idea to be cautious about updating all of your computers and mobile devices at the same time. Although our testing of Light Blue 7 and version 4 of our iOS app has been positive so far, there is every chance that Apple could change something that breaks compatibility or that we’ve missed something because we can’t test every conceivable combination of devices and settings.

If you rely on Light Blue to run your business, we would therefore recommend holding off from updating your operating system as soon as the latest versions of macOS and iOS come out. At the very least, if you absolutely must update on day one, make sure that you have at least one computer and iOS device on the ‘old’ operating system until you’ve had a chance to test that all of the features that you depend on are fully functional.

Also, please note that our testing has been has been focussed on the latest versions of our desktop and mobile app. The vast majority of our customers are already using Light Blue 7.1.3 and version 4.2 of our iOS app, and if you’re using older version of either the desktop or mobile app then please update to the latest version to ensure that you’re able to take advantage of all of the new features and bug fixes that we’ve been adding. You can update the desktop app by using the ‘Check for updates’ command (in the ‘Light Blue’ menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the ‘Help’ menu if you’re using it on Windows), and you can update the iOS app via the App Store.

Teen portraits – The Next Big Thing in Portraiture in the UK – Christina Lauder

Leicestershire family portrait photographer Christina Lauder is originally from Toronto, Canada. She moved to the UK 20 years ago for a job transfer in software consulting & eventually found herself starting a new career as a portrait photographer, something she’d wanted to do since she was a child.

I’ve had the chance to try pretty much every genre there is within portraiture, from newborn to boudoir and everything in between, however what has captured my interest most is the teenage market. I love that I am still working with children but they tend to be with me of their own free will and therefore willing to cooperate which makes my job a whole lot easier and much more interesting.

Teen portraits are becoming a genre in their own right here in the UK. Much like Prom has reached this side of the water, the ever popular teenage portrait industry that has swept across North America is coming to the UK too.

And why not? This is an important milestone in our children’s lives. I for one want to capture this time in my child’s life and I suspect I’m not alone here. Teenagers have strong personalities, they have hobbies and interests worth documenting and moving away from home is well within their sights so we have to capture them while we can.

We’ve had the pleasure of hearing Christina hold seminars at the SWPP Digital Imaging Roadshow and she talks about the challenges of bringing a previously unknown genre of photography to the UK market.

I’m not going to lie, this market is going to take some selling. It won’t happen simply because we offer it. This isn’t typically an age that parents think of taking their kids to a portrait studio. But it is an age where children can ask for such a service. We just need to show them how wonderful their portraits can be and how amazing it will be for them to share in their social media. Then we can let the kids do the selling for us. Of course showing them how wonderful their portraits can be means we need to create portraits that are wonderful. These must be more than your average studio portrait. Thankfully teenagers provide so much scope that this is relatively simple and its one sure way of separating an average photographer from a great photographer.

Christina’s delivering a series of workshops which will provide a solid foundation in lighting that can be applied to any genre of portraiture, although the focus and subject matter for this workshop is teenagers.

You can find more information on Christina’s site about the workshops in FifeChester le Street & Somerset.

Light Blue 7.1.3

We’ve released Light Blue 7.1.3, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 7.

  • When you’re publishing a contract or form but not sending an email to your client, you can now open the contract or form in your browser as well as copying its URL to the clipboard.
  • The “Print/Send” checkbox in the print dialog now defaults to whatever you last set it to, so if you prefer to create invoices without printing them then you no longer need to un-check that box every time.
  • Added a 24 hour option to the built-in calendar’s week and day views.
  • If an email doesn’t already have attachments, you can now drag attachments onto the ‘Add Attachment’ button. You could already drag attachments into the list of existing attachments.
  • In the query dialog, you can now search on incoming data fields when you’re querying for shoots.
  • You can now query for records that have notes, tasks, or documents that are linked to a particular member of staff.
  • Added %ContactBirthDateDay%, %ContactBirthDateMonth%, and %ContactBirthDateYear% mail-merge tags.
  • Added support for detecting forwarded messages from the iOS version of Mail and the macOS version of Outlook.
  • The dialog for setting up sending a batch of text messages now closes automatically after you send or schedule your messages.
  • When you open the appointment editing dialog, the cursor will default to the start time field if the appointment doesn’t already have a start time.
  • If your country setting is set to one of France’s international territories, we now apply the French address format.
  • Fixed a problem where pasting text into an HTML editor on Windows could paste it in the wrong place.
  • Fixed a problem where you couldn’t paste formatted text into an HTML editor.
  • Fixed a problem that meant that you could only drag-reorder form fields if you kept your mouse near the left hand edge of the list of fields.
  • Fixed a problem on macOS where tabbing into an HTML editor required hitting the Tab key twice.
  • Fixed a problem where reschedule tasks that are scheduled for the same day could fail to reschedule some of those tasks.
  • On some dates, the “Last 12 months” date range in Charts view could show the wrong results.
  • Fixed a problem with the HTML editor that could make it hard to add a space in a specific place.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when opening the Charts view.
  • Fixed a bug where the %ShootRequests% mail-merge tag didn’t include some requests.

Light Blue for iOS, version 4.0

This update brings more of the desktop version of Light Blue’s features over to iOS, including lots of the features that we added in Light Blue 7:

• Light Blue’s optional password protection feature now works on iOS, and if you have a device that supports Face ID or Touch ID you can use that to quickly and securely log into the app.

• The app’s built-in calendar can now display events from the Calendars app, to make it easier to schedule your shoots and appointments around your personal commitments.

• Incoming emails and text messages are now included in the Inbox, and you can use them to create new enquiries.

• The Inbox can now display items that are more than 28 days old.

• You can now trash and restore records from the main sections in the iOS app, just like you can in Light Blue 7. You can access the trash via the Settings screen.

• When you create an email from our iOS app, we now automatically set the BCC to the unique ID for the record that you created it from. That means that – even though the email isn’t sent via Light Blue itself – you’ll get a copy of it in that record’s Activity panel.

• Light Blue 7’s shoot tags now appear in the iOS app.

• Added support for Light Blue 7’s new custom field types.

• Add support for the new VAT number fields that were added in Light Blue 7.

• The new mailing list opt-in detail fields that we added in Light Blue 7.1 now appear in the iOS app, and are set when you import a form that contains a mailing list opt-in checkbox.

• Added support for Light Blue 7’s new Sale and Quote fields.

• If you’re in the middle of editing a field, its value is automatically saved when you switch to another app.

• Shoot and Contact references are now displayed, if you’ve turned that option on via the desktop app.

• You can now create a Sale from a Quote.

• When you change the status or type of an appointment, the app will ask you if you want to add / remove workflows.

• Items on Sale, Quote, Purchase, and Payment records can now be reordered.

• You can now reorder shoot requests within a group.

• Your localised versions of “wedding”, “bride”, and “groom” will now trigger special wedding-related behaviour, just like they do in Light Blue 7.

• Notes in Shoot, Contact, etc, records display more of their text without you having to drill down into them.

• Tasks are now sorted alphabetically within a date & linked record, to match their sorting in Light Blue 7.

• When you add a new contact to a shoot, you’re now asked if you want to make that contact part of a group.

• When you import a form that contains contacts, new contacts are no longer automatically grouped.

• When you cancel a shoot, the app now offers to cancel any future appointments for that shoot rather than deleting them.

• Fixed a bug where deleting a session from the ‘Current Events’ screen would only delete that particular session, rather than moving the shoot to the trash.

• Timezone handling has been improved for items displayed in the Inbox.

• Fixed a bug that made previewing contracts not display properly.

• Fixed a problem where new shoot requests added via the app didn’t have a sort order assigned to them, so reordering them could be unpredictable.

• Added better support for the iPhone X screen, and implemented iOS 11’s large titles in list views.

Using scheduling tools to allow your customers to book shoots online with Light Blue’s API

Photographers all over the world are using Light Blue’s powerful forms to streamline their workflows, using them to feed new enquiries straight from their website into Light Blue. They’re really easy to set up and embed in your website, and you can also our forms as part of your online booking process.

Light Blue also offers an API that gives you more advanced options for sending information to your Light Blue account. You (or your website designer) could use the API to link a customised contact form to your Inbox, or you could use in combination with Zapier to link a variety of other services to Light Blue.

 

 

Online Scheduling tools

Using a powerful combination of our API and calendar publishing options, can be used to link Light Blue to popular online scheduling systems like Acuity Scheduling.

Online scheduling tools like Acuity can allow your clients to book shoots online, based on your availability. The customer can choose their own session without needing any input from you, and the details arrive in Light Blue without needing to type anything in.

This article focusses on how to set up an integration with Acuity using the middle-man service, Zapier, to send booking information into Light Blue for you.

Give Acuity your availability from Light Blue

Once you’ve created and set up your Acuity account, you’ll need to be able to tell their system when are (and aren’t) available for bookings. There’s a couple of different ways that you can do this, either by publishing events from Light Blue to a Google Calendar, or to your iCloud account. You can then authorise Acuity to synchronise with that calendar. Any events that have been added to Light Blue (like other shoots, meetings & time off) will now block out time that could be booked in Acuity and show that you’re unavailable, so you don’t get double-booked.

Using Zapier with the Light Blue API

The next step is to link Acuity back to Light Blue, so that new bookings are sent to Light Blue using our API and integration with Zapier.

Zapier is a service that acts as a middleman between a variety of web services, with some services providing triggers (e.g. “a new booking has been made via Acuity“) and other services providing actions. Zapier allows you to set up a number of “Zaps” that link a trigger to an action. We’ve written a Zapier action that allows you to send information to the Light Blue API in response to one of these triggers.

Requirements

As well as a subscription to our online services, you need a Zapier account. Zapier offers a variety of subscriptions (including a free one) but please be aware that each subscription level will only handle a certain number of tasks per month.

Setup

The Light Blue action for Zapier is currently a “private” action, so you need an invitation code to be able to use it. You can invite yourself to use the Light Blue action by clicking the following link: Light Blue on Zapier

Creating your Zap

The first step in creating your “Zap” is choosing which app or service will trigger the Zap to start running. Choose Acuity Scheduling from the list of apps and enter your account details.

When a new appointment has been created in Acuity, the Zap will be triggered.

Select the ‘Send to Light Blue API’ action

Now you can select Light Blue from the list of action apps. You might need to type “Light Blue” in the search field to find it.

Enter your Light Blue API key

When you’re prompted to select a Light Blue account, enter your Light Blue API key. You can find your API key by logging into the My Account section of our website.

Match up the data from your trigger app to Light Blue API parameters

Once you’ve set up the trigger app for your Zap and linked your Light Blue account to it, you need to associate data from the source app with parameters that the Light Blue API recognises.

To do this, you need to fill in the ‘Light Blue API Parameters’ section shown in the screenshot below. You type Light Blue API parameters in the left-hand column and select items from the trigger app in the right hand column. You can use the + button to add extra items.

You can find a list of the parameters that the Light Blue API recognises in the Supported Parameters section.

You should leave the ‘Type’ and ‘Source’ fields alone.

Working with dates and times

Different systems show dates and times in different formats, which other systems may not necessarily be able to read or understand. When adding the date and time for a shoot from Acuity to Light Blue, we’d recommend using the ShootStartTimestamp API parameter and linking it to the DateTime value from Acuity.

Test and then save your Zap

Once you’ve linked your Zap to parameters that the Light Blue API recognises, Zapier will ask you to test and save your Zap. If any errors occur (e.g. you don’t provide any parameters that the Light Blue API recognises) then Zapier should inform you and display an error message that you can send to us for further help.

Help & support

If you’re having problems setting up your integration with Light Blue’s API, we’d be delighted to help you. The most useful thing to do is send some screenshots of what you’re trying to do and/or where you’re getting stuck. Screenshots of the settings you’re using in your Zap are most helpful!

AOP membership offer for Light Blue customers

The Association of Photographers has always been an excellent source of information, advice, and support for professional photographers. I remember how Helen and I devoured their excellent Beyond The Lens when we started our photography businesses, and the AOP have continued to be at the forefront of representing photographers on a variety of issues.

We’ve written a lot about GDPR on here recently, and thought it would be worth finding out how the AOP have been helping their members deal with such an important issue. Here’s what they’ve been up to recently:

From the beginning of February this year, we at the AOP began prompting our members to take any necessary steps to ensure compliance with the then impending implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Initial guidance and interpretation of the GDPR was provided around March, culminating with the provision of a template Privacy Policy that AOP members could customise and use both on their own websites, and in response to any demands from clients, to demonstrate compliance with the new legislation. Nick Dunmur, who provides the core business and legal advice service to Accredited and Assisting Photographer members, fielded a large number of individual queries from members in relation to their own businesses and was able to provide bespoke support and guidance to them. This service is included in their membership package and in an increasingly litigious environment, is highly-valued.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what the AOP can do to help you, take a look at their website.

We’re delighted to announce that the AOP are offering Light Blue customers a 10% discount on new “Photographer” and “Associate” memberships until the end of July. Just quote “LIGHTBLUE” when applying to receive your discount.

Sending text messages with Light Blue

Light Blue allows you to send text messages to your clients, which is great for appointment reminders and marketing.

There are two different ways of sending text messages from Light Blue:

  • Via our dedicated number service, which is available in most countries.
  • Or, if you’re based in the UK, Ireland, or Australia, you can send messages that appear to come from your personal mobile number or a short name.

Dedicated number service

With our dedicated number service, you rent a phone number from us. The text messages that you send from Light Blue come from this number, and any replies that your clients send will appear in the Inbox in Light Blue.

We can also forward clients’ replies to your personal phone number if you want to know about replies as soon as they arrive. This will cost you credits, because we’re effectively sending the message out again.

If someone tries to call your dedicated number, they’ll get an automated message saying that it can’t take calls. We can customise the message for you: just tell us what you’d like it to say.

This service is available in most countries. Renting a dedicated number from us costs £5 per month, and text message credits 7p each for UK numbers (please contact us for international pricing).

If you would like us to set up our dedicated number service for you, please get in touch via email!

Sending text messages that appear to come from you

Customers in the UK, Ireland, and Australia can use a version of our text messaging service where messages sent from Light Blue will appear to come from either your personal phone number or a short name.

This service can work in some other countries, but the local phone companies might change the number that the message appears to come from.

There is no monthly fee for using this version of our text messaging service, and text message credits cost between 7p and 9p depending on the quantity that you buy.

Using a “from name”

If you’re using a From Name, text messages appear from a name that can be up to 11 letters and numbers without spaces. Your customers can’t reply to those messages, because SMS only allows you to reply to a phone number. This is useful when you want to display your business name as the sender and don’t want/need to receive replies.

Using a “from number”

If you’ve set a “from number”, text messages appear to be sent from your own mobile phone number. Replies will go to your own mobile phone number just like any other text message, but replies from your clients aren’t imported into Light Blue (you need to use the dedicated number service in order for your clients’ replies to arrive in Light Blue).

How to send text messages from Light Blue

There’s a short tutorial showing how to send text messages from Light Blue, here:

You can set up text messaging from Light Blue via  your account page:

Set up text messaging with your Light Blue account

Light Blue 7.1.2

We’ve released Light Blue 7.1.2, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 7.

Like all of our minor updates, Light Blue 7.1.2 includes a variety of feature updates and bug fixes. We’ve also added a bigger feature that will help photographers who are keen to keep clients on their mailing list while making sure that they’re complying with the new GDPR regulations.

New Mailing List Opt-In Form

You can now send your clients to a special form that allows them to opt in to your mailing list. Each of your contact records has a special URL that identifies them, and you can get that URL in two different ways:

  • If you want to send mailing list opt-in links to lots of clients, you can export a CSV file of contact names, email addresses, and URLs from Light Blue. You can then import this spreadsheet into a service like MailChimp to email it to your clients. To do this, find the contacts or shoots that you want to send this to, go into the Housekeeping section of the Records menu and use the ‘Ask Clients To Opt-In To Mailing List’ command.
  • If you only want to send mailing list opt-in links to a small number of clients, you can use the %ContactMailingListOptInURL% mail-merge tag in an email template. If you want to customise the text of the link in your email templates, you can do so be using a tag like %ContactMailingListOptInURL:Click here to open the form%. We’ve included a sample email template in this update.

Your client portal branding is automatically applied to your mailing list opt-in form, and can customise the text that appears on the form by logging into your account on our website.

You can find out more about this feature in our blog post that explains how to use it.

Other changes

  • You can now customise more of the text that appears in your client portal when clients are signing contracts. You’ll find these customisable text options in the ‘Template Translations’ section of the Preferences window.
  • The following Sale reference values are now available in the query dialog, list views, and data exports: purchase order references, shopping cart references, courier references, client job number references, and quote references.
  • Added support for reading the original sender details from emails forwarded from Outlook for macOS to your unique Light Blue email address.
  • When you’re running a tax report, you now need to confirm that you want to mark the included records as claimed.
  • Added an option to use the shoot reference as the default prefix when you’re importing pictures for a shoot.
  • When creating a Sale record from a Quote, you’re now warned if the booking fee is greater than the quote’s total.
  • Added a “Email & Client Portal Branding” heading to the ‘Printing’ section of the Preferences window. This is to make it bit clearer where you need to go to adjust those branding settings.
  • Revised the wording of the “database upgrade required” dialog to make it less intimidating.
  • Fixed a rare problem where publishing an appointment to macOS calendars could make it appear at 12:00 instead of the correct time.
  • Fixed a problem on Windows where the email templates panel could end up with its scrollbar set to the wrong position.
  • Fixed a problem where clicking the “Save and add another” button in a form field dialog could fail to add the new item.
  • When you’re composing an email, the subject field is now always saved before you click the ‘Send’ or ‘Schedule’ button so you won’t see warning about having a blank subject. (unless you really do have a blank subject, of course!)
  • When changing a form field from a type that includes a ‘Description’ option to one that doesn’t, the description is now removed properly.
  • Fixed a problem that could affect rounding numbers to zero.
  • The quick sale dialog now works with European decimal separators.
  • The ‘add workflow’ dialog no longer gets stuck if you try to add a workflow based on a really old date.
  • Fixed unexpected quits that have been reported to us.

Importing Light Blue contract templates issued by third parties

Light Blue’s online contract signing service is one of the most popular features of our online services. It’s really easy to publish contracts for your clients to sign quickly. You need to set up at least one contract template which contains your terms and conditions in order to send contracts to your clients.

We don’t provide any sample contract templates with Light Blue, so you’ll either need to create your own,  copy and paste the text from a contract that you already have in perhaps PDF or Word format, or obtain a contract template from a reputable third party.

Only you can know if a contracts wording is right for you, so if you’re in any doubt then talk to a lawyer.

Creating your own contract template

You can create your own contract template within Light Blue by adding your own terms or copying and pasting the text from a contract that you already have. This tutorial walks through the steps of how to do that.

Adding a Light Blue contract template from a third party

Some third parties have created templates that can be imported directly into Light Blue, without needing to copy & paste any wording. There’s a short video tutorial, followed by some step by step instructions on how to import that template, below:

If you’ve obtained a contract template that’s been provided in Light Blue’s contract template format, it’ll be given to you as an XML file.

To import that into Light Blue (you need to be using Light Blue 7.1 or later), click Records > Import > Contract Template, and choose the XML file.

If the contract template also includes an accompanying form template, you’ll be prompted to choose whether or not to import the form, too. You most likely do want to import the accompanying form.

When that’s done, the contract template & form template (if you imported one) will appear in the preferences pane and will be ready to use.