How to avoid a data loss disaster

Dealing with a deluge of data is unavoidable when running a business. 

For professional photographers, managing and protecting your client details, schedules, invoices and of course all those precious images is vital. 

Lose it and you’ll end up in stormy waters. You’ll be faced not only with a loss of income and huge administration headaches, but potentially irreparable damage to your reputation. 

Our advice? Be prepared. Anything could happen.

Hard drives fail, computers malfunction and, if you do dodge a meteor strike, you could easily fall victim to a break-in or fire.

Having a robust data backup system in place is crucial.

Without one, at best you could be rearranging a set of corporate headshots and swallowing the extra cost

At worst, you could be breaking devastating news to newly-wed clients when they return from honeymoon: your irreplaceable photos have vanished.

Here we explore and compare the different options for backing up your data. Keep it safe and secure and you’ll ensure smooth sailing for your photography business.

Lean On A Local Backup

Local backup consists of using storage such as a computer’s hard drive, a disc, flash drive or external hard drive. 

It’s the most basic of backups and, because it doesn’t work over the internet, is handy for those with a slow connection.

But while it’s useful as a first line of defence, local backup suffers from major limitations.

Using a straightforward solution like this leaves your files vulnerable. If you store your external hard drive or USB stick in the same physical location as your PC, there’s still a single point of possible failure. Any damage or theft that takes place there could lead to complete data destruction.

Maybe you like the physical presence of an object containing all your data and the security that nobody else can possibly access it unless it’s stolen.

And if you subscribe to specialist photography management software such as Light Blue, a local backup perfectly complements how it backs up your data from the last time you synced.

However, the geo-redundancy theory goes that if data doesn’t exist in at least two different geographical places, it doesn’t exist at all. 

And that’s why off-site backup is so important.

Opt For an Off-Site Backup

Geo-redundancy is critical to your backup strategy: if your primary backup fails, you have insurance at a second physical site.

But off-site means more than just keeping a spare hard drive in the glovebox of your car.

If bandwidth is an ongoing challenge, you could embrace the ‘Sneakernet’ phenomenon: simply transfer your data to an external hard drive and take it somewhere that you visit regularly, maybe a trusted friend or relative.

Leaving one or more encrypted copies of your data away from your own premises in this way will provide a basic off-site backup. One that may prove more reliable and speedier than depending on a slow network connection. 

But the best solution for most is more sophisticated than this. Online backup sends your files over the internet to a secure data facility with remote servers: you upload them to be stored and download them to be restored. An extra layer of security to protect your data from any on-site disasters.

Backing up to the cloud allows you to ‘set it and forget it’: everything happens automatically so you always have a recent backup without having to add another task to your to-do list.

Do be careful not to confuse cloud backup with cloud storage. While backup software does what it says on the tin, cloud storage is based around syncing your files and folders.

So while the likes of Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive do offer some level of backup – any file backed up to the cloud is naturally protected from computer failure – it’s not their primary purpose.

Instead, true online backups preserve all of your computer’s files, not just those that you select within a synced structure and want to access easily. 

Platforms such as Backblaze, Crashplan and Carbonite are designed to recover and restore unlimited amounts of data. 

So to be fully prepared for a potential disaster recovery mission, make sure you opt for one of these comprehensive cloud backup packages that go one step beyond simple storage.

For around £50 per year per user, you can rest assured that you won’t have to make any awkward client phone calls about lost photos.

You can also choose software specifically designed for your computer with dedicated options for Mac and Windows.

While Time Machine is native to your Mac, it relies on an external hard drive so the recommendation is to add a cloud backup service such as Carbon Copy Cloner. This allows you to schedule specific backups whenever it best suits your business needs.

On Windows, software such as Paragon and Acronis are especially suited to protecting your precious PC data.

When it comes to data, never underestimate your clients’ expectations.

Whether the images you’re taking are professional or personal, can easily be taken again or not, it’s important to demonstrate that you take the responsibility of looking after them seriously.

Highlight your professional approach to data storage and protection as part of your service offering: the peace of mind it can give both you and your clients is priceless. 

How Light Blue and Acuity helped Amy Knowles book out her Mini Sessions

Based in The Wirral, Amy Knowles runs Slinky Photography, a newborn family and maternity photography studio.

Amy got in touch with us after reading our blog post about how to use scheduling tools to allow your customers to book shoots online with Light Blue.

She took the advice and ideas that we’d presented there to effectively sell portrait sessions via a marketing campaign.

This is really useful for any portrait photographers who are looking to market their services and are running their marketing with a clear call to action to book a session. It means that the photographer doesn’t need to do anything extra, as the clients will book the sessions themselves whenever’s convenient for them.

Hi guys,

I can’t thank you enough for the webinar the other week regarding Acuity/Zapier.

I’d wondered how I could get an online booking system to work with Light Blue, and this came at just the right time. Last night I launched 75 Christmas Mini Sessions…they were sold out by this morning and all the client and shoot info is now safely in Light Blue without me having to do any extra admin. WIN!

I’m delighted!

Amy

Have a read through the blog post and watch the embedded video webinar at the top of the post to find out how you can set up a similar system in your business. We would love to hear more success stories like Amy’s!

Using scheduling tools to allow your customers to book shoots online

Amy’s Website

Amy’s Facebook page

Ten essential email templates for photographers

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

In any business, effective communication is crucial. In photography, it’s a simple way to set and meet expectations before, during and after a shoot.

Keeping in touch at every stage of the customer journey helps to avoid misunderstandings and ambiguity, clarifies arrangements and establishes a warm relationship, often before you’ve even met your client.

And the easiest method to use? Email: efficiently managed and recorded thanks to the magic of specialist software.

Here, we’re sharing with you a suggested set of email templates to use throughout the lifetime of a shoot. From your initial response to a query to your post-project thank you, using them as inspiration for your own messages will ensure that no vital communication stage is ever overlooked.

Email #1: Automatic Reply To Website Contact Form

Consumers’ email etiquette expectations have never been higher. So rise to the challenge by being the photographer with great manners right from the start of the relationship.

If potential clients get a response immediately after sending their enquiry, you’ll quickly get a tick next to your name on their list of photographer possibilities. Your professional, efficient and helpful approach has been established quickly and with minimum effort.

This is a great opportunity to send them some basic information such as a link to your price list or some sample shoots.

And don’t shy away from telling them that it’s an automatic reply. Pretending that it isn’t won’t fool anybody. Instead, use it to showcase your honesty and, of course, to prove that you’re busy with your camera and not just waiting for an enquiry.

Hi there, thanks for your enquiry! I know that planning a wedding is a very busy time, so I really appreciate you taking the time to get in touch! As you can probably guess, this is an automatic reply to your enquiry. I’ll send you a proper reply as soon as I’ve had a chance to check my diary & confirm that I’m available. In the meantime, I thought you may find it helpful to get a little more information about how I work, so below are a few links to some sample weddings and a few frequently asked questions …

Email #2: Detailed Reply To Enquiry

Once you’ve swapped your lens for a screen and are back in admin mode, you can send a more detailed and personalised reply confirming your availability.

Hi Charlotte & Paul, thanks again for taking the time to make an enquiry about photographing your wedding! I’m delighted to say that I am available on Saturday 20th June 2020, which is great news! Why don’t we line up a meeting to talk through your plans and spend a little time getting to know each other?

You can then use different templates depending on the type of shoot. For example, if it’s for a wedding at a venue you’ve worked at before you can refer to your experience there and add a link to some inspiring images.

Hi Charlotte & Paul, thanks again for taking the time to make and enquiry about photographing your wedding! I’m delighted to say that I am available on Saturday 20th June 2020, which is great news!
Exampleton Hall is such a wonderful choice of venue for a wedding celebration, and I’ve had the pleasure of working there many times before! Sarah and the team at the Hall are fantastic, and I always love working there – you’re going to have a great day! You can see some of my favourite images from weddings that I’ve shot there on my website: www.example.com/exampleton-hall-wedding-photos
Why don’t we line up a meeting to talk through your plans and spend a little time getting to know each other?

Email #3: Follow-Up To Enquiry

If you hear nothing after your polite reply to their enquiry, a gentle email prompt is an ideal way to warm up a tepid lead.

Hi again, Charlotte & Paul, I hope that you’re well and that wedding plans are coming together nicely! I know how much of a busy time planning a wedding can be, and there’s a great deal to think about! I was wondering if you’d had a chance to take a look at the information that I sent over recently in response to your wedding enquiry? I’ve attached a copy of my price list & brochure so you can take another look. Why don’t we line up a meeting to chat about your plans & answer any questions that you may have?

Email #4: Follow-Up To Sending Contract

Email three did the trick: you’ve had an initial chat, the rapport was great and you’ve sent over a contract and then … silence.

If a client is dragging their feet about signing, you could spur them along by sending a polite email reminder. When you get a response, Light Blue’s powerful online contract signing service can do this for you automatically.

Hi Charlotte & Paul, I hope that you’re well. This is just a gentle reminder about the contract that I sent through recently, which you’ll need to review & sign in order to confirm our booking. Please, can you follow the link to view & sign the contract. If you have any questions, please do let me know!

Email #5: Nurturing Messages In the Run-Up To The Shoot

With the contract signed, thanks to your effective email communication, your focus now needs to shift to pre-shoot preparation.

This is your chance to really nurture your client, especially if they’re a little nervous about being in front of a camera. Build on the growing relationship by giving them a regular point of contact, providing advice and offering to answer any burning questions.

You can also helpfully direct them to relevant links on your website, including blogs, to manage their expectations and make them feel suitably looked-after.

Hi Sam, thanks for booking your portrait session with us! We’re really looking forward to welcoming you into the studio. We understand that it isn’t every day that you’re getting your photo taken, so we’ve prepared a handy guide to help you to prepare for the experience. If you have any questions, please do let us know!

Email #6: Excitement Messages Before The Shoot

It’s nearly shoot day so an email sent a day or two before acts to confirm, reassure and prepare.

You can outline what the client needs to do or consider beforehand, e.g. the weather forecast, and start sowing ideas for up-sells afterwards, e.g. albums and prints.

Hi again, Sam, we can’t wait to see you in the studio for your portrait session tomorrow! I’ve attached a guide to help you to prepare for the shoot. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water between now and the session, so your skin looks as good as possible. Also, have a think about the places in your home where you’d like the images to be displayed; we’ll have a chat about that before we start shooting. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Email #7: Sales Messages Before The Shoot

At this stage, you can also send an email aimed at adding other items onto their package, for example booking an extra couple of hours or offering a discount if they order a product before the shoot takes place.

This highlights both your flexibility and generosity, further building on client rapport and trust.

Hi Charlotte & Paul, I hope that everything’s going well in the run-up to the big day! I wanted to check in with you to make sure that you had everything that you need – I’m currently booked to start at 11:00 and wrap up at 19:00. If you need to add more coverage, then I’ve got a special offer available to book additional time at a discounted rate if you confirm it before the wedding. If that sounds like something that you’d be interested in, then just pop a quick reply to this email and I’ll take care of it!

Email #8: Checking In Shortly After The Shoot

Images captured, the client communication continues with a reminder of what happens next and when they can expect to first see their images.

Hi Charlotte & Paul, it was great to be part of your special day, thanks for having me along! I’m popping an email with a quick reminder of what happens next with your photos. I’ve already got everything backed up & safe and I’ll be getting to work on editing the images very soon. It usually takes me around 3-4 weeks to get the gallery ready, so you’ll hear from me then with a link. If there’s anything you need in the meantime, please let me know!

If they haven’t already booked a viewing, encourage them to do this now so you can get your online diary organised.

Hi Sam, thanks for coming in for your portrait experience! Here’s a reminder about what happens next. We’ll be hard at work processing your photographs in time for our viewing session which is booked in for Saturday at 11:00. We look forward to seeing you back in the studio to show you the images – they’re looking great!

Email #9: Sending An Online Gallery Link

Your editing work is done and now it’s time to share your impressive images. If you’re not having an in-person viewing and sales session then this email is the one they’ve been waiting for: the big reveal.

This one will contain the link to their gallery and a password to access it, along with the opportunity to provide feedback and a review of your work.

Hello David, thanks for booking me to photograph your event recently. I’m delighted to send through a link to the online web gallery where you can view your images. Your feedback is important to me, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on the images. If you’d like to leave a review, you can do so by following the second link below. If there’s anything more that I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to drop me a note.

Email #10: Keeping In Touch After the Shoot

By now, your client relationship and email tone of voice will be well-established. You know you’ve done an excellent job and have received some great feedback.

Next, it’s time to keep building that loyalty with the aim of encouraging further sales and bookings.

Use your database wisely, analysing customers to assess what products and services could most appeal and to precisely target your emails.

Even if one particular client never gives you another penny, your friendly professionalism could inspire them to recommend you to others.

This email can focus on up-selling albums and other products after the shoot, along with suggesting gift vouchers for friends and family.

And of course, you can invite them to book another shoot. After such a fabulous service and awe-inspiring images, how could they refuse?

Hi Sam, I hope that you’re well. It was so great to have you in the studio for a portrait experience earlier this year – I can’t believe time’s flown by! We’ve got a special offer on right now for past clients to enjoy a free session when they buy gift vouchers for their friends & family. They make for wonderful Christmas presents! You can find out more via the link below.

With a straightforward email template system in place, your basic client communication strategy is sorted.

If you use pre-prepared messages with a consistent tone of voice, you’ll not only save time but can also ensure that a crucial detail or vital stage along the customer journey is never missed.

The result? An organised, friendly approach to every shoot that will foster loyalty, build trust and make the whole experience easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

Straightforward, efficient and time-saving, Light Blue makes it easy to communicate with clients.

Learn more below about how specialist software designed exclusively for photographers can help:

Sending emails using Light Blue

Using email templates

Using workflows to send automated messages to your clients

Download the example templates used in the article



Light Blue 8.1

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.1, which builds on the success of Light Blue 8 by adding new features, improving existing features, and squashing bugs.

Light Blue 8.1 is a free update for all of our subscribers. You can install the update by using the “Check For Updates” command in Light Blue (which is in the Light Blue menu on macOS, or in the Help menu on Windows) or by downloading the installer from your Light Blue account.

Improved staff access restriction options

For businesses that have members of staff, you now have much more control over the parts of Light Blue that your staff can access. The new “Restricted” access level allows you to choose which features they can access, so you can disable access to sensitive information (such as finances) or entire sections of the app.

Windows performance improvements

We’ve made big improvements to our Windows app, making it more responsive and improving its graphics performance.

Simplified account password management

Changing your Light Blue account password no longer requires you to re-enter your password in the desktop app. This used to be a common source of confusion, and the new approach also allows you to permanently remove Light Blue 8.1 and above devices from your account without needing to change your account password. We’ve also introduced a new one-off setup code feature that allows you to add a device to your account without having to type your account password into it. This is perfect for adding members of staff or contractors without letting them know your main password.

 

Other changes

Light Blue 8.1 includes lots of other new features and bug fixes. Here’s a summary of the improvements that we’ve made:

  • Light Blue launches more quickly and the Preferences window takes less time to open.
  • The Preferences window has been reorganised, and the “General Preferences” and “Custom Fields” panels have been split up into tabs to make it easier to find the settings you’re looking for.
  • The speed of processing large data syncs has been improved, making the initial download of data onto a new computer much faster.
  • Client portal emails (for example, the ones that are sent when you publish a contract) are now sent from your default email account, so they can come from your email address rather than using our email servers.
  • Form and API submissions in the Inbox that contain a shoot date are now colour coded to show whether they clash with an existing event or enquiry.
  • Orders from theimagefile can now be sent to your Light Blue account and imported as new Sale records.
  • Your current SMS credit balance is now displayed in the text message dialog.
  • Improved our VAT report for use with the UK government’s new Making Tax Digital initiative.
  • Added a preference that lets you choose whether to allow members of staff that don’t have a password set to log into Light Blue.
  • In the staff login dialog, if you fail to enter the right password the existing password is automatically highlighted for you so that you can immediately start typing to correct it.
  • Added a staff-level default email account setting, so members of staff can automatically use their own email address when they create an email.
  • Contracts and contract templates now have an optional thank you URL. If you specify this, your client will be taken to that URL after they have completed the contract (and paid their booking fee, if you’re charging one). You could use this to take your client to a custom thank you page that you’ve created on your own website.
  • When publishing a contract that includes a form, you’re now warned if the selected form template has been deleted.
  • When accepting a contract, the “Mark Shoot As Confirmed” checkbox is now displayed for cancelled shoots as well as enquiries.
  • Added a second confirm dialog to the “Send All” and “Schedule All” buttons in the Outbox.
  • Fixed a timezone-related problem where items in the Outbox could be displayed as being sent on the wrong day.
  • Added a “Copy Email Address” command to the Linked Records contextual menu.
  • Added a “Load In Query Dialog” command to the quick query list’s contextual menu.
  • When parsing an email address, Light Blue now recognises email addresses formatted like “Name [address@example.com]” as well as “Name <address@example.com>”.
  • Improved support for macOS 10.14 Mojave’s AppleScript security restrictions.
  • Added a preference for whether you want to include prices in a printed production order.
  • Added default photographer and salesperson options for new Sale records. When you create a sale, if there’s an assigned resource with the role “photographer” or “salesperson” then they are always used, otherwise we use the new default staff.
  • The “Add New Contact” dialog now includes the contact notes field.
  • Added an “Automatically Check For New Versions Of Light Blue” checkbox to the Preferences window, to give you the option of only manually checking for updates.
  • When you trash a shoot, if its linked contacts aren’t linked to any other records then we now offer to move them to the trash as well.
  • Fixed a problem where the first item in the Inbox could have its details appear to be repeated appear to be repeated.
  • Fixed a problem on Windows where if you have the staff login dialog enabled, Light Blue could quit after doing a database upgrade instead of carrying on.
  • Fixed a character encoding problem with the export financial data tool.
  • Fixed a problem where the EventX mail-merge tags could use the wrong event’s details when used as part of a shoot that has multiple upcoming sessions and appointments.
  • Fixed a problem that could occur when querying for contacts using linked contact criteria.
  • Fixed a problem where un-ticking the mailing list opt-in box in the add contact dialog behaved as if you were ticking the box.
  • Fixed a bug where the contract dialog “you need to add contacts” label is displayed on all tabs, not just the signatories tab.
  • Fixed a rounding error that could occur when using the “Calculate Net & Tax Amounts From Gross Total” button in a purchase item.
  • Dragging an event in the calendar to another date or time is no longer interrupted by the calendar getting reloaded during the drag.