Celebrating 15 years of Light Blue!

We launched the first version of Light Blue 15 years ago this month and WOW, what a 15 years it’s been. Light Blue’s founder, Tom, reflects on how far we’ve come since 2009.

It’s an understatement to say that Light Blue has been so much more successful than we ever imagined, used by thousands of photographers around the world and winning awards from both the photography and software industries. A lot has changed over the last 15 years, but some really important things have stayed the same.

Light Blue was launched in February 2009, but it has its roots in a simple system that I started to build in 2003 to run my own fledgling wedding photography business. That system grew alongside my business and my wife’s family photography business. Enough photographer friends started asking if they could use it too that I started to think about turning it into a commercial product, and eventually I got together with my friend Hamish to found Light Blue Software1. Together, we developed it into an app that could be used to run wedding, portrait, and corporate photography businesses and released Light Blue: Photo2 1.0 in February 2009.

From our very first days, a few core values helped Light Blue to take off quickly:

  • We put an enormous amount of effort into supporting our customers. You’ve trusted us to help you run your business, so we’re here to help you.
  • We listen to our customers. Your feedback determines how Light Blue evolves and we’re constantly working to improve Light Blue as your needs change.
  • We use our own experience as working photographers to guide Light Blue’s development and help you succeed.

Although Hamish and I started Light Blue Software as a side hustle, its rapid success meant that it soon took over our working lives. Our ambitions for what Light Blue could be outgrew the platform that we originally built it on, so we decided to rebuild it in a two-year project that laid the foundations for what Light Blue is today:

  • Native apps that give you powerful features, high performance, and the ability to use Light Blue even if you don’t have a great (or any!) internet connection.
  • Cloud services that allow you to sync your data across as many devices as you like and provide features that make it easier for clients to work with you.

We launched this major rewrite as Light Blue 4 in February 2013, and in many ways I think of it as a second founding of the company. Rewriting an established piece of a software is an enormous undertaking, but Light Blue 4’s success allowed us to build the many, many awesome features that you’ve come to rely on since then. To pick just a few:

  • Online contract signing.
  • Contact forms and questionnaires.
  • Online invoice payment.
  • Text messaging.
  • Automated emails, text messages, and questionnaires.
  • Payment schedules.
  • Online scheduling.
  • Integrations with thousands of other apps.

This strength of this new foundation also changed the shape of the company. Hamish left the company to return to academia in 20163, but in his place we’ve built a small but dedicated team, all with experience of running their own photography businesses.

Running any kind of business involves plenty of challenges along the path to success but, for professional photographers, the pandemic has undoubtedly been the biggest test that we’ve faced. COVID-19 and the restrictions that came with it meant that the photography industry effectively ceased to exist for an unknown (at the time) number of months. It was a tough time for all of us, but I’m incredibly proud of how we were able to help our customers to get their business through it by making sure that they could afford to carry on using Light Blue and use it to rebuild their businesses as soon as they were able to.

Looking back on the last 15 years, Light Blue has changed so much as to be unrecognisable from its starting point, but there’s still so much that stays true to its origins: it’s still built around your shoots and clients that are the most important part of your business; we’re putting more and more work into looking after our customers; and we’re always working on new ways to help you run a successful photography business.

We couldn’t have done any of this without your support, so I want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to everyone who’s chosen to use Light Blue. You’re the reason why we do this, and we can’t do it without you. Thank you for trusting us with such an important part of your business.

I’m proud of everything that the Light Blue Software team has achieved over the last 15 years and I’m looking forward to seeing what Light Blue looks like in another 15!

To celebrate this milestone, we’re running a special birthday offer for the next two weeks: you can use promo code 15YEARS to get 30% off for the first 6 months of a new Light Blue subscription. The code is valid until 4 March. If you’ve got any questions about getting started with Light Blue, please get in touch.

  1. Hamish and I called the company Light Blue Software because we met as undergrads at the University of Cambridge. Cambridge sports teams wear light blue, so Cambridge is “light blue”. ↩︎
  2. Yes, our product’s name changed from “Light Blue: Photo” to “Light Blue”. Originally, Hamish and I planned to create variations of Light Blue: Photo for different industries, but we soon realised that we were a great fit for the photography industry and our customers always called it “Light Blue” so we gave in and changed our product’s name. ↩︎
  3. He’s now a fellow of Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge, and working with the Plant Sciences department to save the world. ↩︎
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