How Making Tax Digital affects Light Blue and UK businesses

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

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

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

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

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

Key points to take away are:

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

Light Blue 8 public beta

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scheduled maintenance

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

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

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

Automatic text message credit top-ups

Light Blue’s text messaging feature is popular with photographers all over the world. It allows you to stay in touch with clients, and to massively cut down on no-shows that cause your business to lose money and frustration for you! You can find out more about our text messaging service in this blog post.

We’re delighted to announce a new feature for everyone who’s using our text messaging service: automatic top-ups for your text message credits.

With this feature, you no longer need to keep an eye on the number of text message credits you have left. Just tell us when you’d like us to automatically top up your balance and we’ll take care of it for you.

If you’d like to take advantage of this new feature, get in touch and we’ll set it up for you.

The Societies’ Trade Awards 2018


It’s that time of year again when The Societies of Photographers open voting in their trade awards so that photographers can choose their preferred trade suppliers in a wide range of categories.

We work hard to develop our indispensable business management software to help keep photographers organised & productive. We’d really appreciate your vote for Light Blue as “Best Professional Software” in the The Societies’ Trade Awards.

Vote for Light Blue as ‘Best Professional Software’

Your vote counts and you could win a Masterclass Full 4 Day Pass to The Societies 2019 London Photo Convention! (worth up to £225)

All completed forms will be entered in to the prize draw and the winner will be announced after the 31 December 2018.

Meet Light Blue at the SWPP Roadshow in Coventry

On Thursday 22nd November we’ll be attending The Societies of Photographers Roadshow in Coventry. It’s free to enter if you register in advance, here: https://thesocieties.net/events/coventry/

Free Tradeshow

There’s a free trade show from 09:30, which is a great opportunity to meet a wide range of trade suppliers, including Light Blue!

Free Masterclasses

LauderChristina Lauder FSWPP Master Photographer – Teen Portraits: The Next Big Thing in Portraiture
10:00-11:00

Seniors Portraits in the US has been huge for years. Named for the year in which it is tradition to have them done, their senior year of high school, these teen portraits is a market that hasn’t seen much headway here in the UK. Like newborn, maternity and boudoir, this too can become the next big thing. Build it and they will come. During this one hour talk we will take a look at various ways to style, light, and market a product range that will have this elusive age group begging their parents for a shoot.

Terry Donnelly FSWPP – Sony mirrorless cameras, one year on since making the switch from DSLR.
12:00-13:00

Come and celebrate my Sonyversary with me in this action packed 1 hour presentation and demonstration. I will share my experiences, and many images from my first full year of shooting Sony mirrorless cameras professionally, and also demonstrate some key features.

Was it worth it? Did I make the right choice? What do I like, and dislike? What are the benefits?

Come and join us and have all these questions answered and more at the Societies’ Roadshows where Sony UK will also be in attendance with a full range of kit for you to try and get hands on with.

Gary Hill ASIFGP – Can A Man Shoot Feminine Boudoir?
14:00-15:00

Gary HillIt is often said that men and women have very different styles of shooting especially when it comes to shooting boudoir and glamorous style images.

In this class the art of shooting images which are feminine in style but shot from a man’s perspective will be shown and discussed.

From pre shoot consultation the client needs and expectations will all be covered to show the relevant skills needed in order to ascertain the style and type of imagery the client really wants.

Experienced boudoir photographers know the difference in the type of images clients want for themselves and the type they would like shot for partners of both sexes. The subtle psychology of why this is so will be explained and shown both in the style and in the relative posing of the shot to suit both market places.

The ability to capture this and show that it is appreciated by the photographer leads to greater client satisfaction, larger sales and greater use of word of mouth marketing.

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.