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.

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.

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.

Light Blue and the GDPR

You’ve almost certainly heard about the EU’s new data protection and privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR requires businesses to follow strict guidelines when they’re using personal data. It comes into effect on 25 May, and affects all businesses in the EU. It also applies to businesses in other countries outside the EU that have any dealings with EU citizens.

We’ve made sure that Light Blue Software is ready for the GDPR, but we’ve done much more than simply making sure that we comply with the new regulations. We’ve also been hard at work adding new tools to Light Blue that help you to ensure that your business complies with the GDPR, and we’ve been working with legal and security experts to provide you with advice that can help you to do that.

Light Blue 7.1

Light Blue 7.1 is out today, and it includes several new tools that can help you to comply with the GDPR. Light Blue 7.1 is a free update for everyone who subscribes to our online services, or is already using Light Blue 7. You can find out more about the changes in the Light Blue 7.1 release notes.

Light Blue 7.1 also includes an updated licence agreement. The GDPR requires data controllers (i.e. you) to have a contract with their data processors (i.e. us, if you’re using our online services), and agreeing to this updated licence agreement forms that contract.

Helping you to understand the GDPR

You can find out more about the GDPR, how it affects your business, and how it affects your use of Light Blue in the FAQ that we have created.

Ensuring the security of your clients’ personal data is an important part of the GDPR, so we’ve also provided advice on securing the devices you use Light Blue on.

Updated legal information

As part of the changes that we’ve made to ensure that Light Blue Software complies with the GDPR, we’ve updated our privacy notice and the Light Blue licence agreement. This updated licence agreement is part of Light Blue 7.1, and agreeing to it covers the GDPR’s requirement for data controllers to have a contract with their data processors.

 

GDPR: what you need to know

We take the security of your personal data, and your clients’ personal data, seriously. That’s why we’ve been working hard to prepare this document for you to help you prepare for upcoming changes in privacy law, when the GDPR comes into force on 25 May.

If you’re already complying with the current data protection laws in the UK (the Data Protection Act), it’s likely that you’ll only need to make a few changes to ensure you’re complying with the new law.

We’ve had a number of questions from photographers in relation to the GDPR, and so we hope this FAQ is helpful to explain how your use of Light Blue affects your responsibilities under the GDPR.

What’s changing?

The law dealing with the way in which people handle personal data for commercial purposes is changing. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on 25 May 2018 and you need to be ready to comply with the new rules from that date.

What does the GDPR do?

The GDPR is designed to ensure that people are transparent in their processing activities and when they communicate with data subjects (i.e. your clients).

Does the GDPR apply to me?

Yes, it’s likely that it will apply to you (and most other businesses in the UK and EU).

Data protection laws apply to people who, for commercial purposes, handle ‘personal data’ – which means any information that can identify a living person. By managing your clients, enquiries and bookings, you are handling their ‘personal data’.

Is Light Blue Software GDPR-ready?

Yes. We’ve taken various steps to ensure that we’re ready and compliant. For example, we’ve updated the privacy notice on our website and updated the Light Blue licence agreement to cover the new regulations.

If Light Blue Software are ready and GDPR compliant, why do I need to do anything?

The GDPR distinguishes between the roles of a data processor and a data controller. Light Blue Software is a worked solution used by you to provide a service to your clients. Where Light Blue Software receives information about your clients (e.g. name, address, a photo), Light Blue Software is just a data processor acting on your behalf. You are the data controller. That means the primary responsibility of the GDPR rests with you in relation to your client. However, Light Blue Software has taken steps to help you comply with the GDPR: for example, by adding new GDPR clauses to our licence agreement with you which deals with our processing of your clients’ data.

Light Blue Software will be the data controller in respect of the information we hold about you (our customers) for billing, management, and administration. For more information about how we collect and use your personal data, see our privacy notice.

So what do I need to do?

In relation to your use of Light Blue, you need to be clear and transparent about your use of a third party processor.

Do I need to tell my clients about Light Blue?

Yes, transparency is key under the GDPR. You must inform your clients about the collection and use of their personal data.

What’s the best way to inform my clients that I use Light Blue?

You can update your website privacy notice. Under the GDPR, you’re only required to say that you’re using an externally hosted third party to enable you to provide your service, rather than name Light Blue specifically.

As an example, you could add some wording like this to your website privacy notice: “[Your business name] uses an externally hosted third party to manage and administer your account.”

Will I need consent from my clients to enter their details into Light Blue?

Some aspects of the GDPR are unclear at the moment, but we’ve been working with legal experts and they don’t expect you to need consent from your clients to manage their personal details with Light Blue. Another legal basis for processing (that’s likely to apply here) is that it’s in the legitimate interest of your clients for the administration of their account.

You’ll need to ensure this legal basis is noted in your website privacy policy.

How long can I retain my clients’ data in Light Blue?

Under the GDPR, personal data shall be “kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed”. This means that you can retain your clients’ information whilst you provide the services to them, plus a reasonable period after that.

As part of Light Blue 7.1, we’ve introduced a new tool that can help you to identify personal information that you no longer need to keep so that you can securely delete it. You can find out more about this tool (and the other new features that we’ve added to Light Blue to help you comply with GDPR) in the Light Blue 7.1 release notes.

Will my clients’ personal data be kept secure by Light Blue?

Yes. We take extensive precautions to secure every aspect of Light Blue’s online services, including (but not limited to): encrypting all communications between the Light Blue desktop and mobile apps and our servers; encrypting data at rest on our servers; securing our servers according to industry best practices.

Because Light Blue stores a copy of your data on the devices that you use it on so that you can use it when you don’t have an internet connection, you should take precautions to ensure that no-one has unauthorised access to your own copies of Light Blue. We’ve provided some helpful tips for securing your copies of Light Blue on our blog.

Where does Light Blue Software store my clients’ personal data?

If you’re using our online services, we store a copy of the current version of your data on our servers. Our servers are located in the EU, and we ensure that the providers that we use are compliant with the GDPR.

This is not a substitute for legal advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with data protection laws. This is guidance only and is based on normal use of Light Blue Software products. You’ll need to seek your own advice.

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.

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.

 

Importing TPO data into Light Blue

We’re pleased to announce that we are now able to offer a data import service for The Photographic Organiser (TPO) customers who want to import their data into Light Blue.

Here’s a summary of the TPO data that we’re importing into Light Blue:

  • Job types
  • Products
  • Contacts & people
  • Jobs & events
  • Invoice totals
  • Receipts

We are not importing quotes or purchases from TPO.

Read on for more detail about how we’re importing each type of data from TPO.

Job types

TPO job types are imported into Light Blue as shoot types. We’re importing the name and default session length for you.

Products

TPO products are being imported into price lists in Light Blue, split out into separate price lists for each TPO product group name. We are importing the product name, code (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released), unit price, tax rate, and unit cost.

Contacts & people

TPO contacts and people are imported into Light Blue as contacts. Where a TPO contact has multiple people, we group the Light Blue contacts together. The contact information that we’re importing covers:

  • Type
  • Title
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Job title / role
  • Notes
  • Birthday
  • VAT Number (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released)
  • Warning
  • Mailing list opt-in (if none of TPO’s “do not contact” flags are set, the contact is opted in to your mailing list)
  • Phone & fax numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Web address
  • Postal addresses
  • Linked notes

Jobs

TPO jobs are imported into Light Blue as shoots. We’re importing:

  • Shoot type (where it matches one of the shoot types listed in your TPO job types file)
  • Job number (this goes into what we call the shoot reference number field)
  • Notes

Job events are imported into Light Blue as appointments (for any TPO job type that ends in “Viewing” or “Meeting”) or sessions. The status field in Light Blue is at shoot-level rather than session-level, so we’re writing both the TPO event type and status into the session description field. If any of the sessions for a shoot that we’re importing are confirmed, we’re setting the status of the shoot to confirmed.

The following TPO job fields don’t have a direct equivalent in Light Blue, but we’re adding them to our shoot notes field so that you can refer back to them:

  • Reference numbers
  • Price
  • Adults
  • Children
  • Pets

Invoices

TPO invoices are imported into Light Blue as sales. We’re importing:

  • Invoice number
  • Invoice date
  • Linked contact
  • Linked shoot
  • Notes
  • VAT Number (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released)

TPO’s VAT calculations work differently to Light Blue’s, so we aren’t importing the items from TPO’s invoices. Instead, we’re importing a single item and using that to store TPO’s invoice net, VAT, and gross totals. This means that you can use your imported invoices to see the total value of each of your historic invoices, but not the details of the items that your clients ordered. If those details are important to you, you should keep a copy of the ‘Financial_Invoices_Items.xlsx’ file exported from TPO so that you can refer back to it in future.

Receipts

TPO receipts are imported into Light Blue as payments. We’re importing:

  • Date
  • Linked contact
  • Payment method
  • Amount
  • Notes

We’re also matching up the imported receipts with your imported invoices.

13 March 2018 update: the way that TPO handled deposits from clients means that you can end up with deposits from clients that appear as unallocated Payment records in Light Blue. Because the way that TPO handles deposits is so different to the way that Light Blue handles them, we are not planning to change the way that we’re importing these records. If you would prefer to not import your TPO receipts into Light Blue, let us know and we will exclude them from the import.

How to arrange your TPO data import

To be able to import your TPO data into Light Blue, you need a Light Blue account and to have set up the desktop version of Light Blue. We strongly recommend that you take advantage of Light Blue’s free trial and our training and support resources to ensure that it is a good match for your needs before purchasing Light Blue or arranging your TPO data import.

When you’re ready to transfer your data, you need to:

  1. Contact us via email so that we can check that your account is set up and ready to import data, and schedule a date for your import.
  2. Contact TPO’s developers to arrange for them to export your TPO data.
  3. Send us your TPO data export. We will need to check the data and arrange a time when we can access your account to do the import.

We charge £95+VAT to import your TPO data into Light Blue.

The Societies’ Trade Awards

Here at Light Blue Software we work hard to deliver the type of customer service that we’d like to receive ourselves, and like to think that it makes a difference to our customers.

The SWPP Trade Awards offers us an opportunity to be recognised for this, and maybe take home a trophy too.

So if you feel that Light Blue has had a positive impact on you and your business, we’d really appreciate your vote in the ‘Best Professional Customer Service’ & ‘Best Professional Software’ categories of the SWPP trade awards. You can cast your vote here.

It should take you less than a minute to cast your vote, and the SWPP are entering all voters into a prize draw, where you could win a Masterclass Full 4 Day Pass to The Societies 2018 London photo convention (worth up to £225).

Vote now

Light Blue and France’s new NF525 regulations

The French government is introducing a new set of financial regulations called NF525 on 1 January 2018. Only photographers with businesses based in France are affected by NF525, so please don’t be concerned by this if you’re not based in France.

NF525 is designed to combat fraud, and is aimed at cash register and accounting software. It requires French businesses to be using software that has been officially certified as complying with the new regulations.

Although Light Blue includes helpful invoicing and simple bookkeeping features in addition to its core shoot and contact management features, we’ve never intended Light Blue to be a comprehensive accounting package. However, because it generates invoices it still falls within the scope of NF525. We have therefore been working with French lawyers to find out exactly how the rules affect us and whether we will be able to get Light Blue certified under NF525.

NF525 has several technical requirements, and some of those requirements can’t be met with a system like Light Blue that allows you to work offline and then, later on, sync your changes between several devices. We might be able to change the way that Light Blue works to comply with the technical requirements at some point in the future, but the new regulations also include some non-technical requirements that are very hard for a company that doesn’t have a French office to comply with.

Together, these requirements from the French government mean that we will not be able to get Light Blue certified under NF525. Photographers who are using Light Blue in France can of course carry on using Light Blue’s core shoot and contact management features, but they should ask their accountants for advice about whether they need to find an alternative invoicing system.

We’ve heard a lot of grumbling about NF525 from the various companies and people that we’ve spoken to in France, and it sounds like a lot of them are going to struggle to meet the government’s certification requirements by the 1 January 2018 deadline. We will be keeping a close eye on the situation, and we hope that the regulations evolve to allow French photographers to continue to use their existing invoicing systems.


Le gouvernement français est sur le point d’introduire de nouvelles règles financières appelées NF525 à partir du 1er janvier 2018. Seuls les photographes dont l’entreprise est basée en France sont affectés par les règles NF525, si vous n’êtes pas basé en France, ceci ne vous concerne pas.

Les règles NF525 ont été conçues pour lutter contre la fraude, et sont destinées aux logiciels de caisse et de comptabilité. Tout cela pour s’assurer que les entreprises françaises utilisent des logiciels ayant été officiellement certifiés comme étant compatibles avec ces nouvelles règles.

Bien que Light Blue comprenne de simples caractéristiques comptables et de facturation en plus de ses caractéristiques principales de gestion de travaux photo et de contacts, il n’a jamais été notre intention que Light Blue devienne un package comptable complet. Cependant, étant donné que le logiciel génère des factures, il relève toujours des règles NF525. Nous nous sommes donc concertés avec des avocats français pour découvrir exactement comment ces règles nous affectent et si nous pourrions voir Light Blue certifié selon les règles NF525.

Les règles NF525 possèdent plusieurs exigences techniques, et certaines de ces exigences ne peuvent être satisfaites avec un système comme Light Blue qui vous permet de travailler hors ligne puis, plus tard, de synchroniser vos modifications entre plusieurs appareils. Il se peut que nous puissions changer la manière dont Light Blue fonctionne pour se conformer aux exigences techniques dans un futur, mais les nouvelles règles comprennent certaines exigences non techniques auxquelles il serait très difficile de se conformer pour une entreprise ne possédant pas de bureaux physiques en France.

Ensemble, ces deux exigences en provenance du gouvernement français signifient que nous ne pourrons pas voir Light Blue certifié selon les règles NF525. Les photographes qui utilisent Light Blue en France peuvent, bien sûr, continuer à utiliser les caractéristiques principales de gestion de travaux photo et de contacts de Light Blue, mais ils devraient prendre contact avec leurs comptables pour obtenir des conseils quant à la nécessité d’utiliser un système de comptabilité alternatif.

Les règles NF525 ont prouvées être une source constante de grognements de la part des différents individus et entreprises que nous avons contacté en France, et il semble que bon nombre d’entre eux vont avoir du mal à se plier aux exigences de certification du gouvernement à compter de la date limite du 1er janvier 2018. Nous surveillerons la situation de près, et nous espérons que les règles évolueront pour permettre aux photographes français de continuer à utiliser leurs systèmes de facturation existants.