Exporting invoices to Quickbooks

Keeping on top of your finances is really important when you are running a business and, while we have some great tools in Light Blue to help with this, some business need even more accounting tools. Many of our customers use QuickBooks to do their accounts and had asked for an easier way to get their information out of Light Blue and into QuickBooks, so they don’t have to enter information twice.

With our QuickBooks export feature, you can export all your invoices from Light Blue to import straight into QuickBooks. This means you have all the benefits of using Light Blue’s online services such as online booking forms and contract signing plus invoicing and you don’t have to create a duplicate invoice manually in QuickBooks. Here is a handy video to see how it works:

We love hearing how this has made your lives easier!

Rose and Garry Stacey from Timeless Images run their portrait studio from Bridgwater, Somerset.

“Light Blue has really helped with the day to day running of the business but with Making Tax Digital coming in, we knew we had to sort out our accounting package. QuickBooks was our choice as there is an import invoices function. So we can within 20 minutes have the month’s invoices imported into QuickBooks ready for the accounts to be reconciled. Thanks to the boys at Light Blue this is quick, easy, straight forward monthly process keeping us in line with government requirements.”

Based in Kent, Manjit Sohal runs Sohal Light Photography offering business headshots and Lifestyle Portraits.

“I had set up QuickBooks before I signed up for Light Blue, I then was faced with how to manage the two. Initially, I was exporting the data to a CSV file and then re-formatting it for QuickBooks and then importing the data to QuickBooks. This took about an hour. Now with the new feature, I’m able to export the data in the correct format for QuickBooks and then import it directly into QuickBooks. This process now takes me about 15 minutes to complete, I’m sure that it will get quicker as I become more practised at it. Now I can easily keep both programs up to date.”

Light Blue 8.1.1

We’ve released Light Blue 8.1.1, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 8. This is a minor update that adds new features and fixes bugs that were reported after the launch of Light Blue 8.1.

  • You can now create Purchase records from Sale records, using the cost information that you’ve entered into your price lists. In a price list, you can now specify the supplier, net cost, and VAT / sales tax cost of the products that you offer. From a Sale record, you can use the options menu in the Items section or right-click on an item to create Purchase records for the items in the Sale.
  • You can now create one-time setup codes from the “Manage My Devices” section of your account. This allows you to add a device to your Light Blue account without giving your account password to the owner of that device.
  • You can now set up automatic SMS credit top-ups yourself by logging into your account on our website.
  • Non-breaking spaces copied and pasted from other apps are now automatically replaced when you edit a text message template. These characters could make a message use the Unicode character set despite looking like they only contain characters from the standard GSM character set.
  • Workflow messages linked to a session or an appointment can now use contact and shoot mail-merge tags.
  • Added a warning message when you try to go to records that you don’t have access to from the Home screen.
  • The “Restore From Backup” and “Reset Your Light Blue Account” commands are now only available to staff who have full access privileges.
  • Clarified the “you can only submit this contract once everyone has signed it” message that appears on unsigned contracts.
  • Fixed a problem where non-https images included in emails couldn’t be previewed on macOS.
  • Fixed a problem where restoring a Contact record from the trash wouldn’t restore it to the group that it was part of.
  • Fixed a rare problem where an email could be sent via our servers rather than your selected email account.
  • Fixed a problem where the date of a scheduled text message in the Outbox could be displayed incorrectly.
  • Fixed a problem where the purchase net and tax amount calculator wouldn’t work with European decimal separators.
  • Fixed a problem where creating a credit note could create one with the wrong cents value if you’re using European decimal separators.
  • Fixed a problem where re-entering your account password in the “continue trial” or “your trial has expired” pages of the setup wizard wouldn’t successfully authenticate your account.
  • Fixed a problem with upgrading from Light Blue 4 to Light Blue 8.
  • Fixed a problem that could cause the “your trial has expired” setup screen to appear when you’re not actually using a trial account.
  • Fixed a race condition that could cause “The email hasn’t been synced to our servers yet” errors when trying to send emails in quick succession.

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.

Google Calendar API update

Google are going to be making some changes to their Google Calendar API in the near future. We’ve recently released free updates to both Light Blue 8 and Light Blue 7 that will allow Light Blue to carry on publishing events to your Google Calendar.

If you’re using our Google Calendar publishing feature, please make sure that you’re using Light Blue 8 (any version of Light Blue 8 will do, but it’s always best to use the current version to makes sure you’re benefitting from all of the updates that we’ve been working on) or Light Blue 7.1.8.

Light Blue 8.0.3

We’ve released Light Blue 8.0.3, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 8.

  • You can now use the “Add To Found Set” section of the Records menu to add a Resource to a selection of records, and the “Remove From Found Set” section to remove a Resource from a selection of records.
  • Our QuickBooks invoice export now includes the invoice due date and the linked shoot’s title and shoot type.
  • The “Tidy Popup Menus” housekeeping command now allows you to tidy the purchase item Name field.
  • Added .cr3 and .raf file extensions to the list of unprocessed file extensions supported by our picture renaming feature.
  • The background activity window no longer contains an item unhelpfully labelled as “Description” when you first open it.
  • Updated the printed version of workflows to show email and text message steps correctly.
  • On Windows, the staff login dialog now focuses the password field when it opens to save you needing to click or tab into it.
  • Fixed a problem where underscores in contract mail-merge values could appear as \_
  • Fixed a problem where charts section could fail to take percentage discounts into account.
  • Fixed a problem with the “Staff Shoots” report that prevented shoots from being included more than once if multiple staff are assigned to it. Enquiries and cancelled shoots are no longer included in the report.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause macOS contacts to be published to an account other than the default account.
  • Fixed a database error message that could appear when using the Sales list view with both the Photographer and Salesperson columns.
  • Fixed extra text that could appear when printing a contact record.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause an attachment to be duplicated when sending emails in quick succession.
  • Fixed a printing problem that could cause the rightmost column to be cut off the Purchases section of a tax report.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause unsaved changes to be lost when dragging an attachment into an email.
  • Fixed a problem with updating workflows when upgrading from an early Light Blue 8 beta.
  • Fixed a problem where setting a custom label for a contact method wouldn’t display that custom label until you enter the phone number or email address.
  • Fixed a couple of unexpected quits that could occur in unusual circumstances.

Take control of your email with Light Blue

Light Blue includes powerful email features that you can use to respond to enquiries, stay in touch with your clients, save time, and keep all of your communications together in one place.

When a new enquiry comes in to Light Blue via email or your contact form, you can use an email template to craft the perfect response. Using a template saves you time (because you don’t have to type it out!) and makes sure that you don’t miss out any important information (because you crafted your email template in advance). But Light Blue’s email templates also allow you to personalise your responses, using intelligent mail-merge tags that customise it with your client’s details and always allowing you to add your own touch to the message before you send it to your clients.

When you’re sending an email from Light Blue, we recommend that you send it from your own email account. Using your own email account looks professional and helps your messages to get through to your client. You can add as many email accounts as you like, and if you need a hand with setting them up then we’d be delighted to help.

When a client replies to an email you’ve sent from Light Blue, the reply goes to your email address but it also appears in Light Blue’s Inbox. This makes it really easy to keep track of all of your communications with your client, because you’ll have copies of the emails you’ve sent and your clients replies in one place. This is especially useful if you’ve got more than one person working in your business, because the messages that your team are exchanging with clients aren’t spread out over lots of different systems.

If you receive an entirely new email from a client (e.g. a new enquiry), all you need to do to get it to appear in Light Blue is forward it onto your unique @lightbluecustomermail.com email address. All of our subscribers get one of these special email addresses, and anything that you forward to it will appear in the Inbox. From there, you can turn it into a new enquiry and send a reply using one of your email templates.

Light Blue 8 added lots of email and text messaging enhancements to Light Blue. As well as streamlining existing features, we added powerful automation tools that allow you to schedule messages to be sent to your clients. For example, you can set up automatic reminders that cut down on frustrating no-shows. You could also use an enquiry workflow to automatically send follow-up messages to a prospective client.

We’ll be showing you how to set up and use all of these features in next week’s webinar, and we’ve also produced a series of helpful video tutorials that you can watch at any time.

Sign up for the webinar at 13:30 GMT, Tuesday 19 February!

Light Blue 8

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 lots of other changes that will help you to run a successful business.

“Light Blue 8 has definitely saved my assistant time and saved me mental stress. I work from home more, focusing on editing and family time while Light Blue handles my customer service.” – Tara Marie

Read on to find out more about the big new features in Light Blue 8, or click here to see them in action on our video tutorials page!

Automate your emails and text messages*

Light Blue 8 introduces some big improvements to our workflow features that allow you to automate the routine emails and text messages that you send. For example, shoot and appointment reminders or enquiry follow-ups can now be set up in advance and automatically applied to your shoots and contacts.

“The new automated message feature has enabled me to concentrate on other things and not worry about forgetting to send reminders, etc to my clients. This has saved time which I can spend on editing & marketing.” – Raymond Redfern

“We’ve practically cut no-shows to zero. It also means that we’ve been able to spend more time on business and brand development.” – Grahame Smith

 

Image & file uploads in forms*

Photographers love Light Blue’s online contract signing and forms features, and now our forms are even more helpful because you can use them to ask your clients to upload images or files to you.

If you’re doing in-person sales, you could use this feature to ask your client to send you a photo of their living room before a viewing session. If you’re photographing a wedding, you could ask the couple to send you a copy of the spreadsheet that they’re using to organise their wedding day. Or, if you’re organising a corporate photography job, you could ask your client to upload their brand style guide.

“Adding image uploads to our forms had an immediate organised impact on our sales and workflows. Portrait clients are able to send us pictures of their rooms, which help us and the family to picture their wall art on their walls back home, getting the right sizes and finishes to compliment their interior. Our average sales doubled.” – Simon Gorges

Enhanced email and text message features*

Sending emails and text messages is much faster because they are now sent in the background, freeing you up to carry on using Light Blue while they’re being sent. Emails can now be composed in a separate window, allowing you to compose multiple emails at the same time or carry on using other parts of Light Blue while you’re composing an email. Light Blue 8’s email and text message features have received a lot of tweaks and improvements to make them faster and more convenient to use!

Other workflow improvements

Light Blue 8’s workflow improvements go beyond our new automated message features, with enhancements that make them both easier to use and more flexible. We’ve also made it possible to export and import workflows, which allows you to share a workflow with someone else or import one that someone else has shared with you.

Speed improvements

Light Blue doesn’t rely on a fast internet connection, so you can use it when you’re offline or only have a slow internet connection. That means that we can make our apps really fast, and we found a couple of new ways to make Light Blue 8 even quicker than previous versions: upgrades that require a database upgrade are now 20x faster, and the Inbox and Outbox load a lot faster for studios that have tens of thousands of incoming or outgoing items.

And much, much more…

Behind the scenes there are hundreds of tweaks and refinements to make Light Blue faster, better and more intuitive. You can read the full release notes here.

“Light Blue takes care of all the organising and admin (which I’m bad at) and allows me to focus on the customer experience in the studio (which I’m good at ). Clients think I have my shizzle together! That allows me to be more creative. Light Blue’s designed by photographers for photographers and is quite simply the best on the market.” – Jenny Beckett

A free upgrade for all of our subscribers

Subscribers to Light Blue’s online services can update to Light Blue 8 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 8 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 enhanced email and text messaging features.

 

 

* Some of Light Blue 8’s new features require a subscription to our online services.

Light Blue 8 release notes

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.

Read on to find out more about the new features that we’ve added to Light Blue 8!

 

Automate your emails and text messages with workflows

Requires a subscription to our online services

Light Blue 8 introduces some big improvements that allow you to automate the routine emails and text messages that you send. For example, shoot and appointment reminders or enquiry follow-ups can now be set up in advance and automatically applied to your shoots and contacts.

We’ve achieved this by allowing you to include emails and text messages in your workflows. Workflows could already include tasks and appointments, and you can now include templated emails and text messages. You have control over when your automated messages will be sent by telling Light Blue how many days before or after a shoot, enquiry, etc, you want them to be sent, and at what time of day they’ll be sent out. You can preview your workflow messages, and you add your own personalisation or customisation to your automated messages as well as using Light Blue’s flexible mail-merge tags.

Workflow messages are automatically rescheduled if the date that they’re based on is changed (e.g. if a shoot is rescheduled). If you’re using automated messages as part of an enquiry workflow (e.g. to send follow-up messages to your clients), they’ll be automatically deleted when you either confirm or cancel the shoot.

If you need any help setting up your workflows, get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help you get the most out of them.

Please note:

  • Workflow message features require Light Blue 8. If you add a workflow, reschedule, or change the status of a shoot from an older version of Light Blue, workflow messages might not be handled correctly. If you’re going to use workflow messages, please update all of your computers to Light Blue 8.
  • Support for workflow messages has also been added to our mobile app. If you’re using the Light Blue mobile app, please update to version 4.3 via the App Store.
  • You can use most of Light Blue’s mail-merge tags in workflow messages, but a few of them aren’t supported. If you use any mail-merge tags that aren’t supported in workflow messages, you’ll see a warning in Light Blue.

Other email and text message improvements

Requires a subscription to our online services

  • Sending emails and text messages is much faster because they are now sent in the background, freeing you up to carry on using Light Blue while they’re being sent.
  • Emails can now be composed in a separate window, rather than in a dialog box. This allows you to compose multiple emails at the same time, or carry on using other parts of Light Blue while you’re composing an email.
  • You can now use one of your email templates when you’re replying to an email.
  • You can easily add contacts’ email addresses to an email by clicking the new + buttons that appear next to the To, CC, and BCC fields.
  • We’ve added a reply-to field for emails sent from Light Blue.
  • Text messages are now included in the Outbox.
  • The number badge on the Outbox shows the number of draft messages and messages that have errors. It’s shown in grey if there aren’t any errors, or red if there are any errors that need your attention.
  • On macOS, Light Blue’s dock icon now shows you the number of items in the Inbox that need your attention.
  • If you’re using the “Pending Items & Unread Messages” filter in the Inbox, marking an email or text message as read no longer makes it disappear straight away. It will only get hidden when you reload the Inbox or change your filters.
  • The “go to linked record” contextual menu command for emails in the Inbox now includes any contacts that Light Blue has automatically recognised based on the sender’s email address.
  • We’ve improved how timezones are handled when you manually schedule an email or text message to be sent in the future.
  • Images in emails can now have alt text.
  • When you reply to an email that included attachments, you now have an option to include those original attachments in your reply.
  • Fixed a problem where adding a signature to an email reply could put the signature below the quoted text.
  • When emails or text messages are sent or scheduled, their status in the Activity panel now updates as soon as it happens.
  • When you duplicate a text message template, the new template is now named as “[Original name] copy”

Other new workflow features

  • You can now export or import workflows, which allows you to share your workflows with other photographers or import a Light Blue workflow that someone else has shared with you.
  • Added “Add Workflow” buttons to shoot sessions (instead of making you go into the session’s options menu to add a workflow to it), custom date fields, and the appointment date field.
  • When you click an “Add Workflow” button for a field that allows you to specify a default workflow (e.g. the shoot enquiry date), instead of only allowing to add that default workflow the “Choose Workflow” dialog is now presented and the default workflow is pre-selected for you. This means that you just need to click the “Add” button if you want to use the default, but can select an alternative workflow if you want to.
  • The “Add Workflow to Found Set” menu command now allows you to add workflows to shoots based on their start date or enquiry date. Any shoots in the found set that don’t have your selected type of date are skipped.
  • You can now set a default confirmation workflow for appointment types.
  • Added a “Today” option to the list of key dates you can base a workflow on. The “Custom Date” option already defaulted to today, but this new option will provide a more understandable option.
  • Changed the “Delete Outstanding Tasks” command from the Activity panel options menu to “Delete Outstanding Items”. This will delete uncompleted tasks and unsent scheduled emails and text messages, but leaves any future appointments.
  • When you change the status of a shoot from “Confirmed” or “Completed” to “Enquiry”, Light Blue now offers to tidy up outstanding items (in exactly the same way as when you cancel a shoot).
  • You can now reassign multiple tasks to another member of staff from the Task Manager, or change their category.
  • Added an “Assign Workflow Tasks Without Allocated Staff To Logged In User” preference to the “General Preferences” section of the Preferences.

Online contract signing, forms, online invoice payments, and API

Requires a subscription to our online services

  • Shoot and contract forms can now include image and file upload fields. You add these to your form or template like any other field (although they can’t be included in contact forms, mostly for security reasons) and clients can use them to upload an image or file to you. If a client uploads a file to you, the filename will be included in your notification email and in the Inbox, and the uploaded file will appear in the shoot’s Activity panel. Being able to request an image or file from a client is useful in lots of situations, such as asking a client for a picture of a room they want to hang wall art in for a viewing session. Warning: although we’re not allowing image or file uploads in contact forms, you should always treat files that have been sent to you by anyone else with a certain amount of caution!
  • Added a setting to contract templates that allows you to choose whether (and which type of) booking fee you want to charge for that contract.
  • Added support for separate Stripe and PayPal details for each client portal brand, so you can have payments going to separate accounts for different shoot types. Please get in touch if you might be interested in this feature.
  • We’ve added an option to not CC you into client portal emails that we send on your behalf (e.g. when a contract is published, etc).
  • Incoming data sent to your account via Light Blue’s API now includes a date field that you can use in queries.

Fundy client order import

  • You can now import Fundy Design Suite orders into Light Blue. You’ll find commands for importing Fundy files in the Import section of the Records menu.

Speed improvements

  • Upgrading Light Blue’s database is much, much faster than before. In our tests with large databases, it’s now 20x faster to upgrade your database.
  • Loading the Inbox and Outbox is now much faster when they contain large numbers of items.

Inbox and Outbox features

  • The Outbox date filters have been changed so that you can more quickly find what you’re interested in. The “Today”, “Yesterday”, “Last 7 Days”, and “Last 28 Days” options no longer display messages scheduled to be sent on future dates, and you now have “Tomorrow”, “Next 7 Days”, and “Next 28 Days” options that will show you scheduled messages. The default option is now “All Dates”.
  • Added “Create Enquiry” and “Link To Existing Record” buttons to emails opened up from the Inbox, to save you needing to close the dialog and use the buttons in the Inbox.
  • When you’re previewing incoming data (e.g. from a contact form) that includes an email address, a new “Reply” button allows you to create an email to the first email address included in the data.
  • Text messages that you open from the Outbox now display their linked record and can be linked to a different record.

Sales and invoicing

  • You can now export a set of invoices in a format that is easier to import into QuickBooks.
  • We’ve improved the “Issue Credit” button on invoices to make it easier to credit or refund a wider variety of invoices.
  • You can now choose to include the Payment notes field when printing a receipt.
  • You can now choose to include the shoot type on a printed invoice or quote.

Calendar and Home screen

  • Added an option to display week numbers in Week and Month view.
  • We’ve added an option that allows you to display cancelled shoots in the built-in calendar.
  • We’ve added an option to include cancelled shoots in the results of quick searches. This is turned off by default, to avoid cluttering your search results with cancelled enquiries unless you’re specifically searching for one.

Reporting

  • The various data export commands that used to live in the File menu have been moved to a new “Export” sub-menu in the Records menu. This is a more logical place for them to live, is more consistent with the “Import” sub-menu, and removes clutter from the File menu.
  • The list view now remembers any column widths that you manually adjusted, and restores them when you go back to that list.
  • In list view, selecting a quick query that doesn’t include any records no longer takes you back to detail view.
  • In the query dialog, you can now query on the “role” of resources linked to a shoot.
  • You can now use “Invoice Number (without prefix)” and “Invoice Number Prefix” in the query dialog, lists, and data exports. You’ve always been able to use the full “Invoice Number” field in these situations, but these new options give you more flexibility.
  • We’ve added new fields that you can use in queries, lists, and data exports: “No. of Confirmed Shoots” has been added to the Contacts section, “First Appointment Start Date” has been added to the Shoots section; and “Shoot Start Date” and “Most Recent Payment Method” have been added to the Sales section.
  • When you’re running a report, the report options dialog now defaults the most recent reporting period and output options to the options that you used for that report.
  • Calendar notes are now included in the “Today’s Information” report.

Other changes

  • Google are making a small but important change to their Google Calendar API, and Light Blue 8 is now ready for this change.
  • Improved the design of the staff login window to make it more welcoming when you launch Light Blue, as well as clearer in its purpose.
  • We’ve updated the APIs that we use to publish contacts to the macOS Contacts app, which makes publishing contacts much faster (and future-proofs this feature in case Apple decides to stop supporting their old API). This requires macOS 10.11.
  • You can now import individual contacts from the macOS Contacts app, as well as importing an entire group of contacts.
  • Added a housekeeping command that marks any Sale records in the current found set as paid.
  • Notes fields on Windows now have spell-checking enabled.
  • Added a timezone setting to the Preferences window and setup wizard. This allows us to implement the %CurrentDate% and %CurrentTime% mail-merge tags in workflow messages.
  • Added %ShootAcceptedQuoteTotal%, %ShootNetAcceptedQuoteTotal%, %ShootPaidTotal%, and %ShootOutstandingBalance% mail-merge tags.
  • We’ve made our German localisation more comprehensive, and included both formal and informal options to give you a choice as to how formal you want to be when printing invoices, sending contracts, etc.
  • When you set up a new database, we now create a default email signature for you.
  • When you’re merging two contact records, spaces are now ignored when deciding whether to deduplicate a phone number.
  • When linking a shoot to a purchase item, the “new record” button shouldn’t be available.
  • The field label for custom paragraph text fields can now wrap onto extra lines if the label you’ve specified is long.
  • Fixed a bug where duplicating time off wouldn’t publish the duplicated event to Google Calendar or the macOS Calendars app.
  • Fixed a bug where printing a single record from the list view could print the wrong record.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when trying to attach a PDF of the built-in calendar to an email.
  • Fixed a database error that could occur when using an unusual combination of related sections in the query dialog.
  • Fixed a bug where shoots created via the API might not use their shoot type’s default session length.

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