Light Blue and France’s new NF525 regulations

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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.

Compatibility with macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

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In the very near future, Apple are going to release macOS High Sierra and iOS 11. 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 6 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 6 and version 3 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 6.2.3 and version 3.3 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.

Scheduled server maintenance this weekend

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In order to support some new features that we’re working on at the moment, we need to make some changes to the servers that run our online services. We’ll be carrying out these updates early on Saturday and Sunday to try and minimise any disturbance to our online services.

The only part of our online services that will be affected is data synchronisation from our desktop and mobile apps to our online services. All other features (including existing forms, contracts, and online invoice payment) will be unaffected, but anything that depends on our desktop and mobile apps communicating with our servers (e.g. sending a text message, or publishing a new contract) might be affected.

We’re going to try to keep any disruption to a minimum, but data synchronisation might be offline for parts of the time between 05:00 – 09:00 BST on both Saturday and Sunday.

Update: there won’t be any disruption to our online services on Sunday morning.

Light Blue 6.2.3

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We’ve just released Light Blue 6.2.3, our latest minor update to Light Blue 6. Here’s the list of feature updates and bug fixes that you’ll find in this latest update, which you can get hold of by using the ‘Check For Updates’ command from within Light Blue:

  • The ‘Export Records’ dialog now defaults to the last set of fields that you exported from the same section.
  • Added a hidden option that allows you to export just the currently selected record. To use this, hold down the Alt key when opening the ‘Export Records’ dialog.
  • Fixed a bug where the headings for custom fields would be missing from a data export.
  • Fixed a problem with importing ProSelect orders if you’re using a comma as your decimal separator.
  • Fixed a database error that occurred when using the Linked Records panel on a Contact record to set that Contact’s role on a Shoot record.
  • Fixed incorrect entries that could appear in the popup menu when using the Linked Records panel on a Contact record to set that Contact’s role on a Shoot record.
  • Fixed any crash reports that have been sent to us.

Server updates on bank holiday Monday

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We’re going to be taking advantage of the bank holiday weekend here in the UK to make some updates to our servers on Monday morning. Most of you shouldn’t notice any problems, and of course your Light Blue desktop and mobile apps will continue to work offline, but there might be some interruptions to our data sync service.

Moving from adhoc organisational systems to a centralised system

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This is the first in a series of articles written by photographer & Light Blue customer, Nick Church, about how Light Blue has helped him to grow his photography business.

Do what you do best, outsource the rest

To be a successful photographer, your business needs sound marketing, PR and sales strategies as well as outstanding organisation. The chance of one individual excelling at all of the above is low, and the reality is that we are distracted by admin tasks that eat into the time we spend on taking pictures and improving our creativity. In this series of articles I share the various ways how Light Blue Software ring-fences valuable creative time.

When I started Nick Church Photography I had a demanding full time job. Any time spent on business development was snatched in lunch hours and evenings.

With a handful of bookings and occasional consultations, I was on top of the admin. I had a spreadsheet noting wedding dates, another for finance, a calendar for appointments, and booking forms for clients detailing information about the shoot. All very organised, what could go wrong…?

The problem is that all these systems are unlinked. When the calendar prompted a wedding, I’d have to refer to the other spreadsheets, re-read emails and Facebook messages to get the full picture. I’m sure that some clients thought I looked a bit vague in meetings. The truth is that I was often “winging it”!

A spreadsheet set-up is a passive data store so it must be manually driven with a routine process. If you get a text message while you’re out and just once forget to copy-paste this information when back home you will have major problems and a lot of stress. With bookings, email and Facebook enquiries and appointments I felt like I was drowning; having no chance to come up for air before the next wave crashed over me. My creativity and business development was stunted, just at the time I needed it most.

Then two incidents last year made me realise I had to work smarter. Firstly some good friends got engaged and asked me to shoot their wedding. Thrilled, I gave dates I was free so they could book their venue in the knowledge I’d be available. When they contacted me with their confirmed date, I was not available. The new booking was from Instagram, the one system I had not checked.

The second incident was the nightmare we all dread… Mid-way through a call at work a text  came in… “Hi Nick, just checking all is ok, we’re all at the venue and waiting for you. Hope you’re on your way!”.

I had no idea who the message was from or what venue they were at. Eventually when the call finished, in a cold sweat I ran through my systems to find out which clients would be having their day without a photographer… and wondering whether I’d be facing my own day in the small claims court. It turned out not to be wedding I’d missed, but a venue visit. But I’d still been disrespectful of my clients’ time and I’d lost faith in my ability to run my business in this way.

As with all small businesses, photographers need a return on investment and so when I found a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that had a free tier I gave it a go. This was an improvement, but it would need a lot of customisation time, and it’s true: time is money.

I heard about Light Blue Software’s platform via my professional network and saw that it had the huge advantage of being written by and for photographers. They know what we need and with the free 30 day trial – you’ve got nothing to lose!

After entering two weddings into the system I saw this was the holy grail I’d been looking for. Light Blue automatically sets workflows, gives meeting reminders, there are sections for wedding day agendas, shots requested, contacts, notes, finances, Social Media etc. Critically, all this information is in a single place and linked together logically. Overnight it replaced all my disparate systems and out of the box it was up and running in 10 minutes.

Yes, it is an extra cost to my business, but along with the likes of Adobe Lightroom it is something that I now see as critical to Nick Church Photography. The time and the stress saved by having this ‘second brain’ is priceless.

In following articles I will be discussing other parts of my growing business and how Light Blue Software allows those parts to develop effectively and smoothly.

Start your free 30-day trial

Light Blue Success Stories – Nick Ray Photography

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Light Blue Success Story - Nick Ray Photography

Nick Ray is a photojournalist, and wedding photographer based just outside of London, in the UK.

Following his boyhood dream, Nick studied photography at art college, and worked his way up to becoming a photographer for The Times in London, where he spent more than 10 years covering assignments in far-flung destinations alongside some of the best photographers in the world.

Nick carries over his photojournalistic style from work on frontlines in combat zones, and with a number of high profile corporate, and NGO clients, to the world of wedding photography – where hopefully there are a few less explosions.

To help keep things under control, Nick uses Light Blue to organise his shoots from enquiry to completion… and beyond!

“I would not be anywhere near as organised if I didn’t have Light Blue to help me out – I’d still be manually filling out my sales lists in a spreadsheet (the idea sounds archaic now!), and definitely be missing out on sales.

I am a great fan of workflows and I have different ones for each part of the process – from the initial enquiry, to following up after the wedding, and remembering anniversaries. It’s amazing how often a follow-up leads to a booking, or after an event (at Christmas or on an Anniversary) to print and album sales.

Without Light Blue, I’d never remember to schedule all of this manually.”

As well as helping out with organisation and sales, Nick makes use of Light Blue to keep his finances in check too.

“Light Blue makes the process of invoicing and billing so fast and easy – this used to take me hours (and a certain amount of frustration) to do manually in a spreadsheet.

As well as making sure I get paid on time, the financial tools seamlessly enable me to produce a list of sales for my VAT returns, and keep HMRC happy too.”

If you’d like to be as organised, and in control of your finances as Nick, click here to start your free, 30 day trial of Light Blue.

The Societies of Photographers Roadshow in Widnes

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We’ll be at The Societies of Photographers Roadshow in Widnes on Wednesday 21st June.

It’s a great opportunity to come and see us at the free trade show as well as enjoy the fantastic programme of masterclasses:

• Catherine Connor – Refine your Business (09:30-10:30)
• Jocelyn Conway – Newborn Photography Safety (11:30-12:30)
• Terry Donnelly – What makes a good Sports Photograph? (13:15-14:15)
• David Stanbury – Confessions of a Wedding Photographer (15:00-16:00)

If you’d like to find out more about how Light Blue can help you to run a successful photography business, we’d be delighted to see you there. We’ll be running demos throughout the day, and coming to see us at the show is the perfect opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about how you can put Light Blue to work for your business.

Admission to the roadshow is free if you register in advance:


Light Blue 6.2.2

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We’ve just released Light Blue 6.2.2, our latest minor update to Light Blue 6. Here’s the list of feature updates and bug fixes that you’ll find in this latest update, which you can get hold of by using the ‘Check for updates’ command from within Light Blue:

  • When you use the ‘Add to Found Set: Document From Template…’ command, you now have the option of using a document template without saving a copy of the resulting files in Light Blue. This cuts down on the amount of disk space Light Blue will use if you’re using large document templates.
  • We’ve updated our translations to include the headings used on credit notes and the links used in the emails sent from our client portal.
  • The sales tax / VAT report now includes invoice and purchase dates in its detailed breakdown of the invoices and purchases that are included in the reporting period.
  • When checking off tasks from the Task Manager, the list of tasks could fail to redraw properly if you didn’t have the ‘Show Completed Tasks’ option turned on.
  • Fixed a problem where right-clicking on the Task Manager when you have multiple tasks selected could change the selection to just the task that you clicked on.
  • Fixed a problem with using European decimal separators when creating a sale from a quote.
  • On Windows, if you have password protection turned on for Light Blue, the ‘Change Password’ and ‘Reset Password’ buttons that appear in the initial login dialog could fail to do anything.
  • Fixed a problem where attempting to send a text message to a contact who doesn’t have a phone number (and isn’t part of a group that has a phone number) could still come up with a default phone number.
  • Fixed any crash reports that have been sent to us.