Light Blue 3.5 - Invoice And Job Tracking Software

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6/16/2013 8:59:35 AM

Tracking shots

The problem for many photographers is that unlike, say, freelance writers or sled-employed TV presenters, a commission from a client doesn’t result in a single piece of work. Instead, a normal wedding may produce several thousand images, and the job of keeping track of which shots are from which wedding is one that, done properly, will reward the photographer for years down the line. Light Blue picks up where traditional invoice-tracking packages leave off, giving photographers not just in-voicing and job tracking, but detailed shoot management and even web gallery generation, all from a single application.


Basket case: Generating web galleries takes a single click, and Light Blue even includes rudimentary ecommerce features

The learning curve is pretty steep: where many software packages would attempt a step-by-step walkthrough at first startup, Light Blue asks you a series of questions about your business, then more or less drops you in at the deep end. Help is provided in the shape of a well-written, 261-page PDF that kicks off with a series of tutorials to help you get to grips with the software, though. The learning curve is further softened by the tabular user interface, which while not exactly handsome, does the job logically. For example, the ever-present tabs at the top – Summary, Calendar, Task Manager and so on – each bring up a table or a gird of related items. How each tab relates to other sections of Light Blue isn’t always clear, so blocking out a few hours to get to grips with it and the user guide is recommended. Light Blue’s website hosts screencasts and videos to help new users/

The process of marshaling a job through Light Blue is thorough to say the least. You can add a huge amount of data to each shoot you add from obvious things such as the date of the shoot and a breakdown of its cost to the client. To the details of each of your contacts on the shoot, who referred the works to you and an estimate of the mileage the shoot will involve. Pre-shoot technicalities are taken into consideration as well. For instance, you can import relevant documents, or add to-do items to stay on top of planning. A schedule allows you to add date-specific to-do items. It all adds up to a piece of software that goes way beyond mere invoicing and job-tracking: simply unifying your budget tracking and to-do list into one application is a huge help. The calendar integrates with Google Calendar and iCal, although the only way to have Light Blue automatically sync with online calendars is by using the hosted version at $37.5 a month and then using deploying Yahoo’s Pipes service. It’s overcomplicated.

Every last detail: Light Blue’s Shoot Details window covers virtually every eventuality a snapper could face

Every last detail: Light Blue’s Shoot Details window covers virtually every eventuality a snapper could face

Light Blue even interacts with the images you generate. You can, for instance, link a shoot to a folder of images, and Light Blue will rename your images with serial numbers for easier searching. From there, you can also produce simple web galleries, which could be useful for making galleries for client approval. Fill in your PayPal details and the galleries even include an ‘Add to basket’ link, so your clients can order prints directly. The only niggle is Light Blue’s insistence on its own folder structure: once you import a folder of images, two new folders are created for Processed and Unprocessed shots, and only images in these folders show up in the Shoots tab, so some workflow adjustment is needed to incorporate Light Blue into your day-to-day life.

As long as you’re prepared to make a few adaptations, though, Light Blue is almost certainly a more holistic application for jobbing photographers than most DIY invoicing software. The price is high, but those with particularly rudimentary approaches to paperwork and planning could find it pays for itself tout de suite.


·         Light Blue 3.5

·         Invoice and job tracking software

·         From:

·         Pro: Packed with features – all-in-one approach for photographers

·         Con: Rather dense UI

·         Price: $443

·         Verdict: 3/5


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