More business is good because that means more money. More business is bad because that means there’s more to keep track of. As your studio grows, software that provides customized management tools for photographers and their studios becomes even more relevant. Luckily, there are a lot of great software solutions out there, and here we look at a few of the best and most reliable.
Blinkbid Pro 4.02 is an easily affordable custom photography estimate and invoicing program. Photographers are able to generate and organize straightforward estimates and invoices, which can be fine-tuned for custom charging of clients and jobs. Preferences can be set to automatically generate estimate and invoice terms, banking information, usage licenses and much more.
Contacts can be directly imported to the invoicing system, the interface is intuitive, and Blinkbid Pro is compatible with both Mac and Windows. Estimated Street Price: $159; 14-day free trial period available. Contact: Blinkbid Software, (310) 593-4733, www.blinkbid.com.
ExpressDigital’s Digital Darkroom is available in three editions: Core, Professional and Assembly. All three provide basic business management, including image capture, printing, proofing, archiving, enhancing and sales. The Core Edition is a bare-bones solution for managing the studio business, and includes print packages, customer presentations and more. The Professional Edition is geared toward portrait, wedding, sports and events photographers, adding greenscreen capability, a Retouch Workshop suite of image-manipulation tools, direct capture and extensive printing outputs. The Assembly Edition builds on the Professional Edition further by adding nine different group photography workflow templates, automatic ordering and multiple computer synchronization. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $495; special pricing for upgrades. Contact: ExpressDigital, (888) 584-0089, www.expressdigital.com.
Photo One Software
Photo One Software’s Basic program is designed well for smaller studios, while Photo One Professional offers a more robust set of features. Uniquely, Photo One provides tailored setup for your studio’s needs by walking through the entire startup process with you. Photo One Basic tracks client contact information, including birthdays and anniversaries, and includes support of bulk e-mailing and a Digital Imaging Station with a light table for editing images, creating slideshows and printing proof sheets. Photo One Professional adds bulk scheduling, security features and bulk order tracking, as well as thorough event file-making and custom contracts for wedding photographers. For photographers working with groups and senior portraits, there also are student status reports and yearbook-picture tracking. List Price: $1,647 (Basic, single user); $2,547 (Professional, single user); multiple-user discounts available. Contact: Photo One Software, (888) 428-2824, www.photoonesoftware.com.
Studio Suite 8
Popular with many high-end companies, Studio Suite 8 is an all-around media production-management program with applications in photography, video, audio, preproduction, postproduction and others. The suite provides schedules, contacts, communications projects, libraries, invoices, inventories, and more. It can be customized per user and networked across both Mac and PC platforms. Studio Suite 8 also attaches external digital files, including Photoshop images, enabling a user to document and connect components of a project in one place. There’s an extensive list of functional features, including built-in package tracking; mouse-over Calendar Events for details; and hierarchical, expanding/collapsing “packages” for booking and project management. Studio Suite 8 has a variety of bundle purchases available. List Price: $749 (initial license starting price). Contact: AlterMedia, (800) 450-5740, www.studiosuite.com.
StudioCloud Basic & Professional Suites
StudioCloud’s Basic Suite offers calendaring, client tracking, invoicing and financial bookkeeping with reports. The Professional Suite kicks it up a notch by adding employee time tracking with a time-card program; multiple employee logins; access management; individual photographer sales; and other reports, including scheduling for photographers, assistants, locations and equipment. Other add-ons, including an online gallery, on-location access, a customer-relationship manager and a workflow manager, are available with extra charges. List Price: $25 per month (Basic); $35 per month (Professional); discounts available for longer-term subscriptions. Contact: StudioCloud, (866) 750-3548, www.studiocloud.com.
StudioPlus Software is available in a host of options for different business sizes. StudioPlus Lite is ideal for smaller portrait studios, with management of daily business tasks, marketing plans and digital workflow organization. StudioPlus Professional provides more sophisticated business-management tools like a Scheduling Wizard that automatically alerts to double booking. There’s also digital workflow tracking with tethered capture, marketing presentations like slide-shows and composites, and seamless integration with a variety of other business-management tools for a much faster workflow. StudioPlus Enterprise extends the abilities of StudioPlus Professional to other individual studios, offices and headquarters, and StudioPlus OnLocation is an add-on, in-the-field workflow solution for laptops. MyStudioPlus.com extends the features of the StudioPlus studio management software by adding the ability to upload images to an online gallery for viewing and placing orders. List Price: Starts at $795 (varies by user license and version, payment plans available); $45 per month (starting price for MyStudioPlus.com hosting). Contact: StudioPlus Software, (888) 862-4868, www.studioplussoftware.com.
The best decision on which software is right for you often comes down to that delicate balancing act of cost versus services provided. Determining which features are necessary depends heavily on your own workflows. Wedding and portrait photographers, for instance, have different processes and needs than does a commercial studio. What matters most is that studio management software will ultimately save you time and headaches while providing you with the possibility of growing your business even further.