By Andrew Darlow
If you are a professional photographer and run your own company
like I do, you probably just love the business-related work that
comes with the territory (yeah, right!). Luckily, a number of
Studio Management Software companies feel our pain, and are ready
to apply some digital first aid. These life-saving applications can
help perform countless studio tasks, including contact management,
scheduling, estimating, billing, expense tracking, payroll, legal
document creation, et al
SP&D’s Guide to Studio Man-agement Software focuses on five popular programs, with personal observations, screen-shots, and images from studios and individuals who use the systems day in and day out.
You’ll probably want to have your Internet browser handy to further explore each program’s features and to download trial versions, if available. Just like in an ice cream shop, choices abound. One will probably hit the sweet spot for you and your business—hopefully without giving you a stomach ache or brain freeze!
DIGITAL STUDIO MANAGER
This is a powerful Web-based program that runs off a server housed in a photography studio, allowing for use by Windows or Mac systems. With just a user name and password, the system can be accessed from any Internet connection in the world.
Romaguera Photography is a general portrait studio specializing
in High School seniors, with three studios in Louisiana. Larry
Dockery, Romaguera’s business manager, explains, “About
25 of our employees regularly access the DSM software in our three
studios. If a client had a photo shoot at one of our studios, they
can go to another studio to place an order. I can sit in my office
and access sales information from all three studios. It also makes
doing the payroll from all three studios a snap. Since the owner
travels quite a bit, he can see what’s happening while
he’s on the road.”
DSM’s feature set includes contact management, scheduling, payroll, and other functions. It allows studios to shoot digitally or with film, and then use the software to create and fulfill orders. Dockery says, “We capture all our images with digital cameras. Clients can make appointments online or by phone, which begins the creation of a session. The system then creates a session folder inside an import folder. We drop high-res JPEGs into the session folder and the system imports the files and renames them using the client ID, session number, and frame number.
“Files can be viewed by clients and ordered online, or at
a preview session in one of our studios. A ‘lab bag’ is
then burned to a CD and sent to an outside lab, or sent via
Internet with specific directions for each print. Files can also be
rendered for any internal printers we use.”
Dockery adds, “There are programs that handle the business end of running a photography studio, but I haven’t found any that run the digital image part like DSM. All our images are in one place and they are permanently linked to a client, session, and order. Placing and fulfilling an order is very quick and easy.”
A DVD tour of the software is available from the company’s website, and a demo of the Client and Studio Management software is available by requesting a link, user name, and password from the company at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Successware is comprised of a suite of programs available for both Mac and PC. The suite includes Success Tracking, Success Planning, and Success Pricing, each of which focuses on different facets of a photography studio’s business, and a wide range of bundled configurations are available.
Kramer Photography photographs approximately 75 weddings and social functions and 175 family & children sessions annually. Studio owner Steven Kramer, has been using Successware for the past five years on a Windows PC. Says Kramer, “We rely heavily on the software and I think the most valuable feature is its ability to run reports on all areas of our business. Being able to see our strengths and weaknesses—i.e., marketing dollars and profitability of various products—has helped us refine our business.”
He adds, “The most valuable reason for choosing the
software is the people behind it; they all truly care about their
clients. Judy Grann and Tracy Harris are extremely knowledgeable
about the business side of the photographic industry; Ann Monteith,
one of the developers, is one of the finest educators in our field.
I can honestly say that our business would not be at the level of
success it is without their guidance.”