Now that the iPad has been out for awhile, it’s potential role as a tool for photographers has become clearer. Since purchasing one, it has become an essential part of my business, taking over a number of tasks that previous created mounds of paperwork or tethered me to a slow and cumbersome (by comparison) PC or laptop.
I’ve had some time to sort out what is working for me right now and thought I’d give a rundown of my favorite / most-used iPad apps for a photography business.
Photographers Contract Maker
This is the big one for me. I run all of my contracts through it.
It comes with some templates, or you can build your own custom contract. You input all of the client information, dates, times, etc. Client information is also pushed to your native Contacts app.
The coolest thing is the ability to add custom input fields into the contracts. You can use text inputs, roller selectors or check box selectors. For example, I can use a roller or check box selector in my wedding contract to select the chosen package. I can create custom text inputs for noting the church and venue, etc.
My information and signature is saved into the app and automatically input into any new contract. Client information is also inserted and when they are ready to sign, a box pops up (I have a stylus to make it easier for clients to write). When the contract is completed, a version is automatically saved in the app, and it will generate a PDF to e-mail to you and the client.
To be fair, the app is a little bit of a memory hog. On the original iPad, it can take a little bit of time to generate your PDF. If your contract is very long, it can crash on PDF generation – again, memory issues (although after playing around with what would make it crash, it didn’t appear that it ever lost data). However, the developer has a help forum and is very responsive to suggestions / bug reports.
Find it here. ($2.99)
As the name implies, this is an invoicing app. There is both a paid and a free version. So far I’ve been using the free version for print/product sales that fall outside of contracted work. I don’t see any reason so far to upgrade to the paid app. From within the free version, I can generate an invoice, complete with sales tax and shipping fees (if either are applicable), and similar to the contract maker, it will e-mail a PDF to the client. It also includes a reporting feature so that I can track who has and who hasn’t paid.
Overall, it’s a pretty simple, but powerful and handy app.
Find it here. (Free – for the lite version)
This will probably be an app that gets the ax once iOS5 allows for wireless syncing. But for now, it is THE way to transfer photos to and from my iPad without having to rely on iTunes. You have to also install a free desktop app to enable it.
Find it here. ($1.99 – and the required desktop app is free.)
You need both the Square device and the app. Once you have those, you’ll gain the ability to accept credit card payments through your iPad (or iPhone). I have some experience with credit card services / merchant accounts and I can say that Square’s rates are very competitive.
Find it here. (Free)
The iPad’s native photo viewer isn’t bad. FolioBook is better.
By far, the best thing about FolioBook is the ability to create a branded “home” screen. You select photos (both horizontal and vertical, if you wish, so the app can automatically swap them depending on the iPad’s orientation), and create a menu bar for your galleries. You can input text for your studio name, or build it into the background images you use. The menu bars work just like a menu on a web site — I have mine set up for Wedding, Portrait, and Art galleries.
The reason I like this app is because it provides a more immersive experience for my clients. They don’t see any personal galleries, or other photos not business related (for example, I had an issue with another app and took some screenshot images to send to the developer – these are saved into the photo gallery, and clients don’t need to see them).
Find it here. ($9.99)
If you have any interest at all in editing photos on the iPad, Photogene is the way to go. Sure, there’s Adobe’s PS Express, but frankly, Photogene blows it out of the water. It’s still not a full-featured photo editor, but it’s close and it works amazingly well.
To be fair, I wouldn’t do any final edits of photos on the iPad, but if I do need to make an adjustment to an image (for example, something to go into the Foliobook portfolio), Photogene can handle it. Also, if I ever got to the point of wanting to try to do same-day reception slideshows, this is probably the app I’d use for basic edits. Also, I have both the iPad and iPhone versions of this app and I wind up using the iPhone version quite a lot to touch up the photos I take with that device.
Find it here. ($2.99)
Google doesn’t have a decent app for viewing and managing your Google Calendar. Their system relies on you having a connection to the Internet and shows you the calendar through a browser portal. Not handy if you’re on the go.
CalenGoo syncs with your Google Calendar, but also allows you to view and edit your calendar (updated as of the most recent sync) when you’re offline. Any changes you make are synced back to Google Calendar the next time you launch the app with a connection. If you use Google Calendar, then this app is pretty essential.
Find it here. ($6.99)
Following are a few iPhone apps that I also find handy:
If you use White House Custom Color for ordering prints / products, they have an app.
I installed it on a whim, not knowing if I’d ever use it. Then awhile back I had a client request a print at a larger size than I was comfortable with. So when I submitted it, I included a note to call me if they thought there’d be quality issues with printing.
This is where the app came in handy.
I checked the status of the order and the app flagged it with a notice to call. I got the notice in the app before I ever even received the e-mail from them, so I was able to immediately contact them and get the order on track.
Plus, the app will also track the status of all orders, which is handy for a control freak like me.
Find it here.
This is a handy little tool for helping you calculate exposure. It has four slider bars: Lighting conditions (exposure compensation), ISO, F-Stop, Speed. Essentially what you do is select your lighting condition and ISO. And then the other two bars will tell you what shutter speed at what aperture will get you close to a perfect exposure.
Find it here. ($1.99)
Input your focal length, aperture and subject distance and Photocalc will tell you everything you need to know about how much of your subject will be in focus. In the options, you can select the camera you’re shooting with so that it can calculate the most accurate numbers based on your sensor size. In another screen, input your flash guide number, aperture, ISO and power and it will calculate optimal flash distance. Another screen tells you sunrise and sunset times as well as when twilight begins and ends. Finally, there is a reference section with guides for the the Zone System, a glossary, etc.
I should note that there were some issues when the iPhone upgraded to iOS 4. Basically, this app stopped working. Most people (including myself) all but gave up on it. However, the developer was aware of the problem and suggested that people delete the app and reinstall it. Weirdly enough, that completely fixed the problem (at least for me).
Find it here. ($2.99)
There is one last app that I would like to add to this list, but I’m hesitant to link to it. I’m waiting to hear back from the developer regarding some questions I have. However, it looks very promising. It’s a workflow app specifically designed for photographers. Basically, it allows you to enter a date for a wedding, and it will populate your calendar with all of the tasks necessary leading up to (and after) the wedding. My questions about the app relate to how it syncs with the calendar (it uses your Google calendar) and what data, if any, it stores in the app (for example, can you access any of these events in the app once it’s been pushed to the calendar). Finally, it doesn’t appear to have the functionality to include notes with any events.
I have contacted the developer with my questions. If/when I hear back, I may be a bit more excited to purchase the app and see how well it works.