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Preliminary Review: StudioPlus Overview

[Editor's Note: Because studio management software serves many purposes and performs dozens of functions, this article provides an overview of StudioPlus Software in advance of a review of its accounting-specific function and integration with QuickBooks, which will appear in a forthcoming issue of Professional Photographer magazine.]

By Betsy Finn, CPP

Managing day-to-day operations can be a complicated task, and finding the right piece of software to manage your studio’s data can be equally challenging. StudioPlus has been around for 11 years and was developed specifically for photographers. The company emphasizes that StudioPlus is more than just a piece of software, it’s a studio management system to help photographers efficiently manage clients from the first phone call, to image capture, and to order pickup. While StudioPlus has too many features to review in a single article, this overview should give you an idea of its capabilities and how it might help your studio.

StudioPlus provides customer support during the setup phase so that you can learn how to use the software most efficiently—and I made sure to take advantage of this offer. After familiarizing myself with the software’s default settings, and changing the preferences to fit my studio’s operation, I began to explore the main areas of StudioPlus. Each section of StudioPlus is optimized for a specific function. For example, the Home Page gives you a snapshot of studio activities, including upcoming appointments/sessions, to dos, phone calls, financial figures, and even the weather.

[Click on interface images for a larger view.]

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One of the panels on the Home Page features upcoming appointments. You can choose to display 1-9 days’ worth of appointments. If you continue to the calendar section, you’ll see a more detailed schedule with the option to manage multiple calendars. You can right-click on any appointment to access shortcuts: view client, view session, view appointment, or start sales presentation.

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Sessions and appointments can be added directly from the calendar interface, or you can do so in the session section. When a new session is created, StudioPlus assigns that session a unique session ID linked to that client’s record for tracking purposes and the session status is set to “session pending.”

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After the session has taken place, the majority of activity will occur in a series of workflow stages: Capture, Present, Retouch, Produce, Upload, Archive, and Delete. The Capture stage efficiently imports images from your media card to the computer. You can copy images to an archive disc, create previews (for ordering purposes), and even rename files on import—all at the same time.

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The next step is the Present stage, which can be used to help your client select images, add items to their order, and display a slideshow. You can see pending client sessions and display thumbnails of images from a specific session. StudioPlus even lets you associate an image with the client record (“main client image”).

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StudioPlus’ presentation feature is accessed from within the Present stage. The sales presentation feature allows you to set up dual-screen viewing, create composite images, compare images side by side, view thumbnails, and rate the images as your client picks their favorites. I was pleasantly surprised to see the rating process attach a colored flag to the images. As you add products to the order, StudioPlus calculates the total (and adds sales tax) in an “order information” panel. Invoices can also be printed from the toolbar.

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After the client has ordered, you’ll progress to the Retouch stage of the workflow section to access files for retouching. In the Produce stage, you manage order production and can set StudioPlus to upload to your lab via FTP or ROES. You can also access Production information from the main menu, although this view is more for managing all work in progress. Notice the status of each order is listed: retouching, sent to lab, ready for pickup, etc.

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Outside of managing image workflow, StudioPlus does an exceptional job of monitoring client-side records and creating a logical flow within your studio. It even has a section dedicated to sales reports: Dashboard. You can customize the date range and change the report settings to display financial reports important to your studio’s daily success, such as total sales by booker, sessions by session type, and average initial order by booker.

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While StudioPlus helps you manage your sales and customer data, there is one place StudioPlus falls short: tracking expenses. Believe it or not, this “missing feature” is intentional. The developers excluded expense tracking from the software so you could use your accountant’s preferred expense software (e.g. QuickBooks). The ability to track expenses is a necessity for any studio, so I’ll be reporting back on the StudioPlus/QuickBooks integration process in a future article.

Depending on your studio’s needs, you can lease or purchase several versions of StudioPlus: Express, Standard, or Professional. Leasing options range from $33/mo (Express) to $141/mo (Professional) for a single-user license. A fully functional 30 day trial is available. For more information, visit studioplussoftware.com.

Betsy Finn, CPP, is a photographic artist and a PPA Councilor (’09-’12). Her educational website for photographers is learnwithbetsy.com.