Smartphones have become an indispensable tool for most people, photographers included. We talk a lot about great apps for photographers, but here are five fantastic non-photography apps for photographers that will make your life far easier.
1. CARROT Weather
I am a bit of a weather geek, and CARROT Weather is my favorite all-in-one app that provides a hub for all the information any working photographer can use. It is also a hilarious app that delivers the forecast with a heavy dose of attitude that can be customized in levels ranging from "professional" through to "homicidal" and "overkill." Do not let that fool you, though; its information is detailed and accurate. Sourcing well-known Dark Sky, it provides hourly forecasts of temperature, cloud cover, and precipitation probability, along with to-the-minute real-time precipitation updates. It also contains a very usable looping radar, a fun AR mode, past data, severe weather alerts, today widget, and more. Upgrading to a subscription enables map layers like cloud cover, active warnings, lightning strikes, dew point, and more. For ultra-level radar geeks, you might want to also grab RadarScope to get access to different reflectivity tilts, velocity scans, and more, but for 99% of photographers who just need to know how the weather is going to affect their work and plans, CARROT is accurate and detailed, all wrapped up in a clean, useful interface. It is available for both iPhones and Android, as well as Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV.
2. Easy Release — Model Releases
A lot of genres of photography involve the need for signed model and/or property releases. Keeping track of paper releases can be a pain, and if you are anything like me, half the paper you touch gets lost anyway. Easy Release takes care of that by digitizing the entire process. You can save all your release forms on your phone and have your clients sign them right there. PDF copies are auto-saved to the cloud platform of your choice. It comes pre-bundled with industry-standard model and property releases currently in use by major agencies in 13 languages. You can use your phone's or tablet's camera to take an ID picture to accompany the release, customize the releases with your own language and branding, and track the status of pending releases. Personally, I prefer Notability for working with documents, but given that Easy Release is approved for use by major companies like Getty and Shutterstock, you may prefer it for your work. It is a great way to make sure you are covering yourself and your business legally and to keep everything organized. The app is available for iOS and Android devices.
Life is busy, and I personally cannot get through my day without a to-do list to keep track of everything. There are hundreds of such apps out there, but my personal favorite is 2Do. It has a simple, straightforward interface, but also offers loads of advanced features and customization if you need them. What I particularly appreciate is that unlike most other task apps, it does not force you into a particular management strategy. Tasks can include attachments, descriptive notes, and extra alarms, you can create tasks that repeat at designated intervals, add subtasks, create checklists and projects, create tabbed categories (great for separating work and personal lists), add password protection on the entire app or on specific lists, view upcoming, overdue, or starred tasks, create smart lists based on filters and presets, create batch edits, share tasks, add actions, and way more.
I sync my app with my free Toodledo account (you can sync with numerous task management services) and use Toodledo's browser interface when I am on my computer, but if you prefer a dedicated application, there is a Mac version in addition to the iOS, Android, and Apple Watch apps. 2Do is probably the most used application on my phone.
QuickBooks is the standard bookkeeping software for a wide variety of businesses, and their mobile apps offer a ton of useful features for photographers on the go. The app is quite good, offering you access to all your relevant business information. In addition, you can use your phone's GPS to automatically track and categorize mileage for invoicing and tax deductions, create and track invoices, accept payment via credit card or bank transfer via QuickBooks Payments, manage cash flow, forecast future finances, view profit and loss reports, view account balances, track expenses, photograph receipts and attach them to expenses, add and track new customers, and more. It syncs to your QuickBooks Online account so you can easily view and run your business on your computer as well. The app is available for both iOS and Android.
5. Point of Sale App
I did not put a specific app here because there are numerous choices out there, and it really comes to a combination of your bookkeeping app of choice and its integration with various POS services, the fees involved, ease of use, and many other factors, making the right app a very individual choice for each photographer out there.
Nonetheless, POS apps have really become useful in the last few years, and you can see them in use by tons of small business owners. Most come with a small credit card reader you can attach to your phone or tablet, enabling you to accept payments anywhere you have a data connection. One of the most common is Square, which has common features like offline charging (the transaction will then be completed when you have service), product customization, receipts over text and email (you can also print hard copies), loyalty program integration, online invoicing and marketplaces, gift card creation, and more. Most such services are available for both iOS and Android and charge a percentage fee per transaction.
If you are working in a studio, you might not find something like this useful, but if you are frequently working on location, it can be very handy. For example, a lot of fine arts photographers will rent tent space at weekend festivals to sell prints, a perfect application of such a service.
What Are Your Favorite Apps?
Do you have any favorite non-photography apps that help you as a photographer? Share them in the comments!