There is always talk about what apps you need to get in order to take cool photos, but the fact is you already have a camera. Quite honestly there is no camera or editing app that will greatly affect your business in my opinion, and that is what's truly important. So what apps does it take to really help streamline your business? I'll tell you what has worked wonders for me, and what I believe will do the same for you.
Many of the apps I’m going to tell you about are cross platform and have versions on both Android and iOS. We are going to focus on those working on the iOS platform because let's face it, that's where the market share is.
Square Register – There are several transaction processing apps out there but in my opinion Square is the easiest to set up and get going. It doesn’t require any sort of merchant account and payments are deposited into your bank account within 24 hours. As with most, when you register the company will send you a free card reader to use with their software.
Mint – A robust financial management system for your iPad, Mint is a must-have tool to keep track of your cash-flow and investments. Though not capable of invoicing or taking payments it offers an in-depth overview of your income and expenses across all imported accounts and will offer advice on improved budgeting to help you optimize your financial habits.
Kashoo – Voted the #1 accounting app on the app store, Kashoo is one of those programs that is pretty much a no-brainer. Accounting sucks and if you’re anything like me you need something that will make it as easy as possible. It is a subscription based program but they give you a 30-trial without having to commit to anything so it’s worth checking out for sure.
Mailbox – Although in it’s current form Mailbox is really just an organizer for Gmail that description doesn’t do it justice. It’s beautifully designed interface and “swipe” organizational system paired with the ability to essentially snooze an email and be reminded to look at it later make this an essential mobile email solution.
Producteev – With the ability to assign tasks, set deadlines, reminders, set priorities, and be notified when your staff completes an item… Producteev is one of the best task-management apps I’ve come across. Not only is it available on your mobile device, they offer a desktop edition as well if you need to create or assign tasks from your workstation. Best of all, it’s completely free now!
Producteev is also the only app I’m mentioning with a caveat. In the newest release Producteev aimed to raise the bar even higher with full integration into the Jive product line. However, in doing this several features have been crippled or broken completely. My hope is that these issues are fixed soon. The only reason these issues haven’t caused me to remove my recommendation altogether is how well the app has performed in the past.
30/30 – Where Producteev lacks, 30/30 shines. It operates by assigning times to each task from 1 minute to 1 hour in length based on the principle of working for a period and then taking a break for a period. By scheduling exact spans of time to work and break it helps you force yourself into actually completing things you assign yourself. The interface is clean and minimalistic but completely intuitive and simple. If you have trouble with distractions this app could help you stay focused as it counts down through your daily itinerary.
Easy Release – Model releases are a necessary evil for anyone photographing people. I call them evil because of the filing of all of that paperwork. Easy Release helps alleviate that by moving everything digital. Have your model fill out the forms supplied (or import your own), snap a photo if you want and fire off the signed PDF to yourself and your model. From there you have a couple of options. You can either download the PDF and store it however you choose or, if you use a service like Gmail you can set up labels for messages sent from the app and have them filed automatically.
Photographer’s Ephemeris – This is my go-to app for planning outdoor shoots. And it’s available on all major platforms (mobile and desktop). TPE is a map-based program for calculating where the sun or moon will be at any given time, at any location on Earth. If you need to plan lighting at a location you’ve never been to, there is no better option out there that I’ve seen.
Evernote – This is another app I would classify as “crucial.” Evernote, if you aren’t already aware, is a note-taking app that allows you to sync notes you take across all of your devices. It can be text, image, video, audio, or whatever else. This powerful app has an equally powerful family of apps that can do wonders for helping you keep track of what appears to be anything you can think of. Rather than discuss them all I highly recommend visiting evernote.com to see what else is available. The family of apps is free, but paid accounts are available as well that extend the features even further.
Unstuck – This app is difficult to categorize. Unstuck is exactly what it sounds like, an app to help you find a way out of situations you are stuck in. Be it a business situation or a personal one the method this app uses to guide it’s users is pretty solid. At it’s core this app is about identifying a problem and working out small steps to reach your goal. We all have self-imposed limitations and this app is all about overcoming them.
Flipboard – Keeping up with online media (social or otherwise) is a huge pain. I personally don’t enjoy going to every site I’m a member of and spending all day keeping up. Flipboard takes the things you want to keep up with and puts them into a magazine format. No more scrolling through an endless newsfeed. All of your incoming information is laid out in a beautiful and easy to take in format. The very first time I used this app I remember being completely shocked at how much I actually enjoyed browsing through everything I had chosen to follow. While this is available on small devices, the layout really shines on a tablet.
Paper – There are a lot of journaling, sketching and note-taking apps out there and they are all very good (Skitch, Penultimate, Bamboo Paper, etc..) but “Paper” by 53 is, in my opinion, the absolute best out there. The design is minimalistic and extremely intuitive. It does what good design should do…get out of the way. You have the ability to create as many journals as you want and each can have it’s own unique cover design as well. The core of the app is extremely powerful but they do offer additional brushes via in-app purchases that expand it’s capabilities solidly. If I need to jot something down or concept an upcoming shoot this is the only app I need to use.
Spotify – Every shoot needs a soundtrack and as far as I’m concerned this is THE music app to use. You can use it however you want on your computer for free, but if you want to go mobile and listen to more than Spotify radio then you want the subscription. At $10 a month for unlimited usage you really can’t beat it. Their library is vast but still has gaps if you’re into obscure music. The other great thing is that you can still import your local files into the program and solve that problem yourself.
If you've found another that really helps out with what you do, please feel free to share it in the comments. I'm always looking for ways to improve things too.