Spectra Getting Started Guide

Digital Workflow

Digital Workflow Overview

Spectra is more than just a great studio management tool – it's also a great digital workflow tool. You can benefit from Spectra's digital sales presentation, digital workflow management, and image management capabilities. Here's an overview of how to use the exciting digital tools in Spectra.

  • Schedule and shoot a photo session.

  • Import the images into Spectra. The software's one-step import process copies images from your camera card, creates JPEG previews, and burns the images to an archive CD.

  • Open your original images in Lightroom (right from Spectra) for organization and pre-touch if you'd like. Then export the images back to Spectra, creating new previews in the process.

  • Prepare and present the images to the client using Spectra's sales presentation and slideshow.

  • Rank and group images, eliminating images the client doesn't want to order.

  • Compare images side-by-side to help the client decide.

  • Record the customer's order and any special notes for retouching. This process automatically creates an invoice in Spectra.

  • Confirm the order with the client and save it.

  • Print an invoice and an image detail sheet for the client to take with them.

  • Print an optional contact sheet of all the images for the client.

  • After the client leaves, convert the invoice into one or more production orders for your vendors.

  • Complete your retouching in your photo editing software.

  • Zip and upload files for electronic delivery to the client.

  • Use Spectra to create a lab CD/DVD or to FTP image files directly to your lab for printing.

  • Use Spectra to create an archive CD/DVD.

  • Delete your image files to free up disk space.

Setting up the Digital Workflow

  1. Set Path to Image Folder - Go to Maintenance > Preferences > Company Preferences and open the Digital page. Adjust the File Path as needed.

    For more information on the options available on the Digital preferences page, including specific information for setting up image paths on a network, read Setting up Digital Workflow in the Spectra Online Help.

  2. Choose Title Slides for Slideshows - Open the Slideshow page in Company Preferences to set up any title slides you want included at the beginning or end of your slideshows. The slides can be any size JPG files and should have a black background. You can have up to four title slides at the beginning of the show and one or two slides at the end.

  3. Click OK to save and close the Company Preferences window.

Using Spectra's Digital Workflow

The Workflow hub is set up to help you can manage your digital workflow as efficiently as possible. Spectra's digital workflow includes seven stages, representing the typical tasks involved in a digital workflow:

  • Capture - Import session images, create previews, and archive originals.

  • Present - Prepare and present images to the client.

  • Retouch - Prepare ordered images for production.

  • Produce - Export images to lab or internal production department.

  • Upload - Upload previews to web for online viewing and ordering.

  • Archive - Create permanent archive of session images.

  • Delete - Delete session images from the server.

The stages are listed in Workflow Stages drop-down list.

Spectra's digital workflow is integrated with session and production order statuses.

Starting the Digital Workflow

  1. Create a session, either by double-clicking on the calendar or by clicking New Session/Appointment on the ribbon. The new session will start out at the "Session Pending" status.

  2. On the day of the session, open the session and change the session status to "Capture Images Pending."
  3. The session should now appear at the Capture Images stage on the Workflow hub.

1 - Capturing Images

The first step in the digital workflow is to import your images and create preview files to be used in Spectra. Spectra's one-step import process copies the images off your camera card, creates preview JPGs, archives the images, and adds meta data, right from the Workflow hub. Once you have completed a shoot, follow these steps to import the images into Spectra:

  1.  Open the Workflow hub and select the session from the Capture Images session list. Click Import Images on the ribbon.

  2. On the Copy Images tab of the Import Images window, select the Source location (your camera card drive). The Copy To location can be the "Raw" or "Hi-Res" folder Spectra created for this session. Select your renaming options.

  3. Select the Create Previews tab and choose your resize and JPEG compression options. We recommend choosing a size of 1000 pixels, JPEG quality of 100, and DPI of 72.

  4. Select the Archive Images tab and choose which images you want Spectra to burn to an archive CD for you – RAW, hi-res, and/or previews.

  5. Click Import.

  6. Now that you have captured the images for the session, you should advance the session to the next status. Spectra should prompt you to advance the status when wrapping up the import process. If not, click the session status to update it.

2 - Sales Presentation

The Present Images stage of the digital workflow is where you'll prepare the images, present a slideshow to your client with a professional look and feel, and record an order. You can set up and run slideshows from the Workflow hub or from a client's session record.


  1. Open the Present Images stage in the drop-down list on the Workflow hub. Select the session from the session list. Your session images will appear to the left of the session list.

  2. Edit the Images:

    • Click on an image and then right-click to rotate the image, permanently delete the preview, colorize or crop the image, or view the image properties. Several additional options may be available.
    • To select multiple images, click on an image and press Ctrl and click on another image. To select a series of images, click on an image and press Shift and click on the last image in the series. Then make changes to the images you've selected.

    • Add image groups to organize the images. Click Image Groups in the Show group of the ribbon. The image groups will appear on the right. Right-click in this section to add a new group. Drag images into your groups.

    • Use the drop-down boxes in the Options group of the ribbon to change the size of the previews and to view images with a certain ranking or those in a specific group.

  3. Prepare the Slideshow:

    • Click on an image thumbnail and drag it to a new location to rearrange the order of the images.
    • To change the slideshow settings for an individual slideshow, click Change Slide Show Settings in the Sales Presentation group of the ribbon. See the "Setting up the Digital Workflow" section of this chapter to change the default options.

    • You can use MP3 or WAV files in your slideshow. Choose up to five songs for each slideshow. After the last song is played, the sequence is repeated. Click OK to save and close the slideshow settings.

  4. Now that you have prepared the images and slideshow for this session, click Start Slide Show to watch it. Note: Press the space bar to start the slideshow.


The next step is to sit down with your client and give your sales presentation. During the presentation you can show your slideshow, create a new invoice, and record your client's order.

  1. From the Present Images stage of the Workflow hub, select the session and click Start Presentation.

  2. A new Sales Presentation window will open. You will see the preview images on the left portion of the screen and the image viewer in the center of the screen. Move your mouse to the top of the screen to access the toolbar.

  3. Modify the Display - Use the toolbar to adjust the size of your previews, to hide the image viewer, and to display your image groups.

  4. Play the Slideshow - Click Start Slide Show to begin your slideshow. A black screen will appear. Press the space bar to start the show and the music. Use the Sales Presentation Hot Keys (shown below) to control the slideshow. Press Esc to end the show. Click Stop Music on the ribbon if you want to stop the music.

  5. Rank and Choose Images - Now go through your images one-by-one and rank them using the red, yellow, and green buttons below the image viewer. Use green for "Selected" images, red for "Not Selected," and yellow for "Undecided."

  6. Compare Images - To compare multiple images, use Ctrl-click to select multiple previews on the left side or use Shift-click to select a range. The image viewer can display up to 6 images at a time.

  7. Review Undecided Images - Once you have ranked all the images as either "Not Selected," "Undecided," or "Selected," open the toolbar and choose to show just the Undecided Images in the View group of the ribbon. Go back through these images one-by-one and rank them as "Not Selected" or "Selected."

  8. When all the images have been ranked, you're ready to start the ordering process.


Hot Keys Description
1, 2, 3 Rank images: 1 = Selected, 2 = Undecided, 3 = Not Selected
Left Arrow, Right Arrow
Next image, previous image
Ctrl-click Select multiple images
Shift-click Select range of images
Ctrl (in cropping mode)
Invert crop
Shift (in cropping mode)
Enable free crop
Alt+1, Alt+2, Alt+3, etc.
Assign image(s) to the corresponding image group (i.e., Alt+1 assigns the selected image(s) to the first image group)


  1. On the Sales Presentation toolbar, click Order Information. The order information will appear on the right.

  2. On the toolbar you may want to select View Selected Images only.

  3. Add Products to the Order - Choose an image so it appears in the image viewer and then select products from the price list. For packages, double-click in the image number column to assign the selected image to that package line item.

  4. Save the Invoice - Click Save to save the invoice. 

  5. Record a Payment - Click New Payment to record a down payment.

  6. Print Invoice and Detail Sheet - After recording the client's payment, click Print to print an invoice and image detail sheet for the client.

  7. Close the presentation window.

See Sales Presentation in the Spectra Online Help for more information.

3 - Retouching Images

Now that you've captured the client's images and completed the sale, you may want to do some retouching or editing work. Set your session to the "Retouch Images Pending" status and it will appear in the Retouch Images stage of the Workflow hub.

  1. Highlight the session in the session list.

  2. Choose Show Ordered Images Only to display your ordered images.

  3. Hover over the images to see what products and services have been purchased for each image.

  4. Select an image you want to retouch and click Retouch on the ribbon. Spectra will create a copy of the original hi-res image and save it in the session's "Retouched" folder. See Retouching Images in the Spectra Online Help for more information.

  5. Click Open Image in the Spectra retouch window to open the "retouch" version of the image in your photo editing software.

  6. Complete your retouching and click Save in the photo editing software.

  7. Click Done next to the finished image on the Spectra retouch window and Spectra will automatically update the old preview with a new one.

  8. Repeat steps 4-7 for all remaining images.

  9. Change the status of the session to the next status when your retouching is complete.

4 - Producing Images

When your retouching is finished, you're ready to send the images to a lab. Use Spectra to export your images to a lab by either burning a lab CD/DVD or uploading your images by FTP. In addition to including the necessary image files, a PDF or XML file of the order can also be included.


Find out if your vendor prefers a CD/DVD or FTP and complete any required setup in Spectra.

  • CD/DVD - You can use a third-party CD burning software, such as Roxio's Easy CD Creator or DirectDVD software, or the integrated CD/DVD burning in Windows 7 or 8 to create a disk for your lab. See Workstation Preferences – Miscellaneous in the Spectra Online Help for more information about setting up your options. Note: If you are using third-party software, you must enable the CD/DVD to be writable before making the lab CD/DVD in Spectra. See the documentation on your program for information.

  • FTP - Send the images directly to your lab over the Internet with FTP. To set up the FTP process, complete the FTP information in Maintenance > Production > Vendors with your lab's FTP information.


  1. Insert your blank CD/DVD and prepare for writing, if necessary.

  2. From the Produce Images stage of the Workflow hub, highlight a session with images ready to be sent to the lab and click Send to Lab. Or, from a session, invoice, or production order, open the Action tab of the ribbon and click Send Images to Lab.

  3. Select the files you want to send. Use the Image Selector menu on the toolbar to choose which images to send or check the images individually. The ordered images will be selected by default. Click on an image file to view a preview on the right side. In the lower left corner you'll see the number and size of files selected.

  4. Use the Add Folder or Add File buttons to add files that are not located in the session image folders.

  5. Use the Advance Status button if you want the session status to be automatically advanced to the next status upon completion.

  6. To burn a lab CD/DVD, click Create Lab CD/DVD. Select the drive and include a Purchase Order PDF file and/or a Purchase Order XML file to send with your images.

  7. To send images via FTP, click Export to Lab FTP Site. Select the vendor you are sending the images to, enter the vendor's order number, and select Include an Order XML file to send with your images.

  8. Click the Start Export button to begin the lab export. Note: If you are burning to disk and Spectra runs out of space, you will be prompted to insert another disk after the first one is done burning.

5 - Uploading to the Web

Spectra can upload your images to the web so your clients can view them and place online orders. In order to upload images directly through Spectra you need to have an InSpiredByYou.com account with StudioPlus. Go to www.StudioPlusSoftware.com for more information. The following is a quick overview of the session upload process to show how it fits into the digital workflow. For detailed instructions about setting up and using the InSpiredByYou integration, go to the InSpiredByYou section of the Spectra Online Help.
  1. To upload images to the web, open the Upload Images stage on the Workflow hub and highlight a session with images you want to upload.

  2. Click Upload to InSpired to launch the Session Uploader.

  3. Select the images you want to upload.

  4. Choose any Online Groups you would like displayed.

  5. On the Session Info tab, verify the client's User Name and Password, Days Active, and Price List.

  6. Click Upload.

  7. Update the status of the session when the upload is finished.

6 - Archiving Images

We recommend archiving your images to ensure you have a safe backup in case of a server or hard drive failure. You can archive to a CD/DVD, a folder on your computer or network, or both. Note: To archive to a CD/DVD, you must have a CD/DVD writer installed on your computer and, if using a program like Roxio‘s Direct CD, enabled the CD/DVD to be written.
  1. Open the Archive Images stage on the Workflow hub and highlight a session that has images ready to be archived.

  2. Click Archive Images to open the Archive Images window.

  3. Select the files you want to archive.

  4. Click Archive to CD/DVD and/or Archive to Folder to open new groups on the toolbar where you can select specific options such as CD/DVD Drive, CD/DVD Number, and Folder Options.

  5. Click Start Archive to begin the archiving process.

  6. You can add multiple files to your archive, just use the same CD/DVD number or folder for each session archived.

  7. When finished adding files to your archive, use your CD/DVD writing software to burn the CD/DVD, if you're using that option.

  8. Update the status of the session when finished archiving.

7 - Deleting Images

When you're sure you no longer need to work with your images and AFTER you've archived them, you can delete the images from your computer/server. We recommend waiting several weeks after the client has completed their order before deleting their images.

  1. Open the Delete Images stage on the Workflow hub and highlight a session that has been archived and is ready to be deleted.

  2. Click Delete Images to open the Delete Images window.

  3. Select the images you want to delete. Note: We recommend not deleting the preview images. These small files don't take much space and come in handy when referring to an older session.

  4. Click Delete Images. Spectra will ask if you're sure you want to permanently delete the files. Click Yes to delete them or No to cancel.

Modifying the Digital Workflow for your Studio

Feel free to customize Spectra by setting up statuses and workflows that suit your studio – there isn't one right way to do it! Work with Spectra to find the best way to make the digital workflow work for you. Here are some different ways to set up the digital workflow:

  • Archive Images After Capture - If you want to archive your images immediately after you capture your hi-res images, enter a session status of "Archive Images Pending" after "Session Previews Pending" and associate it with the Archive Images stage of the digital workflow.

  • Pre-Sales Retouching - If you do some retouch work before presenting the images to the client, set up a session status of "Pre-Sales Retouching Pending" after "Create Previews Pending" and associate it with the Retouch Images stage of the digital workflow.

  • No Retouching - If you don't do in-studio retouch, you can remove the production status of "Retouch Images." However, you may still want to include a step where you make production notes about any retouch the lab needs to do.

  • Printing Internally - If your studio prints images in house, we recommend setting up a new production status called "Image Printing Pending."

  • No Slideshow or Presentation - You may decide not to use Spectra's slideshow and presentation features as part of your sales presentation. Remove the "Prepare Slideshow Pending" and "Sales Presentation Pending" statuses in the session status maintenance. Replace them with the sales process you use. These may not be associated with a digital workflow stage.

  • No Web Upload - If you do not upload images to the web, you don't need to use this workflow stage. You can remove the "Upload to Web" session status and simply skip this workflow stage.