SUB Photo Logo Case Study: SUB Photo

Wherein Tenjin Rescues a Photography Studio


Michael Leenheer, owner of New Light Photography and its subsidiary SUB Photo, was our very first customer way back in 2012. He came to us asking if we could help improve or replace an ancient appointment booking system that he had found for free years prior. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for and it just wasn't cutting it any more. It certainly hadn't aged well - the user interface was clunky in the modern web, and the way it worked didn't quite fit his business flow.

We took the job and set to work investigating the existing application and outlining the additional features that he wanted. It didn't take long to see that replacing it was a better option than trying to repair and upgrade what was there. Not only was it written in obsolete PHP and lacking any automated testing, it was also in German. All of the code's variables, comments, and database tables were labeled with the original author's native language. It took several trips to Google Translate to unravel precisely what it was doing, and more importantly, how to import the data into the new system.

Yeah, I'd say interpreting German was definitely an unexpected challenge.

Robin Miller
Lead Developer

Meanwhile, we were working with Michael to lay out the foundations for what he wanted the new application to do. He really understands his customers, says Robin Miller, the lead developer for this project. It's great to work with him since he's got such a keen intuition for his clients, with a clear vision and openness for suggestions. After some iterations, we had narrowed in on what Michael wanted, and the new application was nearly ready to go. It supported the core features of the original, with more on the way soon, and we had an automated script ready to transfer over his existing customer records from the wheezing German datenbank to the brand new database.

Which was well-timed, because we had to deploy it early.

Tenjin To The Rescue

The company hosting his existing system had updated the server with a regular maintenance patch, but it was the final straw for something within the germanic PHP. It was no longer capable of taking appointments, and poured out errors whenever someone tried.

Despite being nearly ready, the original plan had been to wait an extra few weeks before going live with the new system. This would have skirted the busy July graduation, allowing us to do the upgrade without disrupting an integral business component. But now the old software was broken, and so we agreed that now was as good a time as any to begin migration.

Michael wrote a note for us to post to the front page stating that the booking system would be down for a bit while we upgraded it. We prepared the server for traffic, pointed his web address at it, and the transfer script began ferrying data to the new server in escape pods. Within a few hours the dust settled and the project was alive to the world, complete with all of the original records.

Thanks for the miracle!

Michael Leenheer
Owner, New Light Photography

Growing Together

SUB Photo has since expanded its operations, taking on more locations and more events each year. We've grown the system to suit, adding support for multiple stations and locations, customizable hours for each, additional admin tools, and integration with their existing online store. Now the system stores over 20,000 appointments and continues to grow. Michael was our first customer and has kept with us ever since. We still host and maintain his site, improving it incrementally along the way.

The system has worked very well for us - we've used it for over a year now and booked thousands of appointments through it, students really appreciate the ability to book online, and it has saved us a lot of trouble compared to paper signups.

Michael Leenheer

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