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Archive for August, 2011

New Photography Conference Just for Women

August 30, 2011 4 comments

Listen up, ladies!

You’ve probably heard of the HER Photography Conference, the new pro and social event for up-and-coming women boutique photographers. If you haven’t, check it out and read about the creative power behind this revolutionary new event in the photography world.

HER for Your Business

Pamper yourself this year as it happens at the 4-star Amway Grand Plaza hotel in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s a fantastic opportunity for shooters like you to meet other talented women, network and learn how to take your photo business to the next level. There’s a special emphasis on building relationships with fellow business owners so you can work together and learn from each other.

This year’s conference will feature speakers who will teach topics that you request. Your input combined with the small, intimate atmosphere guarantees that you’ll learn only what’s of value to you, and you’ll go home a better photographer than ever before. Not to mention you may win one of many giveaways and freebies throughout the weekend from the best businesses around.

The conference runs November 1-3, 2011 and you can buy tickets right from their site. Grab your seat now! They’re getting ladies flying in from all over the world, from Europe to Australia.

Enter to Win a Free Pass and Travel Expenses

SmugMug is teaming up with HER to send six lucky women to the conference:

  • First Place will get 2 admission tickets to HER Photography conference (one for herself AND a friend or business partner), plus a $200 travel stipend.
  • 2nd and 3rd Place will get 2 admission tickets to HER Photography Conference.

Enter your name into the pool:

  1. Like SmugMug’s Facebook page here
  2. Like Her Conference’s Facebook page here and click “Enter Now” to enter the sweepstakes.

The winners will be notified by email on Friday, September 2, 2011, and we’ll post the winners announcement on this blog too. See you at the conference!

______________________________________________________

WINNER!

The lucky winner is Courtney Clarke. Congrats Courtney! Thanks everyone for participating. As always, stay tuned here and on our Facebook page for more chances to win big.

Categories: business, photography, Users

Two Bright Lights Puts Your Photos in Magazines

August 30, 2011 35 comments

Have you ever dreamed of getting published in a magazine? There’s nothing like seeing your very own photo featured in a double spread to boost your business and keep fresh clients coming.

With SmugMug’s new partnership with Two Bright Lights, it’s easier than ever to send your photos out for consideration.

What’s Two Bright Lights?

They’re your personal publicity platform, the folks that do the hard work for you.

Think about it: When you want to submit your photos for consideration, you have to contact each publication individually, find out what they’re looking for, customize your submissions to their specs, in addition to actually submitting your work. And how do you know which magazines are worth your time, anyway?

With Two Bright Lights, all you have to do is tell them what you’re looking for, upload your images and click a button to get your photos onto the editor’s desk. Easy!

How it Works

1) Sign up for an account at Two Bright Lights. They have a free trial so it’s easy to give it a whirl.

2) Once you’re in, create an album depending on what you’re shooting. Example: If you’re submitting wedding photos, they’ll ask for details like the bride and groom’s name, venue and wedding date. For travel photos, tag the location.

Confused? No worries – Two Bright Lights guides you through every step and tells you exactly what the editors want to see.

3) Choose your SmugMug photos. You’ll see a built-in uploader that will help you slurp your pics right from your existing galleries into the album you just created.

4) Pick which publications to shoot for, fill out a few details and voilà! Your job is done.

Tip: It pays to do a little research about your target publications before you submit. Some may have specific requirements or styles that work better for you than others.

Is it just for Weddings?

No! While Two Bright Lights originally started to help wedding photographers get noticed, they’ve expanded to include many other categories like:

  • Events and Parties
  • Family/Lifestyle
  • Home and Decor
  • Food/Culinary
  • Travel
  • Styled Shoots
  • Detail Shoots (e.g. Invitations and Tabletops)
  • Fashion
  • Animals
  • Architecture
  • Nature/Landscape
  • Sports
  • Thematic/News
  • Weather

So if brides aren’t your thing, it’s still worth checking out.

Try It With 20% Off  

Ready to start? Go here to start your trial at Two Bright Lights and start getting published now. They’re offering an exclusive discount to SmugMuggers, so try this code to get 20% off your first month’s membership: SMUGMUG20

Good luck and don’t forget to tell the world where they’ll see your photos next!

Smug Tip of the Week: Use Gallery Styles to Spruce Up Your Galleries

August 24, 2011 12 comments

SmugMug’s default look gives you both big photos and thumbnails, but did you know that we have others that you can choose from?

Four, to be exact.

Where to find them 

Look at the top of your gallery and you should see a Style button. Click that to see all of our current gallery styles. Each one is a little different but all are gorgeous! And they all stretch to fit the width of your screen, up to the max size of the photo or the size that you’ve specified.

If you don’t see it, you probably changed your Gallery Settings to stick to one specific style. You can always do this if you don’t want your fans to pick the style, dictating the experience for anyone who visits.

As long as the gallery is set to Viewer Controlled, we’ll remember the gallery style you chose in your browser. It’ll stick that way until you change it again.

1. SmugMug

This is our default, and the one you probably know and love. It’s a great mix between seeing photos big and seeing what else is in the gallery. Click on any thumbnail to switch the pic and click the big photo on the right to open up the lightbox.

2. Thumbnails

People love this style because it’s closest to the proof sheets that traditional photographers are used to. You can click “Show all on one page” at the top and see everything at once, or you can break up the gallery into multiple pages. Either way you’ll be able to quickly preview and click on just the one you want.

3. Slideshow

Our beautiful, buttery-smooth slideshows are a style all their own. The photos will play on their own at three different speeds or you can click a thumbnail at the top to skip to your favorite photo.

4. Journal

The style that takes “juicy” to the next level. It uses the largest photo size you’ve allowed for that gallery and puts it smack dab on the page, leaving you plenty of room to write as much as you wish in the caption field below it. This style looks particularly jawdropping for landscape-shaped photos and panoramas.

Other Styles

As a gallery owner you can use our older, classic styles, too. Those are tucked away in your Gallery Settings, under Look & Feel > Gallery Style. We’re talking about SmugMug Small, All Thumbs, Traditional, Journal (Old), Filmstrip and Critique. We put those there because some Smuggers still love using them, but we won’t be updating them and they don’t stretch to fit your screen, either.

Play around and we hope that you’ll find a style that suits you (and your photos) best.

Enjoy!

Other tricks to easily change up your site:

Five Reasons to Make a Photo Book

August 15, 2011 5 comments

We bet that you love digital photography just as much as we do here at SmugMug. The ability to upload unlimited photos to safe, archival galleries and share them with anyone in the world is truly an amazing milestone in technology.

But sometimes it’s a good idea to take a moment and get back to your roots. This is why we want to remind you today to stop, take a deep breath of that delicious summer air and consider making your own custom photo book.

If still not sure, here’s 5 fantastic reasons to take your photos to the press.

1. Your hands (and eyes) will love it.

Nothing beats print. Even as technology eats up more and more of our time, you’ll never regret putting the beautiful colors of your life on paper and binding them in a thick, sturdy book. Pick it up, feel the heft and know that you’re looking at a format that’s stood the test of time. It’ll be with you forever. (And they make great gifts, too.)

2. There’s tons of ways to customize to your theme.

Most bookmaking sites guide you through the book building process so it’s easy to drop your photos in, give it a title and send it to print. Our partners at Blurb and MyCanvas go way beyond that and offer not just dead-simple building tools but tons of backgrounds, templates, layouts and even cover and binding options for your finished product. No matter what your book is about or who’s in it, there’s something for you.

3. It’ll make you a better photographer.

As you go through the process of building your book, you’ll get up close and personal with your photos. Think about the images you’ve taken, how you shot it and how it fits into not just your life but within the context of your book, too. All of these things can help you grow as a photographer. Learn from your experiences and make your next book even better!

4. Photo books spark conversations.

Even if your power goes out, your trusty books will be there for you, ready to be shown off, talked about and cherished. Who can ignore the big, beautiful presence of a book that tells your personal story? Your photo book is a special archive of your personal memories, artfully presented to you and your family as you pass it on. They’re always a conversation starter… even from across the room.

5. It’s a luxury you can afford.

Blurb’s books start at only $2.95 and MyCanvas begins at $29.95 . Get started from the Buy button in any of your SmugMug galleries and choose Create a Book. It may take a little time to get your book perfectly organized, captioned and polished but once you have that final work of art in your hands you won’t regret it.

What have you published lately? From family reunions to exotic getaways, we’d love to hear what’s bookworthy to you.

Smug Tip of the Week: Don’t Forget to Show Off

August 10, 2011 20 comments

While Get a Link is one of our more popular sharing features for sharing a photo, don’t forget that you’ve got snazzier ways of telling the world what you’ve been up to.

Look under the Owner Only section of your Share button and check out the Show Off options: Badges and Slideshows.

Fun-sized Slideshows

You can drop a mini customizable slideshow into any blog, forum or other website that accepts HTML code. Can you think of a better way to give them a playful, color taste of what’s to come? It’s a portable version of our smooth, deliciously slick slideshows that you’ve already seen as our viewing style or in full-screen mode.

Just customize the settings to taste, click to Copy Embed Code and paste it into your website. You can customize it to open to your gallery when clicked, or you can simply leave it as a standalone slideshow.

Moveable Badges

Our badges are light on their feet. Not familiar with badges? They’re are dancing mosaics of joy, a veritable kaleidoscope of color that just beg to be clicked.

You can always customize these to your heart’s content, right down to the background color so it blends seamlessly with whatever page you’re dropping it into. We’ll start you off with a standard size, but you can choose one of our preset Sources or Styles and tweak it from there.

Again, you can customize it so that your gallery opens when a square is clicked, or leave it as just a badge.

Trouble?

If your fans are having trouble viewing the badge or slideshow, have them visit Adobe’s site and download the latest version of Flash. For everything else, check out our info page.

And if you’re not able to get the code to work, check to see if the website allows embeddable objects. Contact them and ask if you’re not sure.

Show us your Shares!

We hope you enjoy these little treats and that they’ll make it easier (and more fun) for you to share your photos with friends. For more details on the different settings you can apply to slideshows and badges, make sure to read our help pages.

Where have you shared a badge or slideshow lately? We’d love to see where they’re being used and what great pics you’ve shot so far this summer.

How to Safely Buy a Used Lens

August 8, 2011 23 comments

For some, the kit lens is fine. But if you’re wanting to change it up and start shopping for new glass, the price tag can be a total dealbreaker. Today we’re featuring a guest post from our friends at BorrowLenses.com. These guys really know their stuff when it comes to buying, using and maintaining cameras and lenses, so we thought this would be a great time to share some tips about how to be a savvy shopper. The goal? Get the gear you want without spending top dollar.

By Josh Norem of BorrowLenses

It’s a sad fact of life that gear is expensive. A single Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II USM is in the ballpark of a fresh kidney and not everyone can afford to buy a few kidneys, much less a spleen or lesser organ.

Don’t judge gear by age; This lens is 7 years old and still looks and works like new.

Luckily, camera equipment doesn’t always deteriorate with age, so a lens that’s been cared for could theoretically perform exactly the same as a brand new one while costing significantly less.

Smart buyers know this, so everyone is always on the lookout for high-quality used equipment, including us. And because we buy so much used equipment (typically about 350 lenses per year) we have picked up quite a number of helpful tips along the way.

Here’s a few that will help you be a smart shopper when you upgrade from a kit lens, or when you just want to add to your collection.

Where to Shop

We all know you can find great deals on sites like eBay and Craigslist, but you have to be really careful about checking the seller’s feedback rating and past transactions so you don’t get ripped off. If you meet the seller in person, pick a public place and be sure to look over the lens very carefully before handing over your cash. (We’ll tell you how to do this below.)

A better place than Craigslist or eBay for used camera gear are photo forums with reputable commerce areas. Digital Grin has a great Flea Market section which is well worth checking out, and it’s free to join, buy and sell.

The Fred Miranda Buy and Sell forum is another great place. You need to open an account and pay a monthly membership to sell,  but it’s free if you just want to browse and buy. Fred Miranda is one of the best online marketplaces for photo gear:  Not only do they have a great feedback and ranking system so you can deal with established members, but they’re all photographers who know the lens inside and out. That’s a lot more than you can say for sellers on eBay or Craigslist.

In both, you’ll find many experienced photographers that buy/sell lenses and gear. Photographers who know their stuff can answer specific questions about its condition, history, functionality, etc. They usually provide lots of high-quality photos, too, so you can easily see the lens’s condition. Always a plus!

What to Look Out For

Here are some of the things you should keep in mind when examining a potential purchase:

  • Before you meet the seller, find out if they’re a smoking household. This doesn’t matter to everyone, but cigarette smoke can stick to gear and make it smell like an ashtray.
  • Once you have the lens in hand, check for scratches on the front or back elements. To do this, slowly move the lens back and forth under a bright light and look for scratches in the reflection on the glass.
  • Open the aperture blades and look through the lens to make sure there is no major debris (or fungus!) stuck inside. Nikon users will have to manually move a lever on the back of the lens to do this, while Canon lenses are always wide open when not mounted to a camera.
  • Don’t freak out if you see some dust inside the lens. This is normal even for factory-fresh gear and minor dust particles won’t show up in your photos or impact the performance of the lens.
  • While looking through the lens end-to-end, carefully and slowly rotate the lens in a rolling motion and look/listen for any loose elements shifting around.
  • Check around the rear mount for cracked or missing sections of weather sealing (if applicable). If there’s a hood, check that the hood stays locked on and is not cracked or damaged.
  • Be sure the filter threads are not dented or stripped and that a filter screws on and off easily.
  • Make sure you can zoom all the way in and all the way out without the lens getting stuck or stiff along the way. Also, make sure there are no sandy/gritty sounds as you zoom, or when turning the focus ring too.

Don’t discount a lens just because it has a few scuffs and bruises. The optics may still be flawless.

Test It Out If You Can

It’s a good idea to take the lens out for a test drive on your camera, whether it’s before you buy or if your seller offers you a trial period. Try these tips:

  • Mount the lens on your camera and make sure it stays securely locked.
  • Take test shots opened up all the way (like f/2.8) and stopped down all the way (like f/22) and at all focal lengths. You’re checking that the auto-focus works correctly and that the lens will perform at the maximum and minimum ends of its specs.
  • If applicable, turn on the Vibration Reduction (VR) or Image Stabilization (IS) switch and make sure it sounds right and that the image you see in the viewfinder doesn’t “jump around” during focusing.
  • Consider using a focusing chart if you really want to test the sharpness. But if you don’t know what that is, a newspaper will do the trick.


Upon careful inspection we found that this lens had an issue with its front element – it was missing.

Use Your Judgment and Enjoy the Process

The important thing to remember is this: Don’t judge a book by its cover. The only thing that really matters are the optics inside. Don’t assume blemishes on the outside have any effect on auto-focus performance or optical performance. The number one rule when buying ANYTHING still applies: If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Don’t forget to have fun hunting and (most importantly) shooting with your new-to-you lens. If you’re unsure about which lens you want and want to try a few, hop over to BorrowLenses’s site for a huge variety of lens rentals. Finally, be sure to upload all the great shots you take to your SmugMug galleries and show everyone what a great deal you got.

Links you may like:

Smug Tip of the Week: A Million and One Privacy Options

August 3, 2011 7 comments

One of the most powerful features on SmugMug are the customizable privacy options found on every gallery in your account. We get a lot of questions from fresh new Smuggers about how this works so here’s a rundown of what those are. We’ll show you how to pick and choose your settings and dial in the perfect amount that suits you best.

Site, Gallery and Photo-level Options

There are three basic ways of protecting your stuff:

SITE-WIDE

The quickest way to stop prying eyes is to add a password to your site. This way, no one can see a thing until they say (well, type) the word.

Site-wide passwords on your SmugMug account

Just go into your Control Panel‘s Settings tab and look under “Site-Wide Settings.” You’ll see a place to add a site-wide password there.

EACH GALLERY

Privacy come in two flavors: passwords and visibility. You can set a viewing password so anyone who tries to open the gallery will need to enter that password to see any photos. Or, make the gallery Unlisted (our term for “private” or “hidden”) and people browsing your site won’t be able to find it.

Passworded and unlisted SmugMug galleries

These settings aren’t connected so you can have an unlisted, unlocked gallery, a public passworded one, or any combination of the two.

Remember! If you’re the logged-in gallery owner we won’t ask you to enter the viewing password to open your own galleries. But you can always tell that it’s locked by the little yellow lock icon next to the gallery title. Don’t believe us? Log out and hit the link and you’ll see the password prompt.

EACH PHOTO

Generally if you can open a gallery you can see the photos in it, but we’ve included the Hide Photo option just in case you’re unsure something’s fit for consumption. Find that checkbox under the image when you’re using the SmugMug viewing style, and only you will see that photo when logged in as the gallery owner. (Power and Pro Smuggers: Don’t do this for useful site images like your banner or watermark!)

Click Hide Photo to make the image private

Tip: While there isn’t a Category or Sub-category level password, you can set the same password on every gallery in a Category if you wish. We can sense when you do this and  – voilà! – automagically unlock all galleries with the same password after your guest has entered it once.

What Are SmugIslands?

You can also opt out of internet searches (like Google) and out of SmugMug’s search results for when people use the search box in our header.  This is the idea behind SmugIslands and it makes your site hidden away like your own private retreat. Set it for your whole site from the Settings tab in your Control Panel.

SmugIslands privacy settings in your SmugMug Settings

If you ever change your mind and want specific galleries to be found, toggle the Hello World or Hello Smuggers option to “No”  in that gallery’s Settings page. That overrides whatever you set in your Control Panel, just for that gallery.

Gallery specific privacy settings override your Control Panel

Remember that flipping the switch either way and going from private to public (or vice versa) takes time, so be patient and wait a few days before worrying you did something wrong!

More Stuff: Sharegroups

Protected Sharegroups for easy sharing for your galleries

If you’re keen on sharing a group of galleries with special protections, try Sharegroups. You can pick which galleries belong in the group and we’ll save a special place on your site where people can click once and see them all. The link is only visible to the people you share it with, but you can apply an additional viewing password to the whole group just to be safe. Check it out here.

Events and Favorites work a similar way with a few additional features, so if you have a Pro account, give that a try, too.

Going Public

On the flip side, we have lots of other great features for people who want to be found. Check out this page with tips on maximizing your search engine mojo, and see what other things you can do to market yourself to potential customers.

Privacy Checklist

To sum up:

  • If you don’t want anyone but your friends to see your site, use a site-wide password.
  • If you want just special folks to see a gallery, make it unlisted or add a viewing password.
  • If you want to make just a few photos private for your eyes only, click Hide Photo.
  • If you don’t want to be found on Google, set Hello World! to No.
  • If you don’t want to be found in SmugMug searches, set Hello Smuggers! to No.

Enjoy, and remember to check out our help center if you’ve got questions we haven’t answered. Or better yet, drop us a note. We’d love to hear from you.

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