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Archive for February, 2012

iPhone. Photography. Awesomized. Free.

February 29, 2012 223 comments

… it is by far one of the most full-powered camera apps I’ve used, and it marks an exciting advance for smartphone cameras.
The Wall Street Journal

Here at last. Our baby. As you know, photography is our life and our passion. So we created the camera you never knew you always wanted, the camera we always dreamed of – a camera fit for the iPhone.

Camera Awesome is SmugMug’s new iPhone app. It lets you take beautiful photos using the camera you already have. No ads, no cost, no catch (seriously, it’s free). So go ahead, create those memories and share them on the sites you love.

Camera Awesome is the Future of Photography

As amazing as expensive cameras are, they can’t do at any price what Camera Awesome can for free:

  • Be so simple anyone can use it.
  • Provide advanced features like a level for the horizon and an easy way to focus in one spot and set exposure in another.
  • Apply effects designed by pro photographers (like Kevin Kubota) to transform your memories from forgettable into stunning works of art.
  • Share instantly on all your favorite sites.
  • Auto-archive photos and videos to your SmugMug account.
  • Precord video so that when you tap the record button, you record the past.
  • Be fun and whimsical and… did we say fun and whimsical?

How is it different?

It’s FAST.  Simple.  Beautiful.  And so, so fun!

It’s loaded with gorgeous effects and filters that would cost a pretty penny in professional editing programs.

Share on the social networks you already use, like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and more.

You Are SO Gonna Have Fun.

Here are some of the Awesome things you can do with this app:

  • For moms - Catch those first steps or the winning goal. With hi-speed burst mode and 5-second video precording, all of those moments are yours forever… and safely backed up to SmugMug so you can print them big and bold.
  • For adventurers - Capture your experiences anytime, anyplace, without weighty gear. Climb mountains, cross borders and leap from the sky with just your iPhone in-hand. Auto-archiving means you’ll never lose your photos when you’re on the road.
  • For photographers - You’ll love the exclusive collection of filters, textures and frames offered by post-processing superstar Kevin Kubota. Apply stunning, Lightroom-worthy effects to your photos in just a few taps.

Are You Ready to Shoot Like a Pro?

Check out what you can do:

Ready?

Get it free now from the App Store and start Awesomizing your world.

By Popular Demand: Name Your Price

February 23, 2012 28 comments

The response we got from Pricelists warmed the cockles of our heart: Pros were thrilled with the ease, beauty and power of being able to price huge swathes of galleries with just a few clicks.

However, there were a few of you who said there was just one more thing you wanted: to be able to set the final price, not just the profit.

And we aim to please.

How to Set Your Final Price

Our inimitable Sorcerers just released an improvement that lets you set your pricing by price OR by profit. It’s your choice.

Open up your Pricelists manager and take a look at the fields here:

You’ll see that you can easily enter a value for your profit and sleep well knowing that’s the amount you’ll make.

But now the price field is changeable, too. Type in a number and you can print up ads, flyers and whatever else you wish, knowing that’s the price your customers will see.

See the green? We highlight the “active” field when you save the Pricelist, so you know at a glance which one is being used.

Which method should I use?

You should set your profit if:

  • You want guaranteed margins on every sale. In the event of currency or base cost fluctuations, you may earn more than you set… but never less. The price displayed to your customers may change as a result of this, but the rounding tool is there to help make those numbers pretty.

You should set your price if:

  • You have printed materials that require your pricing to stay fixed. We’ll switch over to profit-based pricing if the base cost ever goes higher than your set price. We’ll just use the profit amount you had when you first saved the Pricelist.

So go and play with your prices and make lots of money. Happy selling!

More Labs You Love: WHCC Joins the SmugMug Family

February 22, 2012 228 comments

We know that photo pros build strong relationships with their print labs, and we kept hearing that White House Custom Colour has been a popular choice for wedding and portrait photographers.

It’s true: they’ve been dedicated to the success of professional photographers since 1977, and have quite a reputation.

Today we get to announce that they’ve joined our family, giving Pros who already know and love WHCC another way to turn gorgeous photos into gorgeous prints.

See the catalog now.

Why the addition?

We know that busy pros are hard-pressed to switch away from the labs they’ve used for years, and WHCC has been one of them. You don’t have to switch away from EZ Prints or Bay Photo, but if you’ve been waiting to fulfill your SmugMug orders through WHCC, now you can.

It’s our mission to offer you a huge selection of fabulous, perfect print options. And have it seamlessly integrated with your site and shopping cart so you’re not a slave to your clients.

How do I order from WHCC?

Fire up your Pricelists manager and make a new Pricelist. You’ll see the three labs’ logos on the popup box. Click your choice, add in products, apply your Pricelist to galleries and you’re ready to go.

Do I have to use Pricelists?

Yes. We’re doing everything we can to make SmugMug everything that photographers have ever dreamed of… and more. We know it’s tough to change your routine, but we hope that the benefit of great features like additional print labs is worth the fear of leaving your comfort zone.

Try it. We’re sure you’ll love it!

Can I offer both WHCC and Bay Photo Products on my site?

Absolutely. We love them both and bet you will, too.

You can set different galleries to print through different labs. Just create a Pricelist for each. If you want to offer Bay Photo products for just a few specific photos, make a Pricelist for Bay Photo and apply it to only the images you want.

Remember: You can always price and sell merchandise (fulfilled through EZ Prints) and downloads (fulfilled by SmugMug) no matter what lab you use.

Can I see prints in-person?

Our bulletproof guarantee ensures that you can buy some prints and see their gorgeousness up close. And if you don’t adore them, tell us why and we’ll fix it or replace it right away.

Check out the shiny new WHCC tab in our updated catalog. A special thanks to Monica Toohey-Krause for the stunning sample images!

Your Marketing Goldmine is Just a SMUG Away

February 21, 2012 1 comment

To continue SmugMug’s dedication to make you all photo stars, we’ve got an incredible opportunity you won’t want to miss.

We all know that Sandy Puc’ is an amazing woman. She’s a talented photographer, a driven businesswoman, a passionate heart, a generous soul, and patient instructor to boot. You’ve seen us post about her whirlwind tours, traveling around the country showing photographers just like you how to shoot babies, brides, bombshells and more. And how to market the heck out of your business and rock the industry.

Don’t chase the bus. This spring, Sandy is coming to you.

Tune In… and Win

In partnership with our SmugMug User Groups, Sandy is holding three 1-hour webinars about how to turn your passion for photography into a rewarding business. If you’re already part of a SMUG, talk to your leader to find out if you can tune in as a group to watch each class.

To make things even more exciting:

  • The busiest SMUG wins. We’ll keep track of the SMUG that grows the most over the next three months. The winning city will get a visit from Sandy herself and an exclusive night dedicated to growing your business to success.
  • The most passionate Pro wins. The SMUG member that brings the most guests to their local meetings will win a trip to Sandy’s studio in Denver, CO, for an all expenses paid, completely one-on-one marketing makeover from the lady herself. An opportunity that could change your life (and your business) forever.

Stay in touch for details

So keep your eyes peeled for an email from SmugMug with more info about this opportunity and what to expect. If you have’t yet joined a SMUG, see what you’ve been missing on their blog. You’ll find a bonus podcast from Sandy there, too, in the menu bar on the right!

Photography. Friends. Fun. What’s not to SMUG?

Find your SMUG right now.

Say Cheese! A Fun Friday Giveaway from Photojojo

February 17, 2012 940 comments

Hey happy snappers! It’s Fun Photo Friday and we thought we’d do some Random Acts of Giveaways with our pals over at Photojojo.

If you aren’t already phamiliar… er, familiar with their great photo doodads and gadgets in their shop, you haven’t lived yet. Their carefully curated selection is guaranteed to make even the most serious photojournalist crack a smile.

Introducing the Ring Flash

Today they’re giving away the fashion photog’s dream toy: The Ring Flash, which turns your existing off-camera strobe into a glamorous party trick.

Hand model not included. (Sorry!)

Feast your eyes on that perfect, even lighting.

It

Here’s how to win yours

Ready to be the life of the party?

1. ‘Like’ SmugMug’s Facebook page HERE.
2. ‘Like’ Photojojo’s Facebook page HERE.
3. Comment below with a link to one of your pics that you think needs a little lighting help.

We’ll tag a random winner on Friday, February 24, 2012. They’ll get a chance to blind all their favorite pals/coworkers/neighbors with their brand new toy.

…. AND they’ll also win a free 11×14 float-mounted print 11×14 MetalPrint* from SmugMug. Because as the saying goes, keep your friends close and the embarrassing pictures of them even closer. :)

Happy flashing!

HOORAY, UPDATE: It’s time to announce the winner and from our hat we drew…. Mimi Thai! Congrats, Mimi and we hope you love your new Ring Flash! Keep your eyes peeled for a note from us breaking the good news.

* We just thought we’d up the ante to MetalPrints (value $50) cuz they’re awesome. And you guys rock.

The Great Pricing Hoax

February 15, 2012 41 comments

No sales? Hard time hooking clients? Your deep-discount pricing could be choking your reputation.

It’s not uncommon to offer your services at cut-rate discount with the hope that you’ll snap up eager bargain-hunters. But is this really the right approach?

Successful Pros agree that raising your pricing may not necessarily scare away potential clients – in fact, it’ll do a body good. Here’s why.

That sounds backwards…

Photo by Adriana Klas Photography

“Cheap” sets bad expectations for your clients. If you’re a cheap photographer, clients wonder how you’re cutting costs so much, and if it’s worth it for them to take the risk. They question your ability to manage expectations and communicate with them. Will you effectively guide them through an important experience, or will you simply fire a few snaps, hand over a CD and call it a day?

“Cheap” makes you look as though you don’t think you’re any good. Any business owner who doesn’t think their brand’s the best is probably in the wrong business.

How to Not Be Expensive

Photo by Adriana Klas Photography

Right about now you’re probably worried about scaring away clients by being too expensive. How do your clients really know what “expensive” really is? It’s all about pricing and a concept called anchoring – meaning that they have to compare the value of something new with something familiar.

In English: Clients will be able to better grasp the value of your work by judging their interaction with you.

Here are some tips to help you prove that your work is worth every penny:

  • Create a unified brand.  A clean website. Clearly placed information. A custom domain and email address goes a long way, too.
  • Be professional. Be prompt, cordial, and friendly. You provide a quality service, which is worth paying for.
  • Look and act the part. No one is going to pay $5k to a schlup wearing ketchup-stained t-shirts, particularly if they show up late and forget to bring the paperwork!

How to do the “Free” Thing (the right way)

Photo by Sphynge Photography

Just because you should be paid fairly for your work doesn’t mean you can’t cut clients a break, or even do the “free” thing once in a while. Samples are a great way to give clients a nibble of what you do do without giving away the whole farm. Some quick ideas of how to work this into your model:

Model 1 - Waive your session fee, but be sure to charge for prints and digital downloads.

Model 2 - Apply the sitting fee towards the purchase of digital downloads, making the first (X number) free.

On SmugMug, it’s so easy to offer a few deep discounts by creating a custom Coupon to hand out. There are five different types, making sure that you can keep changing it up and keeping it interesting. How to use Coupons.

Get it? Got it? Good.

Calculate Your Costs to Avoid Going Broke

Photo by Sphynge Photography

The reason most photography businesses don’t survive is because their owners didn’t properly calculate their costs. And as the old adage goes, time is money. Don’t forget that your time and expertise are more precious than replaceable objects like paper and gear; you can hire assistants but they aren’t you. (Yes, it’s our mission to make you feel like a million bucks!)

Here are our suggested guidelines for calculating your costs:

  • For prints: Your pricing should be not less than 4x your hard costs, including packaging and shipping. Seem like a lot? It’s not – about half of your balance goes towards taxes, 1/5th of goes towards the base cost of the item and the rest goes towards (ta-daa!) your profit.
  • Albums and multi-photo goods: Your pricing should be no less than 3x your hard costs, which may include design work as well as the physical cost of the product.
  • For Downloads: Price your larger-than-web-sized digital downloads at no less than the cost of ten prints. Giving away images at any printable size means you have to make it worth your while: They will use that file to print lots of prints, and you also run the risk of having your brand diluted if your client opens Photoshop and makes their own digital adjustments. Check out our resolution chart to find out how big they can print.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to charge a fair price for your work. By understanding your costs and charging more, you’re sending a stronger message to your clients and ensuring that they value you, too.

If you’re already in business and think your prices needs a kick, remember that it’s simple to adjust your pricing using Pricelists. Look here to see how they work, and don’t forget to ping our Support Heroes if you get stuck.

Wanna keep talking about pricing? Never forget that our photo forum, Digital Grin, has a whole section dedicated to the art of turning your photos into money. Check out our Mind Your Own Business section here and post away. Or just voice your thoughts in a comment below.

Good luck and stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more tips and “best practices” for you, soon.

—-

Links you’ll love:

BYOC: Lighting Tips and a Kiboko 30L Backpack Giveaway from Andy Biggs

February 12, 2012 16 comments

Streams of light illuminating motes of hoof-churned dust. Storm clouds swirling over the Serengeti. As photographers, don’t we all dream about that? Please welcome guest blogger Andy Biggs, founder of Gura Gear,  African Safari leader extraordinaire, and SmugMug Pro. Gura Gear’s Kiboko backpack was inspired by Andy schlepping his gear thousands of hard miles trekking to the ends of the Earth. In it you’ll discover oodles of thoughtfully designed, photography-smart details to carry your cargo. Check it out here, and keep reading to find out how you can win your own to keep your gear safe on your next adventure.

Making The Most Out Of The Light

By Andy Biggs

When we think of dramatic photographs we often think of brilliant sunsets, saturated colors and a sun that hugs the horizon. Emotionally speaking I think many photographers are looking for those kinds of in-your-face lighting situations. Well, I have to say that much of the time we as nature photographers have to deal with lighting situations that are less than ideal. Ok, most of the time lighting is sub-par, or at least not what we are expecting. Here are some ideas on how to think about your photography in a different way, and how to come home with photographs that still stir the soul.

Let’s be honest. How many times have you gone outside with the intention of going to your favorite location, wait for a long while for sunset and then realize that the light didn’t meet your expectations? This happens to me when I am out on safari on a daily basis. It is something that I just have to deal with. What to do? The best approach is to accentuate the good things and try to eliminate the negative things.

Skip the Sky

Case in point. When the sky is overcast, grey or just not exciting, don’t include it in your photograph. As a wildlife photographer, that means that I might point my lens down more to include more of my subject and less of the sky. I also will use a longer lens that will include less of the environment. The photograph is more about the main subject than anything else, so I will go for a tighter shot than I would normally want.

As a general note, when I compose a scene I like to think of the potential photograph as a game: I attribute a plus, neutral or minus to various elements in a scene. My goal is to eliminate the minuses and accentuate the positives. The neutrals are just there because they have to be there. I use my shooting position, focal length and shooting angle as my variables to get all of the best pluses into the scene and to leave all of the negatives out.

Shoot Portraits

Because the sky is overcast, this means that the light that is falling on my subject is soft. Think of the light as if it is coming from the largest soft box on earth. There is a rule of thumb with lighting: the larger the light source, the softer the light. Well, a cloudy day will yield a very pleasing and flattering light, which will help accentuate colors.

Exploit Texture and Motion

Another approach that I use is to blow out the sky and turn my image into a black and white photograph. When a sky is mostly grey and has no definition in the clouds, it is very easy to overexpose and blow the skies out. This doesn’t always work for color photographs, but it is a great technique for B&W images. You end up with a high-key lighting situation, and it makes it easy to draw attention to what matters most: your subject.

I find that marginal lighting allows me to get creative with shots that have a very low success rate. When the sun has gone away for the day, or when it goes behind a cloud, I seek out pockets of soft light that work for blurred panning shots. I slow my shutter speed down and experiment with about any subject that can be found.

Harsh Light

Midday light can also be challenging, because the light that is directly overhead can create harsh shadows that have a distinct clue color cast to them. Rather than compete with the light, I find that by avoiding the direct light I can get some decent images. One type of example would be a leopard who is in a tree. I can end up with soft light on my subject’s face and body, due to the shade of a tree, and still get an image that I am happy with.

In Summary:

Spend your time thinking about how you are going to use marginal light to your benefit, as opposed to letting it take control over you. Photography literally means ‘writing with light’, and you will never be able to photograph without light. Use the lighting situation to your advantage and you will find yourself coming home with images that you are happy with, even though you had not though of those types of images before.

Remember to use what you have, and use it wisely. Be flexible with how you approach your photography, and don’t go out looking for only one kind of shot, because the light may not be what you want it to be.

 

Enter to Win a Kiboko 30L Bag Loaded with Photo Goodies

 

(This giveaway is now closed. Keep reading to see which lucky folks won big.)

The Kiboko 30L is a magnificent bag, designed by photographers for photographers. It’s lightweight (only 4 lbs), durable, and features a butterfly opening, allowing for unique customizable configurations for long lenses and multiple SLR bodies. The newest incarnation features a removable waist belt and fewer zippers for snag-free travel. In fact, SmugMug’s very own In House Pro, Andy Williams, swears by it. What more could you possibly want?

Here’s how to get yours:

  • Step one. Visit our sweepstakes page on Facebook.
  • Step two. ‘Like’ the page.
  • Step three. Answer the questions on the page.

That’s it! We’ll announce the winners on April 30, so stay tuned and come back.

Here’s the juicy prize list:

  • Grand Prize: 1 Kiboko 30L backpack ($429.00 value); 2 free years of SmugMug Pro ($300 value); 1 Monocular ($349.99 value); 1 Really Right Stuff TVC-24 Versa Tripod ($910.00 value), 1 Really Right Stuff BH-55 ($375  value)
  • 1st Runner Ups: 1 free year of SmugMug Pro and $75 Gift Certificate to Gura Gear
  • 2nd Runner Up: 1 free year of SmugMug Pro and $50 Gift Certificate to Gura Gear

_________________________

UPDATE: WINNERS!

Thanks to everyone who entered our Gura Gear giveaway.  We shuffled, tossed, and mixed up all the entries and randomly picked the following winners:

Grand Prize Winner: Randy Ellen

1st Runner Up: Shawn Kinney

2nd Runner Up: Osman Ullah

Just cuz’ we love ya, we also randomly picked 20 people to win Smuggy T-shirts. The lucky folks are: Radu Margarint, Kevin Whitehead, Larry Johnston, Kristine Philipp, Lamar Smith, Ken Holmes, Chris Holtmeier, Janet Wheeland, George Rodriguuz, Christine Ruffo, Kris Dome, Kathy Brundage, Zach Blackwood, Brittany Ann Spriggs, Wendy Peterson, Jamie Raddatz, Peter Williams, Joe Sterne, Joseph Orchard, and Jim Sylvain. Congratulations everyone! We’ll get in touch with you by email this week.

If you didn’t win this time, take heart. We have many more giveaways coming up for all Smuggers.

_________________________

Have Bag, Will Travel

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