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Archive for November, 2012

Four Festive Families of Photo-Friendly Cards

November 29, 2012 4 comments

You’ve probably taken a spin through our catalog of 2012 holiday cards and seen how easy it is to build, buy and sell photo cards through your galleries. But if you’re still trying to decide on what to send, here’s a few tips that may help you narrow it down based on what’s important to you.

Holiday shipping deadlines! If you’re shopping for someone this season, be sure that you get your orders in no later than the following dates for December 24th delivery. (For domestic US and UK orders only)

  • 6-10 Business days: December 5th, 2012
  • 3-5 Business days: December 12th, 2012
  • 2 Business days: December 17th, 2012
  • 1 Business day: December 18th, 2012

1) Cards For Word Nerds.

Had a busy year? You can tell your friends and family all about it in these templates that give you tons of space to say anything you wish. Fill it with your family newsletter, your favorite recipe or a festive poem.

Inside you’ll see plenty of space to write whatever you wish, perfect for inviting your readers to curl up with a mug of hot cocoa and read what’s new with you:

2) Cards For Studios

We get asked a lot if any of our cards include a text box on the back panel to add a business name. The answer is: Yes! If you want to type in your studio name, website URL or even a surprise message on the back of your card, look no further. These designs rock a little text field so you can have the last word.

Find them in the “Back of Card Text” category in the card builder.

Here are two fabulous examples:

3) Cards For Multi-taskers

Christmas comes but once a year, but there are so  many more occasions worthy of great photo cards. We offer several designs that let you simply change the text and photos, so you can take your favorite card from “New Year” to “New Baby!”

These designs boast clean layouts or multiple color options, so you can dress them up for any event.

4) Cards For Happy Snappers

For those of you who love to share lots of photos and can’t pick out just one or two, try these. We offer lots of designs that give you space to drag and drop in up to 8 different images.

You can easily find all the photo-heavy card designs in our catalog. Simply look at the top and click the “Sort by: Number of Photos” link you see there.

We hope that you’ll find the perfect card in our catalog to suit any photo and any holiday greeting you’re dreaming up.

Happy holiday planning from SmugMug!

Tips, info and inspiration with cards:

Blurb’s Top Tips For Building a Photo Book Masterpiece

November 26, 2012 3 comments

Whether you’ve traveled the globe seeking fine art photos, survived the safari of a lifetime or just had a new addition to your family, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better photo gift this holiday season than a personalized photo book.

Building a book can be as basic as clicking a button, but our friends at Blurb suggest a few tried-and-true tips for creating the perfect project each and every time. So when you’re ready to turn your SmugMug photos into your next book, keep these five tips in mind.

And as an extra bonus, keep reading for an exclusive Blurb discount for Smuggers.

1) Use only your best photos.

There’s more to choosing photos than just grabbing a bunch of interesting images. “Less is more” when it comes to a well-designed photo book, so eliminate any photos that you don’t have an emotional reaction to or are technically distracting (i.e., too dark, blurry, contain busy backgrounds, etc). You’ll end up with a more focused, powerful image selection.

And once you have them, don’t be afraid to edit your photos. Being tough on your own work is a surefire way to ensure that your book shows your best examples.

2) Keep it really, really simple.

Unless you’re going for a scrapbook look, keep the basic design clean and simple. Don’t go crazy by using too many different fonts, font sizes and a complicated page layout. Pick a simple & legible font that will print well! It’s easier on the eyes, and lets the beauty of your images shine through.

3) Keep headers and footers consistent.

One of the most easily-missed issues is the stuff on the edges: making sure all your headers and footers stay consistent throughout your book. In fact, you may want to do this part at the very end, after all other parts of your book are finished, since adding or reorganizing pages can override your header/footer settings. Be sure that whatever text you choose reads the same across left and right pages, and that you use a consistent font.

4) Don’t fall off the edge!

Just like with photo prints, you should keep an eye on the edges of your book and make sure you don’t put important parts of your images too close to the margins where there’s a bleed/trim area. This is especially important on covers, which usually contain graphics or words.

How close is too close? It depends on the cover option you choose but a good rule of thumb is to not put any critical content within an inch of your book’s edges.

5) Inspire with your cover design.

While we’re on the topic of covers: A great-looking cover is really important in getting people inspired and interested enough to open up your book and look more closely at your work. Our top tip is to keep it simple – don’t have too many fonts or photographs on the front and don’t always go for the obvious shot! It’s fun to be a little mysterious.

Blurb’s Very Smug Holiday Discount

If you’ve never made a photo book before through Blurb, now’s your chance to find out how easy it is! And if you have, then it’s the perfect opportunity to make another. They’ve got a huge variety of sizes, covers and papers so you can build the book that you want, at the price that you want.

Try any of their easy bookmaking tools to create your next masterpiece, and use the code SMUGCHEER to get 25 % off at checkout.*

And of course, don’t forget to take a look at their holiday shipping deadlines, to be sure that you’ve got something to give on the big day.

Happy page-turning holidays!

* Offer good for 25% off your print product total on books created by you up to a maximum discount of $200 USD, CAD & AUD, 120 Euros. Offer expires on Dec 10th at 11.59pm and can only be used by each person once. This offer may not be used towards gift cards, volume discounts or retroactively applied towards a previous order.

OK, We’ll Bite: SmugMug’s Black Friday Deal

November 22, 2012 18 comments

Getting good post-Thanksgiving deals doesn’t always have to involve waking up camping overnight and fighting off mobs of fellow shoppers. With just a few clicks, you can get ahead on your holiday shopping.

Save 30% off new accounts

We’re kicking off Black Friday with the biggest deal of the Smuggy season. Use code SMUGGYTHANKS30 (expires November 25, 2012 at 11:59pm PT)  to get 30% off any SmugMug subscription (normally priced between $40-300 a year) when you sign up for a new account!

There are 4 great SmugMug account types to pick from. Don’t take our word for it though. Watch the videos below to see why all kinds of photographers trust SmugMug with their photos.

Bonus Contest Alert!

Everyone who signs up for SmugMug using code SMUGGYTHANKS30 this weekend will get entered to win an additional prize package of $200 in Print Credits, a Smuggy Swag care package, and a $100 Gift Card to BorrowLenses.com. We’ll randomly pick two  winners on Monday, November 26th, 2012. Follow @SmugMug on Twitter or check this blog post on Monday for the winners announcement.

Already a SmugMug customer? 

We want to say thanks to you too! Help us spread the word by tweeting the message below:

Use code SMUGGYTHANKS30 to get 30% off, plus enter to win over $300 in additional prizes. More info: http://smu.gs/TeIYJ5. Pls RT.

You’ll be automatically entered to win a free year of SmugMug (any account level), $200 in Print Credits, and a $100 Gift Card to BorrowLenses.com. We’ll randomly pick one winner on Monday.

From our family to yours, we hope that you’re having a safe, delicious, fabulous holiday! (Remember to take lots of pictures.)

__________________________________________

UPDATE: WINNERS!

We tossed all the names in a hat and randomly picked Michael Edwards and Craig Dyni to win $200 in Print Credits, a Smuggy Swag care package, and a $100 Gift Card to BorrowLenses.com.

The winner of the free year of SmugMug, $200 in Print Credits, and a $100 Gift Card to BorrowLenses.com goes to Susan Crutchfield. Congratulations everyone and happy holidays!

Categories: Contest Tags: , ,

5 Tips for Tummy-Rumblingly Good Food Photos

November 19, 2012 7 comments

It’s that time of year to fire up the oven and start whipping, baking, simmering and roasting. With all those great things coming out of the kitchen, you’re going to want to share every delicious morsel with friends, fans and family who can’t personally make it to dinner.

But what if your food photos don’t look quite as tasty as the real thing?

The good news: There’s no need to ask Santa for a brand-new DSLR. Here’s how you can take delicious, reach-through-the-screen-good photos of your cooking using any old camera. Even with your smartphone.

1) Crop out the fluff.

First and foremost, your food is your subject! Crop out any non-essentials to your scene, like salt and pepper shakers, extra chairs and hungry guests waiting for you to put the camera away.

To help with this, shoot your dish from every angle: low, head-on, even from directly above. You’ll find the perfect perspective for any palate.

2) Use soft, diffused, angled light.

Put your food by a window and shoot from there. Remember those scary recipe books of the 1960s? You’re trying to avoid that. Natural light is your ticket to tantalizingly waving your latest culinary creation at your friends without making it look like a crime scene investigation.

Morning light tends to be cooler in temperature than evening light, but as long as your source is soft, bright  and to the side, you’re ahead of the game. Don’t be afraid to overexpose and make your scene glow if it means you pick up all those tasty details in the shadows.

Is it winter-dark by dinner? Bounce your flash off the ceiling or a wall to spread the light evenly across the scene. Done right, this can mimic the cool, tranquil light of a perfect spring morning.

Mobile tip: Use photo apps like Camera Awesome to pick your exposure spot, and use the Image Stabilization mode (the shaky hand icon) to get the cleanest shot. Many filters, like ShadowOpener, also brighten the image for when you’re stuck in low-light situations.

3) Hands off!

Take your photos before you start eating and leave your fingers out of the shot. You’re creating that moment of delicious tension when your guests are seated, the wine’s uncorked and they’re ready to go. It’s a perfect culinary fantasy, so why show teeth marks and someone else’s hands?

Of course, there’s exceptions to the rule like when you’re documenting the step-by-step cooking process, or showing your guests having a great time.

4) Get close. REALLY close.

Fill the frame and focus on texture. There’s nothing sad than a tiny, blurry burger in the center of a huge table. You want your food larger than life, the size it looks when you’re just about to take that first bite! Get close as your lens allows. (You can always clean it later.)

To emphasize this, use shallow depth-of-field and nail the focus… or boost the bokeh by applying a blur after the fact.

5) Make it pop!

Forget black and white — is there anything more bland than single-toned food? Be free to find the most festive berries, herbs and other ingredients to add pops of celebratory color all around your shot. With bold, beautiful ingredients in season like pomegranates, persimmons, currants and squash, you’ve got lots of options to make your plates sing.

And dig up the good china: Your favorite dinnerware is dying to complement your cooking by creating a neutral backdrop, or by adding more visual interest to the scene (like above).

BONUS TIP: Use your photos on recipe cards.

Pic and recipe by Downriver Photography

Why keep it to yourself? Once you’ve taken photos of your favorite creations, turn them into recipe cards using one of our 4×8 or 5×7 card templates. Drop them into your annual holiday mailings or wrap one up in every present you give. Recipes are a treasured, personal gift that anyone can enjoy.

Happy shooting! Here’s to good eating and fabulous photo sharing this holiday season.

Shoot Better Mobile Photos With Camera Awesome

November 13, 2012 22 comments

We love you, fans.

For 10 years, passionate photographers just like you have helped SmugMug become the company we are today. As we pour our hearts and souls into making neat new stuff like the Camera Awesome app, it totally bakes our cakes to see that you love using it as much as we do.

So, to celebrate a decade of being Smug — and to thank you for helping Camera Awesome become one of the most popular camera apps on the market — we’ve whipped up a beautiful infographic to share.

It’s chock full of facts, figures and tricks to help you shoot better images with the one camera you alway have.

Tip: Click the image to see it full-sized, or download your own copy and take it with you.

Get Camera Awesome Now

And if you’re new to Camera Awesome, you can download it for iPhone AND iPad and start shooting now. It’s totally free and comes bundled with 36 gorgeous effects and filters. With lots more available for just $.99 per set, $3.99 per category or $9.99 for all 262,143 possible combinations.

Need help getting started? We’ve got answers.

Happy Awesomizing!

Links you’ll love:

New for Portfolio Accounts: Price and Sell

November 8, 2012 92 comments

Dear Pros,

This post is a result of the passionate feedback many of you gave us after our pricing change—and some incredibly moving stories we heard about your photography.

It’s been two months since we created two Pro accounts, Portfolio and Business, where once there was one. The main difference between them was the ability to price & sell.

Today we’re adding the ability to price & sell to Portfolio accounts. This account level is designed for up-and-coming photographers on a budget who don’t need the features higher-volume Pros use, but who want a gorgeous site, protected images, and the ability to earn profit through our Pro print labs.

Portfolio accounts include:

Business accounts include:

You can find a complete list of differences between the accounts on our updated features page.

As we mentioned two months ago, storage is one of the big drivers behind our decision to split Pro accounts.  When we dug into the data, it became clear that heavy storage usage was highly correlated with accounts using advanced Business features, including multiple Pricelists.  We also heard great feedback that you needed better visibility about how much storage you’re using, and what you can do about it.  We’ve taken that feedback to heart and will provide better tools in the future.

Two months ago we announced that renewals at the new rates would begin October 15th.  Many Pros have noticed, however, that we’re still renewing at the old rates.  That’s because we didn’t want anyone to renew at the Business rate if they would have been a better fit with Portfolio after this change.  With this change, renewals at the new rates will begin early Saturday morning.

Our price change was honestly scary and emotional. Two months later, we’re relieved that it’s providing us the ability to invest more in engineering because sales are up. We are gratified by the support we’ve received from so many of you and hope that this change will offer wonderful up-and-coming photographers a chance to pursue their passion.

We’ll continue to listen to your feedback and adjust our account levels accordingly, so keep it coming.

All the best,
Chris & Don MacAskill
Founders, photographers, regular guys

5 Tips for Making Scandalously Good Holiday Cards

November 5, 2012 2 comments

As the holidays creep ever closer, we thought we’d ask for (and share!) some sage advice from someone who seriously knows beautiful cards, beautiful photos, and how to put them together into beautiful designs. Today, we’re going to share what we learned from Meghan of The Shoppe Designs, who gave us 5 great tips that will help take your holiday cards from “yaaawn” to “YEOWSA!”

In short: Start with a beautiful design, then follow through with smart and effective personal touches so that your holiday greetings become the talk of the town.

1) Match the mood between your photos and the design.

Sure, you can always pick a bunch of your favorite photos from the year and slap them into a card, but your friends and family will really notice when your photos and your card design match in color and style. For example, if you pair a formal portrait with a playful design, the presentation will look way less harmonious than it would when you match the mood and colors. Like music, find the chord that resonates best.

Here are some pairings that work well:

  • If your family session is outdoors and the family is wearing neutral colors, try them against cards with organic and vintage designs.
  • If your session included your family wearing brightly-colored clothes, a more playful and bright design would work well. Or better yet, try a simple, white card with little text so the colors in the photos really pop!
  • If your photo has a lot going on it it (lots of props, colors, several family members, etc) try dropping them into a simple design like a 5×7 folded card with the photo on the front and some simple text inside. Sometimes less is way more.

Thankfully, no matter what you do, the SmugMug card builder lets you preview them together before ordering so you can be sure your design and photo work together well!

2) Use photos from a single photo session.

There’s certainly an art to arranging multiple photos together on a card, but it’s still easy. The hot tip is to use photos from the same session and even the same part of your photo session for continuity’s sake. For instance, if your photographer shot different locations for your family shoot (some in front of the barn, some in the field, etc) try filling the multiple photo layout using various photos from the field. Then spice it up with a photo or two from a different location on the inside or back of the card. This way, your card keeps a unified sense of colors and style and will visually blend together.

Another fun option is to fill in the wells of your card with a photo sequence of different poses. For example, a series of shots at the same focal length of the subject(s) doing different things from the same sitting. It’s a fun, easy way to add a little motion and storytelling to your card. As always, try to pick ones that have colors that work well with your design!

3) Edit your photos.

A well-edited photo can really make the finished card sing, so processing your photos before putting them into your cards is a very important step.

Tip: If you’re using photos from your pro photographer, they’ve most likely already done this step for you. Whew!

You can push and pull the colors to go with your design and make everything even more perfect. The Shoppe Designs offers unique Photoshop Actions that can help you do this very easily. With just a few clicks, you can give your outdoor family shoot a warm, vintage feel and then it will match perfectly with a vintage-style card. On the flip side, you can brighten up the colors of an engagement session shoot even more to make them really pop on a simple white backdrop. And of course there’s the classic black and white option, which lets your images’ emotion speak for itself.

Not all actions work with all photos, but a great action can really bring a great photo to a whole new level!

Did you know? Post-processing is usually best for photos that you haven’t uploaded yet, but you can still polish up your images even if you’ve already added them into your SmugMug account. Try Picmonkey, a great in-browser editing tool built right in to your galleries, where you can fix redeye, exposure, add filters, textures and lots more. Look for it under your gallery’s Tools button > This Photo > Edit with Picmonkey.

4) Find inspiration for your text.

Writing your holiday message can be intimidating, and it’s hard to come up with greetings that aren’t generic or clichéd. It sounds silly, but try thinking about different holiday songs and lyrics to get in the mood and those festive juices flowing! You can take just a part of a song, like “All is calm, all is bright” (from Silent Night) which makes a beautiful and yet unexpected greeting.

What songs or poems tug at your heartstrings for the holidays? Get nostalgic. Get personal.

5) Use Caution With Fonts.

Fonts can be tricky. It’s generally best to keep the default fonts in the card you pick, as many designs are based around the font. But SmugMug does give you the option to change the font on many of the cards, so just be sure to proceed with caution.

Unless you have a lot of experience in design it is generally a good idea to not use too many different fonts together. It takes a fair amount of experience to determine which fonts work together and which… don’t.

Some basic font guidelines to follow:

  • If your photo is more formal or serious, usually a serif font (that’s the one with the little feet) tends to work best.
  • If you’re using fun shots of kids, a handwritten font can really play up the cuteness.
  • If you want a modern look, most of the simple sans-serif (no feet) fonts will complement the style well. For instance, with an engagement session of a young couple in very stylish clothes in the city, try a thin sans serif font in all caps.
  • If you’re using a more formal wedding portrait, a serif font would works best. Remember to keep it simple and think about how it works with the image stye.

We hope these tips get you excited and inspired to start making your cards and filling them with your year’s best memories. More tips and inspiration coming soon!

Link roundup:

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