Archive

Archive for January, 2013

Print Lab Love: Find Your Perfect Match in 2013

January 23, 2013 15 comments

It’s that time of year again: lab-shopping season. As the New Year rolls in, photographers focus on bettering their businesses and we know there’s nothing more exciting than delivering a beautiful print of a beautiful photo.*

You’ve probably noticed that SmugMug offers not one, not two, but FOUR fabulous print lab options, each offering a full array of great print products. So if you’re a seasoned pro who already has a favorite, we may already be friends with them.

Four labs means a ton of amazing print options, more than 600 different products in total. But before you start sweating, here’s a quick rundown on each one to help you narrow down and pick the best fit for your photos.

No matter what, rest assured that you get a single, cohesive online presence and a full business solution when you’re at SmugMug.

Your work is in good hands.

EZ Prints

EZ PrintsBased just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, these guys have been a true powerhouse print lab fulfilling orders for some of the nation’s biggest event companies. But they’re more than just brawn — they put all that experience to work getting your print orders out the door quickly and economically, whether you buy one print or one thousand. EZ Prints is available to every single SmugMug user, and they fulfill all 4×8 and 5×7 photo card orders, to boot.

Bay Photo

Bay PhotoOur friends at Bay Photo enjoy the sun and fresh sea air each day in Santa Cruz, California. The positive effects are evident in the pride they take to their work, attention to detail, and the approach to customer service. Business and Portfolio SmugMuggers tell us that Bay Photo’s hand color correction, meticulously strong packaging and innovative product lineup are essential to the satisfaction of their clients. Plus, did you know that using Bay Photo also offers delicious Photo Extras like mats, frames, mounted prints and more, so you save a trip to the framers?

Loxley Colour

Loxley ColourLast year we unveiled our first non-USA print lab, Loxley Colour. Situated in the outskirts of beautiful Glasgow, Scotland, they’re ready to fulfill all your highest-end print and display needs, right from your SmugMug gallery. They’re particularly popular with picky pros (and their picky customers) in the UK, but they’re happy to ship anywhere in Europe… and beyond.

White House Custom Colour

WHCCWe started hearing that SmugMug Pros wanted even more print lab options, so we put our ears to the ground. White House Custom Colour won by being a crowd favorite and by passing our rigorous print quality test with flying colors. We felt confident that they met our (and your) incredibly high standards for beautiful prints each and every time. They hail from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and opened a second and third location in Dallas, Texas and Fresno, California, to bridge pros from all corners of the United States. They’re a family-grown business just like SmugMug, proving that we have a lot more in common than just a love for photography.

Three Quick Notes

1) EZ Prints is available at all SmugMug account levels.

2) Bay Photo, WHCC and Loxley Colour are only available if you have a Portfolio or a Business level account.

3) All labs ship their goodies everywhere on the planet. But for logistical reasons, you may choose to pick the lab that’s closest to you.

Here’s hoping that you fall lens-over-heels in love with your your perfect lab this year!

* We know that DPI really stands for “Delirious Pixel Infatuation.”

Stay In Touch With SMUGs and Win a Boatload of Prizes

January 21, 2013 8 comments

Have you been to one of our SMUGs? Whether or not you have (or are planning to), the only thing you need to know is that FisheyeConnect is your key to finding out where and when the next event meets.

In fact, it’s the only way to be 100% sure that you know what’s going on and where all those great photos came from last weekend.

Don’t be left in the dark!

How does FisheyeConnect Work?

It’s easy: FisheyeConnect is a website devoted just to photographers and photography workshops, so you can be sure to find something that fires your strobe.

1) Visit their Advanced Search page.
2) Type “SMUG” into the Instructor or Company box. You can also plug in your zip code if you wish.
3) Browse the results and click to open details for the SMUG nearest you.

You can sign up for the specific workshops listed there, but these change each month as they plan great new stuff. Your best bet? Hit the orange “Subscribe” button to get all updates about future events they’re offering.

Will I get spammed?

No way! FisheyeConnect is extremely particular about how your information will be used (like SmugMug), but you can view their privacy policy on their website.

But I’m already on Facebook!

We know that every SMUG has its own Facebook page, too, but while Facebook is a great place to spark discussions we think FisheyeConnect’s strengths lie in their ability to manage  registration and  head counts for SMUG events. Please use both!

The Giveaway

FisheyeConnect is giving away a pile of photog-friendly goodies to one lucky winner in the USA who signs up to a FisheyeConnect SMUG group from January 21st to February 21st, 2013.

Here’s the complete list of prizes:

TO ENTER:

  1. Browse the list of SMUGs on FisheyeConnect.
  2. Subscribe to your local SMUG so you can be notified of future events.
  3. That’s it!

No SMUG near you? Just sign up for our virtual SMUGs mailing list and you’ll get entered into the pool, too.

We’ll pick one lucky random winner on February 22nd, 2013 so keep your eyes peeled here, on our SMUGs blog and on your SMUG’s Facebook page.

Good luck and stay sharp, stay focused!

Privacy: A Cheat Sheet for Boudoir Pros, Everyday Joes and Anyone Who Wants to Keep a Secret

January 17, 2013 20 comments

No matter what you shoot, we’re pretty sure that all photographers need a little privacy every now and then. So whether you’re looking for a safe photo-home for an exclusive (reclusive) client or just for your mom, look no further than SmugMug. We’ve got a number of safeguards that can be mixed and matched to create the perfect bouquet of privacy.

Your Options, in a Nutshell

1) Unlisted Galleries. Often called “private” galleries by some, these galleries aren’t visible on your website to anyone but logged-in you. The only way fans can see one is if you give them a direct link.

2) Gallery Passwords. Provide a password and nobody can open it until they enter it right. You won’t be asked for it when you’re logged in to your account, because we know it’s you. Unsure? Look for the teeny yellow lock icon next to the gallery’s name.

3) Hello World! and Hello Smuggers! These toggles ensure that your stuff does or does not show up in web searches.  “World” = Google, Bing, etc.  “Smuggers” = SmugMug search. Set this site-wide from your Account Settings, or on a gallery-by-gallery basis via Gallery Settings.

Then, Take It Further With…

4) Hide Photo. Like unlisted galleries, but for individual photos. You can check the box under any image or video in your gallery to hide it, and only you, the gallery owner, will ever know it’s there.

5) Hide Owner. This gallery setting makes your URL generic. It doesn’t mean that your gallery isn’t visible, but it does remove your customizations and your nickname from the link so that viewers can’t trace it back to you. If you want, you can add a gallery password and/or make your gallery unlisted, too, when you use this feature.

6) Sharegroups. Share multiple unlisted galleries with one link using Sharegroups! These are amazingly useful for guiding friends, clients and family to specific galleries from your latest shoot, without having to worry about them being seen by the public eye. And better yet, they won’t get lost. You can put passwords on the galleries in your Sharegroups, if you wish, but you can also set a master password to let your viewers unlock them all at once.

7) Events. These are Sharegroups on steroids, available only on Business-level SmugMug accounts. You create Events with additional flashy features (slideshows, user registration, etc) and add galleries, give special people (e.g. clients) their own unique viewing link, and the ability to tag their favorite photos. Together, it makes browsing and buying photos a breeze.

8) Site-Wide Passwords. Not for the faint of heart! Lock your whole site from the top down. Anybody visiting links to your galleries will have to enter the correct password before they can see a thing. Even your homepage.

The Privacy Ripple Effect

  • Lockdown doesn’t mean your images can’t be shared. Anyone who can view the gallery can still click Share or post a link to Facebook. Please think about whether or not you want your friends’ friends passing your links (and potentially viewing passwords) around. Feeling queasy? You can hide the Share button from your viewers by toggling Easy Sharing to “No” in your Gallery Settings.
  • Keywords and searchability take a hit. This is a no-brainer to some, but we still sometimes get asked by photographers why their fans can’t find hidden photos via their site’s search box. In short: Only you as the logged-in site owner can search for (and find) images in unlisted and passworded galleries.
  • Photos can’t be collected from unlisted and passworded galleries, unless it’s by you. As the logged-in owner you’ll always be able to collect your own photos, but guests won’t see the orange Collect button if the gallery is protected in any way. If the photo is collected from an unlisted gallery then your visitors won’t see a link back to the original. Photos collected from public, passworded galleries will be visible, but fans will need to enter the viewing password when they follow the link to see more.
  • Feature a photo to make your locked gallery’s thumbnail pretty. We won’t display any part of the gallery when your gallery is protected with a password, and this includes thumbnails of the images within. But you can always swap the generic thumbnail for any image in that gallery — just use the gallery Tools button > This Photo > Feature.

Link roundup!

The Business of Love: Getting Intimate with Je Revele Fine Art Photography

January 15, 2013 2 comments

We’re so excited to debut this guest post from the two lovely and incredibly talented ladies over at Je Revele Fine Art Photography, who we featured as a Success Story last summer. Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches, pros fill their wedding calendars and winter engagements blossom into summer nuptials. So with the “Business of Love,” we’ll feature insights and tips related to planning, shooting and selling those beautiful photos you’ll take in the coming weeks. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look into what goes into crafting the stunning images you see at New Jersey boudoir photographers Je Revele!

Insights from Natalie Licini and Cate Scaglione

When Cate and I joined forces, it was based on a love and a shared vision for Intimate Portraiture. From the beginning, we had a common passion about the kind of work and client experience we wanted to create for our clients, which we believe has been the foundation of our success.

Our business is a fusion between photography, a luxury spa, and an art gallery. We make more than beautiful portraits. Our clients cherish the wall art we make for them… but beyond that, they remember the experience of the day, how they connected with Cate or I and how our stylists made them feel. Ultimately, their memory is about feeling beautiful and special. That translates very powerfully into the portraits we create for them.

Cate and I have different personalities and approaches when it comes to working with clients. We sometimes find that one of us may be more compatible with a certain type of shoot or client, but the one constant is the final product our clients receive. Our end-to-end client experience is something we both take part in, regardless of which of us photographed the client. Cate often handles pre-consultations whereas I often execute the sale. We both handle editing and post-production. Our common ground is in our aesthetics, editing style and a mutually unwavering commitment to the quality of our product and studio experience.

The Value of the Pre-Consultation

Our process always starts with a pre-consultation, which is a critical component to the shoot and its subsequent sale. We believe this first step is a major component to our success. Our clients are surprisingly open during our pre-consultations, which enables us to know them on a highly emotional level, upfront. We like to hear what the client is envisioning and learn who they are to plan the session of their dreams. The pre-consultation serves a two-way purpose; we get to know them intimately beforehand to effectively plan a shoot and they get excited about it. Both of these factors lead to higher sales.

As a result of our pre-consultations, we’ve found ourselves planning era-inspired sessions of the 1920s, 30s, 40s, or 1980s. Some sessions are based on specific milestones, like one client’s 50th birthday where we planned a “past present and future” theme incorporating various themes of her life. Other clients find art as a healing mechanism, to recover from the death of a loved one, a double mastectomy or to regain confidence after a divorce or breakup. And yet other times, our sessions are to mark a celebration, such as remission from breast cancer, bachelorette parties or a special anniversary. On one occasion, we even held a Ladies Day of Glamour, a fashion-inspired day where we served lunch, champagne and a private chef who prepared a special dinner on the terrace of the castle in between their individual photo shoots and styling sessions.

No matter what type of session, their day with us is about comfort, convenience and luxury. We furnish them with everything they need to relish in their beauty, which includes in-house stylists, delicious hors deurves, chocolates, champagne, an in-house wardrobe to peruse, or our concierge-approach to designer gown rentals. We often find that the more we do to create a great experience, the more engaged they become with their images.

The pre-consultation is truly step one of putting clients at ease for the shoot. They feel they have a pre-established connection with us and they know what to expect. In addition, we put ourselves at ease through a consistent routine of scheduling, either as a 10AM or 1PM session appointment daily. We don’t waiver much and clients are OK with that.

Fluidity and Confidence During the Shoot

On the day of the shoot, women can initially feel nervous, shy or self-conscious… or all of the above. Cate often jokes that there is a “nine minute factor” in which clients find the joy and liberation of the session, a point at which the nervous excitement goes away. After those first nine minutes, we feel them come to life. We always give them authentic feedback and compliments early in the session. We do our best to make them comfortable, happy and show them a sneak peak of an early photo to build confidence in themselves. We don’t always show them the images, but sometimes we find that it enables clients to let go and embrace the experience. This approach can often be reassuring.

We hear a lot of consistent comments from women, regardless of her age, body type or overall appearance. One of the most common phrases is: “I’m not not photogenic at all”, almost as a warning. We often say: “Have you ever had your photo professionally taken? {often the answer is no} Many of your photos may be taken by friends and family under challenging lighting conditions so you may think you’re not photogenic. But beautiful light and proper direction by a professional photographer can definitely make you look your very best. If you’re photographed in darker light some clients feel they look wider or older. Let me show you a posing example”.

At this point, it’s a great example to show them how I’d look straight on flat-footed. I’d look wider, static… almost bored. With some adjustments, bending my knee, pushing my weight on my back hip in beautiful light and suddenly, I look thinner and prettier. The clients instantly feel more confident!

The pre-consultation is always a guide to how we pose our clients. The direction will vary depending on the styling and theme of the session. Our intimate portrait work may include high fashion photos, fine art nudes, boudoir or all of the 3 in one session. I feel the best approach is to pose my clients from the feet up, posing them standing, seated, leaning or laying and guide them so they look and feel beautiful, slim and elegant. The wrong pose can instantly add 10 pounds to any client. We do our best to ensure the opposite is true with every photo. The last step is to ensure they look relaxed and their hands are relaxed. Little adjustments with hands and encouragement can make your client shine brightly from the inside and you see that in their eyes.

For our intimate portrait work, we shoot both indoor and outdoor at our studio. Our studio has over seven acres of picturesque grounds at the castle, with brick and stone, old classic architecture, thick woods, beautiful gardens and trees, etc. We shoot indoors using both natural light and strobes. We love variety, but we photograph our clients truly in accordance with the pre-consultation we planned. At all times, both Cate and I each shoot with our own two cameras. Cate uses her two Canon 5D IIs using a 85mm and a 24-70 or a 70-200, depending on the session. Cate likes fluidity and tries to incorporate with a single new idea each shoot. I always photograph my clients with my Canon 5D Mark III with my 85mm 1.2 on the right of my rapid double strap and my Canon 24-70 II on my left. We love both perspectives for intimacy and storytelling. The dual-camera approach is important to the flow of the session because changing lenses causes delays, which breaks your clients’ enthusiasm. It’s important to keep a rhythm and energy going… for all parties involved in the shoot!

Exquisite Marketing

One thing we noticed was that clients booked us because they are attracted to our fine art work and they wanted to hang a piece of art in their home. We’re always excited to do what we love, but from a business perspective it was limiting. Cate always tended to shoot intimate close-ups for her fine art. I liked to shoot wide for maximum storytelling. So we made adjustments on both our parts and begun offering a variety of posed beauty portraits, creating the variety and “bigger picture” story for our clients. This enabled us to sell both wall art and albums or image boxes with each sales session, doubling our revenue instantly. It changed and reshaped our business.

This past summer, we created a marketing plan which cross-promoted with venues, stylists and clients. We offered gift vouchers enclosed in a gorgeous black box with thick white satin ribbon. Targeting our class-A clients and vendors was a great way to attract our ideal clients for intimate portrait sessions.

Pricing is an important part of the brand. Our brand is about a premium experience and making woman feel special and important. We are priced accordingly and our brand look and feel helps us communicate that idea. One can never underestimate the importance of being well branded and well priced for your target audience. You attract what you put out there in the market.

Working Together as a Team

There are two of us in our studio and naturally, we work a little differently than one another. However we maintain a very structured workflow for the consistency of the client deliverable and final product.

First, we download our images from our cameras and with Photo Mechanic do a “sort by capture time” and rename the RAW files. Then, there is a culling process in Photo Mechanic which we reduce the gallery selections to 75-100 images. We then import everything into Lightroom 4.

Cate and I process images a little differently, but generally maintain the same aesthetic with our custom-created presets and actions Cate made from our most inspired looks. I label about 40% of the images in LR using the star rating, which I make black and white. I use the same style black and white throughout for consistent styling and branding. I take the remaining 60% and edit them with a desaturated vintage color. I don’t cherry-pick which images are black and white, I randomly choose. Cate really enjoys the editing process and tends to like to look at each image individually and decide with each image what should be presented in color or black and white. Our editing aesthetic can vary a little from session to session depending based on the styling and theme (example: 1930s era), but in general there is about a 40/60 rule for bw/color (unless we know from our pre-consultation a client has a penchant for a style). No matter what, we always try to ensure that our post-processing maintains that signature Je Revele look.

We typically decide before the sales session which portraits would have the best potential as a fine art wall portrait. Rarely do we edit any fine art work before the viewing appointment. Instead, we show several beautiful fine art portrait samples to clients during the viewing appointment. This explains what their portraits could potentially look like and it usually illustrates the idea quite well.

From the beginning of our Je Revele adventure, we decided that our Intimate Portraits were about creating intimacy with the client and helping them see their beauty. It was never about the wardrobe like lingerie or boudoir-style setting to define our genre. In this sense, our Intimate Portraits are very much the same vertical as our other portrait work. With this philosophy in mind, we price our Intimate Portraits the same as our other portrait sessions including families and high school seniors. Our newborn photography structure and weddings have a different pricing structure, however to accommodate the very specific needs of those life stages.

At the end of it all, we simply want our clients to look and feel their most beautiful self. That’s incredibly important to us… we feel it’s what differentiates us. We listen to their needs and understand why they are doing the session… and we deliver according to that. That’s intimacy.

All photos by Je Revele Fine Art Photography

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,890 other followers

%d bloggers like this: