If you’re a longtime follower of our blog, the name Gary Arndt may ring a bell. We featured him in 2010 and he inspired many of us to follow our dreams, explore the horizon and take more photos. Gary’s still traveling the world and taking photos from all corners of the planet. As you’re dreaming of faraway lands and maybe even planning your annual vacation, here are a few tips Gary shared about how to efficiently pack, travel and share all the photos you take when you’re not at home.
Photos by Everything, Everywhere
How did you get your start as a full-time travel blogger?
I made the decision to travel around the world in October 2005 and began my blog one year later in October 2006. I sold my home in March 2007 and have been traveling around the world ever since.
My blog began as a way to document my trip for my friends and family and sort of just grew into something more over time. I made a decision in late 2007 to take it seriously and to see if I could turn it into a business, which I now have.
How many places do you visit in an average year?
The number of places I’ll visit in an average year can vary and it also depends on how you define a place. 2013 has been very busy for me. So far this year I’ve been to 17 countries and I’ll probably be in around 35 by the time the year is over. I’m currently at the beginning of a 3-month trip to visit all the countries and territories in the Lesser Antilles.
This is a dream most of us consider at some point in our lives, but you’ve found success. How did you do it?
I promote my site whatever way I can. I do many interviews online and off. I’ve had my work appear online on sites like OutsideOnline.com, The Today Show and FourHourWorkWeek.com. Mostly people discover me via social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.
Most people are fascinated by my lifestyle before they ever see one of my images or read one of my articles. Simply having traveled for so long and having been to so many places is the biggest hook for people.
As far as recognition, I’ve won many mainstream travel journalism awards for my photography and for blogging. I won a Lowell Thomas Award last year for Photo Illustration of Travel (placing behind the New York Times), a Northern Lights Award for Photography of Canada (placing behind National Geographic) as well as many North American Travel Journalist Association awards and recently a SMITTY Award for my use of social media by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
Tip time: What’s in the travel blogger’s survival kit?
The bare minimum for me is my SRL, laptop and an iPhone. The iPhone gives me the ability to post images while I’m out and about. The SLR and laptop should be pretty obvious.
I also have an iPad, Kindle Paperwhite, and 2 USB hard drives. Over the last 6 years it has actually gotten easier from a technical standpoint. Many of the devices I used to carry with me have all been condensed into my iPhone ( GPS, video camera, point and shoot camera, wifi detector, audio recorder, microphone, etc)
How do you manage files on the road? For example, what storage systems/archiving tools do you use ?
People often assume that I back everything up in the cloud. This isn’t true. I can easily shoot several gigabytes of images a day and uploading that much data from remote places around the world is next to impossible. It is difficult to do even when I’m in the US. I have almost 2TB of images now and I’m not in one place long enough to do that sort of upload.
I have 2, 2TB USB hard drives that I carry with me. I keep them in two separate bags in case one should get lost or stolen. I keep a copy of everything on each drive.
I also have several hard drives at my mothers house. When I visit her, which I do about 2-3 times per year, I copy everything to those drives as well so I have copies in at least 2 locations.
By the time I outgrow my 2TB drives, there should be portable 3, 4 or 5 TB drives available. I upload only my edited jpegs to SmugMug. Those I consider my finished product. I obviously worry about my original RAW images, but so long as my finished jpegs are there, the world won’t come to an end.
I don’t think my system is fool proof or the best possible, but it has worked for me so far. I hope the day isn’t too far away when global bandwidth is big enough and cloud storage is cheap enough that it would be viable for what I do.
Do you shoot at the full resolution of your camera or do you use one of the lower ones to save space? Do you take your photos with the intent to sell big prints?
I shoot everything in RAW. When I began traveling I shot in jpeg and it was a horrible decision. Storage has gotten so cheap that I can not see the point in shooting in anything less than full resolution. I don’t shoot with the intent of selling prints, but I do always have that option by shooting in RAW.
Have you lost any images over the years?
Amazingly enough, I don’t know of any images that I’ve lost. I’ve been very careful about my data storage. When I started traveling, I was backing up my photos to DVD and an old iPod that I had. It was a horrible solution. I remember spending 2 days in Melbourne burning dozens of DVD’s and having to send them back to the US in a big box. I am amazed I haven’t lost anything from my early travels.
How do you deal with needing internet access in remote locations?
I seldom have a problem finding internet. As I am writing this, I’m on one of the lesser populated outer islands in the Bahamas, and the bandwidth here is fine. I’ve spent thousands of nights in hotels now and I’ve become an expert in maximizing my connection. Where in the room I can get the best signal, when to go down to the lobby or when I have to head to Starbucks or McDonald’s. I also have a global Boingo account which lets me log on to wifi hotspots all around the world.
What are your essential photo editing tools?
I currently have a 15″ MacBook Pro Retina and use Lightroom 5.0, and occasionally Photoshop CS6. I also sometimes use SilverFX Pro and Photomatix.
Since you’ve been on the road for 6 years, has your camera changed much?
I began with a Nikon D200 and a 18-200mm lens. Today I use the exact same lens and have upgraded the body to a Nikon D300s.
The Nikon 18-200mm VR lens is far and away the most versatile lens on the market. I can take it out for the day without knowing what I’ll be shooting and be reasonably covered for both wide angle and close-up shots. It isn’t the ‘best’ lens on the market, but it is usually the only thing I need when I leave my hotel room.
I’ve stuck with a crop sensor camera for reasons of weight. The crop sensor lenses are smaller and lighter than full frame lenses. Size and weight is very important to me as I have to carry all my equipment with me all the time.
In addition to the 18-200mm lens, I also carry a 12-24mm lens and a 50mm f/1.4. I probably use those lenses for less than 5% of my shots. I have also rented lenses on occasions. During my trip to South Georgia Island and Antarctica last year, I rented a 500mm lens which was a fantastic decision.
I also have a lightweight carbon fiber tripod from Oben and my camera bag is from Timbuk2. I also use a BlackRapid shoulder strap.
Does your safety (or safety of equipment) ever affect your workflow, what you bring, or how you work?
Not really. I have never had anything stolen and I don’t worry too much about theft. I take common sense precautions and usually never leave anything expensive in my room when I am not around. I keep a minimal amount of gear with me, so I’m not as worried as some people might be if they were on a big photo shoot. I have older camera bodies, lenses and laptops at my mother’s house should I ever need a backup.
So, tell us Can you outline your workflow, start to finish?
1) I take the image.
2) Copy images from the camera to my laptop.
3) Copy images from laptop to my 2 backup hard drives.
4) Edit the images on my laptop.
5) Upload the edited images to SmugMug.
6) Delete edited images on laptop.
That last step is sort of controversial. Basically, images on my laptop are my to do list. As I finish images, I remove them to clear up space. I don’t have a permanent catalog for Lightroom like some people do. This system I developed years ago when my laptop hard drive space was scarce. I also don’t want to have to bring my USB hard drive out every single time I edit photos, as I often do it when I can find time in cafes or on airplanes.
Again, I’m not saying this is the best system, but it is the one that I use.
We hope that all of you – everywhere, anywhere – find a little inspiration to capture and share the moments of your life. Safe travels, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our Photography Perspectives series!
One of the most popular (and constant) debates between photographers is how to properly price your work and know that you’re not over- or under-charging for what you do. We’ve covered this topic before, but like fingerprints, no two photographers are the same. How do you know that someone else’s magic number is right for you?
Pricing Podcast with Dane Sanders
Tune in to our latest podcast with the inimitable Dane Sanders: photographer, entrepreneur, educator and author of countless business strategies for photographers like you. He’s no stranger to helping passionate people find their stride, get their businesses off the ground and turn their love into a lucrative way of life.
In this podcast, you’ll hear answers to some of the most important pro questions, such as:
- Are you a freelance or a signature photographer, and why does it matter?
- How do you get past the “newbie mindset” and stop sabotaging your success?
- Are there any benefits to being new, and how can you leverage the opportunity?
- Can you afford to accept that next photo gig?
- How do you charge a fair price without scaring the client away?
- Why should you trust your print lab?
Dive in to iTunes right now and start listening! Podcasts are the perfect way to give yourself a competitive edge while you’re processing last night’s photos, or while you’re stuck on your morning commute.
We REALLY Want You To Succeed! Listen and Win More Ways to Learn
If you’re hungry for even more photo knowledge, we’ve got a Full Scholarship* to give away for Skip Cohen University’s Summer Session in Chicago, August 11-14, 2013. One lucky winner will get a chance to fine-tune their photo and business skills, meet other photographers and recharge their creative batteries. Read more about the program here.
* Airfare and accommodations not included
Here’s how to enter:
- Listen to our most recent podcast with Dane Sanders.
- Tweet your most memorable “A-ha!” moment at us and use the hash tag #ahasmugmug
We’ll pick one lucky random winner on July 3rd, 2013.
So keep listening, keep learning and start getting more light bulb moments when it comes to your business!
UPDATE: Congratulations to our winner, Joy Michelle Photography (@joymphotography)! We’ll be in touch with you ASAP with all the info for SCU’s exciting summer session.
We’ve been working our fingertips raw here at SmugMug HQ, feverishly building new things and sharpening the tools you use every day. Here’s what we released:
- The Big News this month was the launch of the best Android browsing app that you already knew: SmugFolio. It got a new name, new look, and the first of many new improvements. Thanks to everyone who left feedback about this app already, and we’ll continue to keep our ears perked for what you love (and what you don’t!)
- We also fixed a few important bits behind-the-scenes. You probably haven’t noticed anything amiss, which we love ‘cuz it means we did it right. As a result, SmugMug should be faster and even more stable than ever before.
That’s it from us this month. As always, thanks to all of our hard-working, passionate fans who tell us every single day how much we mean to them… and how we can be better.
‘Til next time,
The SmugMug Family
PS. Remember, you can always see the latest product updates from the Hot Topics link at right.
We’re halfway through this orbit around the sun and to those of us in the northern hemisphere, that means it’s time to grab your towel and hit the beach. In the spirit of the ocean, we browsed through Scubazoo‘s incredible collection of underwater photos and videos and were taken aback by the magical beauty of life beneath the waves. How does Scubazoo do it, and what kind of gear does it take? What’s the market for underwater photography? Scubazoo photographer Jason Isley graciously shared a look at how they get that incredible footage.
All photos by Scubazoo
So, who and what exactly is Scubazoo?
Scubazoo is a video production, location management and publication company based in Borneo. Over the past 15 years Scubazoo has managed locations for more than 125 hours of programming within SE Asia for international broadcast. Scubazoo’s cameramen have filmed on upwards of 150 programs from natural history blockbusters such as BBC’s LIFE and Human Planet to hit reality shows like Survivor & The Amazing Race. The Publication department has a number of world class photographers working on various assignments throughout the year and a great editorial team in the office. Scubazoo have provided images to hundreds of magazines and books and have also published several high-quality coffee table books, selling over 200,000 copies internationally.
As a serious photographer as well as a serious diver, what’s in your kit bag? What does a professional setup for underwater photography look like?
It’s not advisable to try and change lenses underwater so, in order to handle macro and wide angle subjects I might encounter, I usually take two setups down with me. For the macro setup I use a Nikon D700 with an AF-Micro Nikkor 60mm f2.8 or an AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8D. The wide angle kit consists of a Nikon D800 DSLR with a Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 and a Nikon AF 16mm f/2.8 D Fisheye. Both cameras are housed in Nauticam underwater housings. These give me access to every control on the camera and are rated to 100m. Each housing will have two strobes connected by a fibre optic cable and attached with ultralight arms. I use the Inon Z-240′s as they are light and extremely portable and I also usually carry lots of other gadgets like snoots, flourescent filters, wet diopters etc. If I can, I’ll employ a local dive guide to help spot critters and carry the extra setup.
All the usual scuba gear is used – a tank, weight belt, buoyancy compensation device (BCD) and regulator and also wetsuits to extend my bottom time. Even in tropical waters it can get a little chilly!
What has been your most frightening underwater encounter?
During my filming days I filmed the sardine run in South Africa which is basically a massive feeding frenzy including dolphins, sharks, seals etc and that was a certainly a little hairy. However, the most frightening encounter must be the one with a 4.5m salt water crocodile that literally walked all over me underwater.
Which came first, diving or photography?
I didn’t start diving until I was 25 so the photography certainly came first. When I was 15 I use to play with my father’s camera kit and tried to photograph birds in the garden.
Are there any other underwater projects you’ve worked on?
I have worked on many assignments shooting amazing creatures in different exotic locations, however the project that seems to have gained the largest following must be the miniature people series I started back in 2011. The project is based on a futuristic scenario where the planet is completely underwater and the people are living and breathing underwater, I use miniature people to create scenes with the marine life.
Out of all the places you’ve been, what wins the prize as your most exotic locale?
I’m based in SE Asia which is about as exotic as it gets, however I have certainly been based in some extremely remote locations for long periods of time which can definitely effect your sanity. Myself and one of my colleagues lived in a remote village in Indonesia and spent everyday sat opposite each other under the beating sun in a tiny dug-out canoe for three weeks tracking leatherback turtles.
The coldest location was Newfoundland and Hudson Bay in Canada looking for Beluga whales, that trip really confirmed I am not a big fan of cold water diving!
There’s a ton of life under the seas. What is your favorite subject?
Sharks are definitely high up on the list, however you certainly get more of an encounter with dolphins and whales as they appear to be interested in you sometimes. I don’t have a specific favourite subject as I like diversity and think it improves your photography to change subjects and try different styles.
Who are Scubazoo’s customers?
Scubazoo have two large online libraries, one for video and one for photography and we also have regular agents that we provide our images to. I also write articles for dive, adventure and travel magazines but we are really trying to expand our publications department and publish a couple of books each year. One of the books currently in production is for a large resort company and we are shooting all the wildlife and landscapes around their resorts throughout South East Asia.
What kind of equipment, training, workshops, locations, etc., would you recommend to people looking to test the waters, so to speak, in underwater photography?
I would strongly suggest a course with one of the leading underwater photographers that operate locally wherever you’re based. It will rapidly improve your technique. Underwater photography equipment can be quite expensive because you need all the extras to house the camera and underwater strobes, etc. You may want to consider looking for a 2nd hand set-up to start with. There are some great underwater photography sites with plenty of people giving advice and also selling old kits that you can use to get started.
With that, we hope that all of you get your opportunity to take great photos wherever you end up on holiday. Stay safe in the waves, and check out our Photography Perspectives series if you’re looking for some light beach reading! :)
You’re a photographer who’s oh-so-ready to make money. We hear ya. But if you’ve gotten every hair in place and you’ve still not seen that “Cha-Ching!” email, here are a few possible reasons why you’ve not been getting bites.
1. No Buy Button
Is it there? This is possibly one of the most dire but easiest flubs to fix. Maybe you disabled this or applied a Quick Setting that hid the Buy button from your galleries, but if you don’t switch it back on you’ll never sell a single print. So be sure to check your galleries and if it’s missing, enable printing in your Gallery Settings. Easy peasy!
2. No Pricing
We hate asking this, but… you DID set up your pro pricing, right? With Pricelists it’s really easy to set a pro markup on just the products you want, then apply that pricing to any or all galleries across your site. But if you forget to do this, you won’t make a dime.
Tip: If you don’t want to think about this ever again, check the “Make this my default pricelist” at the top right and we’ll automagically apply this pricelist to all current and new galleries on your site.
Also, are you charging enough? It may seem counter-intuitive, but we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your prices high and charging what you’re worth. In short: Don’t be cheap.
3. Nasty RCP Message
We’re all about protecting your photos and making sure that you have peace of mind when putting your best work on the web. But there are ways to use them, and then there are better ways to use them. We’re here to show you the latter.
Like your Right-Click Protection message: It’s there to foil right-clickers looking for an easy download, but most photographers just put a boilerplate copyright message, or a threat. Instead of slapping your customers, try to guide them to your Buy button for a profit-making purchase. You’ll look competent AND helpful all at the same time. Fix it under the “Photos” line in your Easy Customizer.
4. Originals On
So many SmugMug users use their galleries to share photos with friends and family. But as a Pro, being that generous may not be so good for business. Originals (and full-res downloads) are on by default, but it’s a quick fix to change this. Just remember to do it!
Open up your gallery settings and look for the Security & Privacy option. Set the radio button to anything smaller than Originals (like XLarge), and to check, log out and take a breeze through your galleries. You’ll always see a Save Photo option when you’re logged in as the owner, but you shouldn’t see it when you’re viewing your site as a guest.
5. Zero Marketing
Ah, the feeling of sweet success on the morning you unveil your website! But wait… did you share the link?
Like relationships, you’ve got to put a little effort in to get something back. So be sure to enter in your keywords, captions, meta description and meta keywords to be sure you get picked up in search engines. Also share the link to your site with friends, Facebook and anywhere else you go online. After all, you can’t make sales if nobody knows you exist.
6. Password Foibles
Many clients want their event galleries locked down with a viewing password, and, yeah, we understand privacy. But our Support Heroes hear from more people than we’d expect that get hit with this one. We hear from confused clients, curious pros who expected instant sales, but the culprit is usually that the password never got shared! So if you’ve just put the finishing touches on your latest wedding gallery and your inbox is a ghost town, think back to whether or not you’ve completed this vital step.
The lesson? Don’t forget to share your viewing passwords with the people that matter most. Since passwords are cAsE sEnSiTiVe we recommend copying and pasting what you type in your gallery settings right into your emails.
7. You Launched Yesterday
It’s possible to find overnight success on the web, but patience is still a virtue. You can plug in every keyword and meta description properly, shared with your Facebook fans and distributed your business cards to shops across town, but you’ll still have to wait to see the effect. It takes time for Google to do its work, and for tongues to wag.
So instead of stressing out, grab your camera, keep on shooting and work on honing your craft. Your soon-to-be clients will only love you more.
- How to create and apply Quick Settings
- Gallery Settings: Your key to almost everything
- What’s Visitor View and why do I care?
- Stop slapping your customers with a good Right-Click Protection message
- How easy is the Easy Customizer?
- Save Photos for site owners
- The Great Pricing Hoax
- The art of getting a link to share
- Warning! Sharing photos will make you lots of money
- SEO and SmugMug
- A privacy cheat sheet
- Publish to Facebook from your SmugMug galleries
- SEO made easy on SmugMug
For last few years, SmugFolio was the best Android app on the market for SmugMug users to upload, manage and browse SmugMug on the go. People loved it. And so did we.
In fact, that app was so great we just had to buy it. So we did.
Wait, What? Can You Do That?
After talking with the app’s developer, we knew that we’d hit a gold mine of Androidical genius – Brian did such a great job designing, building and maintaining this app we knew he bleeds green just like us. And he’s been a long-time SmugMug customer, to boot. So we asked if he’d come join the cadre as one of our official Android engineers. We couldn’t be happier to have him on our team!
The New (Free!) SmugMug for Android App
Today the SmugFolio App gets a new name (SmugMug for Android) and a snazzy new icon that you’ll know and recognize in the Google Play store. It’s also free. But more than just a simple rebrand, we (and Brian) have made a few improvements to make your experience even better than before.
- You can now browse other SmugMug user accounts without needing to log into the app. This is a great way to give friends and family a way to browse your public galleries on their phones and tablets.
- The app has been made more secure by switching to OAuth for the login. You’ll need to login once you’ve updated to the new app. After you log in, your photos will still be available in the app. No need to re-download them all.
- To make the app more secure and to prepare for some exciting future enhancements, the updated app now requires you to be on Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) or above. If you’re using Android 2.x or earlier, you can can still use SmugFolio, but you won’t be updated to the new app. This wasn’t an easy decision, but it is necessary to move the app forward.
And in case you’re new to the app, here’s a complete list of features:
- Upload unlimited photos and videos into unlimited gorgeous galleries.
- Quick and easy access to your photos – even when you’re offline.
- Upload photos and videos on-the-go, or automatically upload as you shoot.
- Browse and search through galleries on SmugMug (ideal for friends, fans and family)
- Full screen slideshows across all galleries or within a single gallery
- Browse photos from favorite users without needing a SmugMug account
- Multi select to move, collect, delete, and share multiple photos at a time
- Auto download galleries when you’re on wifi
- Auto upload photos and videos from any location to any album
- Bulk upload multiple photos and videos at a time
- Upload with GPS location
- Display photo geolocation on Google map
- View detailed photo information
- View comments on photos and albums
- Delete photos and galleries
- Filter photos by keywords
- Assign photo ratings and filter by photo rating
- Create new galleries, edit gallery title and public setting
- Set photos as wallpaper
- Play videos
- Share URLs or photos with other Android applications
- Automatic short URL generation using SmugMug
- View photo or gallery on SmugMug
- Export photos and galleries to local device gallery
- Choice of browsing by category or by gallery
- Change download location to external SD card (or any folder you choose)
- Read only mode can prevent destructive actions like delete
Got questions? Our amazing Support Heroes have put together a quick FAQ on using the original SmugFolio app, and we’ll keep it updated.
Since the original creator is a driving force on our team, we’ll continue to improve SmugMug for Android even more in the coming months. So let us know what you think and what features you’d like the most.