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Archive for July, 2013

Need Help on SmugMug? Join Us Online Tonight and Tomorrow

July 31, 2013 104 comments

Since our launch we’ve gotten a ton of feedback… and even more tickets, requests and emails than we ever imagined! Our amazing Support Heroes have been feverishly busy, so if you have a basic question and would rather not wait, please join us online.

Getting Started: 7 New Live Webinars

Excited? Nervous? Can’t find the right button to get what you want?

We’re here to help with questions like:

“How long can we keep using the Legacy web site before we are forced to go to this new version?”

“My site was customized and I love it now.  Can I move everything ?  What about my guest book – will that move?”

Tune in for a one-hour introduction to the new options and tools on your SmugMug website. We’ll touch on migrating, choosing and editing designs, how to customize and how to use the new site organizer.

***UPDATE*** Our first 1-hour webinar is now on our video channel, so you can skip right ahead and watch it now.

But if you still have questions that weren’t answered, pick a time that works for you and register below:

**Another update! New Webinars for Brand-New SmugMuggers**

Did you just sign up for a SmugMug account and want to get your website going right away? Join us for our next Getting Started webinars:

See you online, and thanks to everyone so far for your support and feedback!

Smug Tip: Customize Your 404, Search Page and More

July 31, 2013 58 comments

One of the most popular requests we’ve heard from our customers was :

“Why can’t I customize my system pages?”

With the latest updates at SmugMug, Power, Portfolio and Business users can customize certain pages that were untouchable before.

What you can change?

First, be sure that you’ve migrated your site to the new SmugMug (which may take a while because of the number of people who have done this in the last 24 hours), then replace the “XXXXX” in the following links with your SmugMug nickname.

They’re not listed in your Site Organizer since they can’t actually be moved around, but we’ll include them in your owner-only navigation, soon.

404 page

What: The error page that shows when people try to visit a page on your site that doesn’t exist.

See it: http://XXXXX.smugmug.com/404

Tip: Your fans may be frustrated trying to find something specific on your site when they get this page. Don’t be afraid to drag and drop in a text box and type up something friendly that invites them to contact you.

Date

What: Timeline view, which lets you (or viewers) search for photos shot within a specific date range.

See it: http://XXXXX.smugmug.com/date

Keyword

What: Your keyword cloud, which shows you all the keywords you’ve entered into your site, and how many photos are found under each.

See it: http://XXXXX.smugmug.com/keyword

Tip:  Keyword clouds are also available as a content block, found under  the “Discovery” section of your site customization. It could look great on your Browse page, which is included by default of many of our design layouts.

Password

What: The page your fans and clients see every time you share a gallery protected with a viewing password.

See it: http://XXXXX.smugmug.com/password

Tip: Drop in a title and/or text box inviting them to email you if they can’t remember the right password.

Popular

What: Your public photos and videos that other people have voted “Thumbs up” (now called “Like”) and commented on the most.

See it: http://XXXXX.smugmug.com/popular

Search

What: A clean, simple, but extremely useful search field where anyone can type in a search term. Good for finding photos, galleries and videos.

See it: http://XXXXX.smugmug.com/search

Tip: A search box is also available for dropping into any page on your site as a content block. Find it under the Discovery section in your site customization.

Browse 

What: A page that lists all the folders (categories) on your site. When you’re logged in, your unlisted and private folders will show up here, too.

See it: http://XXXXX.smugmug.com/browse

Tip: This page comes already linked from our default design layouts, and is a great place to drop in additional content boxes like the keyword cloud, the map, and the timeline search.

What you can’t change

There’s some core content on a few pages that you can’t change, for obvious reasons (like the password fields on the password page). But you’ll know that these can’t be touched when you mouse over them in customization mode and you’ll see a little lock icon in the corner.

How to do it 

We’ll admit that this feature hasn’t yet got all the spit-and-polish that we want, but we hope to fix this with along with other stuff that will get ironed out over the coming weeks. Now let’s get started!

1) Type in the URL to visit each page, as per the full list above. Just be sure to use your SmugMug nickname in the domain instead of the “XXXXX.”

2) Click Customize > Customize Site from the top of your page. We’ll open up the new Customization Mode with lots of content to pick and choose from. Click to expand each section and drag and drop the boxes into any area that highlights green on the page.

3) Once the boxes are on your page, mouse over them and click the little wrench icon in the top corner. You can can configure and change virtually any setting to perfect the content, as needed.

4) Save your changes when you’re done. Remember that while you are still in preview mode, you can publish your changes and you’ll be the only one who sees it until you officially, permanently “Unveil” your website.

Link them up

From here, you’ll probably want to add a link to these pages from your website’s menu bar so your visitors can use them (with the exception of the 404 and password pages, which will automatically be displayed to viewers at the proper time).

To do this, simply open your Site Customization mode again and click the wrench icon on your menu content block.  Add a new link by hitting the “+” sign and select “Page I Choose.” From there you can browse your site and select any of the system pages you’ve just customized. We’ve pre-loaded a few of the ones listed above for easy access.

Have fun! As always, let us know if you have questions, problems or creative customization ideas that you’re willing to share.

The New SmugMug Is Here

July 30, 2013 1,084 comments

Friends, photographers, cameramen, have we got news for you.

This morning, we pushed the button on one of the most exciting things we’ve ever built: a whole new SmugMug. We’ve dreamed about bringing you this kind of incredibly beautiful, powerful photo experience from day one and we hope that no matter what you do and who you are, you’ll love it, too.

The Biggest Launch Since 2002

We razed the walls, stripped the wiring and built a better, stronger SmugMug from the ground up. It looks better, works better and (if we did things right) it’s more intuitive and easy to use.

You’ll notice a brand-new look and feel that showcases your photos more beautifully than ever before.

We’ll notice that it’s easier to bring you lots of new features in the coming years.

Best of all, it’s all ready and waiting for you. All you have to do is try it.

New SmugMug:

Compare with the old SmugMug:

How do I use the new SmugMug? Will I lose all my stuff?

No! Unlike many other services, we’re not forcing you to ditch your existing site. You’ll have your very own secret preview mode that contains all your galleries, so that you can personalize it and get familiar with the new features. While it sounds scary, migration simply copies your website contents into a virtual sandbox that only you can see. When you’re ready, YOU unveil your changes and make it public.

In short, there are now 3 possible states of SmugMug: Non-migrated SmugMug accounts (legacy), accounts in private preview (migrated), and the new SmugMug.

We’ll ask if you’d like us to migrate your photos, memories and videos to the new SmugMug. While you experiment with the new features, your fans and clients will still see your old website, like always.

What content migrates? Your photo and video files as well as all the data associated with each: stuff like captions, keywords, geotagging, etc. If you’re a Portfolio or Business account holder, your pricing, marketing tools and pro sales will work normally during migration as well as when you’re in the new SmugMug. (No profits left behind!)

What won’t migrate? Unfortunately, advanced customizations made in the old system aren’t compatible with the new system. This was a very hard decision because we know many of you put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into customizing your sites. However, it’s so much easier to customize your site and the designs are so much more compelling, we hope you’ll forgive us.

Before I migrate, what can I expect?

Here are a few special things to consider as you’re working in preview mode:

  • Migrating and unveiling is a one-way street. Once you unveil your changes you can’t go back to the old SmugMug.
  • Changing gallery settings or rearranging photos will take effect on both your new and old site.
  • Your visitors won’t see any rearrangements of your folders and galleries while you remain in preview mode.
  • If you create new galleries in preview mode, they will be visible on your current SmugMug site in a new category called ‘Smug Preview’.
  • When you unveil your new SmugMug site, the organization and customization you’ve created in preview mode will overwrite the old site settings.

Once my photos are migrated, what can I expect?

Once your photos are migrated, you’ll be able to choose from – and edit! – our 20+ beautiful layouts (“Designs”) that look stunning right out of the box. If that’s not enough, edit, create and switch between “Themes” (which are like our old Themes, but way more powerful), and drag in some of the many content blocks that make your site completely unique.

Customize every part of your homepage

There’s so much to do and we want you to dig in yourself, so instead of overwhelming you with tips, here are our Top 3 Things We Think You Should Know:Add content blocks to any page on your site

1. You’ll always work in private. SmugMug now lets you personalize your site without your fans and clients seeing all those awkward in-between stages. And you can safely save your progress, sleep on it, and pick up right where you left off. You can also build multiple looks (holiday templates, anyone?) and swap between them with one click.

2. Customization is a mode. Not code. Changing the layout, color and content of any page no longer requires hacky gunk like CSS and Javascript. Just drag and drop content blocks right where you want them: in the header, footer, across all your pages or into just one gallery. It’s so easy and so much more powerful than before. FYI: Advanced Customization via HTML and CSS is still there for those of you who love it, but it’s really, truly optional now.

 3. You get a hub. As a SmugMugger, you deserve certain privileges, like being able to see all your stuff and keep it organized. You’ve told us this was a major pain point in the old SmugMug, so we sweated bullets in order to get this part right. The brand-new Site Organizer is THE place for you to upload, drag to arrange, create galleries, folders and pages (up to 7 layers deep), bulk tweak and delete, change settings and so much more… from a familiar folder tree that you already know.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be showing you tips, examples and everything you need to get the most out of your new site. So if you’re feeling lost or need a little inspiration for creating a new look for your website, keep your eyes right here on our blog.

Which features are available on Basic accounts?

While customization was a big chunk of the improvements we made, it’s not everything. We’ve redone our homepage and info pages so you can see exactly what features are available at every account level.

Everyone gets the powerful, drag and drop Site Organizer. Everyone can apply an array of beautiful Themes and content blocks to their site, with three important differences:

  1. Basic users may use and swap between our many Themes, but won’t be able to edit or create them.
  2. Basic users can customize content and layout for their homepages only.
  3. Content blocks related to more complex customization and commerce features are not included on Basic accounts.

SmugMug's new drag and drop Site Organizer

And great news: We’ve gone ahead and added video uploads to Basic accounts. Enjoy!

When can I start? And what’s next?

The great news: You can start right now.

Again, simply log in and go here: http://www.smugmug.com/migration

We’re not about to drop you into the pool without a little help. We’ve squished our brains together and updated our help pages to include a variety of new articles, as well as some “what’s new” content that compares old features with how things work now.

Important! Our fabulous Support Heroes are always available to lend a hand, but due to the sudden wave of ecstatic SmugMug tinkerers over the next few days (like you!), please check the help pages first and allow the Heroes a little extra time to respond to your tickets.

And as always, we’ll be sharing lots of helpful posts about building a brand-new website, tips for getting it done fast and insight into some of the things we think you’ll love most about the new SmugMug.

Questions? Stuck on a particularly tough nugget? Send us an email, comment, passenger pigeon or smoke signal so that we can best help you get the site of your dreams. We want to hear what you love, what stings, and what you think of our baby.

The SmugMug family

The Comprehensive List

Here’s the full list of things that we’ve improved or built for you in this release. In addition to the below, we’ve done a ton of work behind-the-scenes making SmugMug work faster, more reliably, and easier for us to deliver brand-new features in the coming months.

Things that we improved:

  • Homepage design
  • Folder page layout (previously Category/Subcategory pages)
  • Gallery layout (all gallery styles)
  • Lightbox view
  • Video player
  • Slideshows
  • Package image selection
  • Gallery Settings
  • Themes
  • Sharegroup pages
  • Event pages
  • Photo and gallery picker

Brand-new features:

  • Complete customization overhaul, including Site Designs
  • Site-wide drag and drop Organizer
  • Folders can go 5 levels deep, allowing for 7 total layers
  • Gallery-level comments now optional
  • Thumbs up/down replaced by Like
  • Can now create Pages
  • New Gallery Styles
  • Folder-level security and privacy settings
  • Mobile site now mimics regular site, including customization
  • New privacy level (owner-only “Private”)
  • Expanded search structure

Unveiling the All-New SmugMug on Tuesday, July 30th

July 23, 2013 199 comments

SmugMug's Ustream live broadcast on July 30th, 2013

In seven days, on Tuesday, July 30th at 10:30 a.m. PDT, we’re unveiling the new SmugMug. We will be streaming our announcement live and direct from our headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Join us for a 30-minute webcast with our CEO and Chief Geek, Don MacAskill. See the new look, catch a live demo, and be a part of the biggest launch since SmugMug started in 2002.

We’re so grateful you found us. Thank you for entrusting us through the years with your priceless photos. We consider you part of our family and can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on. We think you’re gonna love it.

GET THE DETAILS HERE

Live streaming begins at 10:30 AM PDT

How to Find Your Next Photography Adventure

July 22, 2013 2 comments

Candles at Petra Jordan by Michael Bonocore

Photos by Michael Bonocore Photography

As we approach the high point of the summer season, we hope that all of you out there are making the most of the long hours and the beautiful light!

But the idea of “traveling with camera” falls somewhere between throwing a point-and-shoot into your suitcase and being hired to cover the Four Seasons’ grand opening. So how do you pack without going overboard, or avoid leaving critical stuff at home?

Travel Podcast with Michael Bonocore

Since so many of us live to take photos, we thought it’d be a good time to sit down and talk with one of our most exuberant and well-journeyed friends, Michael Bonocore, about the art of travel. You’ve probably already seen him on Google+, our forums or at a live event, but he also spends his time around the world guiding others to better photos and better giving through The Giving Lens.

In our podcast, he tells us more about his travels and how to balance being on the road with having the gear you need. Learn about:

  • What specific things should photographers think about when planning their next adventure?
  • Do you really need insurance?
  • Is it terrible to put your camera in checked baggage?
  • Besides the camera, what is the most important thing you should take?
  • What are the best ways to keep photos organized while you’re not at home?

Have a listen now on iTunes and start preparing for your next adventure. Safe travels, and don’t forget to capture and share your summer memories!

Children by temple by Michael Bonofore

Is That a Smartphone in Your Pocket?

July 17, 2013 4 comments

The best camera is the one you always have with you… but that doesn’t mean you should just point, shoot, and hope for the best.

In our next webinar, we’ll talk about the explosion of this little thing called mobile photography and how to leverage that more-powerful-than-you-think camera phone. More than just a convenient device in your pocket, your smartphone is a valuable marketing tool that most pros simply overlook.

New Webinar! Mobile Photography with Angie Garbot

This month, we’re talking with full-time Chicago photographer and instructor Angela Garbot, whose professional work spans a variety of subjects from beautiful brides to culinary delights. She was recently featured on CNN.com for being one of the few wedding photographers who work with the ubiquitous camera phone, rather than against it. Because of her insights, we’ve asked her to show us why the versatility and portability of your camera phone is the best thing to happen to the photography industry, how to shoot winning camera phone pics, and how you can harness the power of mobile photography to boost your business.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
8:00 PM ET, 7:00 PM CT, 6:00 PM MT and 5:00 PM PT
Register for this event!

We’ve all got smartphones in our pockets, using them to snap and share on the go. But are you happy with what you’re getting? Do you actually think before sharing those with your friends and fans? If you’re like most of us, you probably answered “No.” But mobile photography is no excuse to take a bad photo! And if you’re a pro, you could be missing out on a vital piece of your business’ marketing plan.

In this webinar we’ll show you how to maximize your built-in camera app functions, introduce you to some powerful editing apps and then discuss how to use social media and your smartphone images to enhance your business. We’ll talk about some do’s and don’t’s in sharing, the importance of hash tagging, ways to engage your clients using your smartphone images, and tips for live-tweeting with images.


See you there!

All photos by Angela Garbot Photography

Adventure Photography: Is it Worth the Risk?

July 5, 2013 4 comments

We hope that many of you are out there enjoying your summer and spending time with the people you love most. This week we’re talking to  Smug friend Kelsey Gray: climber, world traveler, photographer and author of Alaska Rock Climbing Guide. He’s well known for doing heart-pounding stunts like cliff jumping – stunts that most of us will only ever enjoy in his photographs. So we had to ask the burning question: Why do you bring the camera and is it really worth the risk?

Photos by Kelsey Gray Photography

Climbing to Live

My first foray into climbing was back sometime around 2002 when I took an indoor rock climbing course at the Alaska Rock Gym through the University of Anchorage Alaska. Before that time, I was purely a gaming nerd who had gained almost 65lbs after high school eating cheeseburgers and pizza. With the occasional challenge of who can drink the most ketchup or eat the most salt packets, those were some very unhealthy years. During a routine doctor visit (also partially due to the emotional issues that come with being overweight and with an astronomical blood pressure), my doctor said that if I didn’t get off the computer and fix my blood pressure I would probably have a stroke by 30. I was 20 and that didn’t leave me much time.

After the indoor course, I enrolled in the outdoor course and found that to be even better. I soon after began climbing outdoors with a friend from Era Aviation, where we both worked. Later that year I began climbing with John Borland, who would introduce me to many areas around Hatcher Pass as well as becoming a great climbing partner and friend.

Enter: Photography.

Sometime during my first few years of climbing I became more interested in hiking peaks. My uncle, Dano Michaud, had dragged me unwillingly up a peak called Harp Mountain and the 1000+ft glissade (natural slide down the snow) hooked me. That summer I climbed peak after peak and soon realized that explaining the beauty of the areas was simply not enough. I needed to show it.

My very first camera was a small point and shoot with no screen and not enough megapixels to warrant labeling it on the front. I’m pretty sure it came free with a printer, which was also terrible. After a few trips I realized I needed a better camera. I upgraded to a Fuji Finepix F700 which worked for me for a long time. I then moved on to a Fuji Finepix S9000 before finally making the jump to SLR with the Canon 20D. After the 20D I moved on to the Canon 50D (which was later stolen from my car), and finally to my current camera the Canon 7D.

Freedom

During my years of climbing I have learned some important lessons about myself, and how I view life. I am never more confortable than when dangling from a cliff with the sun setting and the wilderness expanding in my view. I’ve often said that the journey is not the summit but in the adventure, which I’m pretty sure is a mashup of others quotes, but I can’t discount the great feeling of having made it as high as I can go without actually flying into the air. When I reach the top of a peak or climb and look out over the expanse I have a ritual that I try to do as often as possible. It is as follows:

1. Close your eyes and wait for at least 30 seconds. Let all the emotions, feelings, failures and successes wash into you. Reject nothing.
2. Open your eyes and star directly ahead. Everything washes away, and I can’t help but feel that I was not meant to have a wall in front of me. Cubicles were not meant for us.

Climbing rocks by Kelsey Gray

Help or Hinder?

There are times when I won’t bring my camera climbing and I usually regret it. The hairy times when the sheep dung really hits the fan is when the camera seems to really come into use, if not for just recording the trip for my own memory. The worst time to have a camera attached to you is when jammed into an off-width. This is the climber term for anything that you can’t wedge your body into but is too big to use a single hand or fist to climb. It’s probably the most uncomfortable situation most humans will ever find themselves in. A 60m off-width can feel like you’ve just run a marathon, sprinting, while holding a log over your head. (If you’re curious about just what an off-width has to offer then Google for the video, “Boogie Till You Poop.”) Add climbing gear to your harness and it becomes worst; add a camera and you’ll pray it doesn’t shatter.

It is not easy to bring a camera as large as a Canon 7D up a climb, especially with consideration of the lens size. I usually stick with the kit lens that comes with the 7D, the 18-135mm, it’s not the best lens but it is light and easy to carry. I would upgrade to a better lens, except I’m always spending all my money on travelling. I like to carry it in a waist pack that I often clip to my harness, just in case it comes off. I know others who use backpacks but I don’t like having to take it off to get my camera out. That is my general kit for all adventures. Not much, but just enough so that I don’t feel burdened by it. The camera is there for my use to record everything that I wish to keep for myself or show to others, so I’ve had to take a rather lenient stance on its value. If I consider it gold then I’ll never bring it to the truly dangerous adventures. There are times I almost have to convince myself that my camera is already gone before I bring it, then I just try and make sure it stays in one piece. This allows me to continue to bring it to the most dangerous situations.

Adventure climbing mountains by Kelsey Gray

Worth the Risk?

There are others in climbing that are much more advanced in climbing photography than I. I’ve often marveled at their ability to get paid to do the things I’m paying for! But with everything comes risks, such as the photographer that was with Johnny Copp and Micah Dash, two amazing alpinists that died in an avalanche, their photographer (Wade Johnson) by their side. I’ve often had to decide just what is it I want to do, how far do I take this hobby that has become a driving force in life? I’m still figuring that part out. I have found that half of the reason I travel is to take photographs. If I were to lose my camera today it would probably take quite a lot of self-reflection to pull myself from the loss, even if I have the illusion that the loss is already imminent.

Like many other climbers I am driven too heavily by emotions. I would love to say that most of my travelling began as a desire to see the world and experience new things. The truth is that many of my travels have been fuelled by escape, the desire to escape the emotions that come with a loss, whether it is a relationship or the death of a loved one. Over time it has had to change as those emotions were hidden, or in my current case I found someone who truly makes me happy in life. Previously I spent much of the time travelling the world alone, a few of the trips included others. Now I try to share it with others, those who I travel with and those who I get to show through the photographs  I take.

Stay safe, wherever you are this summer! If you’re playing it safe at home or at the office, you can get your thrills from the other installments in our Photography Perspectives series.

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