Show Us Your SmugMug Smile at Photoshop World 2015

Join SmugMug for three days of creative adventures at KelbyOne’s Photoshop World Conference and Expo, the world’s largest Photoshop, Lightroom, and Photography conference of the year, August 11–13, 2015, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Come out and be inspired by world-class educators, network with your fellow photographers, and show off your smile in the SmugMug booth for a special gift!

Take our class

Be sure to add SmugMug’s platform class, “Showcase, Share, and Backup: Why Your Photos Need a Website,” to your itinerary. Learn everything there is to know about building a beautiful photography website from award-winning landscape photographer Aaron Meyers.  Aaron is an expert at creating stunning photographs and, as a SmugMug Product Manager, beautiful websites to display them. He’s a former aerospace engineer but now limits his explorations to chasing light in remote locations on planet Earth. Join us August 12 at 9:30 a.m. in Tradewinds C/D. Don’t have your Photoshop World ticket yet? Grab a full conference pass here.

Visit our booth

You’ll find us at booth 217 in the expo hall.

Drop by for one of our SmugMug demonstrations or to talk with Nick (Beardly), Seth, Ann, and Aaron to find the answers to all your burning SmugMug questions.

Get cool stuff

We’ll have some special show swag for any visitor that shows us their “Smuggy.” Take a selfie with Smuggy, our logo, post it to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #SmuggyPSW, and then bring that selfie to our booth. We’ll reward you! If you’d like to visit the expo only, please do so on SmugMug. Just print this expo pass and present it at the door. Need more convincing? Watch our SmugMug Film on our friend Scott Kelby, the man behind KelbyOne and Photoshop World, to see why he’s an inspiration to photographers everywhere.

See you there!

5 Easy Ways to Ready Your Website For a Busy Year

Now’s typically the time of year when you step back and re-evaluate your life. Whether or not you follow tradition (or break it), it’s always a good idea to think about your photography, your goals, and how you want to get there in the coming months.

Today we debut 5 easy questions to ask yourself to help you check your SmugMug site and be sure that it’s ready to face the next wave of photos, fans, and fame.

Read how to reboot your site for success »

Note: Some of these tips are only possible in current SmugMug, so if you’ve been with us since before July 30, 2013 and haven’t upgraded your site, preview the latest version of SmugMug now. You’ll get free access to a slew of incredible new features, because they’re already included in your subscription.

Other Ways to Stay in Control

If you’re super excited to take the tidiness to the next level, here are two more great articles we recommend bookmarking to help you sort your photos and stop the headache.

As always, our Support Heroes are here to help if you have questions. We do way more than just tell you where your Account Settings are – remember that we’re photographers, too, and we’d be thrilled to help you achieve your goals for the year. Talk to us!

8 Rules to Remember That Make More Powerful Portraits

Valentine’s Day is rolling up, which means portrait photographers are aiming to capture beautiful clients looking their best. But even if you simply want to learn to take better, more powerful portraits, here are a few tips from expert portrait photographer, Alexandria Huff As the photographic brain behind the On Creating ChiaroscuroGlare Aware: Photographing Portraits of People in Glasses, and Transitioning from Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Understanding Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors, she’s well qualified to share these 8 essential rules no portrait photographer should ever forget. 

By Alexandria Huff

There are no rules in photography. There are, however, good habits that photographers rely on when they need to quickly capture a solid image. These habits are especially important when shooting for clients rather than just for personal projects.

1) Items in the foreground will look bigger/fatter/wider than the rest.

Keep extremities away from the foreground unless you’re going for that exaggerated look. Even the elbows in the second image are too far forward for my taste.

We get fixated on faces when shooting portraits and sometimes forget about what the rest of the body is doing. Keep hands, feet, and anything else you don’t want looking too bulbous further away from the camera.

2) Cutting off hands, feet, and foreheads can ruin visual flow.

Don’t crowd your frame or cut hands off at the wrists. Watch out for this when shooting in small spaces.

Arms and legs can act as leading lines for viewers that they follow out to the edge of the frame. Cropping at ankles, wrists, and foreheads is often too abrupt a cut-off for viewers. It is generally more acceptable to crop mid-thigh for 3/4th length portraits or at the waist/above the elbow for half length portraits. Also, cropping the forehead can have a “Frankenstein effect” so crop above the hairline.

3) Anything directly behind the subject’s head can make an image look weird.

Lines directly behind the head of a subject can be distracting. Check your backgrounds.

Mind your background to avoid “brain stems” – lines, trees, or other elements that photographers accidentally place their models directly in front of. Even in the studio they’ll appear in the form of wayward backdrop creases.

4) Slide your subject to the side.

Shifting a subject’s body over in the frame can produce more engaging portraits.

Symmetrical, center-weighted images can be really cool but the Rule of Thirds still has a strong place in photography. Placing your subject along one of the vertical/horizontal lines that divide an image into thirds produces pleasing results. Also, placing your model at an angle rather than square with the frame can be “slimming”.

5) Use broad and short lighting to your advantage.

The flash here is set up for broad lighting. Short lighting would dictate moving the flash to the far side of the subject’s face.

In broad lighting, the light is on the part of the face closest to the camera. Short lighting is on the far side of the face. Broad lighting is often good for softening skin and for thin-faced subjects while short lighting is good for bringing out wrinkles/character and for thinning wide faces. Use broad lighting if you want to avoid glare in glasses.

Using broad lighting (left) vs short lighting (right) will have a huge impact on your subject.

6) Direct your model through a series of micro adjustments and expressions.

Direct your subject through incremental changes in body language and expression.

The devil is in the details and your winning shot might differ from the rest because of a slight change in expression (like a Peter Hurley-esque “squinch”, parted lips, or dropped shoulders) rather than from large movements.

7) Make the most of lousy locations.

If you can’t have the location you love, love the location you can get.

Don’t shy away from shooting if you don’t have a studio or a park nearby. A strong portrait can be taken anywhere if you you’re following other compositional rules.

8) Shooting down onto your model is more flattering than shooting up at them.

It’s very rare for a subject to look good when being shot from below.

It’s rare for a subject to look good when being shot from below, even when you’re going for a power look. Nostrils are just not very photogenic — stick to eye-level or above. Remembering these rules and practicing good shooting habits will help you create consistently strong portraits. After a while you will have enough experience to successfully break the rules and develop your own distinct style.

A New and Improved Way to Add Prints to Your Cart

Over the years we’ve gotten so much great feedback from you, our customers, about buying and what your fans have reported back about the buying experience. So today is big news for you: we’ve remodeled the Add to Cart step to make it cleaner, simpler, and smoother for all!

To check it out, navigate to any photo you have for sale on your site and click Buy Photos > This Photo.

Instead of this:

Shopping on Old SmugMug, AKA: “Where are my glasses?”

You’ll see this:

SmugMug’s new Add to Cart layout. Ah, much better!

What Changed?

We’ve completely revamped the first half of the shopping process, when you’re adding photos into your cart. Here’s what’s new:

  • You’ll see a larger, prettier preview of your photo on the left. You’ll know for sure which pic you’re viewing.
  • There’s now an easier-to-follow item selection pane on the right. All the same products and options are there, and it’s much easier to drill down to what you want.
  • You’ll now adjust cropping in that same window as soon as you choose your print size. With borders and boundaries bigger and easier to see, there’s less chance something vital will get cropped out in your print.
  • All of this automagically scales to fit smaller screen sizes, making shopping on-the-go as easy as just a few taps.
Crop and adjust without changing screens.

How Do I Get It?

You’ve already got it! The updated design is already sparkling up all accounts on New SmugMug. So add a photo to your cart to see it in action.

Tip: Be sure to try it on an updated browser. If you have Internet Explorer 9 or below, you’ll still see the old design.

Click through to choose your print. You can step back at any time.
Speedy shopper? Look below to add a previous print size, lickity-split.

Shoppers on Old SmugMug sites will also see the old shopping design, so Preview your site in New SmugMug to check it out and use it yourself. However, you’ll need to Publish your New SmugMug site to let your fans and customers use it, too.

More Help & Info

The checkout part hasn’t changed with this release, but we knew you’d ask. :) It’s in the works, and of course we’ll share as soon as we’ve got something ready to show you.

For more info about what’s changed and how the new process works, check out our updated help pages. And if you have any additional questions, reach out to our fabulous 24/7 Support Heroes. We always love to hear from you.

Link Roundup:

Pro Tip: 7 Reasons You Just Lost a Sale

While you’re here at SmugMug, we want you to succeed. It’s in our blood, as we’re photographers ourselves and everything at SmugMug was borne out of our very own needs to capture the world.

Our Support Heroes often get questions from pros wondering why customers aren’t buying their prints and downloads. So here are some top fixes we’ve found to help cure those lackluster sales.

1) Buying Isn’t Enabled

This is pretty key, but is buying enabled in your galleries? By default it’s on, but just in case you should always look to see if the button in your galleries says “Buy” or “Owner Buy.” If it says the latter (or if you log out and don’t see a Buy button at all), buying is disabled for guests. Owner Buy is useful for those of you who don’t want to sell, but still may want a buy a print for your own living room.

How to fix it: Open your gallery settings and look under the “Shopping” tab. The shopping cart toggle is right at the top of the list, so be sure that’s set to ON.

2) Your Pricing Isn’t Set Up

Maybe people are buying your photos at-cost, with no profit to you? This is the nightmare of some photographers, so be absolutely sure that you’re not sitting there accidentally giving away those photos. Fortunately at SmugMug, Portfolio and Business users can literally set it and forget it with Pricelists, so you can set your markup, sit back, and just let the money roll in.

How to fix it: Visit your Pricelists manager, found in your Account Settings > Business tab. Add in products to your default Pricelist, fill in a few numbers, then save it. All galleries on your site with buying enabled will now reflect those prices to your fans. Business account members can create multiple Pricelists and can apply them to different galleries. Find out more info on our help pages.

3) Nobody Knows You Exist

If you build it, will they come? On the internet, the answer is “No.” Even coding up the most beautiful site won’t make magic if no one on the web is talking about you. So take that first step and share the link, post photos to social media, and create buzz so that Google (and potential new clients) hears about you.

How to fix it: You can copy the link to your site, a gallery, or even a single image right from the address bar in your browser. Or use our handy Get a Link feature. Also, check your site-wide privacy settings and fill out your site metadata so that relevant, descriptive words show up when people search for you.

4) Your Clients Got Totally Lost

The architecture of your site is more important than you may think it is. We’ve covered this in the past, but we can’t stress enough that you should make the content you want surfaced as visible as possible. When in doubt, give your clients a direct link to the gallery containing their photos, so they don’t wander off and get lost.

How to fix it: You can Get a Link to share a gallery or a photo. Have multiple galleries to share? Try Sharegroups (which can also be protected with passwords), or Events & Favorites. The latter is worth its weight in gold for pros, because it lets clients tag the images they love best.

5) They Couldn’t Reach You

What happens when they have a question that only you can answer? How much do you charge? Are you available for a September session? Can they hire you? You’d want to be sure that your email address is available front and center. But we’re surprised at the number of websites we see where this info is hidden, buried, or just plain not included. It’s no wonder sales are slow!

How to fix it: Fill out your SmugMug Profile (found in the top right corner of your logged-in header) with your contact email, then be sure to add a contact link to your menu bar. We won’t expose your email address to spammers, but will send messages from the SmugMug contact form to you. Here’s more info about crafting an effective menu bar.

6) They’re Just Downloading the Photo

Why pay for a photo when you can get it for free? If this thought makes you cringe, then we rest our case. Because SmugMug users come from all walks of life, lots of family use the free download feature to share photos with friends and family. But as a pro, you’d probably prefer cash, so you should double-check that the pictures you’re selling aren’t open for the picking.

How to fix it: Check your image-protection settings to be sure that Originals aren’t enabled in your galleries, which allows any viewer to save a full-res copy to their computers. You can also flip on Right-Click Protection to foil them further.

7) They’re Scared of You

Even if you’re not particularly warm and fuzzy by nature, it pays to be friendly in your most public space. Practice good marketing mojo, and this will be reflected back in the quality of client that hires you. Imbue the text around your site with your own voice and personality, and be sure to guide them each step of the way towards browsing more, reaching out to you, and buying a print.

How to fix it: Our top three picks for warming up your site are (1) your Right-Click Protection message, (2) your gallery description field, and (3) your About page. We’ve always recommended making your Right-Click Protection message helpful, not threatening. The gallery description shows up over your photos and is the first thing they see when they open it, so be sure to greet guests and give them step-by-step instructions on how to buy photos. Combined with your own heroic story on a custom About page, you’ll get fans checking out in no time.

Good luck and happy selling! If you’ve found your own way to troubleshoot slow sales and aren’t afraid to share your tips with fellow pros, we’d love to hear it

––

Link roundup:

 

Pros, Your Fans Are Gonna Love This

While we’ve had tutorial videos and archived webinars forever, today we’re happy to show you the latest additions to our library: How to Buy Prints & Downloads.

Two New Videos for You to Share

Pros have often asked us for tools that will help sell more prints, gifts, and downloads, because occasionally your fans need a little extra push. So we’ve created a long-format tutorial (7:58) and a short-format tutorial (4:52) showing your fans how to add photos to the shopping cart, understand those framing and cropping options, and check out. Here’s the short version:

We hope that you’ll share these with your clients, or even embed them into your site so that they’re viewable at any time. Tip: Use Customize > Customize Site and drop a YouTube video Content Block onto the page. You can get the video link above.

Here’s to smoother sales at SmugMug!

P.S. Did you know that we have a 100% guarantee on all items ordered through your SmugMug galleries? If you or your customer are not happy for ANY reason, we’ll fix it or replace it for free. We mean it.

Links you’ll love:

New: Customize Your Right-Click Protection Message

… and use your powers for good, not evil.

A quick update this morning for pros who use right-click protection to stop thieves from grabbing your pics: we’ve added the ability to customize the message that displays when viewers right click your protected photos.

This is something that you could do using CSS customization in Old SmugMug, but we think it’s such an important piece of building a great experience on your site, we wanted to make it drop-dead simple for you to do this in the new, beautiful SmugMug.

Get It Set Up

 

 

Visit your Account Settings and look under your Privacy tab. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see a brand new “Right-Click Message” field. Fill that out, save your changes, and test right-clicking on photos in your protected galleries to see how it looks. Here’s more help.

Tip: We recommend being firm but friendly. If you have prints for sale, ask them to look for the Buy button to grab one of your photos in a legit way.

A Word About Image Theft

As always, we want to share some helpful info about image protection and what to expect. After all, if you’re paying us for a pro-level account, you should get the best bang for your buck!

We hear a lot from ambitious pros who rely on tools like Right-Click Protection way more heavily than they probably should. Why’s this bad? Right-Click Protection is just a deterrent, and if someone really wants to download a free copy of your image, there are several things they’ll try. For example, they can snap a screen grab, so be sure to use the full suite of image protection tools if you’re really worried about this. Here’s a quick review of your options:

  • Right-Click Protection. Displays a popup window when any part of the gallery is clicked. Fabulous when coupled with a warm, friendly message encouraging fans to buy.
  • Display Size. Limits the size of the images viewers can see. Great for foiling screen grabbers.
  • Watermarking. Logo or text placed over your display copies. Add your URL, enable sharing, and you’ve got yourself a ton of free advertising for your biz. The best bit? Your prints still print clean.

We hope this helps those of you who are new to SmugMug, are new to photography, or who just haven’t fiddled with your site lately and are looking to brush up on the basics.

And as always, be sure to let us know if you have questions, problems, or just need some advice getting your site working the way you want. We’re here. 

Link roundup: