If you’re a portrait or wedding photographer bound for WPPI next weekend in Las Vegas, please come see us! SmugMug will be hitting the expo floor from Monday, March 3rd through Wednesday, March 5th, so stop by, say hello and ask us your burning questions. Let’s connect!
We’ll have two great ways for you to win great stuff next week:
1) Photo Critique with David Beckstead
2) Snap a Smuggy Selfie
Snap a fun self portrait with one of our SmugMug Booth Babes (or just with the SmugMug logo), tag it and share to win part of $2400+ worth of prizes. Winners announced each day of the WPPI expo. Details here.
We’ve lined up an impressive list of totally free seminars and SmugMug demos led by pro photographers (who also happen to be SmugMug friends) ready to impart their knowledge of marketing, business and the craft with you. You’ll also get the chance to talk with some of SmugMug’s Product Managers, Engineers and Design teams, so bring your feedback, suggestions and a winning smile.
Find a complete list of times, dates and topics right here on the handy reference page we’ve built for you here. Bookmark it, love it, keep it close at hand.
See you soon, wedding pros!
Hey there, Portfolio and Business photographers: We’ve heard that a lot of you didn’t know that you could make money selling digital files on SmugMug. And maybe there are those of you who did know, but still weren’t sure about how to get going.
Your photo clients may not always be looking for just traditional paper prints. So we’re here to show you that with just a few extra clicks, you can start selling digital photos and videos in addition to your usual physical print items.
Our latest pro article spotlights this commercial conundrum. We discuss why digital sales are essential to most any photographers’ businesses… and how you can get set up so that you’re not leaving money on the table.
Holy moly, SmugMug fans! Because of your amazing support, SmugMug’s been picked as a finalist for the 2013 Crunchies Awards.
Pinch us, it’s real!
We’ve been bootstrapped for 11 years with millions of customers and billions of happy photos. Would you help us take it all the way and become the “Best Bootstrapped Startup” of 2013? If you think we are and want to make your photos proud, we’d love to have your votes again.
- Simply visit the Crunchies site and start voting now! You can vote once a day through 11:59pm PST, Sunday, January 26, 2014.
SmugMug’s always been known for support, but your votes have shown us what “support” really means. Thank you for all that you’ve given us over the years: your comments, your shares, your likes, your stories, your ideas, and above all the glaring hard truth when we needed it most. We’d never have made it this far without you.
In the last year we’ve put out a lot of posts on this blog: product announcements, tutorials on taking better photos, tips to make more moolah and articles on how to get the most out of SmugMug.
So in case you weren’t glued to every moment we typed here, we’re sharing one last chance to catch your top 5 favorite articles that you may not have seen:
1) 5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell
2) How to Make a Photo Blog
3) The Save Photo Reminder
4) 5 Killer Locations for Your Portrait Sessions
5) Guide Your Guests to the Gold
Why confuse your site visitors? We picked some of the best examples of beautiful, easy-to-navigate sites on SmugMug and show you just why they work so well. Read more >>
And since we’re talking about recaps, it only makes sense to share the “top” five of the more subtle articles that deserve a second round in the spotlight! Here they are:
1) How to Succeed in the Business of Love
2) Why Events Are Best for Your Business
If you’re a pro with a Business account, Events are our #1 favorite tool that you probably don’t know about. Here’s why they work, what your customer will see, and some tried-and-true suggestions for integrating them into your portrait and wedding workflow. Read more >>
3) 5 Things Your Client Needs to Hear
Are your subjects happy? Confused? Confident in your ability to get the shot? Here are our pros’ top tips on what to tell your models so that you have a successful photo shoot… and they have a great time, too. Read more >>
4) How to Make your Visitors Feel at Home
Having a great website is more than just throwing some photos up on the web. Here are our suggestions for creating a helpful, pleasant experience for the people who browse your site. Clients, too! Read more >>
5) How to Organize a Photo Walk
Our photo-fiend-friend Scott Jarvie is known for his ability to rally local photographers to get up and get out shooting! If you’d like to take action and inspire your photo-neighbors to go snapping with you, here’s a few planning tips to get you on your way. Read more >>
We hope you have a safe, warm, happy and thoroughly joyous holiday!
Next in our showcase series of SmugMug pro print labs is WHCC. We joined forces with them two Februaries ago, after you told us just how fantastically they serve the wedding and portrait photography industry. Today we got a behind-the-scenes look at their Standout prints, a wonderful, lightweight option for pros like you looking to buy (or sell!) alternatives to the traditional mat and frame. They’re available on all Portfolio and Business account Pricelists in sizes up to 30×40 and in Lustre, Glossy and Metallic paper finishes.
How do all of you at WHCC stay on top of all the changes and trends in the print market?
We receive a lot of excellent suggestions from our clients! They provide us with great feedback on new products they want or simple ways we can improve or expand our current products to include more variety and selection.
We also stay on top of the trends by staying active and involved in the photographic community and industry. What are today’s photographers looking for? What types of products are popular with their clients? How are they using these products to increase sales? Seeing the many different types of photographers out there and how they use or display different products helps trigger ideas that we can put a creative spin on.
How do your employees stay in the loop?
Photography is such a trendy and ever-changing industry, and our staff stays involved in the community on a frequent basis to keep track of what’s new and popular. They love being able to share input and ideas on current and future products and to be able to get the inside scoop on exciting new products in the works. Since many of our staff members are also working photographers they realize the importance of a well-crafted product. They take pride in offering only top quality products with supreme attention to detail and craftsmanship. That’s why “Often First, Always Best” is our belief for developing new products and services. We constantly strive to be the first to bring great new products and services to our clients. The only thing we want more than being first is giving you the best. Not just our best, the industry’s best.
What’s the history of your Standout prints? Was there a lengthly list of prototypes before today’s version hit the market?
We did not produce our original Black edged Standout mounting substrates ourselves when this product first launched back in 2005. However as Standout gained in popularity as a Wall Display product, we knew we could do more with this product and so we brought the production in-house. This allowed us to keep tighter controls on the quality and inventory levels as well as expand the product. We now offer a total of five edge options including Black, White, Light Wood, Stainless Steel and Bamboo.
What are some of the best features of Standout prints?
Standout has a lot of great features, including its affordability and that it arrives ready to hang. With its light weight and pre-drilled holes, anyone can easily hang these in their home or office.
Standouts are also very versatile, not only with their popular sizes to create large images to sleek collages, but they come in a variety of depths and edging options that will fit anyone’s style.
How would you recommend photographers show off Standouts best?
Metallic Photographic Prints really pop when paired with Stainless Steel edging. Or pair it with a black and white image to create a well-polished, modern looking display. The Light Wood and Bamboo edging is very complementary to outdoor images, while White makes a great use for kids and newborns. Stick with the classic Black for a simple and sleek look or as an easy go-to option for any Senior or wedding image.
Thanks again to the folks at WHCC for sharing their thoughts about what it takes to bring a great print product to market! Remember that everyone at SmugMug can easily turn their favorite photos into prints and gifts by opening any gallery and clicking the Add to Cart button, and SmugMug Portfolio and Business levels can price, sell and fulfill print orders from four print labs. If you’ve disabled printing to visitors, the button will read “Owner Buy.” See how to print at SmugMug.
The holidays are a perfect time to practice your portrait-taking skills. Bring out the best in your subjects and take memorable family portraits with some expert instruction! Because we at SmugMug are big fans of photo education, we’ve asked author and professional photographer Kirk Tuck to reveal his top five tips for successful family photo sessions. Learn the essential skills for capturing beautiful family portraits in Kirk Tuck’s FREE online class, Professional Family Portraits, over on Craftsy.com.
1. Bring Out the Best in Mature Subjects
Try adding fill light with flash, or even a cheap piece of foam core. Use off-camera flash as your main light and use umbrellas (cheap and easy) to modify the light. Or situate your couple in their living room for stunning environmental portraits.
2. Capture Toddlers
Toddlers are particularly hard to pose and it’s typically difficult to maintain their attention; make the best of the small window you have with them by limiting their distractions. Get down on their level, and use simple items like a lit match to capture their attention (and get that wonderment-look).
3. Set Up a Studio in Any Home
In a few simple steps you can transform any garage into a studio. When you lift the garage door you have great ambient light that comes in! If the house or garage is cluttered, bring a gray seamless backdrop. Be sure to consider the color of the walls and ceilings when bouncing flash, too, because colored walls can tint your images.
4. Success with Posing Larger Groups
Take the time to thoughtfully choose your location, for example look for hills, walls and contours. You want to shoot in the shade so you can have even light. When it comes to arranging and posing groups, odd numbers are best, form triangles and have the family members slightly face each other to show a connection.
5. Get the Best Results with Your Digital Editing
No photo is complete until it has been taken into the digital darkroom: Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Use the healing tool to remove scars and soften wrinkles in Photoshop. And, use the sliders in your layers to make believable changes in skin blemishes, like wrinkles.
In the FREE online Craftsy class, Professional Family Portraits, Kirk will cover:
- Advanced strategies of family portraiture as Kirk shares his best techniques for lighting, posing and composition.
- Fail-proof ways to take adorable shots of even the most impatient little ones.
- Using foam core, umbrellas and bounce flash to create ideal lighting in any setting, and explore broad and short lighting for warm, engaging portraits.
- Quick, effective strategies for transforming any room into an uncluttered studio – even a garage!
- How to select a location and direct poses for a large group photo.
- Step-by-step post-processing strategies to remove blemishes, soften wrinkles and adjust color cast to ensure your portraits have professional polish.
- All the benefits of an in-person seminar from the convenience of your home.
Kirk will critique your photos and answer any questions you have, and since you’ll own your class forever, you can learn at your own pace and revisit techniques before your next shoot.
Sign up for Professional Family Portraits for free now, and take natural, high-quality photos that preserve precious moments in time.
What are some of your own favorite tips and tricks for photographing your families? Share your ideas in the comments below!
Commercial photographer Kirk Tuck has photographed many extraordinary people, from President Bill Clinton to Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger. He’s also authored several books including Photographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital Photographers, Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography, and Commercial Photography Handbook: Business Techniques for Professional Digital Photographers.
Can’t quite capture Fido’s charisma? Keep snapping the backside of Senior Pussyboots? Yeah, we know. As puppy-loving photographers ourselves, we understand the unique challenges that come with photogging furry friends. When your subject shakes at the first sign of a squirrel, chases it’s own tail, and can’t smile worth a darn, you might wanna declare animal photography an art for the dogs. But there are definite secrets to snapping pet pictures so good, they’ll make you drool.
SmugMug pro Kira Stackhouse, throws us a bone and let us in on her top tips for taking animal photos. Because, after all, dogs can’t learn new tricks…but photographers sure can.
About Kira Stackhouse: An award-winning, San Francisco-based animal and pet photographer, Kira’s modern, colorful images of animals have been featured in books, magazines and websites nationwide. She has photographed more than a thousand rescue dogs and cats, helping them find homes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kira is the creator and author of Project DOG, an online movement to promote responsible pet ownership. In her free time, Kira hangs out with her dogs and cats, and competes in triathlons and half marathons. She loves egg sandwiches, french fries, a good cappuccino and pizza that does not flop.
Kira shared her best business tips and let us know which SmugMug tools she loves most.
Read the full interview with Kira, and plan to include your pet in your holiday portraits this year.
Next in our holiday print lab series are our neighbors just over the hill: Bay Photo. As the first pro-only lab that we introduced at SmugMug, Bay Photo has earned the trust of pro SmugMug photographers since January 2009. Remember that anyone with a Portfolio and Business account can set your own prices and sell all kinds of print products direct from your SmugMug galleries. At Bay Photo, your clients can order Photo Extras like mats, frames and more. Perfect for making a little extra money this holiday season!
Today we’re getting the inside scoop about ThinWraps, one of Bay Photo’s most lightweight mounting options. If you’ve never seen or ordered one for yourself, this is your chance to see just how these special prints are made.
Where does Bay Photo find its inspiration?
We listen to our customers! Our customers are professional photographers and creative artists and we get amazing ideas from them. We do what we can but some ideas are just too unique to add to the line up. We also listen to our employees. Our team members have a ton of experience in their specific area of production. They come up with awesome ideas for how to modify an existing product or for completely new ones. Again we wish we could implement more of the ideas that come from our team members.
What do Bay Photo employees think?
They take pride in producing a product that is of a higher quality than what can be found elsewhere. We make products for professionals and we don’t skimp, often doing by hand what other production facilities may use machines to do. We have true artisans in the lab who refuse to put out an inferior product under the Bay Photo name. Plus, it’s fun!!
How did ThinWraps get their start?
ThinWraps actually have a very interesting beginning. The idea came about one night, late at night, when Larry, the owner, and Polo, one of our production department leaders, were making sample books for our trade show booth. We wanted to show all the different materials we could offer on our books, but didn’t want to use regular swatches and didn’t have the space to have a book of every type of material, so we decided to make the front covers only and mount them on the wall of the booth. When they were prepping the different materials they wrapped one of our photowrap covers, added a block to the back and a light bulb went off! Why not wrap prints on board add a mount block and hang that on the wall? It makes a unique, beautiful finished product ready to hang right out of the box and very contemporary looking.
Once we put it into our ordering system we knew ThinWraps were really a great idea because soon customers were asking for more options and sizes and competitors were starting to offer them too. Our original ThinWraps were the same as what you can order now, but we have added more options; Glossy and Satin laminate over lustre or metallic photopaper or canvas all wrapped around a board and finished with a nice back and your option of a mount block or an easel. You can also choose the original ThinWrap or a padded SoftTop ThinWrap!
Why would you recommend pro photographers give ThinWraps a try?
It is a clean looking product and is very easy for the end customer. It’s ready to hang on the wall right out of the shipping box. No framing or additional service needed. It’s contemporary looking piece and that is playful enough for a kids room or professional enough for an office.
How would you recommend keeping ThinWraps looking great?
The ThinWrap is very versatile and is well finished to last a long time. Like any photographic product it should not be put in direct sunlight, but it is also a product that can put up with a little bit more abuse; if the kids have sticky fingers, the laminate protects the image and can be cleaned off! Our favorite ThinWrap option combo is the metallic paper with satin laminate. It has the awesome metallic sheen without the glossiness which adds depth and a touch of something special to just about any image!
Thanks again to Bay Photo for this detailed look at an innovative product we love! Once again, if you’ve never before turned your images into beautiful prints at SmugMug, you’re missing out. You can easily turn your favorite photos into prints and gifts by opening any gallery and clicking the Add to Cart button. If you’ve disabled printing to visitors, the button will read “Owner Buy.” See how to print at SmugMug.
If you’ve ever considered opening your own photo studio for your clients, this month’s SmugMug podcast is just for you.
Studio photography offers a ton of convenience in a compact space. You’re in total control, leaving nothing to the weather, light, temperature, or anything else that could complicate your interaction with your clients. But renting a commercial space can be expensive. Why not use the extra space you’ve already have?
We talked with family and senior photographer Steve Harrington about how his booming business began right in his basement. He answered questions that you may have wondered about having a home studio, like:
- How did your family react to this decision?
- Do you need special insurance?
- How do you handle marketing of your address on social media?
- Have you ever had a customer just arrive at your door?
- Did anyone pass on your services because you were working out of your home?
Photo by Steve Harrington Photography
Listen to the podcast now on our new podcast site! And we hope that those you considering the move to studio photography learns a bit more about the options available to you.
PS. If you’re hungry for more, don’t forget to visit SmugMug’s education site for more podcasts, video tutorials, our live events calendar and tons of articles about photography, running a business, and how to get the most out of your SmugMug site. See you there!
Autumn is kicking off to a great start. Here are the top features that we’ve added to SmugMug since our last update.
Map This in the New SmugMug
We love taking cues from your feedback, and this was one of the big ones you missed when going from legacy to the new SmugMug.
If your photos are geotagged, we’ll automatically display a little globe icon underneath it in your gallery or lightbox. Click it and you’ll see that pin highlighted on a map that displays pins for all other geotagged photos in that gallery. We’ll group the ones close together until you zoom in enough.
Gone are the old 150-pin limits – If every photo in your gallery is geotagged, we’ll pin every single one of them on your map. Special galleries like your Popular Photos, Keywords and Date are capped at 1000 pins.
One last thing: Map This now works for unlisted and passworded galleries, so anyone you share those with can enjoy browsing by location, too. Catch up on all the mappy goodness on SmugMug.
New: Google Calendar for Your Site
Busy photographers, this one’s for you. We added a new content block for Google Calendar, so you can show your fans (or clients) when you’re busy and when you’re not.
Simply drag in the content block to any page on your site, then copy your Google Calendar ID and paste it in. Voila! There’s plenty of ways to tweak the settings so that it’s exactly what you want.
You’ll also notice that we’ve created a brand-new customization section called “Services” where you’ll find the new Google Calendar content block as well as the Wufoo form block that we recently debuted.
Look to our help pages for explanation on everything you need to know about embedding your calendar, and you can find more help about Google Calendars on their site.
A Fresher Shopping Cart
Since we rolled out a new look for SmugMug, we’ve got some catching up to do on some other parts of the experience. We started with the shopping cart:
In addition to giving it a beautiful, smooth new skin to match the rest of your website, we also added more options to the sidebar to make choosing a print product a heckuva lot easier.
In fact, we’ve gotten so much feedback from you (and your customers!) to display print sizes that didn’t need cropping, so now you can just uncheck that box to see all options that don’t require any trimming.
Happy buying and selling!
New Education Site
Last but not least, we’re proud to point out the fact that this news blog may have gotten a bit quieter in the last few weeks. We’ve officially taken the extra tips, tricks, and guest posts and will be publishing them on our brand new Education Site:
The new School.smugmug.com site will be the place to go if you’re looking for photography advice, how to get the most out of your SmugMug account, money-making business tips and inspirational posts by successful SmugMug photographers. We’ll also include a complete newsletter archive, featured SmugMug photos and dates when you can talk to us next.
You should continue to watch this space for announcements about product-related stuff like release notes, bug fixes, contests and other Smuggy goodness. And, as always, our help pages are the place to go if you need help with your website.
Let us know what you think and what you’d like to see in the coming weeks both on School.smugmug.com as well as in your galleries. Cheers!