Your Background’s Got Some New Moves

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and a gorgeous homepage for your photography website does just that. SmugMug makes it easy to have a jaw-droppingly beautiful homepage with our options for content, themes, backgrounds and layout. And now, we’ve added full-screen HD video to the already existing background options of full-screen slideshow, a single image, or a rotating series of images.

Backgrounds sit behind your navigation menus, Gallery Blocks, Text Blocks, and any other content you have on a page, so to make your video the star, you may want to consider moving—or even removing—content that cramps your style.

Of course, you’ll probably want to have your logo and navigation menu remain and be very visible. Certain colors in your background photos or video can make your site hard to read, but we have tools for solving that through background options: just toggle on a “mask” that dims or brightens the background and allows your content to shine.

This new feature is available only on New SmugMug. Videos must be less than a minute long and can’t be shortened after uploading, so make sure you trim your video before you upload it.

Once you upload your video, you’ll want to open your Customizer and select the Background tab to set it as your background. Check out this help article for the full dish on how to make your video background shine.

Is it available on my account? Basic account users can add background images, videos, or slideshows to their homepage only. All other account holders can add this content to any page(s) on their site.

You can set your video background to appear across your entire site, only on your homepage, or on select Galleries, Folders, and Pages on your SmugMug site. Tweak it to your liking in the Customizer.

New Feature: Client Area

If you’ve ever wanted a special place on your SmugMug site to highlight your clients’ photos, you now have that place: the Client Area.

The Client Area takes our Private Sharing feature to the next level by consolidating the photos you’ve shared with a client in one easy-to-find location on your SmugMug website. No longer do they need to keep track of any links you email them.

Client Area

Portfolio and Business account holders can see this new client area at nickname.smugmug.com/client. Just replace “nickname” with your SmugMug nickname. You can also add a link to the client area in your navigation menu.

Just like the 404, browse, popular, etc. pages, the Client Area is fully customizable.

To get started, invite your clients to view their gallery by privately sharing it with them. Once they accept the invitation, they can view their photos in your Client Area. This feature is commonly called “Client Login,” but the Client Area is more than just a login—it’s a home for your clients’ photos.

Questions about this new feature? Our Support Heroes are always here to help!

Release Notes: New Drop Zones, Lightbox Customization, Carousel Improvements, Private Sharing, and More.

Spring has sprung, and we’re celebrating with a slew of new features and improvements released during the past few weeks.

Auto-Scroll and More Photo Options for Carousel
You wanted more options for the new Carousel content block, and we heard you! Now you can enable auto-scroll, looping, randomization, and keyboard navigation. Plus you can choose from additional photo sources: Popular and Recent Photos.

Get the full lowdown on the new Carousel control options here.

Customize Your Lightbox
Showcase your photos the way you want them to be seen with a customizable Lightbox. Show your background, hide or show the photo tools, enlarge or minimize your Buy button, and more. Go minimal or extra informative. The choice is now yours.

Learn how to tweak your Lightbox to display your photos the way you want.

Drag-and-Drop Customization Got Even Better
New drop zones in the Customizer are now larger and highlight where you can drop new content blocks on a page, making it easier to see exactly where you can place your content.

Brush up on customizing your site with drag-and-drop content blocks.

Privately Share Photos
Now you can share your photos with only the people you choose. With our new Private Sharing feature, you can send unique invitation links to friends, family, and clients to give them special access to photos meant for their eyes only.

Read more about this new sharing option and tips for including it in your workflow. And check out this informational webinar for a walkthrough on how to share your photos privately.

Miscellaneous
Here’s a list of all the other fixes we’ve released:

  • Stats: Logged-in owner views are no longer counted.
  • Menu: Child menu items set to open in a new tab now do as they’re told: open in a new tab.
  • Profile/Cover Photo: Deleting your profile or cover photo no longer breaks your profile content block on the page.
  • Mobile: Images viewed in the Lightbox on mobile web now look even better.
  • Vimeo: Private Vimeo videos no longer display where they shouldn’t.
  • Email: Emails sent using the “Contact Link” on your website now clearly indicate they’re from your visitors and not from SmugMug.

Stay tuned as always for more great features and improvements coming through this space!

Related Links:

Take the New Carousel for a Spin

After lots of requests by SmugMuggers with great taste, we can officially announce the newest in the lineup of customizable content blocks: The Carousel!

This beautiful new feature lets your fans have a more interactive experience with your site, allowing them to scroll forwards and backwards through your favorite photos. We loved this idea and are thrilled that so many of you reached out to us. It’s such a gorgeous and interactive way to showcase your favorite photos. Here’s how to use it.

Want to see it in action? Here are a few great examples to get you inspired:

Beautiful Scrolling on All Screens

The Carousel content block can be placed anywhere on the page you’re customizing, plus it’s powered by HTML5, so it looks beautiful on all modern browsers and mobile devices.

You can pull images from any gallery on your site, or hand-pick individual photos from anywhere. And like most other content blocks, you can tweak settings further to show/hide the navigation arrows, change the height of the box, and so on.

Bonus: You can optionally customize it more with CSS.

Find It Now on All SmugMug Sites

Every site using the New SmugMug can get started using the carousel today. Find it under the Content > Photo section of your customizer and drop it into any page or gallery on your site. (Basic users can drop it anywhere they wish on their homepage.)

Tip: Make sure the photos you upload and your Maximum Display Size are large enough to fill the selections you set in the Carousel block settings. If they aren’t, your images may vary in height within the display area.

We’ve seen carousel-style displays popular with fashion, sports, and commercial photographers, and we’d love to see how you’re using it for your photos. Post a link to your site in the comments below, or share it with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Related links:

Release Notes: See Collected Photos, Upload from Any iOS App, New Video Tutorials, and more

To get warmed up for a new year of great features and improvements, here’s a few new additions that have rolled in over the last few weeks.

Easily See Collected Photos

Collected photos now display a little arrow icon in the bottom left corner when viewed in your Organizer. Since many of you use Collecting to create galleries, we hope you’ll find this improvement helpful for indicating which photos live elsewhere.

Read more about how to Collect photos, why it rocks, and how to prevent other people from Collecting your images.

Upload to SmugMug from Other iOS Apps

Now you can upload your mobile photos directly from your camera roll and other apps to SmugMug! You’ll need to have the latest version of the free SmugMug App installed on your device, of course. Then simply hit the Share icon in your chosen app and choose SmugMug from the list of available services. In some cases, you may have to look under the “more” option.

This is an excellent way to quickly back up and store your on-the-go photos, which (let’s face it) are probably some of the most precious photos we take. So keep them safe!

Tip: If you don’t see SmugMug on the list of available apps, contact the app’s developer to request that other extensions be added to their list. We’ve got more info about that here.

Relative Links for Fewer Keystrokes

Power, Portfolio, and Business users: Custom links added through the Single Photos, Social Icons, Menus, and Logo Content Blocks now allow relative URLs in the Custom URL field when using a “/” in the beginning of your link.

Example: Typing  “/About” in the field will automatically link to  http://yoursite.smugmug.com/About, or http://yourcustomdomain.com/About if you have a custom domain.

Three New Video Tutorials

We’ve also been hard at work filling out our library of great video tutorials. Here are three more you can watch and share:

1) Collect Photo Tool – Learn How to Display One Photo in Many Galleries

2) How To: Arrange & Sort Photos and Videos – SmugMug Quick Reference

3) How To: Move Photos and Videos between Galleries on SmugMug

If you like what you see, don’t forget to subscribe to our video tutorials channel and leave us a comment or feedback there. We love hearing what features you could use more help with!

Miscellaneous Fixes

Here’s a list of all the other bugs and fixes we’ve released:

  • We fixed the shopping cart header icon for IE9 users who couldn’t click it to get into the cart and check out. IE9/10/11 are now supported (in addition to all the other browsers that are already supported.)
  • We fixed an issue with StatCounter not properly counting image views.
  • Turning off centering in the Single Photo Content Block will now properly align the image to the left.

Stay tuned as always for more great features and improvements coming through this space!

Related links:

Smug Tip: We’re Your Holiday Newsletter’s Best-Kept Secret

This year, skip the stamps and go digital for the family newsletter. Your SmugMug account is the perfect way to share a beautiful, personalized, ever-changing array of memories from the year that’s easily shared with friends, family, and everyone you wish.

Not only do you gain precious extra time to put it together (fab for busy holiday preppers), but you can go way beyond text with a custom SmugMug newsletter page. Think: Video, slideshows, maps, the whole shebang! And it’s interactive, letting your friends and family click through your content, leave comments, share and more.

Our SmugMug family newsletter, digital-style.

How to Build Your Newsletter

First, we’ve built a sample holiday newsletter from SmugMug and put it right here. Take a look and we’ll break each piece down for you below.

Creating a custom holiday newsletter can be done as many ways as there are snowflakes in Siberia, so these tips are just a guideline. Feel free to experiment with different content and layouts until you get something you like. The sky’s the limit! 

  1. Create a Page. If you plan on making your newsletters digital each year going forward, we suggest actually going a step further and creating a whole new Folder called “Family Newsletters.” From there, you can create your Page and name it by year.
  2. Choose a Theme. Since we’re specifically creating a holiday newsletter, try Winter, Flurries, Blizzard, or Snowflake for that seasonal feel.
  3. Plan your content. Think through the highlights of your year and how you want to present those memories. Would you like to add in a block of thumbnails that viewers can click? Or would you prefer to display them in a slideshow? Do you have any videos you’d like to share of school plays, memorable sports wins, or your annual vacation?
  4. Add your content. To do this, you may want to Collect just the photos you want into a special, unlisted “Newsletter” gallery, so you can easily drop it into the page and not have to select lots of photos from many folders around your site. This also keeps fans who click through to see more from getting lost.
  5. Tell your story. Use Title and Text blocks to greet guests and tell them every detail about your year. Remember that you’re never confined to just one block, so you can break up your text and let it flow down the page around the different photos and other content.
  6. Make it shareable. Don’t forget to add a Social Buttons box at the top or bottom of the page so your viewers can share it with other loved ones you may not be able to reach.
Dress up your newsletter page or gallery with a festive holiday theme.

Have a Basic account? While the ability to create custom Pages and use the more advanced Content Blocks are available only with Power accounts and up, there’s plenty you can do. Customize your SmugMug homepage to include all the Content Blocks that tell your story, or create a new gallery and Collect your best photos from around your site to illustrate all the great things you did this year. Your Gallery Description field is the perfect place to greet your guests, and you can use the photo Title and Caption fields to expand on what happened in each and every photo.

Key Smug Features to Use

The Multiple Photos content block is a great option for displaying select photos from your year.

We’ve just barely skimmed the surface of what you can do, so here’s a list of Content Block options you’ve already got to build the best digital newsletter your family has ever seen.

  • Custom Pages. Why stop at one? If an epic story needs to be explained, link out to a second, third, or fourth page so your fans can read all about it. We love photo blogs!
  • Themes. If you’re in Australia, snow may not fit the holiday idea like it would in Canada. Your account comes packed with dozens of beautiful themes, so don’t be afraid to be different.
  • Text and Title blocks. These are key. You could let your photos speak for themselves, but we prefer tradition on this one.
  • Maps. If you’re a globetrotter who loves to geotag, embedding a map is a wonderful, interactive way to show your family where you’ve traveled this year.
  • Slideshow box. A space-saver. For those who don’t prefer the endless scroll, the Slideshow content block is a great way to show off big, beautiful photos one at a time. You can even customize the playback speed, transitions, and much more.
  • Animoto video. Video clips are a fabulous addition to any newsletter, since paper versions can’t do this at all. But if you’re not sure your shaky vacation clips are up to snuff, you can still create an engaging, professional, beautiful video from your content with Animoto. They’ll do all the work so all you have to do is drop it into your page. Find it in any gallery under Buy > Other Products > Create a Video.
  • Galleries box. An easy way to feature your best galleries of the year, all around your site.
  • Comments. Will grandma love this year’s newsletter? Drop in a comment box so you can find out!
  • Social share buttons. Because you may not have the email address of your second cousin twice removed, the one you hit it off with at your niece’s wedding. But somebody in your network will.

Tip: Pair Your Newsletter with a (Real, Paper) Card

Even if you go digital on the newsletter, you can (and should) still turn your best photos into a beautiful holiday card. SmugMug’s got tons of gorgeous, personalizable designs that complement any photo you’ve ever taken (we’re willing to bet on it).

And since you can write your own words in them, a photo card is the perfect opportunity to debut the link to your newsletter. ;)

We just think the digital newsletter idea gives you much greater creativity and flexibility when it comes to your memories since you can add, change, and update the content your family sees.

Happy holiday planning, and we’d love to see your own creative examples of family newsletters this year! Tweet us a link, send it to our Support Heroes, post it to our Facebook wall, or just leave a comment below so we can check it out.

Links to love:

Treat Yourself This Halloween with More Smug Friends

This is a favorite time of the year for lots of us who love to have fun with friends and family, dress up, and watch the leaves change on the trees. Remember pooling your trick-or-treating candy and swapping and sharing with friends? We hope that at SmugMug, you’ll still be able to do this in the spirit of the holiday.

No Tricks, Just Treats at SmugMug

20% credit is a sweet, sweet reward for every friend you bring over to join us. Remember that when you share the secret of beautiful online galleries with friends using your unique referral link, you earn a percentage of their account value back into yours. And they get a discount off their first year, too, just for knowing you.

Why would they join? Great memories start with friends, and everyone needs a safe place to put them. Whether they love to document the kids’ adorable costumes year after year or are famous for throwing wickedly delicious Halloween parties, there’s room for it all in SmugMug’s unlimited galleries.

SmugMug’s “Spooky” theme
Try our festive “Pumpkins” theme.

Let’s not forget that every account comes bundled with dozens of gorgeous one-click themes (like “Spooky” and “Pumpkins”), so your Halloween galleries will look appropriately festive… even if their personality’s sunny and warm.

And if the party gets a little too crazy, we’ve got powerful privacy features to boot.

So what are you waiting for? Your friends are waiting!

Kudos to September’s Winner: Chip Jones

Congrats to Chip Jones, our most recent winner of our monthly Refer-a-Friend contest! Chip takes gorgeous Fine Art, Landscape, and Architectural Photographs, and we’re pleased to be able to add a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition camera to his lineup of photo tools.

Chip Jones Photography

Time’s running out on our contest, so if you’re looking to win one of your own, don’t forget to check out the contest and prize details, and start sharing SmugMug with your circle of friends.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Links to love: