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How to make a beautiful photography book with Blurb

November 8, 2013 1 comment

With the holiday season right around the corner, you’re likely starting to make your gift giving lists. There are many great ways to create gifts from your photos, including making beautiful photo books with them; yearbooks, cookbooks, daily planners, portfolio books, history books: there’s a book for every story that you want to share.  Our friends at Blurb.com have shared their best tips for building books and we are delighted to feature them here. 

Here at Blurb, we truly believe in the joy of books—reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them.

But making a book—particularly a photography book—can be daunting. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few things to think about when making a book of your photos. We think the best tool to use is our free program, BookSmart, but the tips below apply no matter what tool you use to make your book.

Before you start your book, there are four really important things to consider:

1) Start with a great body of content. There is no substitute for quality content, whether it’s photos, illustrations, text or whatever.

2) Editing is an art form. When it comes to editing, the old cliché holds true: “Less is more.”

3) Sequencing can decide whether your book sails or fails. Sequencing is simply determining the order of your content, start to finish, front to back. Start strong, end strong, and remember, your cover image can make it or break it.

4) Go look at books. If you want to create a great photography book you MUST look at great photography books. Think about fonts, sizes, colors—decide what feels right for you and for your project.

Part One: Be prepared

Get organized. Decide what images you are going to use in your book, name them so you can identify them easily, and do your editing before you make your book!

Color is important. Make no mistake: treat your images with respect, and prep them for print. Color management is important, and Blurb provides a wonderful tutorial section here.

If your book has text content—even if it’s just a collection of captions—create a single document with everything in it, sequenced in order of placement in your book.

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Part Two: Make your book

The cover can wait. Design the rest of the book before completing the cover. When you’re ready, design three or four different covers and live with them for a bit before making a final decision.

Take a deep breath. Let the beginning of the book (or “front matter”) breathe. Title pages, half title pages, dedications, essays—all of these things can all help ease a reader into the project.

Consistency is your friend. Be consistent with your templates. Try not to use more than two different templates for an entire book. BookSmart has lots of templates to choose from and you can always make your own.

Take another deep breath. Let the end of the book (or “back matter”) breathe. Your book is a journey, so make sure you give the reader a chance to ease out of the project. Elements like an index, dedications, or a closing essay let you provide critical information and end the book definitively.

Justify your choices. When your book is “done,” preview the book page-by-page. Does every element belong? Does it add to the story or is it a distraction?

Part Three: Publish. Celebrate. Repeat.

Check your spelling. Run spell check. We’ll repeat that: Run spell check.

Order up. When the book is complete, edited, sequenced and ready to go, sign in to Blurb and upload your book.

Share it, sell it. After the book has finished uploading, you can add information such as tags, titles,  and a brief description. Blurb gives you a Personal Storefront that you can share on your social networks. If you want to sell your book in the Blurb Bookstore, it’s easy to do so. And you get to keep 100% of the markup.

Have fun. Above all else, making a book should be an enjoyable experience. So enjoy it. And get started on another book soon. Like anything, you’ll get better with practice.

SmugMug account owners can build beautiful Blurb photo books from the Add to Cart menu in each gallery on their site. (more info)

Behind the Scenes at Bay Photo: ThinWraps

November 4, 2013 7 comments

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.

To start: Take a look at the ThinWraps product video from Bay Photo!

Where does Bay Photo find its inspiration?

ThinWrap print close-up by Bay Photo

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 by Bay Photo

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?

Finishes of Bay Photo's ThinWraps

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?

Close-up of ThinWraps by Bay Photo

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.

Blurb’s Top Tips For Building a Photo Book Masterpiece

November 26, 2012 3 comments

Whether you’ve traveled the globe seeking fine art photos, survived the safari of a lifetime or just had a new addition to your family, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better photo gift this holiday season than a personalized photo book.

Building a book can be as basic as clicking a button, but our friends at Blurb suggest a few tried-and-true tips for creating the perfect project each and every time. So when you’re ready to turn your SmugMug photos into your next book, keep these five tips in mind.

And as an extra bonus, keep reading for an exclusive Blurb discount for Smuggers.

1) Use only your best photos.

There’s more to choosing photos than just grabbing a bunch of interesting images. “Less is more” when it comes to a well-designed photo book, so eliminate any photos that you don’t have an emotional reaction to or are technically distracting (i.e., too dark, blurry, contain busy backgrounds, etc). You’ll end up with a more focused, powerful image selection.

And once you have them, don’t be afraid to edit your photos. Being tough on your own work is a surefire way to ensure that your book shows your best examples.

2) Keep it really, really simple.

Unless you’re going for a scrapbook look, keep the basic design clean and simple. Don’t go crazy by using too many different fonts, font sizes and a complicated page layout. Pick a simple & legible font that will print well! It’s easier on the eyes, and lets the beauty of your images shine through.

3) Keep headers and footers consistent.

One of the most easily-missed issues is the stuff on the edges: making sure all your headers and footers stay consistent throughout your book. In fact, you may want to do this part at the very end, after all other parts of your book are finished, since adding or reorganizing pages can override your header/footer settings. Be sure that whatever text you choose reads the same across left and right pages, and that you use a consistent font.

4) Don’t fall off the edge!

Just like with photo prints, you should keep an eye on the edges of your book and make sure you don’t put important parts of your images too close to the margins where there’s a bleed/trim area. This is especially important on covers, which usually contain graphics or words.

How close is too close? It depends on the cover option you choose but a good rule of thumb is to not put any critical content within an inch of your book’s edges.

5) Inspire with your cover design.

While we’re on the topic of covers: A great-looking cover is really important in getting people inspired and interested enough to open up your book and look more closely at your work. Our top tip is to keep it simple – don’t have too many fonts or photographs on the front and don’t always go for the obvious shot! It’s fun to be a little mysterious.

Blurb’s Very Smug Holiday Discount

If you’ve never made a photo book before through Blurb, now’s your chance to find out how easy it is! And if you have, then it’s the perfect opportunity to make another. They’ve got a huge variety of sizes, covers and papers so you can build the book that you want, at the price that you want.

Try any of their easy bookmaking tools to create your next masterpiece, and use the code SMUGCHEER to get 25 % off at checkout.*

And of course, don’t forget to take a look at their holiday shipping deadlines, to be sure that you’ve got something to give on the big day.

Happy page-turning holidays!

* Offer good for 25% off your print product total on books created by you up to a maximum discount of $200 USD, CAD & AUD, 120 Euros. Offer expires on Dec 10th at 11.59pm and can only be used by each person once. This offer may not be used towards gift cards, volume discounts or retroactively applied towards a previous order.

8 Unique Photo Gifts for Mom

April 23, 2012 3 comments


US Mother’s Day is just around the corner on May 13th. If you’re stumped on gifts, here are some creative photo ideas to help you turn the usual brunch and flowers into a truly memorable morning.

Great Gifts in Your Galleries

1. Tote bag

Most ladies love bags, but mom’s sure to grab the one that boasts her favorite photo. Plus, it’s roomy, versatile and carries it all – from diapers to groceries to yoga mats. Proud smile not included.

2. Ceramic photo mugs

Have a peaceful moment with the kids and coffee. (We’re not kidding!) A family photo on the mug lets mom sit with everyone at the table… even when they’re still asleep.

3. Mouse Pad

It’s time to retire that free mousepad from 2003. This customizable photo mousepad is an easy, thoughtful way to brighten up the desk.

4. Magnets

The kitchen is the heart of your home, a place for food, friends and family. Decorate the fridge with these custom photo magnets, or use them to proudly show who earned those straight A’s.

5. Desktop organizer

Whether it’s pens, pencils or paintbrushes (or all three), this mahogany desktop organizer keeps everything neat, tidy and looking great. Dress the front with her favorite family photo for an inspiring day at the office.

6. Box Framed Print

A beautiful alternative to a traditional printing options, these bold prints are photo paper mounted on board, then set away from the wall in a gorgeous wood box. A proud option for any proud parent, or anyone who wants something unique.

7. Custom Photo Cards

Way better than a drugstore greeting, a personalized photo card crafted around her favorite family portrait is sure to make her cry. Find the image in your gallery and click the Buy button > Create a Card option.

8. Her own photo website

The Gift of SmugMug is the perfect present for a shutter-happy mom. You can buy her 1, 2 or 3 years of Unlimited uploads, safe backup and easy prints and gifts.

Order soon for May delivery

Swing by our complete catalog to see all the goodies we offer. Remember that all print and gift items take 1-2 business days for processing and printing, so plan accordingly. Also, be sure to choose the right shipping option for a timely delivery.

We hope this sparks some ideas in you to create the perfect gift for those who make a difference in our lives. Here’s to making Mom’s Day 2012 a unique one!

The Time of Year to Give Smuggy Cheer

November 28, 2011 5 comments

Happy Cyber Monday, Smuggers! The Gift of SmugMug is back.

The dishes are done and the tree’s all lit up. Now it’s time to get back to the office, dust off your keyboards and… start shopping for sales.

We know you’re scouring the ‘net looking for good deals, so we’ll make this one quick. :)

What’s the Gift of SmugMug?

An easy way to give your photo nut in your life one, two, or three years of safe, unlimited SmugMug service. Unlimited uploads, worry-free subscription and peace of mind for their memories. What’s not to love?

We’ve brought the Gift of SmugMug back into our header, so you’re one click away from gifting that person that already has everything.

How much does it cost?

Depending on the plan, you can gift as little as $35, or three full years of Pro for $360.  The more you buy, the more you save.

Look right here to see all the details on how it works.

Do I get anything?

You bet. Don’t forget that when you give them their own safe, unlimited website, you get $10 to go towards your own Smug Self. Now that’s good karma!

WYSIWYG: SmugMug’s New Product Videos

November 15, 2011 19 comments

At SmugMug, we have a 100% guarantee that covers ALL orders, no strings attached. If there’s a problem with your order for any reason whatsoever, we’ll fix it, replace it or refund it. We don’t care if it’s because you ordered the wrong size, printed a typo or if your dog ate the mailman.

But we know that shopping online gets scary when you can’t feel or touch the products that you (or your clients) are buying. To help you better visualize our goodies, we sprinkled some short, easy-to-digest product videos around our catalog, like this one:

See Before You Spree

You can poke around the different pages or take a look at specific examples like:

They’re great for showing your clients what to expect. So don’t be afraid to tell them about it, too.

Tip: View Everything We Sell

You can see everything we sell and the prices you pay as a pro, here:

Full catalog, with pricing: http://www.smugmug.com/prints/catalog/ABP

When your customers or visitors need to see the catalog, the links in our footer will show them only the products, not the prices. Here they are:

Our full catalog with both labs: http://www.smugmug.com/prints/catalog/AB
Catalog with just EZ Prints: http://www.smugmug.com/prints/catalog/A
Catalog with just Bay Photo: http://www.smugmug.com/prints/catalog/B

Happy shopping (and selling) this holiday season!

A New Chapter in Photo Book Ideas: Notebooks, Planners and more

October 21, 2011 11 comments

Today we’re having our good friends at Blurb share a few of their hottest gift ideas for the coming holiday season. You know Blurb as those peeps who bring you easy, affordable, beautiful photo books. If you haven’t, check them out now! They make your SmugMug images totally shelfworthy.

Keep the Pages Turning With Useful Gifts

 Smart photographers know how to get their photos in peoples’ hands. As the gift-giving season approaches and you’re looking for that special present, know that there are lots of great, useful alternatives to the traditional photo book out there… and you can easily make them using your SmugMug photos and Blurb:

Notebook

Use Blurb BookSmart® to design a custom Notebook filled with your photos and blank, gridded, or lined paper. In addition to paper choices, you can order them in Hardcover, Softcover, or Hardcover ImageWrap to complete the look. They’re as little as $6.95 for a 20-page softcover.

Weekly Planners

Use Blurb BookSmart® and make a weekly planner using our custom planner templates for 2012. Each month gets an image, plus you can customize the front and back cover. You can even add extra pages in the back for notes or more photos. At 131 pages, they start at $23.95 for a softcover.

Small gift books

Our Small Square (7×7-inch) size is a perfectly portable size for a photo book. Compact, but still big enough to showcase your work. These start at $10.95 for a 20-page softcover.

Personalized books

The ultimate personalized gift. Since you can order just a single copy of a book with Blurb, you can add dedications and make books with specific photos for just one person. Using our online Blurb Bookify™ tool, you can easily pull in your SmugMug photos and make as many dedications as you wish.

A Holly Jolly Discount

As an added bonus, SmugMuggers can save 20% on their Blurb book orders through December 15th.* Just use the code MERRYSMUG when you check out.

You’ll find Blurb in the Buy button in any of your SmugMug galleries, under “Create a Book.” Try out these fabulous custom book ideas and keep them thinking of you (and your beautiful pics) all year long.

Cheers!
The Blurberati

* Coupon valid once per person, for purchase of books you’ve made yourself. Expires December 15th, 2011 at 11:59 PM, local time. Max coupon value $100, $120 AUD/CAD, 80 EUR, 60 GBP.

Photojojo’s Got Photo Shiz For You

September 7, 2011 242 comments

Tripods, light stands and battery grips may get your juices flowing but even the biggest gear nerds like to cut loose and have a little fun.

That’s were Photojojo kicks in. Their motto is “We find the best photo shiz anywhere” and, boy, do they mean it.

Cool toys for everyone

Photojojo has long been a part of our ClubSmug, offering registered Smuggers a sweet little deal on everything in their shop. Check out their site for all kinds of cool, unique and fun goodies! You don’t have to be a full-time professional to enjoy their loot. Or a full-time millionaire.

In fact, they prove that everyone is a photographer at heart.

This contest will prep you for anything

We know it sucks when you spot a Sasquatch and your DSLR is back at the hotel. But the best camera is the one you have.

So this week we’re teaming up and giving away a set of adorable (and useful) camera phone accessories that will give that little lens a big boost. They come in four sizes: Fisheye, Wide Angle, Macro and Telephoto, all to let you shoot whatever you wish from your trusty pocket gadget.

The best part is they’ll all fit in your pocket.

Fisheye, Macro, Wide Angle and Telephoto Phone Lenses at the Photojojo Store!

To enter this giveaway:

1. ‘Like’ Photojojo on their Facebook page here.

2. ‘Like’ SmugMug on our Facebook page here.

3. Post a comment below and share a link to your favorite camera phone shot.

We’ll announce a winner right here in this space on Wednesday, September 14th so you have a full seven days to dream up what you’re gonna shoot.

Good luck! Maybe this year your holiday cards will feature a pic snapped from your phone (of your family, not bigfoot). Don’t tell ‘em the truth and they’ll never know.

______________________________________________________

WINNER!

The giveaway is now wrapped up, and one lucky photographer has been randomly picked to take home Photojojo’s neat cell phone lenses. Big congrats to Lesley Myrick! Check out her cool cell phone shot here.

Thanks everyone for participating, and as always, check back again soon for another chance to win big.

Categories: Gifts, photography Tags: ,

Five Reasons to Make a Photo Book

August 15, 2011 5 comments

We bet that you love digital photography just as much as we do here at SmugMug. The ability to upload unlimited photos to safe, archival galleries and share them with anyone in the world is truly an amazing milestone in technology.

But sometimes it’s a good idea to take a moment and get back to your roots. This is why we want to remind you today to stop, take a deep breath of that delicious summer air and consider making your own custom photo book.

If still not sure, here’s 5 fantastic reasons to take your photos to the press.

1. Your hands (and eyes) will love it.

Nothing beats print. Even as technology eats up more and more of our time, you’ll never regret putting the beautiful colors of your life on paper and binding them in a thick, sturdy book. Pick it up, feel the heft and know that you’re looking at a format that’s stood the test of time. It’ll be with you forever. (And they make great gifts, too.)

2. There’s tons of ways to customize to your theme.

Most bookmaking sites guide you through the book building process so it’s easy to drop your photos in, give it a title and send it to print. Our partners at Blurb and MyCanvas go way beyond that and offer not just dead-simple building tools but tons of backgrounds, templates, layouts and even cover and binding options for your finished product. No matter what your book is about or who’s in it, there’s something for you.

3. It’ll make you a better photographer.

As you go through the process of building your book, you’ll get up close and personal with your photos. Think about the images you’ve taken, how you shot it and how it fits into not just your life but within the context of your book, too. All of these things can help you grow as a photographer. Learn from your experiences and make your next book even better!

4. Photo books spark conversations.

Even if your power goes out, your trusty books will be there for you, ready to be shown off, talked about and cherished. Who can ignore the big, beautiful presence of a book that tells your personal story? Your photo book is a special archive of your personal memories, artfully presented to you and your family as you pass it on. They’re always a conversation starter… even from across the room.

5. It’s a luxury you can afford.

Blurb’s books start at only $2.95 and MyCanvas begins at $29.95 . Get started from the Buy button in any of your SmugMug galleries and choose Create a Book. It may take a little time to get your book perfectly organized, captioned and polished but once you have that final work of art in your hands you won’t regret it.

What have you published lately? From family reunions to exotic getaways, we’d love to hear what’s bookworthy to you.

WANTED: #NicksBeard

February 21, 2011 5 comments

Have you seen this man?

You should. He’s awesome!

If you’ve never received a help email from Nick, shook his hand at a SMUG or boogied with him in Vegas then you’re missing out on one of the best bennies of being part of our family. Nick’s the real deal, and his Garbaldi is the source of his power. It makes scissors tremble and stylists swoon. Nothing can stand in its way and we have pictures to prove it.

Best of all, his beard is the Blarney Stone of the chin world. Touch it, and ye shall be gifted with undying off-camera light and perfection in posing.

Hero Nick will be stalking the pens at WPPI this week so you can come and see us (and him) at booths #1528 and #1529. If you can catch this cagey tiger and lay fingers on Thee Sacred Hairs, you may find yourself surrounded with beautiful models, zippy interns and possibly something even better.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Your Mission:

Snap a pic of yourself while touching Nick’s beard at WPPI and post it to SmugMug’s Facebook wall. Then tag yourself! And if you’re still riding on the high, Tweet your success so others can play, like this:

#NicksBeard. Snap a pic for a chance to win a prize from Andy’s gear bag. @SmugMug booths 1528 and 1529 #WPPI

Deadline is Tuesday at 9 PM, Vegas time. Winners will be announced via our Facebook Wall on Friday.

Your Reward:

Five winners will be randomly picked from all of those that show us the goods on our Facebook wall. We’ll then pick five more random winners from those who have tweeted about it, and another five random winners from everyone else who shows us they’ve touched The Beard.

Something good’s comin’ your way. We’ve got tons of swag, photo gear, bags and even a free year of SmugMug Pro ready to go.

And if Nick’s face-drapery isn’t enough to get you to hang out with us, stop by the booth for a super-special 40% off code to save on your first year of SmugMug. What else could you possibly ask for?

See you in Vegas, baby!

—————

UPDATE! Although this contest is now over, we have good news in the form of winners. There were fourteen successful posters who overcame shyness, crowds and bad wi-fi to post a pic of #NicksBeard, so they each get a free year of SmugMug Pro PLUS $125 print credit (OR $125 credit towards site customization with one of our certified companies). In addition to these great prizes, those of you who posted by the Tuesday evening deadline will get free bonus SmugSwag.

Thanks to everyone who participated, even if you couldn’t get your pic on our fan page!

If your name is below, stay tuned. Katherine will drop you a note on Facebook with details.

Winners:

If you couldn’t make it to Vegas, we have fun giveaways going on over at Facebook each week. Don’t forget to “Like” us so you can win something, too!

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