In the eight weeks leading up to the biggest Wedding Photography tradeshow of the year (WPPI!) we’ve been posting up a storm of great posts featuring sage advice, photo tips, and SmugMug tricks all aimed at helping you become a better photographer in the business of love.
We truly hope these articles have been inspiring and educational, whether you’re a seasoned pro ready for the best wedding season of your career, or a beginner looking for ways to meld your love of photography into everyday life.
Here’s the recap, just in case you missed one of these great articles along the way.
Photo by Lee Morris
The Business of Love
- Intimate Portraiture: A behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make your boudoir studio truly successful. Guest post by Je Revele Fine Art Photography.
- The Changing Business of Wedding Photography: Film to digital and beyond. Are you keeping up? Guest post by our friend, Lee Morris.
- Are All Weddings Created Equal? How and why traditional engagement photography techniques won’t work for same-sex couples. Podcast with Kathryn Hamm and Thea Dodd.
- Quadruple Your Wedding Reach in Half the Time: Just like it says. Learn about SmugMug, SnapKnot, and the best workflow for same-day edits with Vanessa Joy.
The Love of Photography
- Photowalks with Scott Jarvie: Circle the cameras, round up your friends! How to plan and pull off the photo event of the year.
Your SmugMug Toolkit
- Privacy Cheat Sheet: We’ve got a number of safeguards that can be mixed and matched to create the perfect bouquet of privacy for you, no matter what you shoot.
- Print lab Love: You’ve probably noticed that SmugMug offers not one, not two, but FOUR fabulous print lab options, each offering a full array of great print products. Here they are.
- Events, Favorites and Sharegroups: Save your friends a few brain cells. How to help them easily find the photos they want.
- How to Maximize Your Wedding Workflow, using SmugMug.
Wedding shooters: How exhausting is it to stay on top of your marketing plan? You always have to stay a step ahead and hunt for new clients while making your current ones happy. With thousands of photos to edit, you don’t have a lot of time to curate your photos, organize them in sets and send them out to magazine and blog editors.
And let’s not even talk about figuring out the best ways to harness the most powerful tool of them all: Facebook.
So why don’t you join us while we talk about it?
Same Day Edits: A Wedding Workflow Webinar with Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams
Pro wedding photographer Vanessa Joy and wedding videographer Rob Adams will share what they know (and answer your questions) about achieving the holy grail of all pro photographers: To take the right pictures, effectively market your work, and deliver the photos to your clients in record-breaking time. Win/win/win.
Here are the deets:
March 26, 2013 – 8:00 PM ET
Duration: 1.5 hours
Register HERE at GoToMeeting
Vanessa will show you how to use SmugMug, SnapKnot and other tools get your SEO maximized blog post, online gallery preview, photo slideshow, 2nd photographer photos, Facebook marketing and blog/magazine publication submissions all done on the night of the wedding, and all while wowing your clients and their guests with a same-day-slideshow and same-day-album.
You won’t want to miss this 1.5-hour webinar that will drastically improve your workflow, marketing, social media and client satisfaction.
Bonus Workshop in Los Angeles
Want to learn a full day’s worth of info about this topic? Check out their upcoming workshop, “Beyond the Same Day Edit,” on April 14th, 2013. Get the details about it on creativeLIVE and enroll for free.
Here’s to kicking off the most successful wedding season, yet!
UPDATE! In case you missed it, we’ve saved the webinar so you can watch it any time on SmugMug’s YouTube channel.
All photos by Vanessa Joy Photography
As you get ready for wedding season, we want to send a friendly reminder to any of you out there who may still be scared of one of our favorite Business features: Events.
Don’t be intimidated, because Events are just what the doctor ordered to keep your friends, fans and family sane. If you’ve never used this feature — or its little brother, Sharegroups, available to Basic, Power and Portfolio members — here are just a few reasons why you should dive in and give it a whirl.
1. Your friends will thank you.
Instead of sending a huge catalog of links to your wedding guests, send just one. Both Events and Sharegroups are “islands” that contain as many galleries as you wish, so there’s no need for guests to get off track. Mentally, it’s an easier and more friendly approach… especially since you get to pick the URL.
In short, you share just one link and your visitors don’t have to poke around your vacation pics looking for the bride.
2. You can exercise your OCD tendencies.
Events come bundled with lots of cool features, like a place to display a slideshow of favorites and details about the shoot, the ability to add in as many galleries as you wish and arrange them, email templates for sharing and lots more. Everything stays neat and tidy, and you can use all the options or just a few. Best of all, each client (we call them “Participants”) gets their own special view of the Event, and a unique gallery to hold their Favorites. So whether it’s the bride, her mom or a favorite aunt, their selections don’t get mixed up.
Sharegroups are the simplified version of the above: Bundle all the galleries you want under one Sharegroup and share the link. Like Events, you can enter a description and sort the included galleries in whatever order you wish. You’re still able to tweak ’til it squeaks.
3. You stay in control.
You’re the star; everyone’s waiting with bated breath to see your photos. When you’re ready, release all their galleries with one click, and (if you have a Business account) keep track of everyone who takes a look. The secret? Events’ registration feature. Just toggle the Registration setting to “Required” and anyone viewing your Event will be asked for their email address.
Both Events and Sharegroups can be locked down with viewing passwords, so images don’t fall into the wrong hands.
The 2-Minute Guide to Making Your First Event (or Sharegroup)
1. Make it.
To create an Event, open up your Account Settings and look under “Business.” Click on the “Making Money” tab and you can manage your Events on the right:
For Sharegroups, look under your Accounts Settings‘ “Discovery” tab and find Sharegroups under the “Sharing” tab:
2. Give the details.
Once you’ve opened the manager, click the “New” button at the top right and fill in your details.
3. Add the good stuff.
You can add galleries and Participants right away to Events. Don’t forget to click “Save” once you do!
For Sharegroups, you’ll have to save your new Sharegroup first, then go back to add the galleries to it.
If you want all the details about how these features work, check out our help pages for all the info. We’ve got a few other articles in our resource center for Pros on the endless benefits of Events, too.
Do you know Lee Morris, pro photographer, video producer and wicked-good educator? You should. He’s an incredible, seasoned commercial, advertising, fashion and wedding photographer, plus he’s co-founder of the refreshingly useful website Fstoppers.com. He’s also a friend of ours who took a moment to reflect on the wedding business, why it’s so hard, how it’s changing and how pros like you can make the most of it by staying true to your heart.
by Lee Morris
Weddings, From Film to Digital
It’s hard to imagine now, but just a few years ago wedding photographers burned every image into a single piece of film. If they didn’t expose or focus the image correctly, the frame was ruined. If the film was processed incorrectly, scratched, or lost, the picture was gone forever. A single piece of film with a quality image on it was a very valuable thing and wedding photographers charged accordingly. It was common for wedding photographers to charge a single flat rate to show up to the wedding but then an additional fee for the number of images taken and processed. At the time it was very common for couples to pay their wedding photographers a few hundred dollars to take the pictures, but they would then spend thousands paying for prints and albums to be made after the event. Just a few years ago, a digital copy of a photograph, one that you could view on a computer was worthless to couples getting married. They wanted classic prints that they could hold in their hands, hang on the wall, and share with their friends, and they were willing to pay a premium for them. Times have changed.
As digital started to take over, wedding photographers were very slow to give away or even sell the files to their clients and rightfully so; for their entire careers, they made most of their money selling prints, not actually shooting. Many photographers that were unwilling to adapt their businesses actually went under because they thought they couldn’t compete with the new “cheap” digital market. What many of these photographers failed to realize was that the money was still there, in fact, as wedding photography progressed, couples were actually willing to spend more; many of them simply weren’t interested in paying for expensive prints in a digital world.
The Role of Sentimentality in Business
When it comes to managing a business as intimate as wedding photography it’s easy to let your emotions take over. I try my best to approach my photography business as I would any other business. I need to manage my time, keep my current clients happy, consistently book new clients, and make money. So many photographers fail to meet at least one of these goals. Maybe you are really good at making your current clients happy but you work too much and you don’t enjoy your job or have time to enjoy your life. Maybe you book a ton of work but you don’t charge enough and you are constantly struggling financially. During the digital revolution many photographers that didn’t change their pricing structure were incapable of making their current clients happy. Maybe their pictures were great but as digital started to take over, couples felt like they were getting nickeled and dimed after the event. If you can’t make your current clients happy, you are going to struggle to find new clients.
When I started my business years ago I learned very early on that I hated making prints and albums. I could shoot a wedding in a few hours and make a few thousand dollars but it would take me a full day to retouch a few pictures, print them myself or take the files to a lab, package them up, take them to the post office and I would only make a few dollars profit. In many cases my clients would have to wait weeks to actually get their prints because I was out of the state shooting another job. I decided that I was going to start giving away the digital files with each of my weddings. Maybe I would lose a few dollars on the back end but I was also gaining a ton of free time and my clients were happier because they could print their pictures, how they wanted, when they wanted.
As a single guy in my twenties, money was important to me but free time was far more valuable. Once I had booked my 20 or 30 weddings for the year I knew I had plenty of income to support myself and I now had the security to start working on other things. With the extra time I had gained, I created the photography website Fstoppers.com. If I had focused on custom prints and albums like other photographers do I have no doubt I would have made a bit more money but Fstoppers has been far more rewarding. Creating videos for our website like Bon Jovi’s photographer behind the scenes, or Peter Hurley’s: The Art Behind The Headshot, or our newest video: How To Become A Wedding Photographer, has been the most exciting experiences of my life.
My point is that you may love your photography career (I sure do) but if you can give yourself some extra time, who knows what you will be able to create.
SmugMug = Time = Money
When I found SmugMug I realized that it filled 3 major needs in my business:
1. High resolution backups are included with the subscription.
2. It allowed me to promote my photography by giving guests and family members a place to go to see my work.
3. Bay Photo integration means I give my clients high quality prints without actually having to do any work.
By simplifying my business I was meeting all 4 goals above; I had more free time, my clients were happier, I was marketing to new potential clients, and I was making money from print sales each month.
It’s easy to think that we know what’s best for our clients. We may know that if they don’t book an album now, they will probably never get one made. But the sad truth is that many of our clients would rather put their pictures on Facebook than deal with an album. It’s important to remember that we are hired by these couples to do a service for them; if they don’t want prints, we should figure out what they do want and charge them accordingly for that. If you’ve ever bought a car before you know how obnoxious it can be when the salesman tries to sell you on something you don’t want. There are so many other ways to make money with wedding photography that may not involve incredibly expensive prints. I make far more money than I ever did selling prints selling engagment and bridal sessions, setting up a photobooth at receptions, selling video slideshows of the event, and offering a video service. Many photographers also don’t know that SmugMug makes it incredibly easy to sell digital copies of files. If you don’t want to give away your files like I do, you are able to set the size and price for each individual picture.
I want to make it clear that I love high quality prints and that many wedding photographers make a lot of money selling prints, even today. I love seeing my work printed huge, professionally framed, and hanging on a wall. My point is simply that times are changing and the current generation of brides probably do not want the same things that their mothers wanted. To stay ahead of the pack you need to deliver exactly what your clients are looking for, not what you think they will appreciate one day.
If I could sum up this article into a single point it would be this: Listen to your clients, and give them what they want. A happy bride will tell her friends how wonderful you are you will never have to worry about a shortage of work. In some cases, especially this one, it can make your life a whole lot simpler and you might even make more money.
All photos by RL Morris Weddings
Get a Boost in the Business of Love
In the spirit of wedding season and WPPI, we’re going to pick one extremely lucky winner who will sharpen their wedding photography skills and fistbump the biggest stars of the wedding biz in Las Vegas.
Here’s what we’re giving away:
- 1 copy of Lee Morris’ How to Become a Commercial Wedding Photographer DVD ($299.99 value)
- 1 all-access pass to WPPI 2013 in Las Vegas, NV ($399 value)
Here’s how to enter:
- LIKE SmugMug’s Facebook page
- LIKE Fstoppers’ Facebook page
- POST A COMMENT BELOW answering the question:
What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?
Get your entries in and we’ll randomly pick one winner on February 13, 2013. So keep your eyes peeled and don’t forget to check back for when we announce it here.
Edited to add: The giveaway is over but you can still learn! We highly recommend that you check out Lee’s video, available now on the Fstopper’s site. It’s a comprehensive, 14-hour, 2-years-in-the-making tutorial covering everything you’ll ever need to do know to become a successful wedding photographer. Check out the trailer to get more details about what you’ll learn and why wedding photography will change your life.
UPDATE: We’ve spun the wheel of destiny and it picked… Dennis Schroader! Congrats Dennis and we’ll be in touch with you to deliver your prizes. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts with all of us in the wedding industry!
It’s that time of year again: lab-shopping season. As the New Year rolls in, photographers focus on bettering their businesses and we know there’s nothing more exciting than delivering a beautiful print of a beautiful photo.*
You’ve probably noticed that SmugMug offers not one, not two, but FOUR fabulous print lab options, each offering a full array of great print products. So if you’re a seasoned pro who already has a favorite, we may already be friends with them.
Four labs means a ton of amazing print options, more than 600 different products in total. But before you start sweating, here’s a quick rundown on each one to help you narrow down and pick the best fit for your photos.
No matter what, rest assured that you get a single, cohesive online presence and a full business solution when you’re at SmugMug.
Your work is in good hands.
Based just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, these guys have been a true powerhouse print lab fulfilling orders for some of the nation’s biggest event companies. But they’re more than just brawn — they put all that experience to work getting your print orders out the door quickly and economically, whether you buy one print or one thousand. EZ Prints is available to every single SmugMug user, and they fulfill all 4×8 and 5×7 photo card orders, to boot.
Our friends at Bay Photo enjoy the sun and fresh sea air each day in Santa Cruz, California. The positive effects are evident in the pride they take to their work, attention to detail, and the approach to customer service. Business and Portfolio SmugMuggers tell us that Bay Photo’s hand color correction, meticulously strong packaging and innovative product lineup are essential to the satisfaction of their clients. Plus, did you know that using Bay Photo also offers delicious Photo Extras like mats, frames, mounted prints and more, so you save a trip to the framers?
Last year we unveiled our first non-USA print lab, Loxley Colour. Situated in the outskirts of beautiful Glasgow, Scotland, they’re ready to fulfill all your highest-end print and display needs, right from your SmugMug gallery. They’re particularly popular with picky pros (and their picky customers) in the UK, but they’re happy to ship anywhere in Europe… and beyond.
White House Custom Colour
We started hearing that SmugMug Pros wanted even more print lab options, so we put our ears to the ground. White House Custom Colour won by being a crowd favorite and by passing our rigorous print quality test with flying colors. We felt confident that they met our (and your) incredibly high standards for beautiful prints each and every time. They hail from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and opened a second and third location in Dallas, Texas and Fresno, California, to bridge pros from all corners of the United States. They’re a family-grown business just like SmugMug, proving that we have a lot more in common than just a love for photography.
Three Quick Notes
1) EZ Prints is available at all SmugMug account levels.
2) Bay Photo, WHCC and Loxley Colour are only available if you have a Portfolio or a Business level account.
3) All labs ship their goodies everywhere on the planet. But for logistical reasons, you may choose to pick the lab that’s closest to you.
Here’s hoping that you fall lens-over-heels in love with your your perfect lab this year!
* We know that DPI really stands for “Delirious Pixel Infatuation.”
You’ve probably taken a spin through our catalog of 2012 holiday cards and seen how easy it is to build, buy and sell photo cards through your galleries. But if you’re still trying to decide on what to send, here’s a few tips that may help you narrow it down based on what’s important to you.
Holiday shipping deadlines! If you’re shopping for someone this season, be sure that you get your orders in no later than the following dates for December 24th delivery. (For domestic US and UK orders only)
- 6-10 Business days: December 5th, 2012
- 3-5 Business days: December 12th, 2012
- 2 Business days: December 17th, 2012
- 1 Business day: December 18th, 2012
1) Cards For Word Nerds.
Had a busy year? You can tell your friends and family all about it in these templates that give you tons of space to say anything you wish. Fill it with your family newsletter, your favorite recipe or a festive poem.
Inside you’ll see plenty of space to write whatever you wish, perfect for inviting your readers to curl up with a mug of hot cocoa and read what’s new with you:
2) Cards For Studios
We get asked a lot if any of our cards include a text box on the back panel to add a business name. The answer is: Yes! If you want to type in your studio name, website URL or even a surprise message on the back of your card, look no further. These designs rock a little text field so you can have the last word.
Find them in the “Back of Card Text” category in the card builder.
Here are two fabulous examples:
3) Cards For Multi-taskers
Christmas comes but once a year, but there are so many more occasions worthy of great photo cards. We offer several designs that let you simply change the text and photos, so you can take your favorite card from “New Year” to “New Baby!”
These designs boast clean layouts or multiple color options, so you can dress them up for any event.
4) Cards For Happy Snappers
For those of you who love to share lots of photos and can’t pick out just one or two, try these. We offer lots of designs that give you space to drag and drop in up to 8 different images.
You can easily find all the photo-heavy card designs in our catalog. Simply look at the top and click the “Sort by: Number of Photos” link you see there.
We hope that you’ll find the perfect card in our catalog to suit any photo and any holiday greeting you’re dreaming up.
Happy holiday planning from SmugMug!
Tips, info and inspiration with cards:
This post is a result of the passionate feedback many of you gave us after our pricing change—and some incredibly moving stories we heard about your photography.
It’s been two months since we created two Pro accounts, Portfolio and Business, where once there was one. The main difference between them was the ability to price & sell.
Today we’re adding the ability to price & sell to Portfolio accounts. This account level is designed for up-and-coming photographers on a budget who don’t need the features higher-volume Pros use, but who want a gorgeous site, protected images, and the ability to earn profit through our Pro print labs.
Portfolio accounts include:
- All the features of Basic and Power accounts, including deep site customization.
- The ability to set your own prices (one Pricelist active at a time).
- Complete image protection including Watermarks, Printmarks, and Backprinting.
- Proof Delay to edit your photos after the sale.
Business accounts include:
- All the features of Basic, Power and Portfolio accounts.
- The ability to set gallery & photo specific pricing with multiple active Pricelists.
- Powerful sales tools including Coupons, Packages & Personal Delivery.
- Powerful marketing tools including Events & Favorites, Order Branding, Cart Branding and Boutique Packaging.
You can find a complete list of differences between the accounts on our updated features page.
As we mentioned two months ago, storage is one of the big drivers behind our decision to split Pro accounts. When we dug into the data, it became clear that heavy storage usage was highly correlated with accounts using advanced Business features, including multiple Pricelists. We also heard great feedback that you needed better visibility about how much storage you’re using, and what you can do about it. We’ve taken that feedback to heart and will provide better tools in the future.
Two months ago we announced that renewals at the new rates would begin October 15th. Many Pros have noticed, however, that we’re still renewing at the old rates. That’s because we didn’t want anyone to renew at the Business rate if they would have been a better fit with Portfolio after this change. With this change, renewals at the new rates will begin early Saturday morning.
Our price change was honestly scary and emotional. Two months later, we’re relieved that it’s providing us the ability to invest more in engineering because sales are up. We are gratified by the support we’ve received from so many of you and hope that this change will offer wonderful up-and-coming photographers a chance to pursue their passion.
We’ll continue to listen to your feedback and adjust our account levels accordingly, so keep it coming.
All the best,
Chris & Don MacAskill
Founders, photographers, regular guys
Over the last few months, we’ve gotten so much feedback from our Pros about the $0.49 base cost for digital downloads. (Thanks!) So we put on our thinking caps, made a few espressos and dreamed up a better way to make this work.
How it Works, Now:
We’ve made the new base cost for individual digital downloads one penny. Why? More Pros than we expected loved this price point when offering many downloads to customers, so we took our cues from them. You can still add a reasonable markup, without bending your customers’ wallets out of shape. Gallery downloads still have a base cost of $0.99.
To cover our costs of processing and distributing your digital files, we’ll add a single $0.50 processing fee to the shopping cart when:
- The order’s subtotal (after Coupons) is less than $10
- The order contains at least one digital download
In English: More money for you. You get the most control over the pricing and still take home a sweet profit.
What’s not to love? Tell us. We’re listening.
P.S. If you’re a Pro who uses % markup, you may want to log in and give your Pricelists a quick review. Just sayin’.
Pssst, wedding pros! Whether you’re a veteran Smugger or you’re just trying us out, we thought we’d share a few tips today on how to use the powerful features you already have to make your business an astounding success.
You’ll find these tools (and more) baked right in to every SmugMug Pro account, so let’s get started.
Tip 1: Don’t Make Them Think. Or Hunt. Or Search.
It’s important that you do as much as you can from ONE place (your gallery!) so your clients don’t get distracted or lost. Here’s how:
Use a Custom Website URL. You can already pick pretty much any SmugMug nickname that you want, but take it a step further and grab a custom domain to match your brand. SmugMugDomains.com gets you one in just a few steps.
Funnel, Funnel, Funnel. Our Events feature corrals errant wedding galleries into one link that you can share with the bride. This way she doesn’t have to hunt and peck around your vacation pics from 2005. Best of all, she can pick her Favorite photos, put them into a separate gallery and buy prints.
Shorter is Easier. Don’t scare fans away with long links. You can drop any size gallery or photo URL into our Smu.gs link shortener to get a bite-sized link… which is mentally easier to share, too.
Show Them Samples. To tempt their palates, order a few of your best photos in a few of your favorite formats. Showing your clients finished examples of your work and letting them touch, feel and see the quality for themselves makes a world of difference. Don’t forget SmugMug’s 100% guarantee.
Tell Them What to Do. The gallery description is an untapped resource. You can enter info about the photos in that space, but save your visitors a few brain cells by giving them step by step instructions on how to place an order, any limited-time coupons you’re offering, and which sizes and products you like best.
Tip 2: Create Urgency.
Everybody loves a deal, and limited time promotions are the sweetest to cash in.
Limited-time Coupons. Look in your Account Settings to create five different kinds of promotional coupons that get clients buying now. You can create one for each client, or one for your event. Don’t forget to set an expiration date so they can’t procrastinate forever.
Close the Loop: Order Branding. It’s not over even after they buy. You can upload any design or message to be included in the delivery box as a 5×7 Thank You Print. More ideas? Incorporate your contact info, heartfelt thanks, referral details for an upcoming event or even a discount code for their next order. The sky’s the limit!
Tip 3: Be Serious.
Charge a Fair Price. We’ve covered this before but it’s always worth reminding you Pros to be sure you’re charging enough. The more you value yourself, the better your business will be.
Prove Your Work is Mag-worthy. Who wouldn’t hire a published photographer? Our friendship with Two Bright Lights can make all the difference. Sign up for an account, upload some portfolio photos and let them do the heavy lifting.
Marketing: Never Settle. Leverage the power of Facebook and Twitter every time you get published, have a great photo shoot or just want to share a few pics. Carry business cards wherever you go so you’ll never be unprepared.
Tip 4: Resources. We Have Them.
Blurb Books. These make perfect guest books, and let you put your photos into their hands in a way they won’t forget. Blurb’s easy-to-use book building software lets you drag and drop your images into templates, and you get your choice of stunning covers and papers. There’s something for every budget. And every bride.
MOO business cards. Don’t get caught without your contact info in-hand. MOO cards are affordable, portable portfolios you can keep in your pocket, so you’re always ready to show off and share your details. Talk about multitasking!
Photo Albums. Busy? We understand. Our friends at zookie pro and KISS are ready and waiting to slurp your photos and design and turn them into beautiful, perfect albums your clients will cherish forever. All while you sleep, shoot, and get on with your life.
We hope this info inspires you photographers to get out there and be the best wedding pro you can possibly be. And as always, stay tuned for more tips coming your way.
- How to set up a custom domain on SmugMug
- Events and Favorites
- Smug.gs link shortener
- Our enormous catalog of prints and gifts
- SmugMug’s 100% print guarantee
- Edit your gallery description in your Gallery Settings, under “Extras”
- Account Settings: Your key to everything
- Create 5 favors of Coupons
- All about Order Branding
- The Great Pricing Hoax
- How to market yourself on SmugMug
- Portfolio in your pocket: MOO cards
- Beautiful KISS albums for every busy Pro
- zookie pro designs your albums while you sleep