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.
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.
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!
One of the most popular (and constant) debates between photographers is how to properly price your work and know that you’re not over- or under-charging for what you do. We’ve covered this topic before, but like fingerprints, no two photographers are the same. How do you know that someone else’s magic number is right for you?
Pricing Podcast with Dane Sanders
Tune in to our latest podcast with the inimitable Dane Sanders: photographer, entrepreneur, educator and author of countless business strategies for photographers like you. He’s no stranger to helping passionate people find their stride, get their businesses off the ground and turn their love into a lucrative way of life.
In this podcast, you’ll hear answers to some of the most important pro questions, such as:
- Are you a freelance or a signature photographer, and why does it matter?
- How do you get past the “newbie mindset” and stop sabotaging your success?
- Are there any benefits to being new, and how can you leverage the opportunity?
- Can you afford to accept that next photo gig?
- How do you charge a fair price without scaring the client away?
- Why should you trust your print lab?
Dive in to iTunes right now and start listening! Podcasts are the perfect way to give yourself a competitive edge while you’re processing last night’s photos, or while you’re stuck on your morning commute.
We REALLY Want You To Succeed! Listen and Win More Ways to Learn
If you’re hungry for even more photo knowledge, we’ve got a Full Scholarship* to give away for Skip Cohen University’s Summer Session in Chicago, August 11-14, 2013. One lucky winner will get a chance to fine-tune their photo and business skills, meet other photographers and recharge their creative batteries. Read more about the program here.
* Airfare and accommodations not included
Here’s how to enter:
- Listen to our most recent podcast with Dane Sanders.
- Tweet your most memorable “A-ha!” moment at us and use the hash tag #ahasmugmug
We’ll pick one lucky random winner on July 3rd, 2013.
So keep listening, keep learning and start getting more light bulb moments when it comes to your business!
UPDATE: Congratulations to our winner, Joy Michelle Photography (@joymphotography)! We’ll be in touch with you ASAP with all the info for SCU’s exciting summer session.
These days, everyone has a website and we think they’re great. But how do you know exactly what your friends, family and fans are really thinking when they see it? And if you’re a pro making money from your craft: Are you sure that your site is doing everything it can to get you clients and seal the deal? How much business are you losing from silly mistakes?
After browsing tons of sites and hearing the advice from our marvelous team of Support Heroes, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get the best, most effective and appealing website you possibly can.
1) Your Contact Information
Omitting or hiding ways for people to reach you is a grave mistake, one that you may not even know you’re making. Think it through: If someone finds your site and wants to talk with you, how would they do it? If you forget to include your contact information (or hide it several clicks deep), would you expect them to spend more than 5 minutes hunting for it before they give up? Chances are you don’t even have that long before they move on.
It’s true that putting your email address or phone number out in public can be risky. But there are plenty of great ways to let your fans reach out to you without throwing the door open to everyone that walks by.
What you should do: First and foremost, have a way to contact you either at the top, bottom, or in the navigation bar of your website. With SmugMug it’s easy to add a link using the Easy Customizer, plus we highly recommend that SmugMug Portfolio and Business users fill out the Customer Email info in their Account Settings. This way, anyone clicking the “Contact” link in your footer will get a safe, handy pop-up box where they can send you a direct message. You can even customize the text and place that link in your navbar.
The great thing is that everyone has a website these days, including you. But the downside is… everyone has a website these days. How will you stand out? The answer is: Be yourself! You have a personality and it’s completely unique. Use your witty language, goofy selfies or whatever it takes to show the world that you’re way more than just another link on the web. Talk about what drives you and why you’re so passionate about your work. They’ll absolutely love meeting you in your studio or your next gallery show.
What you should do: It’s hard to talk about yourself and it’s even harder to weed out what strangers want to hear (vs what’s TMI), but don’t be afraid to browse through some of your favorite websites and see what sticks in your mind about their bios. And what doesn’t.
3) Punctuality, Punctuation, Competence
Nothing looks more sloppy than a super-slow website with broken images and dead links. Even if you aren’t looking to make money through your website, you still want to look poised, polished, and perfect as any pro. Right? So do a regular audit of your site, click those links and update them regularly to make sure they work the first time, every time. When you’re logged out of your site and viewing like a guest, what do you see?
What you should do: On SmugMug, we already give you warp-speed page loads and unlimited traffic and sharing. So become as famous as you want. We can take it. Our Share button will generate handy share and embed links for all your photos, so you can be sure those images look beautiful every single time.
Your gorgeous photos may speak for themselves, but if your site’s a mess the message will still get lost. K.I.S.S. When you have house guests you clean up, so extend the same courtesy to your online space. No one needs to see (or trip and fall into) the photographic equivalent of your laundry pile.
What you should do: Curate a few examples of your very best work and make it easy to find via a slideshow, featured gallery at the top of your homepage, or a straightofrward link in your navigation bar. Similarly, create a clearly-labeled About page and a way for them to contact you. Love to archive? That’s OK. Just keep the rest of your photos neatly organized, too, so leisurely browsers can find their way around.
5) Your Brand
Panic not, weekend warriors. Even if you’re not a working professional, it’s important – but easy! – to give your viewers a unified look and feel that translates to a cohesive experience. Yes it sounds markety, but simply using the same colors and font size from page to page can keep your fans feeling grounded and sure that you’ve got your stuff together. And you do, right?
If you’re a pro, having your company’s name, logo and a simple set of colors can be all you need to say, “Yeah, I got it.”
What you should do: Customization on the new SmugMug is as easy as drag-and-drop. You can add your own logo to the top of your site, pick your own colors and even create your own Themes that match your brand. It’s easiest to just try it, but you can get an idea of how it’s done by browsing the articles on our help pages.
What you should do (for Legacy SmugMug): The Easy Customizer makes it easy for Power Users, Portfolio and Business SmugMuggers to add a custom logo graphic to the top of every page. Choose matching colors using the tools under the Background, Text, Boxes and Photos bars and you’re all set to go. Read more about our customization options here, and, pros, don’t forget about Order Branding, too.
6) Your Services
The key to making great sales is to do the thinking for potential customers so they don’t have to. The most basic way to do this is to be crystal-spanking-clear about what your specialities are and which services you offer. Whether you shoot BMX, babies or brides, making it obvious in your brand and portfolio is the best (and most efficient) way to make sure that the right customers are finding you. After all, if you’re a commercial fashion photographer, do you want to be fielding questions from the local high school sports team?
What you should do: Create a specific page on your site that lists out what services that you do offer, and give your fans a phone number, email address or other way to get in touch with you. If you just want a guestbook for comments, we recommend uploading at least one photo and turning on comments so folks can say hi. Check out FAQ 29 and 30 to see how to do this if you’re using Legacy SmugMug. Here’s a tutorial that shows you how to create a custom page in the all-new SmugMug.
7) Your Best Work
People are looking to see just what you’re made of, so this is your chance to sum it up and show it off. Curate a gallery that contains the best examples of what you do and keep it updated with fresh new photos as you take them. Choose images that really show that you love what you do, and show the full breadth of your abilities: Lighting, posing, serendipity, emotion… this is what people love to see! As an added bonus, you’re choosing the clients and fans who resonate the most with what you do.
What you should do: Take a swing through the photos that you remember best and that you think represent yourself. It can be hard, but you can always use Collect Photo to add a virtual copy to one gallery, then easily remove the ones that you don’t think make the cut.
8) Your Location
The web is a wonderful thing and brings people near and far to your doorstep, but this can be a setback, too. For example, it’s obvious to you that your town of Springfield is in New Jersey, but potential Googlers in Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon and Missouri may not be so sympathetic. Be specific about the areas that you serve so that you’ll score top search results by clients looking to hire locals like you.
What you should do: If you talk about your location in your homepage or About page, be specific about the state or country where you’re willing to work. You can also add those terms and keywords in your Account Settings > Discovery > Search section so that Google and other search engines pick you up ASAP.
9) Good Grammar
Need we say anything about this, really? Your website is a representation of you, right down to the words you’ll use. Please be sure you make sense, you’ve put in the effort to have it proofread by someone else, and that everything looks as clean and polished as you are.
What you should do: Write, edit, then get a second (or third, or fourth) opinion. Read the copy on your site out loud. Check your spelling. Sleep on it, then read it again. All the usual tricks of the trade will help you step back and get as much perspective as possible. The best part is that any- and everything is easily changed on your SmugMug site at any moment… so edit as much as you like!
We hope that these 9 tips come in handy the next time you’re spring cleaning your website. Got more great ideas for getting fans finding you? Please share!
- Account Settings and what they do
- SmugMug’s four fabulous account types
- Get a Link to share (with one click)
- How to feature slideshows and galleries on your homepage
- Get organized with Categories
- How to start branding with the Easy Customizer
- What are my customization options?
- Order Branding: The SmugMug pro’s secret weapon
- Leverage SmugMug to make the most money
- Copy-and-paste customization FAQ
- Collecting photos for easy portfolios
- SEO made easy on SmugMug
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