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: Gallery Downloads for Your Visitors

We’re excited to announce that we’ve added one more card to the digital-file delivery deck: Gallery Downloads for your viewers. You’ll now be able to give friends, family, or clients the power to quickly and easily download an entire gallery of full-quality photos themselves.

Have a set of birthday party photos that you’d like grandma to have, or a prepaid photo shoot to deliver to a client? No more need to send a disc or thumbdrive, or request the gallery download yourself and then forward the link.

Simply set this up in the gallery settings and remove yourself as the middleman in your digital-file deliveries.

You’re in control of whether or not this feature is available within a gallery, as well as who can use it—you can even set a password for the download process if you wish.

Combine Private Sharing with Visitor Gallery Downloads to create a personal, powerful, and private photo-delivery experience for your adoring fans. Private Sharing allows you to send a unique invitation for a gallery to specific guests. If you’ve got a SmugMug Portfolio or Business account, you’ll be able to customize this experience even further with your Client Area.

Of course, all our other digital-file delivery tools still exist. As the account owner, you’ll always have peace of mind knowing you can recover your original files from any gallery by clicking the download icon in the Organizer. SmugMug Portfolio and Business accounts can sell gallery downloads and individual photos by adding them to their Pricelists.

Learn more about Visitor Downloads, selling digital files, and Private Sharing from our help center.

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!

How To Avoid Leaking Sensitive Photos

Stories are breaking on sites like Fstoppers and Brandsmash about private Boudoir photos that appeared on a creepy voyeur forum.  It’s hard to imagine a more humiliating nightmare for a photographer or their clients.

Photo Used With Permission From Je Revele Photography 

Photos came from several sites, including SmugMug, and we paid extreme attention over the last two days to how it happened.  We tried to take some comfort in observing that in every instance, it came down to passwords that were guessable in just a few tries.

The question for us was what could we do that we weren’t already?  Over the past year, we’ve done considerable work around this problem, but yesterday we decided to expose some of the alerts our systems generate to our customers.

When our systems see several password attempts on a gallery or folder, they now send an email to the owner of the SmugMug site.  It identifies the gallery, gives the first few digits of each password attempt with asterisks for the rest (bou***), and adds info like time of day and geographic location the request may be coming from.

Today our Support Heroes are receiving thank-yous from people whose family members couldn’t get in because they left the caps lock key on or forgot some aspect of the password “it’s a cap O (oh), not a 0 (zero)”.

And we read two help tickets from photographers who discovered that their boudoir galleries had password guessers.  Fortunately, they had long passwords that were too hard to guess, but they are still making changes like removing the word Boudoir from the title, and making the gallery Unlisted so only people who obtain the link can know of its existence.

One of the security upgrades that came with New SmugMug is we don’t store passwords in a form that could leak in any way, including a systems breach, a bug, or a disgruntled employee. We use an industrial grade, Cryptographic hash function.

The breaking stories are about Boudoir photos, but we host incredibly sensitive photos (all cloud services do) of unannounced products and even, we remember, photos of an upcoming TIME Person of the Year.

Best Practices:

1.  Set a good gallery password before uploading photos!

2.  Set galleries and folders to Unlisted.  Unlisted means means no one can see them unless they have somehow been given a link.  They cannot guess the link because it has a random string added to its URL.  The combination of strong password + Unlisted is extremely secure.

You can learn more about how to protect your SmugMug galleries here.

We hope this helps, and thanks for being part of the SmugMug family!

Chris & Don MacAskill

Founders

Next Webinar: Getting That Photo Mess Online and Organized


It’s that time again, eager SmugMug students!

Our next live webinar is designed to help busy people like you tame that photo mess and get your memories archived safely online. In one hour, you’ll learn how to go from a cluttered shoebox to a gorgeous, safe and secure website that you’ll be proud to show off to friends and family.

This basic webinar is perfect for those of you still looking for a place to keep your photos, or if you already have a SmugMug site and haven’t figured out how to get your site organized in a way that makes sense.

When:  Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Time:  8:00 PM Eastern Time (5:00 PM Pacific)
How: Register now!

If you can’t make it, no sweat: We archive our webinars for easy viewing at any time. Subscribe to our video tutorials on YouTube.

Are you ready to take control of your photos again? See you there!

UPDATE: We had some technical trouble recording this webinar so you won’t find it in our YouTube archives, but we’ve written up the info on SmugMug School. Enjoy!

Print Lab Love: Find Your Perfect Match in 2013

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.

EZ Prints

EZ PrintsBased 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.

Bay Photo

Bay PhotoOur 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?

Loxley Colour

Loxley ColourLast 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

WHCCWe 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.”

6 Essential SmugMug Tools for Celebrating a Sane, Organized (and Profitable) Holiday

Hectic holiday? It doesn’t have to be if you plan on uploading your photos (and videos) to your SmugMug galleries! You’ve already got your hands tied with hot chocolate, ribbons and last-minute gift planning, so here’s a few tips that will help make the picture sharing part of it refreshingly easy.

1) Show Off: Badges and Slideshows

This handy feature lets you build your own mini slideshow or photo mosaic to any size you wish, and gives you easy copy-and-paste code to embed it. You don’t have to know any nerd magic to get this going, and it automatically refreshes with new photos when you add more stuff to your gallery.

You’ll find this little feature a godsend for blogs, forums and websites. Anywhere that allows you to embed Flash objects. Here’s how to do it.

2) Guest Uploading for Party People

With all those folks at your house snapping away, you need a hub where guests can pool their photos and relive the glory of your massive decorating skills. SmugMug to the rescue!

Create a new gallery for your event and then open up the gallery settings. Set any word you wish into the “Upload key” box, like this:

The next time you fire up the uploader in that gallery, you’ll see a secret link at the bottom that you can copy and share. Your friends can visit that link and we’ll automagically pop up an uploader so they can easily drag and drop in their photos from the night.

Just remember that anyone who gets ahold of the link can upload to that gallery, so be aware when you share. More about guest uploads.

3) Make and Sell Photo Cards

We’ve been talking a lot about our holiday cards this year, but they’re so beautiful we just have to tell you again. And there is truly no better, easier way to take the best photos you’ve taken (or the best photos someone’s taken of you) and pair them up with custom, heartfelt season’s greetings.

Our catalog is bursting with new designs for everyone, whether your style is vintage, contemporary, minimalist or traditional. Or all of the above. Just look for the Buy button > Create a Card option in your favorite gallery and start building your 4×8 or 5×7 masterpiece!

Read all about cards, including how to price and sell them.

4) Custom Categories for Easy Navigation

Did you know that when our pre-loaded list of Categories (and sub-categories) don’t work for you, you can create your own? And that you can edit the URL that shows in the browser bar when you’re viewing your categories?

We make it breathtakingly easy to efficiently organize your site, share the URL verbally, and even get better Google juice. It’s like Christmas came early!

Take a closer look and bone up on the basics of Categories, then take it a step further and learn how to use Categories to your best advantage. This year, you’ll have your “I will be more tidy” New Year’s resolutions totally beat.

5) Picmonkey: Funky Photo Editing

Picmonkey may be our (unintentionally) best-kept secret. But if you haven’t already tried this smart, sassy tool to edit your SmugMug photos, run – don’t walk – to your nearest Tools button and find it now.

It’s built right into every SmugMug gallery and you can do everything from basic exposure correction and redeye fix to adding graphics, words, textures, frames and filters. And more. Tons, tons  more.

It’s totally free to use — even their premium features, since they’re still the new kid on the block.

Check it out now and don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your photos. :)

6) Camera Awesome for iPhone and iPad

If you’ve got an iPhone or an iPad, you’ve got the perfect excuse to leave the DSLR in your office. You can shoot up to 9 fps with our free camera app, meaning you never miss a moment. And apply gorgeous effects and filters to make them shine.

Best of all, your shots won’t stay locked on your phone where no one will see them. Share direct to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram and back them up safely to your SmugMug account so you can visit them year after year. Download it free right now.

Bonus! Business features for Pros

Since there’s a lot of pros out there, here are three additional features we snuck in to remind you Business SmugMuggers that there’s a lot more to your website than just photos.

A) Coupons A no-brainer for getting your customers a little extra nudge this holiday season! With a Business account, you can choose from 5 different types and create as many coupons as you wish.. which means you can tailor your discount codes to every client. Be sure to set an expiry date so they don’t sit on a good deal forever.

B) Events and Favorites Intimidated? Don’t be. Events let you corral galleries into groups, so your customers can easily view only the photos that matter to them most. Best of all, they can tag and save their Favorite photos to a special gallery only they can see. All which makes browsing and buying a breeze.

C) Order Branding -This feature actually consists of three separate (and awesome) tools: Cart Branding, Stickers and Thank You Prints. All of them ensure that you and your brand stay connected to your customers until the prints are sitting in their hands. And you can easily switch up your Order Branding designs from season to season, so you look super organized…  even if you’re not.

GIVEAWAY! What’s Your Lifesaver?

In the spirit of giving, we’re digging through Smuggy’s workshop and rounding up some of our best swag items.

To enter this giveaway, simply comment below and tell us which SmugMug feature you find helps most during your holiday rush.

We’ll pick a random winner and announce it in this space on Friday, December 7th, 2012.

From all of us at SmugMug, we wish you a picture-perfect holiday! And we can’t wait to hear what you can’t live without.

**UPDATE** The Magic SmugMug 8-ball chose Melissa Ponder as our winner. Congrats Melissa and we’ll be contacting you directly. Thanks to everyone and have a great weekend!

Link roundup: