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Smug Tip: Take Your Photos Further With These Smug Features

July 2, 2014 6 comments

SmugMuggers come from all walks of life, which is something we love to see. Whether it’s weddings, kids, cats, trucks, races, bikes, mountains, flowers, architecture, travel, or cat trucking races (hey, you never know), there’s room for you at our table.

There’s so many features built in to every account, you may not realize how some of them could really take what you’re shooting to the next level. So today here are a few of our tips on Smug features you may want to use, depending on the things you most love to shoot.

Family Snappers 

Does your heart and soul stay close to home? Photos are proof that you and your family have truly lived… and had fun! But we don’t always want those photos to fall into the wrong hands, or for your favorite memory to get lost in the jumble.

• Privacy settings. Be sure to occasionally log out of your account and view your SmugMug galleries as a guest. Are the galleries you meant to be unlisted truly hidden? What happens when you log out and view a passworded gallery? Remember that you can review all the different privacy options available to you via your Account Settings and individual Folder and Gallery Settings, or from our help pages.

• Folders and Galleries. The new SmugMug gives you the ability to nest your folders and galleries 5 levels deep, meaning you have up to 7 layers of organization available to you. Move your content so it makes the most sense to you, whether it’s organizing your photos by child, by event, or even by year. Or a combination of everything.

Client-Seeking Pros

If you’re putting your business online, there’s a few things we recommend that you do to have maximum impact with your potential client base. Remember: It doesn’t matter whether your profession is photography or not — SmugMug’s great for businesses of all types.

• “Best-of” Galleries. Even if you’re a chef, your site should show off what you do. Whether it’s in pictures or video or text, your incoming clients are going to want to get a taste of what you do and what makes you unique. So create a gallery or a page full of content blocks that visually delivers your elevator pitch.  Upload your best, or Collect and curate them from other galleries around your site. Don’t forget to link to it from your menu bar, so it’s easy to find!

• Contact Forms. We still can’t believe how many websites we see that make it difficult (or impossible) to contact the owner. Simply put: If you want people to hire you, compliment you, or otherwise tell you you’re awesome, be sure that your email address or phone number is clearly visible at the top or bottom of your homepage. Shy about spam? SmugMug gives you a safe, ready-to-go contact form for your footer, which you can also place in your menu bar.

World Travelers

You may not keep track of which time zone you’re in, but you should always remember where you took those photos. How else would you find your way back to that perfect beach, or where you got those great noodles?

• Maps & Pins. If you take photos on your mobile phone, or if your camera is already set up to geotag your images, great! Your photos will keep their locational data when you upload to SmugMug. Or you can add locations manually by going to your Photo Tools. Once that’s done, simply display the map anywhere on your site.

• Text Content Blocks. A photo may be worth a thousand words, but a few lines about what you did and how you got there sure never hurts. The content blocks you can drag onto your homepage and custom pages are a great start for Power, Portfolio, and Business accounts, but all users can simply fill in the Title and Caption fields under every photo.

The Socially Savvy

Social media is great, but you really don’t know how long your content will exist on there before it gets deleted. You can easily build a forever home on SmugMug and style it to point to all the places online you like to hang out.

• The Social Designs. Put all your cards on the table with our default “SmugMug” design, or (if you’ve got a Power, Portfolio, or Business account) the similar-looking “Dash” design. Both of these let you set a profile pic and display your name, a cover photo, and list out your favorite social network icons.

• Share Buttons & Comments. These are two simple content blocks you can drop anywhere on your site to help your visitors share your photos with friends and engage in healthy discussion. Did you also know that you have styling options for your social media buttons? Be sure to check the individual settings.

• Publish to Facebook. If you’d rather post your pics directly in Facebook, try this feature. You can apply a custom watermark and choose the maximum file size to be copied over into its very own album on Facebook, so they can see the whole set, but you’re still protected from image theft.

Event and Sports Shooters

If your adrenaline gets going when the competition does, you probably have a fair number of galleries holding some of your most exciting photos… which can quickly get unruly and out of hand. The key to staying in the game is to stay organized, and be sure that every single subject in every photo can be found.

• Keywords. This is arguably more important for sports photographers than the photos themselves. Seriously though, you’re going to want to keyword your images not just with the event you shot, but with location, date, and even player name if it applies to your shoot. Your clients will thank you. Just don’t forgot to display a search box or a keyword cloud so they can take advantage of it.

• Site-wide Organizer. Like the family tips we mentioned above, proper organization via SmugMug’s 7 layers of Folders and Galleries are invaluable when it comes to busy event seasons and the many different things that you shoot. So be sure to structure your site clearly and easily, simple enough for you, your assistants, and your clients so that they can find exactly what it is they’re looking for.

Those are our tips and we hope that, no matter what you shoot or how long you’ve been with SmugMug, you discover something new. And if you didn’t, tell us – What do you take pictures of, and what features have you used to make the most of it?

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Link roundup:

Release Notes: Customize the Buy Button, Stronger Search Box, and more

June 27, 2014 74 comments

We’ve just introduced a few more really great improvements we think you’ll love. More control over your gallery’s Buy buttons, the ability to easily archive and browse your mobile memories, and a super sweet search update for event shooters.

1) Customize Your Buy Button

One of your favorite topics of feedback is about the button that your fans click to make a purchase. To help draw more eyeballs to it, we changed the button text to read “Buy Photos” instead of just “Buy.”

Additionally, you can tweak the skin, style, and size of the button. To do this, go to any gallery on your site, click Customize > Customize Site, click the Gallery Styles settings, then look for the Buy Button options. You can specify your button’s settings in the Thumbnail, Collage Landscape, and Collage Portrait styles.

2) Easy Mobile Uploads

 

We recently made it easier to upload your mobile photos to your SmugMug galleries, but we took this one step further by cleaning up the uploader when you’re on your phone. Now you’ll see an easy-to-spot upload button when you’re logged in to your account. Tap that and we’ll let you select as many photos as you wish from your image library.

3) Get Map Happy

We’ve upped the number of available pins on your map from 200 to 1000. Get snapping! You can read more about SmugMug maps and they work right here.

4) Stronger Search Options

We’ve added more functionality to your Search content block so that you can choose to direct your fans’ searches  to your keywords page, not your search page. This helps them stay focused on what they were looking for.

You can also optionally inject your own search term to be added to anything your fans enter in the box, like the race name. For example: If you force “tough mudder” as a search term, their search for a bib number “100” will search for “100 + tough mudder,” and not pull up other photos around your site with just the keyword “100.”

Take a look at these recent additions by opening up your Search content block settings and viewing the Basic and Advanced tabs. And as always, here’s how search works on SmugMug, and you can get more detailed help about keywords from our help pages.

Enjoy!

 

Refer-a-Friend: Your Friends Need You This Summer!

June 26, 2014 1 comment

A few months ago we re-launched our SmugMug referral program because we wanted to make it more rewarding for devoted SmugMuggers to share the unlimited photo and video hosting.

And it’s been a blast! Since then we’ve gotten a great response from all of you who’ve shared your referral links and made the world a safer place for photos. Thank you! And if you’re still not sure why SmugMug’s good for people, here’s a few tips from our clan to yours.

5 Possible Reasons Why Your Friends Need Their (Photo) Space

Remember, SmugMug’s Refer-a-Friend program gives you a unique link for you to share with friends. When they click it and open their own SmugMug account, they get 20% off their first year and YOU earn 20% towards your next renewal.

1) They’re about to take off on an insanely dangerous road trip through the Himalayas and will need somewhere to document every flat tire, every mountain pass, and every mug of chhaang they choked down.

2) They’re a budding concert photographer and it’s high festival season. One camera, 3 days, 40 bands (and zero showers). They’re suddenly going to have hundreds, probably thousands, of high-energy pics that need a home.

3) Your city just set up a giant, public slip ‘n slide and your friend almost broke their butt… on camera, of course. They’ve got to collect all the pics and videos and share them on Facebook, STAT!

4) They’ve finally decided to start major reno on the house, and need a really easy way to keep track of before, after, and while-we-had-no-kitchen-and-kept-the-microwave-in-the-bathroom phases.

5) Their kids are off to camp, sleepovers, amusement parks, and lots of other fun shenanigans with their BFFs. Where else can your friends keep those memories clearly organized so they’ll be proper blackmail for when the kids are grown?

And… Someone Won a GoPro!

We promised goodies to happy referrers and we’re proud to announce our first winner today. Congrats to Amy Wilson! We love her serene vignettes of animals, flowers, and local landscapes and hope that you check out a fellow SmugMugger’s site, too.

If you’ve just joined us or if you didn’t see our initial announcement, we’re choosing a random name from our pool of SmugMug referrers each month to win a GoPro Hero 3 camera. It’s perfect for capturing all kinds of great memories in the moment, so take a look at our contest page for all the details on how you can win yours, plus additional info on the Grand Prize trip to SmugMug HQ next year.

Happy sharing, and keep on capturing those memories!

One of many fun times captured with GoPro. This could be you!
Photo credit: Nick W Photo

 

Smug Tip: 6 More SmugMug Features You Didn’t Know You Had

June 24, 2014 6 comments

Not too long ago, we wrote a post unearthing some of the great features you’ve already got in your SmugMug account. And since we’re always having new photo-lovers come join our family, we thought we’d share a few more things that you may not have noticed are already living amongst your photos.

Here’s to those sneaky features that may be hiding in plain sight. Enjoy!

1) Custom Video Preview Images

All SmugMug accounts can accept video files of 20 minutes in length and 3 GB in size, which is a great addition to the still photos you capture in your life. But did you know that you can change the preview image that displays on it, so your fans can see something more interesting than a random frame before they hit Play?

First, decide on a JPG image you want to use… or better yet, create one in your favorite image editor and upload it to your SmugMug galleries. Then just navigate to your video in the gallery, click the wrench, and choose Edit > Replace Preview.

2) “Sticky” Cover Photos for Your Folders & Galleries

In the same vein, you can choose a cover photo that appears every time your gallery is shown on your site. We call this your Feature image, and it will “stick” every time your site is reloaded, instead of displaying the first photos in the gallery.

Just open your Gallery Settings and look under the Basic tab. Click the icon next to Feature Image and choose any image you want to represent that gallery.

Tip: You can even do this for passworded galleries, which typically don’t show any thumbnails for privacy reasons. However, you may want to do this for, say, your client galleries, just to be sure they know which gallery is theirs on your site.

3) Stats. Really Great Stats.

We track all kinds of good stuff, like which of your galleries and images have been visited the most, as well as show you where your traffic is coming from. Just check out the Stats tab in your Account Settings and take it from there! You can read more about your SmugMug stats on our help pages.

If you prefer, you can always sign up for a free Google Analytics account and plug in your unique user ID into the same tab of your Account Settings, to double-check our work. Here’s how.

4) Search (and Filter by EXIF)

Any time you (or your guests) search for things on your site via the Search content block or from SmugMug.com/search, you’ll see lots of beautiful photos that you can scroll through to your heart’s content. But did you know that you can hit the “Refine Results” button at the top and open up dozens of additional checkboxes? This will help you narrow down your choices and find pictures taken using just the criteria you specify.

Watch out! It’s strangely addictive, so you may end up spending a lot more time discovering photos than you expect.

5) PicMonkey: Free Photo Tweaks

If our in-gallery Photo Tools aren’t quite enough for you, check out our friends at PicMonkey. You can find them right under every photo, under the Wrench icon. Open it up and you’ll see all the great tweaks and mods you can add to your photos!

Tip: We even have a quick video tutorial all about PicMonkey.

6) Discounts Just for Being Smug 

That’s right. You’re in great company when you’re with us. You can browse and view the discount details simply by logging in and visiting our ClubSmug page. Shop, have fun, and tell them we sent you!

Link roundup:

Release Notes: Duplicate Orders, New Getting Started Video, Bulk Add to Cart, and more

June 19, 2014 7 comments

Hey, Smuggers! It’s been a little while since we’ve had a Release Notes post, but we’ve been heads-down and hard at work. Here are some of the most recent things we’ve pushed live. Chances are, many of you have already have noticed a few of these around your site.

New: Duplicate Your Own Orders

Due to popular demand, you can now re-order any previous print order you’ve placed at SmugMug. To do this, simply look for your order confirmation email and visit your order page, then find the link at the top:

Clicking that link will drop the same items from that order into your shopping cart — no need to re-crop or tweak your color correction settings. If you already had other items in your cart, you’ll see those there and can check out in one fell swoop.

New: Getting Started Video

We’ve been busy creating great new help content to get you up and running ASAP, so if you haven’t already seen it (and need it), watch our brand-new video that gets you going in just over two minutes.

You may have seen it during your 14-day trial, but if not, find the video under the help menu in the top right corner of your logged-in SmugMug header.

Improvements: Bulk Add to Cart

When you click Buy > Photos From This Gallery, you’ll see a shiny new screen that matches the rest of SmugMug’s new design. We’ve cleaned up the whole screen and fixed a lot of old code under the hood so it’s now smoother, faster, and easier to buy lots of photos in one go.

And everything else:

  • We’ve added new “helpies” that pop up and guide those of you trying out the new SmugMug. They’ll guide you through a few key features and get you started, so don’t be shy.
  • Moving photos around in your site-wide Organizer is now warp-speed fast. Given that you can just click and drag photos to move them around your site, now there’s zero excuse for being disorganized!
  • The info bar in your lightbox view has been cleaned up even more so it looks good and stays out of your way… until you mouse around in there and bring it up.
  • We’ll now display a banner at the top of your gallery if you’ve set Hide Owner, much like we already do for unlisted and passworded galleries.

Enjoy, and as always: Let us know what you think!

Photo Tip: 5 Reasons Why We Fell in Love with Lightroom

June 4, 2014 113 comments

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about our love for one of the best photo tools on the market, Lightroom. We’re going to share some of our favorite things about it that knocks our socks off and why we hope you’ll give it a try, too. Plus, if you’re just scared about diving into the Adobe pool, we’re giving away 4 (signed!) copies of Scott Kelby’s fantastic instructional book, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers, at the end of this post.

So keep reading to see how you can win yours!

Now, here are our top 5 reasons why Lightroom’s awesome.

1) Keywording Is a Breeze

Keywords are a small, but important part of getting your photos properly searchable. Whether you’ll be looking through your own galleries or hoping to cash in on sales sparked by Google, keywording is how you get there.

While SmugMug has great bulk keyword and caption tools, adding them during your Lightroom workflow is a step saver and has the added benefit of adding the keywords to the photo’s metadata.

You can enter keywords using the Library module, and even apply them to batches of photos all at once. The best part? Lightroom will automatically suggest keywords you’ve used before when you start typing.

And yes, these keywords and captions will transfer over to SmugMug when you publish.

2) No JPGs Required

Unless you’re new to SmugMug, you probably already know that we’ve got a free Publish to SmugMug plugin available in Lightroom. (You can download it here.)The fact that it doesn’t cost a cent is pretty great, but even better is that you can easily Publish your photos to new or existing galleries on your SmugMug account, all without needing to create — or store — a separate JPG file on your computer’s hard drive.

Try the easy, one-click syncing between your Lightroom catalog and your SmugMug folder structure. We’ll worry about your JPG storage so you don’t have to.

3) Everything’s Better in Bulk

The greatest power of Lightroom is how easily it lets you do sweeping changes to swaths of photos at once. Presets, flags, and anything you can think of — you can add them with just a few clicks and get your event photos out the door and into your clients’ inboxes in no time.

Check out this post that Adobe educator Matt Kloskowski did for us to help sift through your massive photo piles with ease.

4) Easy-to-Replace Proofs

Pro photographers, this one’s for you: When your client orders prints from your SmugMug galleries and you’ve set up Proof Delay, did you know that you can use Lightroom to quickly polish, edit, and republish only those photos back to your SmugMug galleries before sending the order to the lab?

We think this is the biggest lifesaver for any photographer who knows their clients will buy only a few photos out of thousands. Rather than editing every single photo from the shoot, simply upload your proofs and let them make their choice.

Tip: Take it a step further with Events & Favorites. Lightroom will sync their Favorites galleries and pull their choices back into your catalog, making it even easier for you to edit (and republish) just the ones they love best.

5) It’s Always Improving

Adobe’s always making their products more powerful and better for you, and we are, too. Both Lightroom and the SmugMug plugin check automatically for updates, and you’ll notice this when you open up the program and see that window.

What we’ve added recently: The ability to choose your gallery’s Featured Photo via the plugin, and the ability to create/edit/delete Quick Settings, Watermarks, and Printmarks. And lots more.

You can always check to see the updates we’ve made to the plugin on the dedicated page in our help pages.

The Book Giveaway

As promised, we’ve got 4 signed copies of Scott Kelby’s best-selling Lightroom 5 bible to give away, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers:

This comprehensive book covers everything from basic sliders to Scott’s own workflow, and is the #1 Lightroom book on the market (with good reason). So if you’re ready to get this into your hands and begin your journey to becoming a Lightroom wizard, simply leave a comment below and include these two responses:

1) What are the biggest stumbling blocks in your photo editing workflow?

2) A link to your SmugMug website (so we know how to reach you if you win)

We’ll choose 4 lucky random winners on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014, and announce them right here.

Stay tuned, good luck, and watch this space!

UPDATE 6/11/2014: Winners! We randomly picked 4 winners who commented here and here’s who we drew:

We’ll be in touch with you individually to deliver your books. Congrats!

How to Photograph Lava Without HDR or Photoshop

May 28, 2014 4 comments

CJ Kale and Nick Selway long ago fell in love with Hawaii and founded Lava Light, a photography gallery focused on capturing the ever-changing landscape created by an active volcano and crashing waves—and sometimes both together when the conditions are just right.

And if swimming with fire and dodging lava bombs weren’t challenging enough, these photographers believe in creating their images completely in camera. Balancing exposures between sky, water, and lava can be incredibly tricky.

Luckily, Lava Light has shared some tips to help you get the shot without combining exposures or using HDR.

Photo Tip #1

To capture lava and stars together, put a neutral-density (ND) gradient filter on your lens upside down to balance the extreme exposures between the lava and stars.

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #2

When photographing lava in the daytime, use the ND grad right side up to balance the light from the sunrise, because the sun will eventually be brighter than the lava is.

Volcano images Kilauea Hawaii

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #3

For front-lit scenes, a hard ND grad balances light from a bright sky and a dark foreground, allowing you to darken the sky and deepen colors. For example, in this shot I used a polarizer to intensify the rainbow, but it left the sky a fraction too bright. So I added a 1-stop hard ND grad across the entire sky to darken it and get its depth and color to match with the lava and everything that’s front lit below.

Volcano images Kilauea Hawaii

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #4

To capture the little curvature of a wave, a shutter speed around 1/3 of a second is usually enough to get a little light blur to the water but keep that shape in the wave.

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #5

If you’re trying to capture a really misty feel, where the water almost looks like fog, use a 2- to 3-second exposure.

kona_sunset

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #6

Since we capture everything in camera, sometimes we have to compromise on exposures and accept some clipping of highlights or shadows. So maybe a rock by the lava won’t have any detail in the shadows because I want to capture the detail in the lava instead, and I prioritize my exposure for the lava.

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #7

Prepare the right gear for the day. My normal, hike-out-to-the-volcano kit includes a Nikon D800e, Canon 5dMkIII, 16–35 L lens for Canon, 14–24 for Nikon, a 50mm and an 85mm prime, and a 50–500 Sigma telephoto. Because sometimes you want a wide-angle shot, like the rainbow and lava, and others you want to zoom in on the drip, which requires a telephoto.

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

 

Want more?

Check out the SmugMug Films artist profile of Lava Light below. Thanks for the tips, Nick and CJ!

Find Lava Light online:

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