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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!

Smug Tip of the Week: 6 Great Time-Savers Right Under Your Nose

April 16, 2013 8 comments

If you’re like the rest of us, you’re constantly looking for a way to maximize your time behind the camera and shrink time spent at your desk. While it’s important to keep your photos safe, secure and organized, you don’t have to blow your entire evening doing it.

Here’s few features built in to your account that will help you shave a few valuable seconds off of your photo-flow.

1. Quick Settings (All)

Did you know that once you find that “sweet spot” of Gallery Settings, you can save it as a template? This way you don’t have to click each line to set specs on every. single. gallery. Set it and forget it! You’ll find all the Quick Settings you’ve saved in a handy dropdown bar on the gallery creation page.

How it’s done: Open up any gallery’s settings page and make sure that the settings are to taste. Scroll to the top and click the menu bar under “Quick Settings” header. You can give your current set of settings a descriptive name from this space, apply a Quick Setting, or apply a Quick Setting to multiple galleries at once. To delete a Quick Setting, simply highlight it in the bar and click the “delete template” button that appears.

Things to note: Gallery titles, gallery descriptions, keywords, the category/subcategory, NiceNames, and themes don’t get carried over by Quick Settings. You will need to set these manually for each gallery.

2. Smart Galleries (All)

Smart Galleries automate the photos that are included in your gallery. You create a set of rules to follow and we’ll listen, pulling in the photos that you’ve specified. Pick from a variety of options, like by keyword or date uploaded. The gallery will automatically Collect new photos that you  upload to your SmugMug account that follow those same rules.

How it’s done: You’ll find your Smart Gallery settings in your Gallery Settings, under “Make This Gallery Smart.” From there you’ll be able to add rules that fit your requirements, tweakable to taste.

Things to note: Freshly-uploaded photos may take a little time to be included in your galleries, but they’ll get there. Please be patient! If you really can’t wait, open your Smart Gallery rules and hit the “Click to Refresh Preview” button to pull them in. Don’t forget to save your changes.

3. Lightroom plugin (All)

We talk about the SmugMug plugin for Lightroom a lot, but we really do think it’s one of the best inventions since lens caps. It’s free, it’s easy, it automates so much of your digital workflow… pro or not, for everything you shoot. And so many smart photographers are already loving Lightroom to process and organize their photos.

How it’s done: Download the free SmugMug plugin and install it according to instructions. You can edit, organize and even sync your SmugMug galleries right through Lightroom’s modules. When you’re ready, publish your photos and upload to SmugMug with a click. Business SmugMuggers, remember that you can sync, edit and republish your clients’ Event favorites, making sure your wires never get crossed.

Things of note: The plugin in remarkably easy to use, but Lightroom can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. We recommend reviewing our Lightroom help page, FAQ and to watch our webinar.

4. Easy Customizer (Power, Portfolio, Business)

If our 70+ default themes don’t work for you, our point-and-click Easy Customizer is your new best friend. It’s super-easy to add your own logo and color scheme and have it instantly applied across your entire site. You get a preview of your website at all times in the left pane, so there are no surprises once you hit Publish. Leave your code at the door.

How it’s done: You can access the Easy Customizer right from your homepage  Tools button. Click around the many different options on the right, preview what you’ve done and then Publish to show the world! If you add any banner or background images via the Easy Customizer, you’ll find those in an unlisted gallery that we create for you, called “My SmugMug Site Files (Do Not Delete).

Things to note: For more complicated tweaks like changing specific items in certain galleries, or Javascript modifications, you’ll need to check out Advanced Customizations. We provide plenty of help on this through our Dgrin forums.

5. Proof Delay (Portfolio, Business)

Busy pro? We know. Proof Delay lets you quickly upload your unedited proof images into your clients’ galleries and get their approval the night of the shoot. This means they can buy prints while they’re still excited, and you save time by editing just the pics they’ve bought. Happy client, happy you. What more can you ask for?

How it’s done: Open your Gallery Settings and scroll down to the “Printing” option. You can enter a number between 1-7 there, which will factor into the potential shipping time quoted to your client. Once your orders are in, you can replace the image in your gallery with an edited version, then release the order to the print lab. Read more here.

Things to note: Proof Delay doesn’t currently apply to digital downloads, so if you plan on selling those be sure that you’ve edited your images before enabling or pricing that option.

6. Assistant Passwords (Portfolio, Business)

Why not have someone else do your uploading and organizing while you’re away? Assistant Passwords are one of the many time-saving features included in pro accounts, designed to let someone else do your busywork for you. Your password and billing information is never revealed, but they can take care of all those little details while you’re out on a shoot.

How it’s done: Set your assistant password from the Privacy tab of your Account Settings. Make sure it’s different from the password that you use to log in. Read all the details about what your assistant can or won’t be able to do.

Things to note: Although there are several security measures in place to ensure your account isn’t compromised, Assistants by definition have the ability to make changes on your site. Be sure that person you let in the door is someone you trust to manage your photos!

We hope that we’ve introduced you to a few way that help you get more things done in your day. Share your thoughts and tell us what’s on your time-saving wishlist!

Link roundup:

SmugMug Success Stories: Kent McCorkle Photography, LLC

March 13, 2013 1 comment

The Sportsman: Kicking Off a Second Career and Having a Ball

Name: Kent McCorkle
Position/Title: Owner/Photographer
Company: Kent McCorkle Photography, LLC
Location: Metro Atlanta, GA
Market: Sports (professional, college and high school), plus local news and company-sponsored events
Website: www.KentsFotos.com
Bragworthy Factoid: Earning back his initial investment in his SmugMug site within a few months of launching his business.
SmugMugger since: 2004

Career Highlights…

  • First time being accepted by a media wire service to cover sports.
  • Breaking into Division I college and professional sports.
  • Seeing his work published in Sports Illustrated, on ESPN and in other national publications.

Favorite Features…

Making the most of a moment

Kent McCorkle knows the exact moment he became a photographer. After more than 30 years working in the corporate world, raising a family and flirting with image-making, everything changed with a single email. Although he had enjoyed capturing youth sports, vacations and other personal moments for years, he hadn’t thought seriously of working for profit. Then he was contacted out of the blue by an architectural design firm about photos he’d shot and posted of antebellum homes during a family holiday. Interest sparked, McCorkle quickly sold them the images for publication in a book. Fast-forward to today: McCorkle has settled firmly into sports photography, fashioning a second career out of his passion for capturing exciting moments in youth athletics. Riding the digital photography wave and fueling his interest with online support resources, he honed his skills and bided his time. “The idea of selling photographs had never crossed my mind…[but] after the surprise of selling my first photographs, I began to wonder if parents might be interested in purchasing the sports-action photographs I had been taking of their kids.”

Fit to print

Along with technical mastery, McCorkle has acquired a deep knowledge of the byzantine world of sports photography. His advice for the aspiring and uninitiated? Get your feet wet covering youth sports before attempting Division I college and professional athletics, both of which require extensive credentialing. “The first step is to gain lots of experience photographing sports at lower levels,” he says. “Develop a portfolio that shows your best work. Standards for acceptance by wire services are very high. Compare your work to what you see in major sports publications. You can also visit media wire service websites and see examples.” Photographers must be affiliated with approved media companies to shoot higher-level sporting events; the sports governing associations license the images for distribution. McCorkle suggests honing your craft by connecting with other photographers. “Even at high school games, you may have opportunities to pick up tips and learn techniques from more experienced photographers.”

SmugMug and sports

Citing SmugMug’s “remarkable” customer service, continual innovation and “flawless” order processing, McCorkle considers the service foundational to his business model. From the outset, SmugMug helped McCorkle streamline his burgeoning business needs. He especially likes the one-stop shop aspect. “I started with SmugMug because it offered the ability to create a gallery-based photographic website and sell photos. Order placement and fulfillment were the clinchers for me,” he says. He continues to add SmugMug features to his arsenal, sometimes evolving his workflow to take advantage of SmugMug’s conveniences. “I was slow to get on the Proof Delay bandwagon because every image uploaded to my galleries had been fully post-processed and I considered them print-ready,” he points out. “But then I started using it in order to allow me one last chance to make sure everything is right.”

Pounding the pavement

McCorkle’s business acumen has proved invaluable since his transition to photography. Underscoring the importance of building multiple revenue streams and diverse customer segments, he has cultivated clients ranging from athletes’ families and high school booster clubs to local news outlets and national publications including Sports Illustrated and ESPN. “In all but one case, my freelance work with newspapers resulted from my making initial contact with either the editor, sports editor or publisher,” he says. “Sometimes a simple email expressing your interest in working with the paper is all that is necessary to get the ball rolling.” McCorkle adds that persistence and patience are key. “Each time that I’ve expanded the types of sports I photograph or my customer base, I’ve followed a simple principle from my corporate career. Stated simply, it is ‘gentle pressure, relentlessly applied,’ ” he says with a smile. McCorkle markets his business in creative ways, ranging from hardcopy business cards he passes out while shooting games to requesting links to his portfolio on booster club sites to emailing booster officers gallery links and asking that they forward them to coaches, parents and fans.

Love what you see? Check out our other incredible SmugMug Success Stories.

New for Portfolio Accounts: Price and Sell

November 8, 2012 92 comments

Dear Pros,

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:

Business accounts include:

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

Plus Ten to Proof Delay

October 19, 2011 26 comments

We made Proof Delay a heck of a lot smarter.

In the old days, your clients would sometimes order prints cropped a certain way, and when you replaced it with an edited photo of a different shape it wouldn’t always work out so well. Heroes to the rescue and everything, but, yanno.

And if you replaced the image with something that was shaped the same, there wasn’t a way to remember exactly how they’d had it cropped in the first place.

We’ve fixed all that.

How it works.

Pros, the very next time you get a cropped order held for Proof Delay, don’t fret. We’ll now do the following:

1) Show you the exact same crop your client used if you replace the photo with an edited version of the same shape and size.

2) Show you a thumbnail of the original image with the crop when you replace the photo with one that’s a different shape and size.

3) Display the thumbnail with the original image and crop when you go in and try to adjust the crop on a replaced image of a different size.

We hope this makes your life a whole lot easier and that your customers don’t notice a thing. Except, of course, how much they love their prints and what a great photographer you are.

The Magic of Proof Delay

Remember that using this simple feature in all of your for-sale galleries can help you upload your proofs to your gallery ASAP, and let you only edit the photos that get bought. Plus, if there are any problems with the order, our Support Heroes have a gazillion times’ higher chance of being able to cancel, fix, or correct the problem before your customer even notices.

We can’t stress enough just how cool the Proof Delay feature really is. It saves you time AND helps you give your clients a better product. And it comes baked right in to each and every SmugMug Pro account.

Questions? Suggestions? Epic tales of how Proof Delay saved your bumme? We’d love to hear it all, so talk to us!

Bonus Pro tips for you:

New Pro Feature: Boutique Packaging

November 12, 2010 48 comments

Save yourself the paper cuts and let us gift wrap your orders. Boutique Packaging is here!

Specify a minimum dollar amount and we’ll place qualifying orders into a beautiful, sturdy gift box or folder. Prints fulfilled through Bay Photo will get an additional gold paper ribbon adorning it all. Perfect.

Boutique Packaging costs just $7 a pop. Orders containing prints from both Bay Photo and EZ Prints are $7 per lab. Like coupons and order branding, we’ll deduct this from your profits or bill the card you have on file.

We’ll wrap all prints, ThinWraps and MetalPrints up to 11×14 in size. Enable it in your Control Panel and use your Gallery Settings to determine which photos get pampered. We’ll take it from there.

Need to change something? Be sure all of your galleries are safeguarded with Proof Delay so you can review your orders. With this feature you can add or remove Boutique Packaging from any qualifying order that’s been placed with 3-5 Day shipping (or faster). This is a super-simple way to be sure you’ll wow your customers… even if they buy from galleries where Boutique Packaging wasn’t set

Finally, Boutique Packaging applies to single-Pro orders, only. If your customers buy from more than one photographer, our regular packaging and shipping options will apply.

Get all the details on our help page here. Try it now and let us know what you think!

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