If you’re a longtime follower of our blog, the name Gary Arndt may ring a bell. We featured him in 2010 and he inspired many of us to follow our dreams, explore the horizon and take more photos. Gary’s still traveling the world and taking photos from all corners of the planet. As you’re dreaming of faraway lands and maybe even planning your annual vacation, here are a few tips Gary shared about how to efficiently pack, travel and share all the photos you take when you’re not at home.
Photos by Everything, Everywhere
How did you get your start as a full-time travel blogger?
I made the decision to travel around the world in October 2005 and began my blog one year later in October 2006. I sold my home in March 2007 and have been traveling around the world ever since.
My blog began as a way to document my trip for my friends and family and sort of just grew into something more over time. I made a decision in late 2007 to take it seriously and to see if I could turn it into a business, which I now have.
How many places do you visit in an average year?
The number of places I’ll visit in an average year can vary and it also depends on how you define a place. 2013 has been very busy for me. So far this year I’ve been to 17 countries and I’ll probably be in around 35 by the time the year is over. I’m currently at the beginning of a 3-month trip to visit all the countries and territories in the Lesser Antilles.
This is a dream most of us consider at some point in our lives, but you’ve found success. How did you do it?
I promote my site whatever way I can. I do many interviews online and off. I’ve had my work appear online on sites like OutsideOnline.com, The Today Show and FourHourWorkWeek.com. Mostly people discover me via social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.
Most people are fascinated by my lifestyle before they ever see one of my images or read one of my articles. Simply having traveled for so long and having been to so many places is the biggest hook for people.
As far as recognition, I’ve won many mainstream travel journalism awards for my photography and for blogging. I won a Lowell Thomas Award last year for Photo Illustration of Travel (placing behind the New York Times), a Northern Lights Award for Photography of Canada (placing behind National Geographic) as well as many North American Travel Journalist Association awards and recently a SMITTY Award for my use of social media by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
Tip time: What’s in the travel blogger’s survival kit?
The bare minimum for me is my SRL, laptop and an iPhone. The iPhone gives me the ability to post images while I’m out and about. The SLR and laptop should be pretty obvious.
I also have an iPad, Kindle Paperwhite, and 2 USB hard drives. Over the last 6 years it has actually gotten easier from a technical standpoint. Many of the devices I used to carry with me have all been condensed into my iPhone ( GPS, video camera, point and shoot camera, wifi detector, audio recorder, microphone, etc)
How do you manage files on the road? For example, what storage systems/archiving tools do you use ?
People often assume that I back everything up in the cloud. This isn’t true. I can easily shoot several gigabytes of images a day and uploading that much data from remote places around the world is next to impossible. It is difficult to do even when I’m in the US. I have almost 2TB of images now and I’m not in one place long enough to do that sort of upload.
I have 2, 2TB USB hard drives that I carry with me. I keep them in two separate bags in case one should get lost or stolen. I keep a copy of everything on each drive.
I also have several hard drives at my mothers house. When I visit her, which I do about 2-3 times per year, I copy everything to those drives as well so I have copies in at least 2 locations.
By the time I outgrow my 2TB drives, there should be portable 3, 4 or 5 TB drives available. I upload only my edited jpegs to SmugMug. Those I consider my finished product. I obviously worry about my original RAW images, but so long as my finished jpegs are there, the world won’t come to an end.
I don’t think my system is fool proof or the best possible, but it has worked for me so far. I hope the day isn’t too far away when global bandwidth is big enough and cloud storage is cheap enough that it would be viable for what I do.
Do you shoot at the full resolution of your camera or do you use one of the lower ones to save space? Do you take your photos with the intent to sell big prints?
I shoot everything in RAW. When I began traveling I shot in jpeg and it was a horrible decision. Storage has gotten so cheap that I can not see the point in shooting in anything less than full resolution. I don’t shoot with the intent of selling prints, but I do always have that option by shooting in RAW.
Have you lost any images over the years?
Amazingly enough, I don’t know of any images that I’ve lost. I’ve been very careful about my data storage. When I started traveling, I was backing up my photos to DVD and an old iPod that I had. It was a horrible solution. I remember spending 2 days in Melbourne burning dozens of DVD’s and having to send them back to the US in a big box. I am amazed I haven’t lost anything from my early travels.
How do you deal with needing internet access in remote locations?
I seldom have a problem finding internet. As I am writing this, I’m on one of the lesser populated outer islands in the Bahamas, and the bandwidth here is fine. I’ve spent thousands of nights in hotels now and I’ve become an expert in maximizing my connection. Where in the room I can get the best signal, when to go down to the lobby or when I have to head to Starbucks or McDonald’s. I also have a global Boingo account which lets me log on to wifi hotspots all around the world.
What are your essential photo editing tools?
I currently have a 15″ MacBook Pro Retina and use Lightroom 5.0, and occasionally Photoshop CS6. I also sometimes use SilverFX Pro and Photomatix.
Since you’ve been on the road for 6 years, has your camera changed much?
I began with a Nikon D200 and a 18-200mm lens. Today I use the exact same lens and have upgraded the body to a Nikon D300s.
The Nikon 18-200mm VR lens is far and away the most versatile lens on the market. I can take it out for the day without knowing what I’ll be shooting and be reasonably covered for both wide angle and close-up shots. It isn’t the ‘best’ lens on the market, but it is usually the only thing I need when I leave my hotel room.
I’ve stuck with a crop sensor camera for reasons of weight. The crop sensor lenses are smaller and lighter than full frame lenses. Size and weight is very important to me as I have to carry all my equipment with me all the time.
In addition to the 18-200mm lens, I also carry a 12-24mm lens and a 50mm f/1.4. I probably use those lenses for less than 5% of my shots. I have also rented lenses on occasions. During my trip to South Georgia Island and Antarctica last year, I rented a 500mm lens which was a fantastic decision.
I also have a lightweight carbon fiber tripod from Oben and my camera bag is from Timbuk2. I also use a BlackRapid shoulder strap.
Does your safety (or safety of equipment) ever affect your workflow, what you bring, or how you work?
Not really. I have never had anything stolen and I don’t worry too much about theft. I take common sense precautions and usually never leave anything expensive in my room when I am not around. I keep a minimal amount of gear with me, so I’m not as worried as some people might be if they were on a big photo shoot. I have older camera bodies, lenses and laptops at my mother’s house should I ever need a backup.
So, tell us Can you outline your workflow, start to finish?
1) I take the image.
2) Copy images from the camera to my laptop.
3) Copy images from laptop to my 2 backup hard drives.
4) Edit the images on my laptop.
5) Upload the edited images to SmugMug.
6) Delete edited images on laptop.
That last step is sort of controversial. Basically, images on my laptop are my to do list. As I finish images, I remove them to clear up space. I don’t have a permanent catalog for Lightroom like some people do. This system I developed years ago when my laptop hard drive space was scarce. I also don’t want to have to bring my USB hard drive out every single time I edit photos, as I often do it when I can find time in cafes or on airplanes.
Again, I’m not saying this is the best system, but it is the one that I use.
We hope that all of you – everywhere, anywhere – find a little inspiration to capture and share the moments of your life. Safe travels, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our Photography Perspectives series!
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.
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).“
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!
- How to create, edit and delete Quick Settings
- All about Assistant Passwords
- Smart Galleries and how they auto-populate your stuff
- Collecting photos and virtual copies
- SmugMug’s free Lightroom plugin
- How to use the Lightroom plugin
- SmugMug’s Lightroom webinar
- Intro to the Easy Customizer
- Intro to Advanced Customization
- The Dgrin customization forum
- How (and why) to use Proof Delay
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
Scared of processing your photos? Don’t be. There’s lots of ways to skin a cat but you shouldn’t need an engineering degree to make a great pic.
Our friends at Topaz Labs are here to rescue folks with post-processing anxiety. And stay tuned to see how to win your own SmugMug account and Topaz tools, a perfect starting point for the ambitious digital photographer in you.
Plugins for Every Look
We’re featuring their plugins today to tell you about their quick and easy tools designed to cut down on your computer time and make finishing photos a breeze. Stunning photos with zero pain. What’s not to love?
Check out Topaz’s site to see their incredible variety of filters and effects. They’ve got everything from HDR to noise reduction, and everything in-between.
Not sure? You can contact them for a free, no-strings-attached 30-day trial and see how they work for you.
Will it work on my computer?
All photo editing programs are plugins to photo editors you probably already have, like:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Photoshop Elements
- PaintShop Pro
SmugMug + Topaz + You
We’re giving away three SmugMug accounts and three sets of Topaz software to three lucky digital photographers.
Enter to win prizes from @SmugMug and @TopazLabs. More info: http://smu.gs/QocA87. Please RT. #SmugMugTopazGiveaway
We’ll randomly pick three winners on August 10, 2012, who will win:
- SmugMug Basic account + Topaz Adjust program (A $89.99 value)
- SmugMug Power User account + Topaz Adjust, B+W and Simplify programs (A $209.97 value)
- SmugMug Pro account + Topaz Bundle, which includes 10 Topaz programs: Adjust, DeNoise, Simplify, Clean, ReMask, B&W Effects, Lens Effects, Detail, InFocus and DeJPEG. (A $449.99 value)
As always, we’ll announce the winners in this space, so stay tuned.
Are you ready for post-processing zen? Good luck!
Thanks everyone for getting in on the fun and stay tuned for more goodness, coming soon.
Calling all Adobe fans! We’ve heard that Lightroom’s built-in SmugMug uploader has been one of your favorite ways of getting photos into your sites. So we thought we’d let you know about our most recent update.
What’s New in the Latest Version
- Previously, syncing went in one direction only: from Lightroom over to SmugMug. Now it’s a two-way street. Lightroom will find any images you’ve previously uploaded to your SmugMug galleries and match them to existing images in your library. Synchronicity, baby!
- Pros who use Events will find that their clients’ Favorites get pulled into into a separate Collection in Lightroom.
- Movie shooters: You can now also upload video files in addition to still images.
- Finally, we’ve heard your cries about how your innovative, snappy image titles were getting left at the door. You now have the option to publish your Titles or Captions (or both) in the SmugMug image caption field for all to see.
No plugin? Get it now
If you’re coasting on an older version and want to upgrade to the shiniest version, look here.
Questions? Follow the instructions on our help page to get started.