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Let’s Connect at WPPI 2014 in Las Vegas

February 27, 2014 Leave a comment

If you’re a portrait or wedding photographer bound for WPPI next weekend in Las Vegas, please come see us! SmugMug will be hitting the expo floor from Monday, March 3rd through Wednesday, March 5th, so stop by, say hello and ask us your burning questions. Let’s connect!

We’ll have two great ways for you to win great stuff next week:

1) Photo Critique with David Beckstead 

Become a better photographer in minutes! Submit your best wedding photo now for an in-depth critique by one of the Top 10 Best Wedding Photographers in the World, David Beckstead. Details here.

2) Snap a Smuggy Selfie

Snap a fun self portrait with one of our SmugMug Booth Babes (or just with the SmugMug logo), tag it and share to win part of $2400+ worth of prizes. Winners announced each day of the WPPI expo. Details here.

We’ve lined up an impressive list of totally free seminars and SmugMug demos led by pro photographers (who also happen to be SmugMug friends) ready to impart their knowledge of marketing, business and the craft with you. You’ll also get the chance to talk with some of SmugMug’s Product Managers, Engineers and Design teams, so bring your feedback, suggestions and a winning smile.

Find a complete list of times, dates and topics right here on the handy reference page we’ve built for you here. Bookmark it, love it, keep it close at hand.

http://school.smugmug.com/WPPI

See you soon, wedding pros!

Going to WPPI 2013? Come say hello!

March 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Since we’re big on meeting our customers, we love going to WPPI each year and seeing a slice of the wedding and portrait world. Viva la Vegas!

If you’re going, too, say hi! We’re here to hear what you think, share what we can and shed some light on any of your burning questions. So swing by, shake our hands, bend our ears, grab some swag and take part in the fun.

Meet Us in Booth #1529

Apart from our shining faces, you’ll see:

  • A giveaway for current Smuggers. Win a total website makeover by one of our amazing Certified Customizers: FastLine designs. It’s your chance to get the beautifully branded, professional website you’ve always dreamed of. ($665 value)
  • A giveaway for everyone: Enter to win a mind-bending prize package from SmugMug + friends, including one year of SmugMug Business ($300 value), print credit from Bay Photo Labs ($300 value), a gallery wrap print from WHCC ($300 value), two-year membership at PhotoTraining4U ($390 value,) Perfect Photo Suite 7 Premium from OnOne Software ($299 value), “Design, Print & Bind” Album from Zookie Pro ($300 value), and $150 credit from Blurb books. Whew!
  • A fun, free photo booth so you can seal the experience with a(n infamous) Smilebooth pic! We’ll have creative props for you to use and an online photo gallery to share all the fun. We don’t always believe in all that “What happens in Vegas…” stuff.

And we’ll have some big-name photographers like Jeremy and Zabrina from JeZa Photography hanging out with us to answer questions about the photo biz and share tips on how SmugMug fits into the successful pro’s workflow.

Make Time for Awesome People We Like

If you’re seeking words of wisdom from your favorite pros, here’s when you can catch them over the course of the week. Check the WPPI directory to find exact locations:

Corinne Alavekios
Photographic Essays: From Ordinary to Extraordinary
3/10/2013 9 AM – 10:30 AM

Suzette Allen
Retouching Power with Photoshop CS6
3/13/2013 8:30 AM- 10:00 AM

David Beckstead
In the Box, Through the Box, & Out of the Box with a Videolight!
3/11/2013 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Bambi Cantrell
Beyond Boudoir
3/7/2013 9 AM – 5 PM

Lawrence Chan
Content Marketing and Social Media: The Secrets to More Bookings and Online Engagement
3/11/2013 4 PM- 5:30 PM

Tony Corbell
“Between Light and Shadow”- An Educational Conversation About the Craft of Photography
3/13/2013 3 PM- 4:30 PM

Bob and Dawn Davis
Llevando un Pequeño Negocio Local al Éxito
3/12/2013 9 AM- 10:30 AM

Kay Eskridge
Beyond Boudoir
3/11/2013 8:30 AM- 10 AM

Gustavo Fernandez
Second Shooting: Learn the Wedding Business FAST
3/11/2013 3:30 PM- 5:50 PM

Mike Fulton
Wireless Flash and Strobes Tips and Tricks – Both Manual and TTL
3/11/2013 6:30 PM- 8 PM

Zach and Jody Gray
How to Avoid What Small Businesses Do: Fail
3/10/2013 3 PM- 4:30 PM

Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams
How to Start Your Photography Career Step-by-Step
3/10/2013 11 AM- 1 PM

Kevin Kubota
Pimp Your Speedlight! Location Lighting Tips and Techniques
3/10/2013 9 AM- 10:30 AM

Scott Robert Lim
Crazy, Stupid, Light: Amazing Off Camera Lighting Techniques
3/10/2013 3 PM- 4:30 PM

Denis Reggie
Beyond Cliche: A Case for Authenticity in Wedding Imagery
3/13/2013 3 PM- 4:30 PM

Dane Sanders
Going to Market: Maxmizing Portrait and Wedding Profits
3/10/2013 9 AM- 10:30 AM

Matthew Jordan Smith
10 Secrets to Building a Powerful Photography Career
3/11/2013 4 PM- 5:30 PM

Kirk Voclain
Lighting and Posing Today’s High School Seniors
3/11/2013 8:30 AM- 10 AM

Moshe Zusman
Shedding Light on the Wedding Venue
3/11/2013 3:30 PM- 5:30 PM

Are you ready for the most amazing year in the wedding and portrait industry yet? We can’t wait to meet you!

XOXO,

The SmugMug Family

The Changing Business of Wedding Photography: Are You Keeping Up?

February 6, 2013 139 comments

Do you know Lee Morris, pro photographer, video producer and wicked-good educator? You should. He’s an incredible, seasoned commercial, advertising, fashion and wedding photographer, plus he’s co-founder of the refreshingly useful website Fstoppers.com. He’s also a friend of ours who took a moment to reflect on the wedding business, why it’s so hard, how it’s changing and how pros like you can make the most of it by staying true to your heart.

by Lee Morris

Weddings, From Film to Digital

It’s hard to imagine now, but just a few years ago wedding photographers burned every image into a single piece of film. If they didn’t expose or focus the image correctly, the frame was ruined. If the film was processed incorrectly, scratched, or lost, the picture was gone forever. A single piece of film with a quality image on it was a very valuable thing and wedding photographers charged accordingly. It was common for wedding photographers to charge a single flat rate to show up to the wedding but then an additional fee for the number of images taken and processed. At the time it was very common for couples to pay their wedding photographers a few hundred dollars to take the pictures, but they would then spend thousands paying for prints and albums to be made after the event. Just a few years ago, a digital copy of a photograph, one that you could view on a computer was worthless to couples getting married. They wanted classic prints that they could hold in their hands, hang on the wall, and share with their friends, and they were willing to pay a premium for them. Times have changed.

As digital started to take over, wedding photographers were very slow to give away or even sell the files to their clients and rightfully so; for their entire careers, they made most of their money selling prints, not actually shooting. Many photographers that were unwilling to adapt their businesses actually went under because they thought they couldn’t compete with the new “cheap” digital market. What many of these photographers failed to realize was that the money was still there, in fact, as wedding photography progressed, couples were actually willing to spend more; many of them simply weren’t interested in paying for expensive prints in a digital world.

The Role of Sentimentality in Business

When it comes to managing a business as intimate as wedding photography it’s easy to let your emotions take over. I try my best to approach my photography business as I would any other business. I need to manage my time, keep my current clients happy, consistently book new clients, and make money. So many photographers fail to meet at least one of these goals. Maybe you are really good at making your current clients happy but you work too much and you don’t enjoy your job or have time to enjoy your life. Maybe you book a ton of work but you don’t charge enough and you are constantly struggling financially. During the digital revolution many photographers that didn’t change their pricing structure were incapable of making their current clients happy. Maybe their pictures were great but as digital started to take over, couples felt like they were getting nickeled and dimed after the event. If you can’t make your current clients happy, you are going to struggle to find new clients.

When I started my business years ago I learned very early on that I hated making prints and albums. I could shoot a wedding in a few hours and make a few thousand dollars but it would take me a full day to retouch a few pictures, print them myself or take the files to a lab, package them up, take them to the post office and I would only make a few dollars profit. In many cases my clients would have to wait weeks to actually get their prints because I was out of the state shooting another job. I decided that I was going to start giving away the digital files with each of my weddings. Maybe I would lose a few dollars on the back end but I was also gaining a ton of free time and my clients were happier because they could print their pictures, how they wanted, when they wanted.

As a single guy in my twenties, money was important to me but free time was far more valuable. Once I had booked my 20 or 30 weddings for the year I knew I had plenty of income to support myself and I now had the security to start working on other things. With the extra time I had gained, I created the photography website Fstoppers.com. If I had focused on custom prints and albums like other photographers do I have no doubt I would have made a bit more money but Fstoppers has been far more rewarding. Creating videos for our website like Bon Jovi’s photographer behind the scenes, or Peter Hurley’s: The Art Behind The Headshot, or our newest video: How To Become A Wedding Photographer, has been the most exciting experiences of my life.

My point is that you may love your photography career (I sure do) but if you can give yourself some extra time, who knows what you will be able to create.

SmugMug = Time = Money

When I found SmugMug I realized that it filled 3 major needs in my business:

1. High resolution backups are included with the subscription.
2. It allowed me to promote my photography by giving guests and family members a place to go to see my work.
3. Bay Photo integration means I give my clients high quality prints without actually having to do any work.

By simplifying my business I was meeting all 4 goals above; I had more free time, my clients were happier, I was marketing to new potential clients, and I was making money from print sales each month.

It’s easy to think that we know what’s best for our clients. We may know that if they don’t book an album now, they will probably never get one made. But the sad truth is that many of our clients would rather put their pictures on Facebook than deal with an album. It’s important to remember that we are hired by these couples to do a service for them; if they don’t want prints, we should figure out what they do want and charge them accordingly for that. If you’ve ever bought a car before you know how obnoxious it can be when the salesman tries to sell you on something you don’t want. There are so many other ways to make money with wedding photography that may not involve incredibly expensive prints. I make far more money than I ever did selling prints selling engagment and bridal sessions, setting up a photobooth at receptions, selling video slideshows of the event, and offering a video service. Many photographers also don’t know that SmugMug makes it incredibly easy to sell digital copies of files. If you don’t want to give away your files like I do, you are able to set the size and price for each individual picture.

I want to make it clear that I love high quality prints and that many wedding photographers make a lot of money selling prints, even today. I love seeing my work printed huge, professionally framed, and hanging on a wall. My point is simply that times are changing and the current generation of brides probably do not want the same things that their mothers wanted. To stay ahead of the pack you need to deliver exactly what your clients are looking for, not what you think they will appreciate one day.

If I could sum up this article into a single point it would be this: Listen to your clients, and give them what they want. A happy bride will tell her friends how wonderful you are you will never have to worry about a shortage of work. In some cases, especially this one, it can make your life a whole lot simpler and you might even make more money.

All photos by RL Morris Weddings

Get a Boost in the Business of Love

In the spirit of wedding season and WPPI, we’re going to pick one extremely lucky winner who will sharpen their wedding photography skills and  fistbump the biggest stars of the wedding biz in Las Vegas.

Here’s what we’re giving away:

Here’s how to enter:

  1. LIKE SmugMug’s Facebook page
  2. LIKE Fstoppers’ Facebook page
  3. POST A COMMENT BELOW answering the question:

    What (to you) is the hardest part of being a wedding photographer?

Get your entries in and we’ll randomly pick one winner on February 13, 2013. So keep your eyes peeled and don’t forget to check back for when we announce it here.

Edited to add: The giveaway is over but you can still learn! We highly recommend that you check out Lee’s video, available now on the Fstopper’s site. It’s a comprehensive, 14-hour, 2-years-in-the-making tutorial covering everything you’ll ever need to do know to become a successful wedding photographer. Check out the trailer to get more details about what you’ll learn and why wedding photography will change your life.

Good luck!

UPDATE: We’ve spun the wheel of destiny and it picked… Dennis Schroader! Congrats Dennis and we’ll be in touch with you to deliver your prizes. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts with all of us in the wedding industry!

Categories: business, Current Events, Sales

We Want to See You in Las Vegas!

January 26, 2012 5 comments

It’s that time of the year again.

We rock it in Vegas for WPPI and we know you do, too. As per Sin City’s traditions, we don’t talk about what happens in the booth, but we have pictures to prove that we love meeting Pros like you.

Come visit. Talk to us. Tell it to us straight.

Plus, the event gives you the chance to pick the brains of amazing greats like SmugMug Pros Bambi Cantrell, Scott Robert Lim and more.

Why should this year be any different?

Photo Courtesy of Fotocabina.net

"You better come party with us."

Photo Courtesy of Fotocabina.net

Snag a Discount

Option 1. If you’re not the chancy type, go ahead and grab a discounted pass for just $95. Use the coupon code: WFREGR

Option 2. Want to skip the lectures and just say hi? Click here to get a free pass to the trade show floor.

See you in Vegas, baby!

WANTED: #NicksBeard

February 21, 2011 5 comments

Have you seen this man?

You should. He’s awesome!

If you’ve never received a help email from Nick, shook his hand at a SMUG or boogied with him in Vegas then you’re missing out on one of the best bennies of being part of our family. Nick’s the real deal, and his Garbaldi is the source of his power. It makes scissors tremble and stylists swoon. Nothing can stand in its way and we have pictures to prove it.

Best of all, his beard is the Blarney Stone of the chin world. Touch it, and ye shall be gifted with undying off-camera light and perfection in posing.

Hero Nick will be stalking the pens at WPPI this week so you can come and see us (and him) at booths #1528 and #1529. If you can catch this cagey tiger and lay fingers on Thee Sacred Hairs, you may find yourself surrounded with beautiful models, zippy interns and possibly something even better.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Your Mission:

Snap a pic of yourself while touching Nick’s beard at WPPI and post it to SmugMug’s Facebook wall. Then tag yourself! And if you’re still riding on the high, Tweet your success so others can play, like this:

#NicksBeard. Snap a pic for a chance to win a prize from Andy’s gear bag. @SmugMug booths 1528 and 1529 #WPPI

Deadline is Tuesday at 9 PM, Vegas time. Winners will be announced via our Facebook Wall on Friday.

Your Reward:

Five winners will be randomly picked from all of those that show us the goods on our Facebook wall. We’ll then pick five more random winners from those who have tweeted about it, and another five random winners from everyone else who shows us they’ve touched The Beard.

Something good’s comin’ your way. We’ve got tons of swag, photo gear, bags and even a free year of SmugMug Pro ready to go.

And if Nick’s face-drapery isn’t enough to get you to hang out with us, stop by the booth for a super-special 40% off code to save on your first year of SmugMug. What else could you possibly ask for?

See you in Vegas, baby!

—————

UPDATE! Although this contest is now over, we have good news in the form of winners. There were fourteen successful posters who overcame shyness, crowds and bad wi-fi to post a pic of #NicksBeard, so they each get a free year of SmugMug Pro PLUS $125 print credit (OR $125 credit towards site customization with one of our certified companies). In addition to these great prizes, those of you who posted by the Tuesday evening deadline will get free bonus SmugSwag.

Thanks to everyone who participated, even if you couldn’t get your pic on our fan page!

If your name is below, stay tuned. Katherine will drop you a note on Facebook with details.

Winners:

If you couldn’t make it to Vegas, we have fun giveaways going on over at Facebook each week. Don’t forget to “Like” us so you can win something, too!

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