How to make Halloween photography a treat.

Our friends at The Photographer Academy have released this great video tutorial to ensure you’re taking the scariest, spookiest, and eeriest photos possible this Halloween. Here are Mark Cleghorn’s four favorite tips to create fun, bone-chilling photos.

Keep it creepy by:

1. Use two back lights, lighting your subjects from both sides (right and left) with different colored gels to give a haunting feeling.

2. Use black seamless paper as a background to let light graduate and be absorbed

3. Set up a front light with a simple strip box to give your subjects the illumination and good transition across all subjects’ faces. This lets the light wrap around the subjects, if even moving, and gives a natural look.

4. Smear vaseline on an acrylic sheet and shoot through it for a foggy appearance.

Do you have any go-to tricks that make shooting Halloween photography a treat? Share them in the comments!

Beer or Coffee – 10/21/16

I hope you all have weekend plans already, because Friday is upon us again! I’m out of town today, but I’ll leave you all in the very capable hands of Jen and Evan for our Facebook Live show.  They’ll be previewing another new product coming soon from Bay Photo!

Don’t have time to watch? Here’s what we have been working on lately:

  • We’ve made some very significant improvements to our Coupons feature. We’ve given the feature a much needed facelift, but we’ve been working on functionality as well! You can now edit the coupon code, discount amount, and currency type of the coupon up until it has been used the first time. We’ve also improved the wording around restrictions or limitations on coupons to make it easier to get everything just right. Perhaps most exciting is the unseen benefits, the underlying technology has been upgraded to allow us to do some exciting new things with coupons in the future.
  • We’ve also launched a Halloween photo contest! If you haven’t entered yet, you still have another week to  submit your best Halloween photos and possibly win some big prizes!

What’s better than a sack full of candy? A sack full of money!

Halloween is our favorite holiday. Really! We get dressed up. We go trick-or-treating. (Or at least take the kiddos out.) We decorate and eat candy without regard for teeth or waistline—Carpe Halloweenem! So we’re all dying to know…are you on this level too? Do you dress up? Spread fake cobwebs all over your house? Create elaborate yard displays designed for the sole purpose of terrifying the neighborhood kids? Whatever you do, we want to see it. Just snap a picture, send it to us, and you could win some seriously awesome prizes.


Since we can’t imagine celebrating Halloween only halfway, we’re putting our money where our candy bowl is. Right now through the 31st, you can enter to win up to $3,000 cash plus tons of other great prizes including SmugMug swag bags with our coveted hoodie, a free year of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography, $50 Mixbook credit for any of their print materials, or one of two large Xposer wall prints from Bay Photo.

To enter, all you have to do is upload your favorite Halloween images to a public gallery on your SmugMug account. Tag each photo with the keyword “Smugoween,” and our panel of experts will judge the entries and choose four winners for our awesome prize packages. You can enter as many photos as you want! We’ll be adding all entries here throughout the contest, but don’t worry if you don’t see yours immediately—they can take a while to add to the keyword page.

For official rules or more information on how to enter your photos, visit our contest page. We can’t wait to see how you make Halloween a total scream!

Beer or Coffee – 10/14/16

It’s Friday again already! While this week has been relatively quiet, we still have some really fun stuff to talk about. Tune in to our Facebook Live show to see us tease some unreleased products from Bay Photo that you’ll be able to sell very soon! In case you missed it, we’ll be live every Friday morning at 11 AM Pacific. Join us there, or watch it here!


If you don’t want to watch, here’s what we released this week:

Photographer Profile: Dracorubio

With Halloween fast approaching, we wanted to highlight the creatively dark and fantastical work of SmugMug customer, Roderique Arisiaman. Roderique’s images take viewers on an imaginative journey, so much so that we couldn’t resist asking him to judge our upcoming SmugMug Halloween Photo Contest (launching soon, very soon!). Please note, some images are NSFW, so please review his website first before sharing with younger photography fans. Read on to discover Roderique in his own words.

Hello, and welcome to my story. My name is Roderique Arisiaman, and I’m a photographer and digital artist known to many as Dracorubio.

I used to be a 3–D animator, motion-graphics artist, and visual-effects artist. Photography crossed my path a few years ago. At first, I was only documenting what I saw, but I soon discovered I could use my skills with Photoshop and other software to actually tell the stories I wanted. Working with a single image, instead of a set of frames, allowed me to work fast and get my idea done.

I will always stay a creative person. I don’t know if I will keep doing photography and photo manipulation. Maybe some new kind of creative art form will emerge from our technical advances, or maybe I’ll pick up wood carving or oil painting after a few years. As long as I can keep telling stories and design worlds, I will.

Being a digital artist.

I have a lively imagination, and being a digital artist allows me to create worlds that are hard to create in real life. Additionally, my ideas are quickly realized. Working digitally is usually a personal effort, where I can dive into my own thoughts and music and shut myself off from the world around me. And best of all, digital mistakes are only a CMD-Z click away.😉

dracorubio ay carambaaaa

Ay Carambaaaa by Dracorubio.

dracorubio esmeralda

Esmeralda by Dracorubio.

About creativity.

I have my ups and downs when it comes to creativity; I never fail in ideas and concepts—my mind is full of them. As are my sketchbooks. I do have times that I can’t get myself to create…sometimes I have too many ideas and have no idea where to start. But I’m learning to work on that, tackling one idea at a time. When I’m not creating, I try to immerse myself with inspiring stimuli like movies, comics, theatre, and museums. And from time to time, it’s also important to just disconnect from the creative whirlwind and be in the everyday moment. Things like going to the gym, spending time with loved ones, and having a good time. It’s a tough balancing act, but I try to make it work.

dracorubio precious

Precious by Dracorubio.

Creating a compelling image.

The photograph acts as my canvas and starting point for my edit. It dictates my main lighting and the color palette. Also, the dynamic of the photo directs the final image. I always try to retain as much of the original photo as possible. I have a few images where there is too much digital and not enough photograph, and they do bother me.

No matter what the subject of the image you’re trying to create is, make sure you have your story to tell. Figure out the narrative of your image and how you can best describe it in one single image. What or who is your main subject? What props are needed? What is your color scheme? If you have these written or sketched down, you can start creating.

dracorubio hellraiser

Hellraiser by Dracorubio.

dracorubio spiderman

Spiderman by Dracorubio.

Also, don’t try to recreate the exact image you have in your head; that will never happen and will leave you unhappy. Allow yourself freedom and room for experimentation. Step out of your comfort zone.

Find what tickles you, what gives you a tingle in your tummy. Follow that path and look for other creatives in your field, see what they are doing, and learn from them. And never get yourself stuck inside this one field. Go out and be inspired by everything around you. Read a book, go to a museum, or have a walk in nature. Be sure to enjoy real life as well.

dracorubio do you believe there is a demimonde mr chandler

Do you believe there is a demimonde, Mr. Chandler? by Dracorubio

dracorubio valentine

Valentine by Dracorubio

Beer or Coffee – our new weekly roundup!

Happy Friday!  Even though we are only a week into posting these updates, we’re already making them better.  I’ll be jumping on Facebook Live every Friday morning at 11am Pacific with awesome guests to talk about the exciting things we’re working on.  Watch replays right here on our blog!

Don’t want to watch the video? No worries, I’ll keep writing the updates too. Here’s what we have released in the last week.

  • Upload directly into your settings pages!  Need to change your profile photo? Or maybe create a new watermark? Now you can upload the new photo right there in the settings page, instead of finding it hiding in one of your many galleries.
  • We’ve dramatically improved the underlying code in our Dropbox integration. Now it’s easier than ever to get all of your photos on SmugMug.
  • If you use our awesome Lightroom plugin (you should), you’ll now get smart auto-cropping of thumbnails. When we have to crop a thumbnail down to a square, we are analyzing for faces and doing our best to not lose the good parts. Pretty cool stuff. EDIT: This feature also works with any camera that stores facial recognition in the image itself! Your iPhone, Android, and even fancy cameras will all help us intelligently crop your photos.
  • Did you know we sell Photo Aprons? We do, and they now have an updated and accurate picture of the current aprons!

PS- Did you see the Halloween promotions we are running?

Get your candy bag ready, Halloween 2016 is here.

We love Halloween so much we decided to take the entire month to celebrate it. I mean given our track record of dressing up, we knew we had to blow our favorite holiday out of the apple-bobbing water this year.

We’re starting with a big fat candy grab bag of 31 Days of Halloween on Instagram. We’ll be featuring our very best in spooky and scary, plus some special cute and costumey. Do you have a favorite Halloween photo? Tag it on Instagram with #Smugoween and maybe we’ll feature your photo on our feed.

wt3 2

Got a fun Halloween photo? Share it with us on Instagram with the hashtag #Smugoween

While you’re at it, take a few seconds to login, or sign up for a SmugMug account (if you haven’t already.) Upload your favorite Halloween picture to a new public gallery after our contest starts on 10/17. If you tag that photo with #Smugoween,  we’ll include it in our Halloween Photo Contest where we’re giving away almost $8,000 worth of prizes including a grand prize package that includes $3,000 cash! But that’s not all—you could also win SmugMug swag bags with one of our coveted hoodies, a free year of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography, $50 Mixbook credit for any of their print materials, one of two large Xposer wall prints from Bay Photo, and more!

We’ve got a special panel who will be judging our winners. Sign up for the SmugMug newsletter to be among the first to know when the contest launches.

Getting excited? Well, we’re just getting started. Now through the end of the month, we’re giving new SmugMug customers 31% off their SmugMug subscription for the first year. Signing up couldn’t be easier, and we’ll even give you a free 14-day trial if you’ve never tried SmugMug before.

Save 31%

We wouldn’t dream of leaving out our own loyal photographer friends though, so we’re capping off the month with a very special 31% discount on Montage photo books starting October 25. That way you can commemorate your Halloween holiday or any other life event in a unique photo book full of your favorite images. Either follow us on Facebook or join our mailing list for more details when the discount begins.

If you can’t tell, we’re pretty excited to share our Halloween with you, so get your candy, costumes, and decorations prepped, then you’ll be ready for all of our treats.