New Link Shortener and Some Bug Fixes

Get Shorter URLs

Love little links? Take advantage of our awesome, Smuggy link shortening service that turns any web address you drop into the box into a cute URL:

This is a great feature for those of you who want bite-sized snips to share with your friends. You can even add “/shorten” to the end of your SmugMug address to get your own version of the page.

Try it for yourself!

Bug Fixes

A couple of order-related issues were squashed:

  • We fixed a glitch that was hiding details about Packages in your shopping cart total. Now you can review them before checkout.
  • If you have non-alphanumerics in your email address (like + signs), the secure link in your order confirmation emails should work when you click it.

And a miscellaneous one:

  • Deleting a photo from a gallery shouldn’t reset the arrangement of the remaining images.

Till later,

The SmugMug Family

Smug Tip of the Week: Quick Settings for Quick Setup

Lots of people have asked us: “Can I apply the gallery settings from one gallery to another? How do I apply certain settings when creating new galleries?”

Yes you can! The solution is Quick Settings.

Creating Quick Settings

These are really simple templates for your settings that you can create, save and apply to any gallery on your site. Here’s how to use them:

1) First, go to any gallery where you have your settings just the way you like, or edit the gallery settings to have your preferred settings, and save them.

2) Then, in the gallery settings under the Quick Settings section, choose “Save settings on this page as…” and then give your new Quick Setting a name.

Tip: Choose a name that is descriptive and relevant. Mention the watermark, your public/private settings, or your printing settings so you know what it is at a glance. For example, “Bottom watermark, No Share” is a much more useful name than just “New Quick Setting 1”.

3) After you give your Quick Setting a name, click Save.

Applying Quick Settings

Now that you have this Quick Setting saved, you can apply it to other galleries by opening that  gallery’s Settings page, then choosing it from the drop-down list at the top:

Want to apply this Quick Setting to lots of galleries? Choose the “Apply Quick Settings to multiple galleries” link, which will let you pick which galleries and Quick Setting you want to use. Note that you can also delete that Quick Setting template by hitting the “delete template” button, visible once the setting is selected.

You can apply it to brand new galleries, too, before you even upload any photos. That option is right in the New Gallery box:

Got questions about this feature? Check out our help page or give our Heroes a shout. We’re always glad to lend a hand!

Love Your Work Again on the Power of Passion Tour

One of our own Smuggers, Dustin Bess, is on the road with Sandy Puc and Gerry Ghionis on their Power of Passion Tour. Here’s what he’s got to say about this incredible experience.

As photographers we are constantly called on to draw on our creative process to create compelling images. Being in this position where so much creativity is needed, one can often experience burnout and fatigue and start to wonder,

“Do I really love what I am doing anymore?”

As part of my work for SmugMug I have been traveling the country with Sandy Puc and Jerry Ghionis as they take their Power of Passion Tour across America.  I joined up with them on March 13 in Phoenix, AZ, and caught my first glimpse of the show.

I was completely blown away by the power of this event.

The Business of Photography

I have been following Sandy since January of 2010 when I started shooting with the charity Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which she cofounded. After meeting Sandy at WPPI last year and getting a chance to know her, I was even more impressed with all of her accomplishments and immense knowledge.  Sandy isn’t just a photographer, she is a true business woman and it shows in even the shortest of conversations with her. In Phoenix, as I listened to her talk about business and marketing, the things she was saying made so much sense, yet one is left with the thought “why didn’t I think of that?”.

Photographers often neglect the business side of their photography business.  I personally know amazing photographers who still struggle with bookings, not because they lack skills in the camera, but because they lack skills of getting people through their doors in the first place.

Sandy knows how to get people into her studio and this is what she is teaching at the event (among many other things).

Passion and Emotion in Photography

I had heard Jerry’s name before joining him on the tour, but must admit that I didn’t know much about him or his work.  I really didn’t know what I was missing.  As I sat through that first show and watched his images come up, I was in complete awe.  I watched him pull random strangers from the audience and evoke emotion out of them that I have never seen from even my closest clients. I knew I was sitting in the presence of a true master of the craft.  Jerry has this ability to connect with people through simple words and it is truly remarkable to watch. One minute you will be crying, and the next you are experiencing side-splitting laughter. Jerry is also a master at posing shots to create not just photographs, but true works of art.

What Photographers Had to Say

I asked my friend David Terry for his thoughts after seeing the Tour in SLC and this is what he had to say:

Two years ago I had the opportunity of attending one of Sandy Puc’s seminars in Salt Lake City.  It was so good and so worth the price I paid, that I felt bad last year when I was unable to attend due to prior commitments.  So this year, I signed up for the event as soon as it was announced.  At the time I did not know who Jerry Ghionis was, and so that did not affect my plans.  But I attended his class at WPPI a month ago and came away saying to myself that I would ‘pay anything to see him again’. And wow, what a ‘one-two punch’.  The two of them last night were awesome.  Sandy served up business and marketing tips while Jerry both taught and inspired us.  His techniques for getting the image AND the emotion are truly inspirational. I would gladly pay to see him again.

Another friend of mine, Jeremy Hall, wasn’t sure if it would be worth his time to attend because he doesn’t focus on weddings. With a little encouragement he decided to come and this is what he said to me afterwards:

After some friendly prompting from fellow photographers, I decided to attend the Sandy Puc & Jerry Ghionis workshop in Salt Lake City. Though my focus is not wedding photography, I was looking for some great inspiration I could apply to all my photography. Sandy and Jerry were excellent. I enjoyed their presentation style, the simple techniques and ideas they presented, but most of all getting the inspiration I was looking for. I now have new motivation to approach my work with more emotion, sincerity and purpose.

And here is what SmugMug’s President and Co-Founder, Chris MacAskill said:

From a purely selfish point of view, I know I’m not a specialist in any form of photography and have much to learn about each kind.  But I leave most talks feeling like I learned very little and where are the Annie Leibovitzs,  Anton Lorimers, Michael Soos, Trey Ratcliffs, and Scott Robert Lims in this world who give you something that makes a big difference?

Jerry’s evoking emotion spiel was one of those times for me when I felt like I just learned something you should have known long ago.  I was wishing I could shoot my weddings over again.  Where have I been? It’s so obvious once you hear it.

See the Tour in Your City

There are still 11 cities to go in the tour and you can save $20 by entering the code SMPP11 on the registration page.  After seeing the show that first night I have encouraged every photographer I know to get out and see it.

Because SmugMug is sponsoring the tour, I have the unique opportunity of being able to travel from city to city with these great people.  Can I just tell you: I think what truly makes this event wonderful is how much fun these two have all the time.  Whether it is getting stuck in a snowstorm and Jerry whips out his iPhone to produce Death at Pollard Flat or an impromptu Dance Party on Sandy’s bus. It is easy to tell that these two really love what they do.  They exude passion for photography and for teaching others also.  And if you thought Jerry was a good photographer, check out his basketball skills.

Simply put, if you only have time for one educational event this year, this is the one to see.

You can register for the event by going HERE.

– Dustin

New Album Download Pricing for Pros

Album Downloads

You’ve always been able to sell individual photos in three different sizes and two license formats. Your visitors were able to add all images from a gallery to the shopping cart, which was convenient, but the price for that order was a cumulative total that couldn’t be changed.

Now you can set one special price for the full set. This means that you can offer a “package” price to clients who buy the whole gallery.

How it Works

Open up your custom pricing and click the Downloads tab. You’ll see a brand new section under each license type called “Album Downloads”:

Price them just the way you’d price anything else and remember to save it. This price is the one that shows when your client hits the Buy button and chooses All Digital Downloads:

They pick the download type and size, and can then continue to check out.

Get all the details about digital downloads, licenses and how to offer them to clients here.

Happy selling!

Smug Tip of the Week: Events and Favorites

Is there a way to let my clients pick their favorite photos?

We hear this a lot from inquiring Pros and the answer is a hearty YES!

Here’s how:

1) Go to your Control Panel and set up an Event. You can customize it lots of ways and then add the gallery (or galleries) that you want to share with your fans.

2) Name your client as a Participant. This grants them a special access to view the event via a special link.

3) Ask them to view that link. When they see a pic they love, they can click the red “heart” icon to add it to a private Favorites gallery that only the two of you can see.

4) From there, they can share their Favorites gallery with friends and family and (best of all) buy prints and gifts.

If you want to get fancy, click the white envelope next to their name to open the email share feature and use our templates to spread the word about your Event. We make it easy to tailor your message to the event and save the wording for future shoots.

Get all the details on how to use Events and Favorites on our Event Marketing help page.

Tip: If you have Photo Ranking enabled, they may be tempted to click the green or red thumbs-up icon that appears on the mouseover bar. But keep in mind that it’s part of your Popular Photos feature and we don’t recommend this as a replacement for Favorites. You won’t be able to see the vote count, but check your Popular Photos box to see the best ones!

Enjoy and happy marketing!

Photog Tip of the Week: Shooting Sports with Steve Mills

Spring has nearly sprung, sports fans!  If you’re a fair-weather photographer, you’ll soon be blowing the dust off of your gear and heading to the track, course, court, or diamond.  We’ll offer some tips we hope will make your photos a home run. Today’s Photog Tip of the Week comes from Master Support Hero and sports pro, Steve Mills of Downriver Photography.

What makes a great sports photo?

In a word: Drama! With today’s amazing digital cameras shooting in excess of 10 FPS, it’s tempting to be a ‘machine-gun-mama’ holding down the shutter release anytime there’s action, rattling off shots from your dSLR Uzi.  Fight the urge and use it sparingly!  After your memory card stops sizzling and your batteries return to something below 500 Kelvin, you’re almost certain to have some ‘keepers’.  You’ll likely capture the bat hitting the ball, but it takes practice, restraint and discipline to look beyond, to the player’s wide eyes and the self-satisfaction of their first home run and capture the shot you really want.  Drama.

Know your sport!

For great sports photography, it’s essential to know your sport so you can anticipate the decisive moment.  The swing on the pitch, the slide to home, and the frustration of a strike-out are all important decisive moments not only to anticipate the action, but the emotion of each. If you’re not sure what a flag on the field means, or what a feat running 100 yards in 9.4 seconds is, you’re sure to miss some drama.

Isolate your subject(s)

One rule of composition says, ‘If it doesn’t contribute to the scene in some way, it’s best left out’.  This is especially true in sports photography. Nearly every sport has tons of distraction.  From refs, to spectators, to sponsors, they all compete for attention in your frame.  Don’t let a screaming spectator steal the scene from your slugger.  Use a respectable telephoto lens to fill your frame with drama and adjust your aperture to control the depth of field, blurring out the blight.  If most of your shots show the whole infield and cause viewers to hunt for the action and drama, it’s time to upgrade your lens.

Get a Proper Exposure

Most cameras have a number of different exposure modes including spot metered, center weighted, and evaluative metering.  Most are pretty reliable if you understand how they work.  I’ve often heard, “It was such a bright, sunny day, but all my photos came out dark!” followed by cursing their camera.  Regardless of the exposure mode you choose, the camera will look at the metering area you defined (a spot, the center, or the whole scene) and crunch some numbers to come up with a value for that area.  That value will be considered the middle value for the scene.  This means if your metered area consists mostly of bright clouds, sky, or player uniforms, the camera will now consider them the mid-tone! This turns your bright whites into something near middle-gray, and your whole scene turns dark.  To combat this, add exposure compensation to let your camera know, ‘these whites should be white!’ then check your camera’s histogram for proper levels (see Canadiann’s histogram tips from last week).

Optimize Camera Settings

ISO: The old standards still hold relatively true with 50-200 for bright sunny days, 400 for overcast, and 800-3200 for downright gloomy, with even 6400+ for twilight sports.  Newer dSLRs can handle high ISOs with surprisingly little digital noise so don’t be afraid to push it.

Shooting mode: Just say ‘No’ to sports mode!  AV (Aperture Priority) is my favorite for outdoor sports.  It allows you to control the depth of field [depth of focus], and lets the camera worry about shutter speed. Consider bumping up your ISO for a faster shutter speed if needed.

Shutter speed: How fast is enough?  This depends on three things:  Mood, Sport, and Lens.

  • Mood:  A fast shutter speed will freeze action.  If you want to convey motion or speed with some motion blur, a slower shutter speed will be required. (1/60th of a second will blur most bat swings, where 1/250th will freeze most)
  • Sport:  Formula-1 racing will require a faster shutter speed than badminton, to freeze action.
  • Lens:  For hand-held photography, your shutter speed should exceed the focal length of the lens to prevent camera-shake.  Example:  With a 200mm lens, you’ll want to shoot at a minimum of 1/250th.  Many cameras and lenses now have image stabilization that compensates for hand jitters that cause camera-shake, which allows you to shoot at even slower shutter speeds without noticeable blur.

I hope these tips inform, inspire, and encourage you to get out there and get shooting.  We’ll be looking for all your action-packed artistic drama on SmugMug!

-Steve Mills