Photog Tip of the Week: Sell Smarter with Smart Galleries by David Evertsen

Today’s guest post is by sports shooter and Smugger David Evertsen of Phabulous Photos. Any event shooter understands how tricky it is to manage and organize large volumes of files, particularly when parents, friends and fans are beating down the door to see photos and buy prints. Since the fall sports season is ramping up, we thought this post would help you manage your workflow and feed happier customers. Here’s how he used a program called Photo Mechanic and SmugMug’s Smart Galleries to give his fans the pictures they want to see.

by David Evertsen

For the past 3 or 4 years that I have been shooting high school sports there’s been one hurdle: Parents only want to see their own child when looking through sports pictures on my site. While they enjoy looking through the galleries, it’s a completely different story when it comes to choosing prints to buy. Sports galleries are quite large and it becomes a chore for parents to look through everything to find shots just of their child.

Then think about how one photographer shoots many games per sport, several sports at a time and the problems start to multiply.

I’ve used Smart Galleries from time to time on my site combined with simple keywords assigned in Lightroom, but I needed something more powerful that could help simplify the keywording process without writing a sentence for every image. Here’s a solution that worked for me.

Step 1.  Build your Code Replacement file in Photo Mechanic

I started working with some other photographers that are required to caption and upload images to a newspaper or press site and noticed they used a product called Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits. Photo Mechanic uses something called Code Replacement. This feature is perfect for photojournalists and sports photographers: they create a simple code replacement file that acts as a library, so that they type a few keystrokes and the info (like name, position, team and number) is automatically entered into the captions. This means fast, consistently accurate information with minimal work.

First I need to show you what code replacement is and how it saves me time. Code Replacement is a form of short hand that allows you to enter in anything you want by only pressing a few keys.

Here is an example of five of keywords I put on an image:

1; bk1 ;Kevin Kyle; Boone Varsity Baseball; 2010-2011

And here’s what that means, so you can do something similar for yourself:

  • 1 – Players Jersey Number (used for reference in file)
  • bk1 – A SmugMug keyword I use to build my Smart Gallery
  • Kevin Kyle – The player’s name.
  • 2011 – Year, also used to build my Smart Gallery.

Now what keys did I press to get the bold line above added as a keyword in Photo Mechanic for the picture?

1” and “\

How this works: You build a master list of shorthand codes you want to use and define which keyword terms you want entered when you type each code. This is just a simple text file that Photo Mechanic will use to automatically plug in keywords when you type the right codes.

Tip: Remember that SmugMug keywords have to be an minimum of 3 letters to work unless you enclose them in quotes.

Step 2. Choose Your Keywords

Let me show you what I had to think out before I built my code replacement file. You’ll want to write up keywords and macro codes that make it simple for you to remember but are specific to each event you shoot. I had to create a master list of sports that I use all year round so I don’t mix up the schools and sports. That would cause disaster!

Here are a few additional example sports in the same format as the above example:

bl Boone Boys Varsity LAX
bjl Boone Boys JV Lax
bgl Boone Girls Varsity Lax
bt Boone Track
bs Boone Varsity Softball
bjs Boone JV Softball

Make the codes easy to remember – after all, the point of this is to make your job easier.

What does the Code Replacement file look like? My file is really long and includes all the sports I shoot. As the seasons start the numbers and names of the players per sport are added. The final file can contain many schools and many different sports. Here are just a few other examples:

bk1 1; bk1 ;KEVIN KYLE; Boone Varsity Baseball; 2010-2011;
bk2 2; bk2 ;FRANK  THOMAS; Boone Varsity Baseball; 2010-2011;
bk3 3; bk3 ;TRIPP CABLE; Boone Varsity Baseball; 2010-2011;
bk4 4; bk4 ;MITCHELL BOMBER; Boone Varsity Baseball; 2010-2011;

Tip: Use semicolons between the terms to ensure that they get entered as complete keywords in the SmugMug gallery when I upload.

Step 3. Create your Smart Galleries

Smart Galleries are an easy way to automatically group together your photos by keyword. At the beginning of each year I go in to the season and set up a team subcategory (Under a custom school year category) and then individual Smart Galleries (one for each player).  In this case, I’ll use one Smart Gallery to pull in the photos with the “bk1” and “2010-2011” keywords in one place.

I make one gallery for each player on the team. Then I go into settings for each gallery and add Rules to pull in the keywords:

Rule #1: Include > My Photos > Keyword > 2011
Rule #2: Include > My Photos > Keyword > bk1

Then I’m done. Setting up the Smart Galleries takes a little time at first but you only have to do it once.

Step 4. Apply your codes in Photo Mechanic

Next I finish my post processing. I do my adjustments and use Lightroom’s bulk keywording feature to automatically enter the first portion of the Code Replacement macro, bk\ , to all of my files. This saves me time later.

I then open Photo Mechanic, click on the folder I created when I exported and double click on the file information. Up pops the info window where I can save and change the keywords. Then I press “1\”. The opening “\” (added by Lightroom to all my files) and the closing “\” (that I just typed into Photo Mechanic manually) means, “look up in your designated code file and insert the following line.” The string of keywords gets entered:

1; bk1 ;Kevin Kyle; Boone Varsity Baseball; 2010-2011

SmugMug indexes only 30 keywords per photo so take it easy on the number of keywords, lest you run out. I use about five, as shown here.

When I am done with the keywords on each individual image I click the Save button in the info pane and it brings the next one up. I do not keyword every player if I can’t tell who they are or if they are on the opposing team; they are not the primary focus of the shot.

It takes only about 10-15 minutes at the end of my processing to add the keywords.

Step 4. Upload Your Photos

I then use Photo Mechanic to upload to the team gallery and my work is done. When all the images are uploaded I make a lot of customers really happy because the Smart Galleries automatically pull in the specific photos I’ve set for them. I did the initial leg work but SmugMug does all the heavy lifting for me. I realized how important this was for sales when I set the Gallery Download price for my galleries and sold a bunch of player-only photos.

Each sport is different and the complexity varies by how many players are on each team. But even if a player plays only a few times in the season, you can easily find them by keyword. Then you can keep looking to shoot more shots of them later in the season.

I hope this helped you learn how to do something that will make your customers able to find the pictures they want to see and purchase them easily. I have talked to people on the Digital Grin forums that are using this workflow for all types of sports where the participants have numbers. Quick Code Replacement combined with Smart Galleries saves you time and helps drive up your sales.

Good luck!

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I'm a freelance documentary photographer who loves travel, rangefinders, medium format film photography, and everything in-between.

7 thoughts on “Photog Tip of the Week: Sell Smarter with Smart Galleries by David Evertsen”

  1. Very well written article. I did not know you could do this.

    I too use Photo Mechanic but have not utilized the code replacement feature. What a great tip.

    Thank you so much for this trick.

    I plan to use it A LOT!

  2. I sure wish you did this for youtube. it would be easier for me to follow the steps. Thanks though! I’ll keep trying, but I’m just not getting it. 🙂 L

  3. Yes it works great but by posting images online or on smugmug,, all the parents and kids are doing, getting smarter and more tech savvy, is taking a screenshot of their images and copy-pasting-cropping thus stealing images without paying for them. Webloc doesn’t work anymore…I learned the hard way losing some very valuable one-of-a-kind images to a client who did this and sent them to all his buddies via email as attachments…didn’t get a dime only a thank you for posting them. Beware.

    1. Hi Al, that’s very true that some people will do that and there’s never a truly fool-proof way to lock all your images down on the web. The main thing we suggest for this is to set your galleries to display smaller sizes, or in other words, restrict the largest display size to something small like Medium or Large.

      We have some great tips on how to do this (and more) in our help pages here:

      And we’re always happy to make suggestions and help you get it set up if you contact our Support Heroes. Good luck!

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