The Best Reason to Come to Focus on Imaging 2013

Attention all on-the-fence pros: If you were unsure about whether or not to come out to Focus on Imaging in Birmingham March 3-6, 2013, we’ve got some exciting news that may tip the balance in your favor.

Our Massive Giveaway

We’re joining forces with our friends at Loxley Colour and PhotoTraining4U to give four lucky photographers a jump start to 2013.

  • £500 Loxley lab credit
  • 1 year SmugMug Pro Membership AND full customisation
  • TWO years of Academy Pro membership at PhotoTraining4U

Each day of the show, they’ll announce one winner who will get ALL of the above. That’s four possible chances to win and over £1,400 worth of prizes that give you everything you need for a successful business: A website. Gorgeous prints. And two years to learn how to put it all together.

How to Enter

Simply show up at NEC Birmingham between March 3-6, 2013 and come to any of our three booths and let us scan your badge. (Or you can do things the old-fashioned way and fill out an entry card.) That’s it!

Note that you can enter at any of our booths, but only one entry will be count per person, per day.

Find us here:

SmugMug: Booth #C9
Loxley Colour: Booth #M1
PhotoTraining4U: Booth #Q20

We can’t wait to see you at Focus! Good luck to all of you entering to win.🙂

Links to love:

Share the Love: Events, Favorites and Sharegroups

As you get ready for wedding season, we want to send a friendly reminder to any of you out there who may still be scared of one of our favorite Business features: Events.

Don’t be intimidated, because Events are just what the doctor ordered to keep your friends, fans and family sane. If you’ve never used this feature — or its little brother, Sharegroups, available to Basic, Power and Portfolio members — here are just a few reasons why you should dive in and give it a whirl.

1. Your friends will thank you.

Instead of sending a huge catalog of links to your wedding guests, send just one. Both Events and Sharegroups are “islands” that contain as many galleries as you wish, so there’s no need for guests to get off track. Mentally, it’s an easier and more friendly approach… especially since you get to pick the URL.

In short, you share just one link and your visitors don’t have to poke around your vacation pics looking for the bride.

2. You can exercise your OCD tendencies.

Events come bundled with lots of cool features, like a place to display a slideshow of favorites and details about the shoot, the ability to add in as many galleries as you wish and arrange them, email templates for sharing and lots more. Everything stays neat and tidy, and you can use all the options or just a few. Best of all, each client (we call them “Participants”) gets their own special view of the Event, and a unique gallery to hold their Favorites. So whether it’s the bride, her mom or a favorite aunt, their selections don’t get mixed up.

Sharegroups are the simplified version of the above: Bundle all the galleries you want under one Sharegroup and share the link. Like Events, you can enter a description and sort the included galleries in whatever order you wish. You’re still able to tweak ’til it squeaks.

3. You stay in control.

You’re the star; everyone’s waiting with bated breath to see your photos. When you’re ready, release all their galleries with one click, and (if you have a Business account) keep track of everyone who takes a look. The secret? Events’ registration feature. Just toggle the Registration setting to “Required” and anyone viewing your Event will be asked for their email address.

Both Events and Sharegroups can be locked down with viewing passwords, so images don’t fall into the wrong hands.

The 2-Minute Guide to Making Your First Event (or Sharegroup)

1. Make it.

To create an Event, open up your Account Settings and look under “Business.” Click on the “Making Money” tab and you can manage your Events on the right:

For Sharegroups, look under your Accounts Settings‘ “Discovery” tab and find Sharegroups under the “Sharing” tab:

2. Give the details.

Once you’ve opened the manager, click the “New” button at the top right and fill in your details.

3. Add the good stuff.

You can add galleries and Participants right away to Events. Don’t forget to click “Save” once you do!

For Sharegroups, you’ll have to save your new Sharegroup first, then go back to add the galleries to it.

If you want all the details about how these features work, check out our help pages for all the info. We’ve got a few other articles in our resource center for Pros on the endless benefits of Events, too.

Happy sharing!

Link roundup:

SmugMug x Squarespace = Gorgeous Portfolio Websites

Great news for Squarespace users!

Today, our friends over at Squarespace are announcing an even easier way to bridge both of your websites: by importing your SmugMug photos.

That’s right. Instead of uploading twice, simply browse and import your best images from SmugMug into your Squarespace galleries. They’ll slurp them over and automatically create multiple sizes so that your photos look great across any device.

You can create as many SmugMug galleries on your Squarespace site as you want, and there’s a max of 50 photos per gallery. You can keep each gallery as a standalone page or in gallery blocks within other pages or blog posts.

Best of all, all of your photos’ metadata and SmugMug links will stay intact, and people can click through from your Squarespace galleries to your SmugMug lightbox (and shopping cart!)

Why Squarespace?

If you haven’t already heard, Squarespace is a beautiful and easy way to build your own portfolio website. They offer a full array of templates to start with, and you can tweak them to fit your name and needs… whether you’re a photographer, jeweler or any other business who wants a stunning web presence.

How to Import Your SmugMug Photos

It’s easy:

1) Look in the “settings” section of your website manager (the gear icon), click on “Connected Accounts,” click “+Add Account” and choose the SmugMug icon.

2) You’ll be asked to provide your SmugMug login. Once the SmugMug logo appears under your Connected Accounts, click Import Albums, choose an album, and select which photos you’d like to bring in. A new Squarespace gallery will appear in your content manager.

3) From here, you can edit or reorder your photos and move the gallery into your navbar. Or use the gallery as the source content for a gallery block on any page or your blog.

20% Discount for Smuggers Trying Out Squarespace

To celebrate our friendship, they’re offering a 20% off deal for new Squarespace accounts. Just sign up and give them a try before March 13th, 2013, and enter the code SMUGMUG.

Need more info? Check out Squarespace’s main site to browse their templates and see how it works.

Happy building!

For the Love of Photography: How to Organize a Photowalk by Scott Jarvie

If you love photography, going out to shoot something with a your friends is probably way up on your list. We’re hard-pressed to find anyone who organizes these events better than Scott Jarvie, full-time destination wedding photographer and vagabond whose vibrant photos are matched only in brightness by his wit. He’s a friend of ours, too, and he recently helped pilot a full-weekend long exposure photowalk right here in San Francisco. He’s written up his personal insights into why joining photo walks is good for the photo-soul and how you can get the most out of planning one of your own.  

By Scott Jarvie

Why Photowalks?

2008 was my first connection with other photographers and photowalks, and it marks a turning point in my photography. The small group of people I met on my very first photowalk are still good friends of mine, and knowing that other photographers were looking at my work actually made me step up my game. No longer was it just friends who thought every picture was a masterpiece… I actually had to start taking legitimately good pictures.

Utah has a consistent photowalking community, which was a great example to me of what a great community should be like. They connect on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook and then they become legitimate friends by meeting each other in person at the photowalk.

To this day, I see this same core group from 2008 meeting at SMUG meetings and still interacting with each other online or in-person: They have created studio co-ops, they’ve worked on paid projects together, they’ve referred businesses to each other, they’ve done photoshoots for each other. 4-5 years later and they still have a vibrant community with over 1000 people on their Facebook group.

I’ve met some of my very best friends because of photowalks. I’ve done weddings for a lot of people I’ve met at photowalks. I’ve seen casual goers to these photowalks become really good professional photographers.

Tips for Attending (or Planning) Your Next Photowalk

  • Just go. You rarely – if ever – will regret going.
  • Have a good attitude and don’t have crazy expectations so you’re not let down.
  • Giving is more rewarding than taking: You’ll get more from photowalks if you help organize or be leader of sorts, teach, or make the newbies feel welcome.
  • The balancing of taking pictures with meeting people is an art and it takes a a little experience to find it.
  • The people you’ll meet are often more beneficial than the pictures you’ll take.
  • Edit your pictures fast because the buzz dies down quickly.
  • Use a hashtag for your photowalk photos (#jarviewalk, #dv2011) when sharing on sites like Google Plus
  • Comment on other people’s pictures, too
  • Stick around for the dinner and the mingling.
  • Plan to have your picture taken by someone there. It’s inevitable.
  • Consistent, regular photowalks are key to creating a successful group.
  • Don’t try to do it all yourself, especially if you plan regular photowalks. Get other people to help organize.
  • If it’s a local group, try to create yearly traditions. (Christmas walk, Halloween walk, studio day, BBQ with no photography)
  • Use social media. Get people that use social media to mention it.
  • Have a place online to congregate and share pictures (Facebook group, G+ community, Flickr Group)

Questions to Consider

  1. Are you attending a Photowalk?
    1. Are you going to meet people and network?
      • Do you already know these people and want to solidify friendships?
      • Do you want to meet new people?
    2. Are you going to learn?
      • Will there be a class before or after?
      • Will there be photographers there that like to teach?
    3. Are you going to take pictures?
      • Because it’s a good way to motivate yourself to get out there?
      • Because the location is a place you’ve wanted to go?
      • Because you’ll take any excuse to go take pictures?
  1. Are you setting up a Photowalk?
    • Because you want to create a community where you are?
    • Because you want to network?
    • Because a company will sponsor it?
    • Because the location wants exposure?
    • Because you have no idea why… it just sounds fun?
    • Because it will help get your name out there?
  1. What style of Photowalk is it?
    • Short walk (2-3 hrs)
    • Short walk plus (walk plus either a lesson or food)
    • Day Walk (All day, many locations)
    • Multi Day Walk (Cover a big area over a course of a weekend)
    • An adventure (A planned trip with friends)
  1. How can you ensure good attendance?
    • What day is it?
    • What time of the day is it?
    • How far away from people is it?
    • How much money will it cost people?
    • Are there any giveaways?
    • Does it seem organized?
    • Is it an interesting location?
    • Has the location been overdone?
    • Is a photowalk long overdue?
    • Is it a regular thing?
    • How many other people are saying they’re going?
    • Are there any well known photographers going?
    • How welcome do beginners feel?
    • Is there a chance for people to learn?
    • Is there food before or after?
    • What’s the weather like?
    • How far in advance did you plan it?
    • How well did you remind people?
    • Where did you advertise it?

The Surge of Multi-Day Photowalks

Probably the most interesting thing I’ve seen in the last couple years is the growth of the multi-day photowalk. I’ve been to several including Utah, Yosemite, Death Valley and San Fransisco. It’s at these photowalks that you seem to get the best of both worlds: to get great pictures and to meet new people.

At multi-day photowalks you can, in general, make much more solid friendship than what you can get in a single 2-3 hr interaction. Plus, with most of those multi-day photowalks you’re hours from home, staying in hotels, eating out as a group and are less distracted with your day to day stuff.

There’s also a lot more time which means you don’t have to rush the taking pictures part or the creating friendships part. You’ll be able to do both, even if there are 30-40 people there.

Come to #JarvieWalk in March 2013

I am doing the second year of the “#JarvieWalk which is a photowalk centered around the Festival of Colors in Utah, March 29-31st, 2013.

Last year, I had super great friends that came and it made the event even more fun. Plus, people came into town early and stayed late and we did other photography trips in addition to what was scheduled. I already have over 30+ people coming from all over the country for this year’s #JarvieWalk, with hardly any advertisement. I call that a big success.

You are all welcome to come, if just to learn what a good multi-day photowalk is like. I’m not too humble to say that I did a dang good job last year and this time will be even better.

I’ve organized the event on Google Plus, so get details and RSVP right here.

All photos by Jarvie Digital

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

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 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 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!