5 Social Media Myths (and What You Should Do About Them)

Being close and personal with our customers has always been #1 for us at SmugMug. We’ve been engaging with friends, family and our fans for over 10 years, initially through our Support Heroes and online forums, then through Twitter, Facebook and Google+. We love getting to know you! But despite the growth (and explosion) of social media, not all photographers and creatives have embraced the idea of putting themselves on the internet.

We gathered up five of the most commonly-heard myths about social media and chatted with our majorly tech savvy photo-friend, Colby Brown, as well as a round table of our seasoned in-house pro photographers. We didn’t necessarily debunk these myths because we know that everyone’s got different values and goals, but we did lay all the cards on the table. Read on and decide for yourself. 

Myth #1: All the social media services are the same.

Various social media logos

Matt’s on Facebook, Laurie’s on Twitter, Andrew loves Google+. I should be there, too, right?

Maybe. Social media is a fantastic (and free!) way to advertise your business and share your personality with past, current and future clients, but this doesn’t mean you should be there just to be there.

It’s a great environment to publicize your work and to demonstrate that you have personality. This is especially important for small businesses, where personality is key. And it’s great for you, too, so that the type of clients that you’d actually enjoy working with find and contact you. Similarly, posting examples of what you can do boosts the confidence of your past clients… leading them to refer their friends to you.

What you should do: Ask the question, “What do I want out of social media?” What you’re looking to get out of the experience will dictate what types of services you should target and use, because each platform has different demographics and feature sets. Find which works best for you.

Myth #2: People will steal your work.

This is true, in the sense that any photo you upload and post on the internet has a chance of being downloaded or used by someone else, without you knowing. The real question you have to ask is: When should you care?

There are as many opinions about watermarking as their are watermarks in the web. There are obstructive watermarks and subtle watermarks, big ones and small ones and pretty ones and ugly ones. They are all designed to ensure that the artist’s name stays with the image, and we’ve always said that use of watermarked images means free advertising for you. And let’s not forget the fact that some social networks strip your files’ metatdata on upload, so a watermark may be your only recourse to establishing copyright.

But many folks still believe that no matter what the size, they’re distracting. And even if you do watermark, there are sneaky ways to crop around them or even remove them via a photo editor.

Consider the different types of theft: If Joe Whoever saves your image for their personal collection of inspiring photos, do you get an ulcer? What about a mega-corporate chain using your image on their homepage, without your permission? In which situation would you actually send a bill?

What you should do: Think about whether or not the kind of unauthorized use of your images is something that keeps you up at night, and formulate a plan. Note that if an image is not registered with the US Copyright Office, it will be difficult to prove infringement when your images are used in a for-profit manner. If you choose to watermark, SmugMug’s watermarking feature is completely non-destructive, which means that they’re applied to your display copies only, and any legally purchased prints will print clean. Our Publish to Facebook feature will also allow you to export watermarked display copies to Facebook, saving you time.

Myth #3: Don’t show your unfinished or unprocessed shots.

Pro travel photographer Elia Locardi shows us examples of great post-processing.

Trade secrets, ahh! In the creative world there are plenty of good reasons to worry about protecting what makes your style unique, and with photography a good chunk of that is in the way your process your images. Plus, do your clients really care how bland the in-camera image was, as long as you delivered a beautiful, perfectly-balanced photo? Will they start to worry that they’re paying you for smoke and mirrors?

Unprocessed photos aren’t always the scary, client-repelling skeletons in the closet you think they are. Depending on your niche and who you’re catering to, before/after comparisons can be what drives them out the door… or what drives people in. In the landscape and fine art genre, teaching and photo education has become a huge market that inspires and endears fans all over the globe. A great photographer who shows – and shares – what he or she did to get the shot becomes that much more valuable to the people who follow them on social media. They hang on to you, hungry for more. This can help your followers relate to you in a personal way because you’re willing to let down your guard and show that, just like everyone else, your images aren’t magically amazing on their own.

What you should do: Consider the type of photography you do, or what you aspire to do. Are you an event or wedding photographer who shoots and delivers one-shot deals? Or do you want to create a fan base who keeps coming back for more? You’ve got to decide if delivering a perfect image –and only a perfect image – is what your clients care about, or if you’re looking to build great relationships with aspiring photographers over time.

Myth #4: Never share your shoot or location information.

Where did Colby Brown take those photos in Iceland?

Like the above, it’s understandable to keep a gorgeous and dramatic place under wraps, otherwise people will copy what you do. And in the case of a protected or pristine location, you may want to keep the name particularly secret in order to keep it clean as long as possible.

But in the age of the internet (and GPS coordinates in your camera), chances are that if you don’t tell people where the image was shot, someone else will. Go ahead and raise the bar for great photos in a famous location. Show the world how you skillfully brought a fresh perspective on a well-known place! Doing so speaks volumes for your abilities, and inspires a whole new generation of photographers. Plus, public venues will love you for making their space look great.

What you should do: Decide if inspiring photographers and standard views is a challenge that you’re willing and eager to take. Plus, are you ready to say no to your fans and risk the backlash of withholding tasty information?

Myth #5: Social network companies will sell your photos.

Google Plus and Facebook for photographers
Beautiful and effective social media pages for Smug Pro photographers Ivan Makarov and Michael Bonocore

This one is hot stuff in the media lately, and with good reason. Is there really a dark side to all the great things free social network companies do for you?

The truth of the matter is, once you put something on the internet, it’s out there. There’s no 100% guarantee that it won’t or can’t get taken and used by someone else, even though there are measures you can take to be sure that your name stays associated with the work. In fact, the only way to assure that nothing ever gets stolen is to never post anything on the web.

Even though you should take time to read the Terms of Service on the different sites you use, remember that these companies (SmugMug included!) are required to have these terms so that they can display the images you upload to different users, often at different sizes and resolutions. And that’s the whole point of you using those services, right? Plus, big companies have a lot on the line, which means they’re not likely to risk selling your images without your consent.

What you should do: Only share what you’re willing to have taken, and read the fine print on any services you use. When it comes to SmugMug, you can always watermark your images as described above before sharing, to be sure you get credit.

We hope these discussions helped ease any concerns that you may have had about sharing your photos online. Do you have any other scary monsters lurking in the back of your head? Let us know!

Publish to Facebook: Now on the Loose

Did you know about our sweet Publish to Facebook feature? It’s a super-simple way to copy your (watermarked, if you’re a Portfolio or a Business Smugger) photos from your SmugMug gallery and export them into albums on Facebook. You say where, when and how. We do the rest.

For you die-hard SmugMug fans, you’ll notice that we’ve moved this feature out of beta. Now you’ll find it in your Share or Owner Share button by default.

Less work, more eyes (on your photos!)

The best part about Publish to Facebook is that you can share hundreds of photos with all of your friends and family and they don’t have to leave Facebook. And your images stay safe, because you determine the largest size that gets seen and your published photos include any SmugMug watermarks you’ve set on the original gallery.

How to do it:

  1. Open the gallery that contains the photos you want to share.
  2. Click Share > Publish to Facebook (or Owner Share if you’ve hidden this feature) and login to Facebook to authorize the connection.
  3. Select a Personal album or a Facebook Page album to share to, then a destination gallery.
  4. Choose the photos.
  5. Customize your image settings (image size, captions, link details)
  6. Click Publish. You’re done!

Of course, if you’re the type that likes to track your hits and keep your photos locked way down, you’ll probably want to keep posting your links directly to your Facebook stream instead. This way your photos never actually leave SmugMug’s domain, so you get the full range of tracking and image security: stats, right-click protection and all.

You can still use Get a Link, or just copy and paste the URL into your Facebook stream.

And a Few Good Tweaks

This feature used to live in our Darkroom, which meant you had to opt in on every browser just so you could use it. After a few more tweaks and polishes, we decided our baby is finally ready to leave the nest. We’re ecstatic to announce that it’s all grown up, ready and waiting for you in all of your SmugMug galleries.

  • We also upped the export limit to 1000 photos (to match Facebook’s limit) and fixed a few things that used to choke big uploads in the past.
  • You’ll also notice the ability to export at the X3 viewing size, so your Facebook friends can see your images big, juicy and bold… just the way your camera intended.

So don’t be shy — grab the camera and snap to your heart’s content. Your friends are waiting to see every hot cocoa mustache you’re sporting this season!

Link roundup!

Plan Your Next Adventure with Trey Ratcliff’s 2012 Calendar

HDR Master, Travel Photography celeb and SmugMug Pro Trey Ratcliff kicks the year off right: With calendars!

Check out his exclusive, all-new photo beauty here. Twelve famous photos are printed on high-quality, thick glossy paper and saddled stitched for durability. It’s the perfect way to stay inspired and plan your own around-the-world adventure.

Win Yours on Facebook

He’s sharing the love with fellow Smuggers and offering 10 copies of this lucious wallhanger to 10 lucky fans.

To enter:

1. Like our Facebook Page HERE.
2. Share this blog link or contest FB post with your friends.
3. Post one of your best Travel photos and tell us the story behind the shot. You can post your photo on our FB Wall or in the comments below.

We’ll pick 10 winners on Thursday, January 19, to win a calendar, PLUS free Smuggy swag for themselves and a friend. That means you AND a friend have a chance to win, so spread the word and share the love🙂

Happy travels!



Huge thanks to everyone who entered this contest. We loved seeing all of your photos and hearing your stories. Here are the randomly-selected winners, in no particular order. They will each win a 2012 Stuck In Customs calendar, PLUS cool Smuggy swag for themselves and a friend.

Phaeton Place

Suzanne Kammann

–Jonathan Wilson of JawSnap

–Knapp Hudson of Stone Coast Photography

–Bernardo Franco of Framing Colours

Shirley Ann Dees

Sheena Leazenby

Ashley Curella

Christian Mejia

Kyla Ford

Congrats everyone! Katherine from our team will get in touch with you in the next few days with info on how to collect your prize.



Vincent Laforet’s Guide to Making Electrifying Images

If you’ve ever held a DSLR in your hands, you’ve probably heard of Vincent Laforet.

He’s the Pulitzer Prize-winning mastermind behind some of the most incredible photos seen in National Geographic, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Time and more.

Vincent earns his bread and butter using the industry’s most coveted photographic equipment. He is a Canon Explorer of Light who breaks down the barriers between Photo and Video. We’ve been behind him since his his first HDDSLR short film, Reverie, and now he’s written a book that everyone should read.

Visual Stories: Behind the Lens with Vincent Laforet

Whether you’re an avid photographer or just someone who seeks a better creative process, you’ll love taking the journey through Visual Stories.

In it, you’ll find over 200 pages of inspiring photos, personal reflection and informative technical details to help craft your unique vision. The DVD contains over 60 videos that get you up-close and personal with the photojournalist himself.

"The image tells the story of her victory from the context of the thousands of people who had witnessed the moment. This perspective gives you an appreciation for the scale of the event that you don’t necessarily get with a long telephoto lens, where the background is completely blurred out." - Excerpt from Visual Stories by Vincent Laforet

Because Laforet’s experience began in journalism, he shows you how the principles of this genre can be applied to tell powerful stories in a single image. You’ll learn how to craft this energy into any type of photograph, include landscapes, close-ups, portraits, action shots, aerials and more.

Plus, get tips on using light, shape and color to create rich photos that support your story and add intense beauty and emotion.

Vincent Makes his Mark for You

We’ve got five autographed copies of this beautiful book, ready to find their way into your hands. Here’s how to get one:

1. Like SmugMug’s Facebook page HERE.
2. Post a message on our Facebook wall telling us why you want this book.

We’ll pick five lucky winners from the list on Wednesday, December 28, 2011.

So what will it be? You can keep grasping in the dark and taking the same photos, or you can grab a copy of Visual Stories and learn how a master works his craft. Check it out now at Peachpit Press.

Publish to Your Facebook Business Pages, Too

What’s new with Publish to Facebook?

We’ve had some great feedback from Smuggers about the Publish to Facebook feature that we debuted a little while back. The number one request we heard from you was that you wanted to publish not only to personal sites, but to business pages, too. Your clients need to see the good stuff.

Hey, guess what?🙂

Publish To Your Facebook Page:

If you’re new to our beta features, first check out SmugMug’s Darkroom:


Click the green Join button next to “Publish to Facebook.” Remember if you use a custom domain on your site, just add “/darkroom” to the end of your domain to cookie yourself in like this: http://www.example.com/darkroom

Once you’ve done this, click the Share button in your SmugMug galleries and click Publish to Facebook. You’ll get the choice of publishing your photos to a Facebook album on your personal profile, or to a Facebook Business Page that you own.

Make a new gallery for your photos, or just use an existing one.

Remember that you can choose up to 200 images from your SmugMug gallery to publish. If it’s a lot of photos we’ll publish them in the background and shoot you an email once it’s done.

Stay Safe, Secure and Sellable.

“Safety” is our middle name. You’ll be asked to set the maximum image size before you publish, and everything links back to your SmugMug gallery so fans will know it’s you. We’ll also include any watermarks you’ve applied to your photos.

Juicy Pro tip: Hook up a Buy Link and make buying downloads and prints a piece of cake. Don’t forget to tag your clients in your Facebook photos too so they get notified about your albums and spread the word!

We hope you love the new feature and that it gives your Facebook friends (and clients) ammunition to go viral.

And sharing is caring, too, so let us know what you think! Chatter away in our official Dgrin thread here or send up smoke signals. We’re listening.

Don’t miss:

Sneak Peek: Publish Your SmugMug Photos to Facebook Albums

Hey, Facebookers! 

You already know that you can post a pic, but we’ve heard that you really, really wanted to be able to export your SmugMug galleries over to albums on Facebook. Our Sorcerers have been hammering away at this feature and we’ve got something we’d like you to see.

Opt In and Check It Out

To begin, check out our Goodies page:


Look for the “Publish to Facebook” feature and help us test it out while it’s in beta. Just click ‘Join’ at the top and we’ll activate your browser (not your account) to display a new feature in your gallery’s Share button, shown at right.

Power or Pro Smuggers with a custom domain: You’ll need to hit that link on your custom URL, too. (Example: http://www.moonriverphotography.com/goodies)

Only you as the logged-in owner will be able to see and use this exclusive new feature. Try it now and see for yourself.

How to Publish

Visit any of your galleries and hit the Share button. You should see a new “Publish to Facebook” feature under the Owner Only options. This will let you push a set of photos from any gallery on your site to an album on Facebook, and you can do this as many times as you wish.

 1. First select a few (or all) of the photos in your gallery.

2. Next, pick an existing Album over on Facebook or create a new Album altogether. You can also adjust the Image size, Caption and Link settings to totally tweak how your friends interact with your pics.

3. Hit Publish and we’ll send them right over.

Pros: If you use our Watermarking feature to put your name or logo on your photos, the published images will include them.

Tip: Right now it’s only possible to post to your personal pages, not your business fan page, but we’ll look into options as they become available. Really want to put those pics on your fan page? Publish to your personal account, then ‘Share’ it on your business wall. Voila!

Publishing is an opt-in only feature, which means you must visit our Goodies page and click the green ‘Join‘ button before you can play. After we work out the kinks and get your feedback, we’ll release this like our other great tools for all SmugMuggers to use.

Tell Us What You Think

Had enough? Go back to the Goodies page and click the red “Leave” button. We’ll remove the “Publish to Facebook” feature from your Owner Share options, but you can keep the Facebook albums for as long as you want.

We’re eager to hear what you’ve got to say, so play around and publish as much as you like.  And don’t forget to share all of your ideas, rants, raves and bug reports in this thread over at Dgrin, or as a comment to this post.

PS. If you feel daring, try out the new Gallery Style that you’ll see on the Goodies page, too. We’re loving what Dgrinners have to say about it so far, so keep the feedback comin‘.

Show and Sell on Facebook with SmugMug Tab + iPad2 Giveaway

Hey, Facebookers! Now it’s easier than ever to embed your SmugMug galleries and sell photos to your fans on Facebook.

We first wrote about the SmugMug Tab app in December and how it can help you display all of your public galleries right on your business’ Facebook fan page. But now, Tabfusion.com has added a new “Store” feature that lets you sell your gorgeous prints and gifts there, too.

Simply tell the app which of your galleries contain photos for sale, provide products and pricing for display, then save it. Go to the Layout tab and click to “Include” the Store Option. The Store glyph will then appear on your Fan pages so fans can buy. Your clients will be sent over to SmugMug where they can complete their purchase and check out.

More New Updates on SmugMug Tab:

In addition to the new Store feature, they’ve made a made a nice improvement for better overall use:
  • One-click wonder: When your fans “like” a photo on SmugMug Tab, a thumbnail of the photo is posted to their Facebook wall that automatically links to the corresponding photo on SmugMug. No more intermediate page with cumbersome extra clicks to get to your site.

Thanks again to the folks over at Tabfusion for making it easy to embed your SmugMug site into your business Facebook fan page. If you haven’t already tried them, it’s just $10/year or $20 for a full three years. Check it out, sign in with your Facebook account and ping them if you have any questions. They are happy to help.

Don’t have a Facebook Fan Page for your business yet? You can set one up in just a few clicks here.


To celebrate the kick off of the newly improved SmugMug tab, we’re giving away one free iPad 2 (a $499 value, not including awesomeness points).

To enter, just “Like” SmugMug’s fan page here AND comment below on this blog post with a link to your Facebook Fan Page. You are eligible whether or not you are already a SmugMug Tab user.

Why an iPad? What better way to take your photos everywhere than with full-screen photos, dazzling slideshows and HD video right in your hands.

We’ll randomly pick a winner Monday, June 6 and announce it here on the blog and on Facebook, so be sure to check back to see if you are the lucky winner.

UPDATE! The winner is here! Congratulations to Candy Coughlin of Candy’s Photography. Enjoy your brand-new iPad and keep your eyes peeled for a message from Tabfusion.🙂