I recently subscribed to SmugMug photo sharing services and thought some of you would be interested to know how it is and why I decided to go with them instead of other providers. The big question, as usual, is “do I need it”.
If you remember a few months ago I told you I was going to put pictures online through Photo.net and Flickr. That’s exactly what I did and my pictures are still there. They offer very good services, it’s always up and there’s not much to complain about these provider. But I found they were more on the social side and what I was really looking for is a way to present my work as a photographer and the ability to handle the selling process, out of the box. Some might think it’s overkill and a waste of time to have many sites presenting their work, but in the end it’s also a matter of exposure, and where you want to send people to see your work. Are they friends, family members, sport or social organization, customers? They are all looking for something different.
I’ve been considering SmugMug’s offering for a while and hesitated to go ahead because there are so many sites offering this kind of service, you tend to get confused. Many of them are excellent, comparable, and I know they get good critiques and everything. SmugMug’s look and feel, is what I was looking for. While it’s very complete, everything is presented clearly and I sometimes make the analogy to the Mac vs PC. I’m a Mac lover and SmugMug’s interface and buttons give me that same feeling of effectiveness and simplicity.
I just started with them, but I know there will be lots of galleries in my SmugMug portfolio and each gallery is going to have different purposes, target customers and that means different configs, looks, parameters and so on. Private, Public, Hidden? Selling or not? Geo-tagged or not? There are plenty of options and I was very happy to see how easy it is to configure everything. There’s even a module to share galleries with people, and of course they handle all the selling process with lots of option and products.
They say the company is family-owned and I like that. I always said the service makes the difference, in everything. Again, the critique about SmugMug’s customer service is amongst the best on the market.
Pricing? Well, again it depends on what you need or want. I wanted everything, all features, all options. So I went with the Pro package and I don’t regret that choice. At 150 US$ per year it’s not the cheapest. But you will never be limited by bandwidth, space or anything like that. The response-time is great and you can even post videos in Full HD!
Now, one of the biggest selling point for me was the integration with Lightroom 3. It makes it so simple to upload to galleries that you wonder why and how you did without it. There is no point here. It’s a must. One more thing: SmugShot! This is a SmugMug application that runs on the iPhone. You can take a photo and send it right away in the gallery of your choice. Just because of that I decided to create a gallery containing simple pictures of things I see everyday. Just like that. Some kind of “picture of the day” but presented “as shot”, no editing, no cropping, no nothing. I like the idea.. Of course the parameters for that library are completely different from the other galleries in my portfolio. No selling. No download. No geotagging. Just simple looking.
You might have different needs and SmugMug offers packages from as low as 40 US$ per year. It’s still money you spend, but once you start using their service, you’ll get the true value. Simple. Professional. Even fun.
© 2010 Normand Primeau Fine Art Photography. All rights reserved..