Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware 2009

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Smugmug…an online photo gallery service. It is similar to Flickr, but in my opinion, is much slicker and easier to use. I have been having a lot of fun playing around with it.

What I like about it:

  • Looks cleaner - there are a lot of themes to choose from and I like that the galleries are much less “cluttered” than flickr. The focus is on the pictures.
  • Easier for people not familiar with the site to use - flickr can be confusing for those who are not familiar with it (mostly because it is not as cluttered). I think smugmug is very intuitive while flickr is much more clunky. You can do many of the same things, but smugmug allows you to do it easier and cleaner.
  • Very easy to customize and organize. I love how I can set categories and subcategories for my photos (such as family, homeschool, and friends and then within those I have it set up by year, then for the My Photography category, I have it set up by type of photo). You can technically do the same in flickr using sets and collections, but again I just found it more clunky to define and organize this way and never did it.
  • The way smugmug displays of the photos is gorgeous…it automatically sizes the photos based on the size of the screen from which you are viewing the photos. This means no scrolling and the photos will be displayed as large as can fit. Really, really sharp.
  • I find it much easier to size photos when I embed them on my blog. With flickr, I had several different standard sizes from which I could choose, but if I wanted to change the size, it was a bit clunky. With smugmug, there are standard sizes, but it is super easy to change those sizes as well. I have begun experimenting with different sizes for different blog posts, so I am glad to have that flexibility. Plus the the standard medium size in smugmug fits my blog better than the medium size in flickr. 
  • Smugmug allows you to highlight up to 4 galleries, making them easy to find from your home page. I plan on using this so that folks can find the newest galleries without having to hunt for them.

Getting photos into smugmug is very easy. There is a plug-in for lightroom that allows me to easily upload directly to smugmug. I also was able to import my photos directly from flickr which was great because I did not want to have to go back and try to recreate those galleries. I plan on keeping the photos already on flickr over there and just letting my paid subscription expire. This will give me time to update all my blog posts that have photos which are quite a few. I have already started updating these links, but it will definitely take some time.

Sharing photos on facebook and twitter is also completely automated and very easy in smugmug. The facebook interface provides a thumbnail picture as well as a link back to the gallery. Very nice and handy to use so I do not have to upload twice. There are many options as far as viewing the pictures too, from thumbnails to full screen “journal” mode. There are also several options for slideshows and other ways of showing the photos off.

The bottom line is that since I started using smugmug I have been  inspired to upload and share more pictures. I also think that it encourages people to browse the photos. With flickr, I would provide family and friends with a link to a set which they would enjoy. But I doubt that many went to my flickr page to try to find specific photos. Flickr just really does not encourage that (unless you are really familiar with how it works).

Smugmug has great customer service. I needed help on a couple of things when I was moving my photos over. I had a response to my emailed questions within a couple of hours. They provide email support 24/7, 365 days a year. And not only did they respond, their responses were extremely helpful and personable. I really get a good feeling about how they run their business and they are constantly coming up with new features (less than a week after I joined they rolled out improvements for getting links and code for embeding photos in my blog which makes the whole process even easier than it was).

Smugmug is more expensive than flickr ($40/year as opposed to $25/year for flickr), but in my mind, you get what you pay for and smugmug is well worth the extra expense. You get unlimited storage, no ads, and a host of other options. They have more expensive options as well that allows you to upload video and have more custumization options. They also give you 50% off the first year for flickr members. Be sure to email them and ask about it (I found out about it after I had emailed to ask them about how to move my photos from flickr to smugmug.)

Smugmug really is just more intuitive, less clunky and slicker (in my opinion). I am so thrilled to have my photos over there. I hope that anyone who wants to take a look enjoys it just as much.

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