OK, here’s why I wanted to switch:
(1) I wanted to maintain my portfolio myself
In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to have my buddy RC design and maintain my port, but if I want to delete, add, or rearrange my portfolio, I had to contact RC and ask him to do it. RC is incredibly gracious about things like this, but I always felt bad about having to bug him every time I wanted a little tweak, so I wound up not updating and tweaking it very often out of sheer guilt.
(2) Smugmug is designed so you can sell your work
Although I don’t have any prints for sale yet, I get asked about it all the time, and I have a good reason to sell prints (raising money for the Springs of Hope Orphanage).
What Got Me To Pull The Trigger
I’ve been wanting to make the switch for a while now, and I was on some Web site a few weeks back where I saw a SmugMug banner add where they had a free 14-day trial offer, so I thought, “What the heck” and I signed up. That same night I uploaded my first gallery and it was a breeze, and shortly thereafter I went from 14-day trial guy to Pro Account guy.
Once I created different galleries (Sports, Football, Fashion, Travel, People, and Landscapes) then I had one of their designers set-up a custom layout for me (they use a network of freelance designers who work directly with you to create your Smugmug layout — I worked with Charles Chung of CreativeSoda and he was absolutely fantastic. Very responsive, easy to work with, and he made the whole process a breeze. If anybody from Smugmug reads this — Charles is awesome!!! Give him a raise/bonus/lexus, etc.).
What I Was Looking For:
A year or so ago, I had a portfolio layout I really liked — one where you can scroll horizontally through the images. The reason I like this layout is that horizontal and vertical images get the same amount of attention (whereas usually only horizontal images get any “juice” in an online port because of their width, and the tall images get lost). The layout let you scroll through the images at the speed you wanted, but the problem was — it was flash-based so if you looked at it on an iPad, it switched to an html version which….well…it wasn’t as elegant (ahem) as the flash one. Then, when they updated my WordPress Blog, for some reason it broke that plug-in RC was using and they had to change it to a layout I didn’t like nearly as much (thought it did kinda scroll).
It works on Tablets, too!
I wanted a portfolio that looked decent on a tablet, and the new SmugMug works really well there (although it does lose the scroll-ability — you have to tap the screen for it to move to the next image) at least you can see it pretty much like it does on a desktop.
What I like best, is…..
The fact that the back-end of my SmugMug site looks like a regular ol’ smugmug default account (see below), but when I add a photo or change the order, it updates the custom layout without me having to tweak stuff I don’t even want to know about (HTML, CSS, STP, ADD, LSD, or any of that stuff).
So, give it a whirl
If you click on the Portfolio link at the top right of this blog, you can take it for a spin. I know the right-scrolling this isn’t for everyone, but after looking at lots of their templates (and other sites), it’s the one I like best, so that’s what I’m going with (also, if you resize the browser it resizes the images).
Thanks to Charles (and Creativesoda) and to the folks at Smugmug for giving me control of my port. Right now I’m gathering shots of cats, people on railroad tracks, and flowers shot in a harsh direct light for uploading. ;-)
P.S. One of the guys that turned me on to SmugMug in the first place was my photo assistant Brad Moore — check out his site, which they customized for him (he’s a kick-butt pro concert photographer). Here’s the link.