I Switched My Portfolio Over to SmugMug

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 â” 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 â” 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 â” 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. 

  1. Looks great! I personally enjoy the side scrolling like that. I recently setup a squarespace site to act as a blog/hub and use Smugmug for my portoflio/photograph business.  Squarespace has a sidescrolling slideshow of sorts similar to that and I love it.

    Well done to Charles, looks and works great on my android tablet and on my main computer.

  2. Hi Scott,
    I really like the look of the portfolio. One question: Zenfolio and Smugmug seem to be the top competitors for photo hosting, did you check out Zenfolio or jump right into Smugmug? I ask because I was going back and forth between the two, and Zenfolio had a great price around the holidays, but I have just started delving in with them. Interested in your thoughts.
    Thanks for always sharing your BTS, so to speak!

    1. The biggest draw to Smugmug for me personally was the customization. Zenfolio is a great service from my short trial there, but you are stuck with their templates and cannot make a pure custom site like you can with Smugmug.  I think you’ll find some people loyal to both services.

  3. Looks good Scott. Not sure if I like the scroll above the images, or if I’d prefer it below. Guess it makes sense above, so people on smaller screens can instantly see the scrolly thingy. What sort of template on sm did you use, or is this customised?

  4. I love SmugMug! Yea I’ve asked about print before. Still would live to buy a print of your “Drew Brees holding the the football after his record breaking throw” shot. And with it for the Orphanage it would be a win-win for everyone.

    Anyway see you in Vegas. Hopefully this storm doesn’t prevent me from flying out of Nee Orleans. I’m flying out on Sunday – little anniversary plans with the wife then 3 days of PSW. Yea! So stay away Issac!

  5. Reading about your new website “tool” is so timely.  I’ve been reading review on both SmugMug and ZenFolio, and I haven’t quite made a decision ye on which one will be my choice.  Elegant Themes is something I had for the past couple of years and learn more about ET after reading excellent RC’s website building book.  But now, I think I’m ready to have my website evolve into something better and more dramatic product and easier to use.  Since both Zenflio and SmugMug offer trial subscriptions that are free, I might try  each  out for a test drive before I decide on which one I would feel comfortable with and that would meet my vision.  Thanks, Scott!

    BTW, I’m glad I made it to post my reply before from Ken Toney,  :-} Yahhoo!

  6. I’ve been a big fan of SmugMug Pro and its wealth of customizations.  Love your portfolio – inspiring images!  One suggestion, I would have your Blog link open into a new window so as to not take us off your SmugMug site.

  7. I’ve been a big fan of SmugMug Pro and its wealth of customizations.  Love your portfolio – inspiring images!  One suggestion, I would have your Blog link open into a new window so as to not take us off your SmugMug site.

  8. Hi Scott

    Congratulations on your new portfolio site at smugmug ! I’ve been at smugmug for several years myself, and love the customizations. I think you and your designer have reach a good looking site – but – not on an iphone.

    On a iPhone it scrolls slooooww. and half the menu at the top (after logo), just can’t be reached!
    I urge you to test it, before you go live for real. It could be jus tme and my iPhone 4s :-)

    Best regards
    Michael Quist

  9. Hmmm…not impressed. Not one dead tree photo.  ;-)

    Seriously, the page looks terrific, Scott.  Seems like you hit upon a great choice for your portfolio.

    Now, where are those pics from last Friday’s game (yes, I can deal with the drubbing the Bucs laid on the Pats, but only because it was a pre-season game!)?


  10. Scott, I’ve been using smugmug for years and I love them.   I’ve sold a few photos on mine (I don’t have nearly as many good photos as you do) and they won’t send a check until you hit a certain amount I think.   But it works great.  I’ve been wanting to create some sort of custom look like you have on yours but I just never got around to it.

    One request, can you upload the Ireland photos you posted on here?   Those look great and I want to see the ones you took compared to the ones I took last year.   I am pretty sure we were in mostly the same locations.  :)

  11. You didn’t mention my favorite feature – integration with Lightroom. Amazingly easy to keep your pics in sync and it keeps track of any new edits and updates. Only downside is LR4 update broke the link but it was an easy fix.

  12. No need to ‘gather’ all those new shots .. All you need is ONE over-cooked HDR shot with field flowers in a bottom corner, railway tracks diagonally across+up the shot, a cat walking along the rails, further up the track a person looking up into the bright sunshine w/sunglasses and in the top corner at the end of the rails .. a single dead tree harshly lit with no background or clouds in the sky ! 

    The scary part is that it will probably make a fortune and I’ve just given-away the whole formula ;-)

    It would make an interesting experiment, in the name of charity and social networking tendencies .. (things that make you go .. hmmm ?!!)

  13. Hi Scott,
    Great switch.
    Your images look sharper (in a positive way) than before, did you make some changes to them before upload to smugmug? or maybe somekind of a resize script in the template that gives this feeling.
    Anyway, i love the new presentation

  14. Scott. I have been using SmugMug Pro for almost a year now and I love them. Not only is the interface easy to use and the integration with Lightroom also wonderful but if you have a problem there customer service is wonderful. I have had to contact there heroes a few times and I was able to get my questions answered right away. The next step for me is to contact Charles and get him to customize my site for me. I did some customization on my own but I am ready to take it to the next level. Here is my site. http://www.davidspectorphotography.com 

  15. Love, love, love smugmug. I’ve been a customer for a couple of years. I especially like the fact that I have access to full-sized images anytime and anywhere. Its like one more backup for me and we all know you can’t have too many backups.

  16. Good choice Scott.  I went with Smugmug myself and really like it a lot.  They only little thing I wish was different is for selling your photos that they would offer Mpix as one of the choices of pro printlabs.

  17. Hey Scott
    Every day I rush to your site to see if this is when you are going to give us the scoop on your replacement for your Drobo (see your July 27 blog}. No luck yet. What gives.

    1. I’m still working on one piece of the puzzle (this will become more clear when I can finally post my new non-Drobo plan), but I think I need to have it all up and running before I write the post. Thanks for your patience. :)

  18. Like the look of the site, shows your images well.  One exception, however, on my 24 inch monitor, Windows Vista 64 bit system, I see a full image and about half or more of the next image except where the image is a panorama.  Distracting.

    1.  Scott, I’d like to echo Chuck’s comment about seeing part of the next image and finding that distracting. I’m on an old 17 inch monitor and still see part of the next image. I’m assuming that’s intentional but I’d like to know if it’s possible to have each image centered with the surrounding space blacked out.

  19. I have been using Smugmug for some time and I love it – their tools are great, and you can customize as little, or as much, as you like. Really nice interface, and makes your work look amazing.

  20. The portfolio still looks nice. Add in the ability to sell some prints and it seems like it should work well for you. SmugMug seems to have many fans, and I tried them out on a Pro account for a year based upon those fans.  Unfortunately, my experience with them was rather fruitless. The only time I could get some attention for my issues was when I decided not to renew the account. It seems like they’ve added some new features to address my previous concerns about the service. The issues with customer service leave me unsure about giving them another try.  I’ll be curious if you have a follow-up report some time later after using the service for a while.

    1. Hi William — Absolutely — I’ll report how my progress is coming as I work through the selling prints process and stuff like that. So far I’m really liking it, but I’ve done a limited amount of stuff. More to come. :)

    2. Hi William, I’d love to take a closer look at what happened in your case. I’m sorry that you didn’t get the stellar service that you deserve. Could you email help[at]smugmug[dot]com ATTN with your SmugMug URL or the email you associated with your account? I looked for you in our system and wasn’t able to find you. 

    3. Hi, recognize you from the Grid chat. I’ve been with smugmug for about 3 years for my event photos and have had VERY good customer service. Every Q was answered by a human being (whether Super Hero or Nerd) within 24 hours. We all hate the price increase and I’m debating whether to use SM for a portfolio or Zen or ? Since my event pics are tons of images I’d only want the mom or athlete to see, I don’t refer people to it to gage my image quality. I need a site with only my best 5-10 of each genre. Someone above mentioned serious editors don’t like SM, but with a custom domain name, what’s the diff? Many of my friends on the mainland that sell event (mostly rodeo) use Photo Reflect, but since they are all friends, I wonder if they all suggested it to each other. Since I have SM all figured out, I may stay with them instead of a new learning curve. I didn’t know about the customization that SK used, so I’ll ask about it/cost etc. see ya on the Grid. Jock

      1. Hi, Jock.

        It could be a matter of different strokes for different folks. As I mentioned, my experience with a Pro account was not good, but I recognize that many people I respect have very positive experiences with SmugMug. If it works, I certainly would not try to talk anyone out of using SmugMug. It’s just that I can’t recommend it based upon my own year with them.

        I’m not up to speed on the price increase issue, so I can’t really comment there.

        Thanks for the kind note and best of luck getting the portfolio decision resolved.

  21. I did the same free trial, but didn’t see enough to make the switch from what I already had on Zenfolio.  Near as I could tell both are good and pretty much the same. 

    1. Hi Glenn: I hear ya — once you have one up and running it’s tough to switch without seeing a real difference (and I don’t know enough about SmugMug to tell you its advantages over Zenfolio, if any — I just got my port up and running, but I’m hoping to learn more soon). :)

  22. Scott – as a long time fan of your work, I can’t wait to buy some of your prints. We may even buy some for our SmugMug office here in Mountain View (I know I have plenty of wall space in my office!). So hopefully you’ll enable “Buy” feature soon. 

  23. That pano in the landscape images works really well with the side scrolling. Pretty darn cool. I didnt notice the bar at the top at first to drag the images along I was just clicking on them which was kinda weird. Glad i figured it out. I see what you mean about it working for the tall images too. Thats cool man. Youve sure got some nice images in there.

    Congrats Mark.

  24. Love seeing your beautiful pictures!  Just FYI…in the travel section…image 25 of Portofina needs a tweek or at least it didn’t come into focus the 2 times I looked at it. Just thought I would mention it!  You have such a wonderful assortment of images…thanks for sharing. 4ormat.com is another option, in case anyone is interested.

  25. New portfolio looks very good, but I am surprised you didn`t go with Zenfolio, since they`re integrated with Mpix and we all know how much you love Mpix.

    SmugMug uses Bay Photo on the other hand, and if you ever want to sell prints from your portfolio, they’d be printed via BayPhoto and not Mpix ;).

    1. Hi Andrei: Ya know, I did the same thing with Zenfolio a while back — I took their free trial out for a spin, and for whatever reason, it just didn’t click with me. I know a lot of folks like them, but I really struggled putting a site together that I liked, so I bailed on it. The fact that they were aligned with MPIX was the main reason I gave them a try in the first place (I am a big MPIX fan), but in the end, I could make SmugMug work for me and I couldn’t get Zenfolio to do what I wanted (even though it may have been user error on my part). 

  26. There is no true photo editor that will take you serious when your using smugmug…www.scottkelby.com/smugmug.1234583745 etc. Photoshelter is what the pros are using 

    1. You should know before you speak. With either smugmug or pro accounts you can assign your own domain name and remove all branding but your own. Perhaps you shouldn’t be so smug.

  27. Wow, I just tweeted “I’m thinking of switching to @SmugMug because my @WHCCpro Lab prints looks AWESOME. I’m happy with @Zenfolio but not with@Mpic /Pro Lab.”
    …and here you are taking about the same thing. Now you have convinced me… I am wondering tho, I may lose some features such as the Blog feature. I can’t afford to pay for a separate blog account.

  28. I tried a SmugMug trial a fews years ago and wasn’t satisified then.  I went with Zenfolio and really like them (www.gregmeland.com).  A look a SmugMug tells me that they have made quite few changes since I tried them. I’m happy with Zenfolio, so I don’t foresee changing.  Your site looks great though. 

    1. Smugmug has done a major overhaul within the past 6 months or so. I have used them for 3 + years and can tell you they are listening to their clients. I left Smug to try Zenfolio because I was told it is so simple to use etc. I came back to Smug Mug within 4 weeks!
      The only thing I wish Smugmug would add is MPix. BayPhoto is awesome but sometimes my clients want inexpensive 4×6 prints and BayPhoto charges are high for shipping.

      Smug Mug also has the BEST Customer Service and support.

  29. Hi Scott, I checked your Smugmug and a part that the pictures are amazing I missed the possibility to view each pictures as a single file in a filed screen mode. I like your idea to scroll horizontally but when I try to click on a single image to view it, it jumps to the next image instead of providing a full/ filed size view. 

  30. I’ve been on Smugmug Pro for over a year now. Really simple to setup and to sell photos from, both on-spec and from assignments. Also handles digital rights. If you’re not in the US though, running the shop is challenging because their two main labs are in the US, though they do have a UK lab now, but they’re not really set up to allow the customer to print from their closest lab.

    I’d like to see them add labs in South Africa, Australia, Singapore/Indonesia/Malaysia and allow the customer to choose the lab when they buy. Not overly difficult to do but certainly poses a pricing challenge.

    Still, I’ve only had a good experience with them and am sure they’ll continue to roll out features and add labs.

    Need to investigate the customization options though, as I’m still running a basic default template but it serves its purpose.

  31. Hi Scott,
    looking good.
    I am in the process of slowly building my own SmugMug site.

    can I make an observation?

    would it be possible for your port to start from the beginning after you reach the last image?
    I found myself clicking and clicking without anything happening.
    Yes, I found the scroll bar at the top but it seems to make sense to me to flow to the first image from the last, and vice versa.

    oh, and another thing, 
    when you click on a different gallery it takes you away from your own portfolio site.

    I know there is a way to mask this but I can’t remember how :)

    I haven’t seen anyone mention the fringe benefits of SmugMug.
    They have SMUG’s.
    Their SmugMug User Groups.
    My friend runs the Scotland SMUG and although it’s in the early stages it’s awesome.

  32. Scott, you probably already found this, but your iPhone should have an ap for you to view your profile as well.  I have it for my android and you can even upload mobile shots to your page.

  33. Excellent choice Scott!  I’ve been with Smugmug for about 5 years and have watched their services grow. Their customer service folks are nothing short of “super hero’s”.   I’m sure you’ll be with them for quite some time. 

  34. dont know anything about Smugmug or Zenfolio, but Scott, your shots are AWESOME. Whatever it takes to display them is what you should have.mwhat a great collection of images. Lou

  35. I started with SmugMug this April using my NAPP discount fo the first year Pro account.

    The only reason was to try to see if I could sell enough photos to defray the cost of the account and some of my photography expenses.

    Yesterday, SmugMug dropped a bomb, announcing that they are increasing the price of a Pro Account by 66% from $150 to $250 a year.  They gave me the option of downgrading to a ‘portfolio’ account which takes away the ability to mark up photos.

    The rationale for the price hike seems to be that their unlimited upload policy has become unsupportable because of the growth of upload volume, they cited the D800 as one of the reasons.  And there solution is to charge more for people who are trying to eke out some kind of profit regardless of how much they actually upload.

    So, I’m probably going to move somewhere else, probably zenfolio before my SmugMug subscription expires.  Based on the comments on the SmugMug blog I won’t be alone.

    Hmmm, it would be nice if NAPP members got a discount on Zenfolio. <G>

  36.  Whacha think of smug mug now?  nice increase in price ay?  Your site looks wonderful, but after being with smug mug for about 4 years, i moved to a better, more robust platform  . . .  

  37. It is unfortunate that Smugmug increased their price from $150 to $300 shortly after your announcement  that you moved your Portfolio to them. I can understand that prices sometimes have to go up, but I don’t understand the 100% increase. Also, If you stick with their Pro account you cannot mark up your photos. I’ve been a loyal Smugmug user for several years, but this really isn’t acceptable. Time to move on…

  38. Hi Scott!

    I have a question for you. What focusmode do you use when you shoot fashion? AF 3D tracking or normal continuously AF or manual focus?

    Any one else have any tip? Feel free to answer.


  39. Scott, Your site looks fantastic! I’ve been a smugger for about 5 years now and it’s time for me to do a design update. I really like the horizontal scrolling, being that I shoot a lot of verticals. I’m wondering if you could share with me what is being used to make the slideshow work? I can’t seem to find anything like that on the web. Or is that part of the customization that you you paid for? Thanks! –

  40. I don’t know, but I think SmugMug is overly prices as compared o rest of the similar services. Plus it is not made for users who are not too tech savvy.

  41. Hi everybody,

    I think Smumug is a really good solution for amateur photographer like me. I was able to create a website in a few clics! Here an example : http://zeeyolqphotography.smugmug.com/

    For professionnal, i think it’s better to create their own website. They can do what they want. And Smugmug change some things frequently. So when you are a pro, you don’t like that generally.

    To conclude, i will say that i am satisfied for my personal use.


  42. HELP……..!!!! PLEASE!
    I’m trying to set up a Smumug website & although their help is great I need a consultant to help me set it up properly.
    Any ideas of anyone who could help me? I’m from the UK

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