Archive for the ‘SmugMug’ Category

Top 10 Ways to Improve Flickr for 2018

Having spent thousands of hours on Flickr over the past 15 years or so, on a personal level I’ve become fairly invested in the site. To date I’ve published over 140,000 of my photographs there. I publish 40 or so new photos there every single day. It’s my primary archive of my photography work on the internet. I’ve also been actively involved in groups over the years which have led to many personal friendships for me. I’ve favorited over 720,000 photos that I’ve browsed over the years. I blog about it. I search it for photos to map as I’m going about my project of documenting America. It’s my favorite site on the internet.

That said there are some significant ways that Flickr can improve and given the new recent ownership change I thought now would be a good time to write about some of the ways Flickr can improve from here. Jef Poskanzer another early Flickr user also made his own excellent to do list for Flickr here.

The power of Flickr in my opinion has always been the community. I think there are ways that Flickr can recapture some of the community spirit that it did have in years past and grow to become the primary community for photographers on the web going forward. This will take work but will be worth it in the end for the community, it’s users and now SmugMug.

Flicker Meetup, 7-7-2005, #3
Flickr Meet Up, Crossroads Cafe, 2005.

1. Community. In the earliest days of Flickr when a new user would join co-founder Caterina Fake would greet them personally on the site and welcome them — not a bot or a script, but Caterina herself. While this would not scale today, I think the original founders of Flickr realized how important community development was in the early success of the site. I remember shortly after I joined Flickr going to some of my first photo meetups in San Francisco at a local coffeehouse. Flickr’s other co-founder Stewart Butterfield would show up and so would Cal Henderson and many of the other early Flickr staff and engineers. They eventually brought Heather Champ on as Community Manager and her sole focus was in managing this new community that was growing at Flickr.

Stewart and the Skatepods
Flickr Co-Founder Stewart Butterfield introducing Flickr Photographers at a group show at the Apple Store, 2005.

Back in those early days Heather organized an event at the San Francisco Apple Store where some Flickr photographers shared their photos on the giant large screen upstairs in the old Apple Store off Market Street. There was a show where Flickr photographers from all over the world sent in a photo and Flickr printed them all for a group gallery show at 111 Minna. There were active meetups and drinkups and photowalks and even a giant party hosted by Flickr once a year. Flickr Fiesta, Flickr Turns 2, Flickr Turns 3

I think what Flickr realized early on was that getting users to connect personally offline after first meeting online could be a powerful thing. Friendships were created. A group I was in started doing phototrips together. We did a trip to Miami, a trip to Detroit, a trip to Las Vegas a trip to Toronto. These trips would originate and be planned out in groups on Flickr. When out of town Flickr friends came to town you’d meet up and go shooting together. Meeting Mr. Chalk for the first time in person was fantastic! Because Flickr was the online community bringing all of these people together, it became a very beloved site for so many early Flickr users.

The challenge now is to try and restore much of that sense of community that over the years has been lost in my opinion. I think SmugMug should invest in this aspect of Flickr more than any other. They should hire perhaps a few community managers. They should host events. They should engage directly with the most active users on the site and promote Flickr evangelists from their user base who work to build and maintain that photography community at Flickr. I think Don MacAskill (SmugMug’s CEO) is the type of guy who will be good at this. It was good to see him engaging publicly about the acquisition on Hacker News shortly after the purchase. Management most of all has a role in actively engaging with the users of the site following the early example of Caterina Fake.

2. Groups. Much of Flickr’s early success was built around groups. More than just places to post a photo about a certain topic the group threads were vibrant conversations. Conversations about photography and Flickr itself sure, but also conversations about politics, about popular movies and television, about really anything and everything. Through some redesign over the years group discussions lost ground to the photos themselves. Discussions became harder and harder to track and follow. Facebook showed up and many people moved conversations over there, etc.

There are some significant ways that Flickr could rebuild group conversations.

The single most significant thing Flickr could do to improve group discussions would be to allow users to subscribe to individual discussion threads and then give them a central page where those conversations are bumped as activity/conversations happens in those threads. These are the conversations that I care the most about.

Many Flickr users belong to many different groups. Having to go to each individual group discussion page one by one just does not work for monitoring all of the conversations you are a part of. I may really care about a conversation about William Eggleston’s photography, but if there is only one new update to that conversation a week, as much as I care about it, I may not be checking it as regularly as I should. What’s more, the best time to see a conversation is as quickly after it happens as possible because that’s when others in that conversation still might be online. If I reply to a conversation 10 minutes after it happens that generates much more activity than if I reply 1 day after it happens. Giving users the ability to track all of the conversations they are interested in across the site would be a powerful tool.

Conversation begets more conversation. Activity begets activity. Give users the tool to track all of the group conversations across Flickr that they care about. This thread subscription page should be easily accessed in the mobile app as well.

After building conversation subscriptions, Flickr should also allow users to hide conversations in groups. Groups can get very noisy at times. The most recent group discussion is bumped to the top of the discussion page. If I don’t care about Game of Thrones, but that is the conversation that is repeatedly being bumped to the top of the threads I should allowed to hide it and make it disappear for me.

Flickr should identify 50 or so of the most active groups and have their community managers personally be involved in those groups and conversations. People should know that they can interact with management there. Flickr’s help forum is a bit like this, but the help forum is really only about Flickr help which can be boring at times. Flickr should promote these groups across the site and do everything that they can to make them as active as possible. If the discussions are not active in a group people stop coming. If the discussions are active it becomes a wonderful watering hole where people will spend hours online engaging with each other.

In the early days of Flickr Stewart Butterfield was active in Flickr Central threads. He’d frequently chime in and interact with the community there. This was a great thing.

I should also be able to mute certain users in a group. Inevitably trolls can/will invade groups and while some trolls can be charming and funny, others can be destructive. Allowing me to mute certain people gives me a bit of control over these conversations.

Groups should have photo pools, but these should really be secondary to the discussion threads and the groups pages should be designed to reflect this.

Flickr Explore
Some sample photos from yesterday’s Flickr Explore page.

3. Explore is so broken. There are so many bad photos regularly in Explore. The algorithm screens out more active users (like myself and many others). I looked at Explore for the first time in months yesterday and what do I see? Exactly the type of photos I don’t want to see on Flickr. Macro photos of insects. Lots of photos with signatures and watermarks. Three photos in a row of a LEGO airplane. Some screengrab of some user mocking Explore. Photos of big trucks and other transport. I don’t mind great train shots actually, but shots of boring city busses and big trucks that some Flickr transport fans collect are less interesting to me.

As much as I dislike Instagram and their world of ads, of all things, Instagram is doing a great job with their version of Explore. When I click on the search bar on Instagram it populates their version. What do I see there? Lots of photos of neon signs. Interesting analog photography. Great architecture.

The problem is that everyone sees the exact same version of Explore. In today’s world of AI Flickr should be smart enough to look at the photos I’m favoriting and serve me up my own customized version of Explore. Photos that I might be interested in based on what it knows about me.

Do I never favorite the classic bee on a flower shot? Then don’t show more to me. Someone who favorites 10,000 Second Life screengrabs might like to see more of them that they don’t know about on the site. I don’t. I love neon signs. Show me the most kickass photos of neon signs that I haven’t seen yet on the site from the past 24 hours. If I hate watermarked photos and never favorite them, don’t show them to me. If someone else watermarks their own photos and only favorites watermarked photos, show lots of them to them.

4. Maps. Although Stig’s excellent Flickr Fixr already fixes this, put a link to the Google Maps location under the map of a geotagged photo on Flickr. Google’s maps are the best in the world — and while it may be too expensive to actually license the maps to embed themselves, put a link there so users can go actually find the place. As it is now the Flickr maps are worthless. They won’t show you where something is. They will provide you the general vicinity of where something is, but they won’t show you exactly where it is. [Update: another link to Stig’s Flickr extension.]

If I am going on a trip and want to research a new city on Flickr, I want to know EXACTLY where things are so I can build a Google Map to go see and photograph those things myself.

5. Fix the Yahoo Log In. This is probably easy to do and from what I’ve read Don MacAskill is already on this one as a first priority. The Yahoo Login system (and especially for those using old legacy AT&T, PacBell, etc, versions of the login) is much too difficult to use. Pre-yahoo Flickr had a very simple user name / password log in that you set yourself. Users should be given an easy option to have that again and to get back into their Yahoo accounts that so many seem to be locked out of.

6. Fix the jumpy problem in photos from your contacts. Jef Poskanzer mentioned this one in his post as well. For years now whenever you browse photos by your contacts, right before you are about to favorite a photo on that page Flickr will inexplicably jolt and jump to some other random area on the page making you lose your place. Worse, right when you press the favorite button, because the page has suddenly jolted somewhere else you will accidently click on a photo which will take you away from that page and you have to press the browser back bar to get back and reload your contact’s photos page from the beginning. It’s a frustrating user experience and something that has been broken for YEARS now. It is time to fix it. Photos from your contacts is a very popular page and it is a problem that your most active users are having.

Flickr No Connection Issue

7. Flickr app connection issues. The Flickr photo app has a connection problem that other apps don’t. Just about every single day at some point you get a red “no internet connection” message at the bottom of the app. Even if you are connected to the internet and even if all your other apps work just fine. Flickr will not work. The only way to make the Flickr app work again is to quit the app and relaunch it. I think what may be happening is that at some point the Flickr app loses internet connection and isn’t smart enough to try and re-establish connection. So the app is dead and the only way to re-establish the connection is to quit it and relaunch it.

Searching Pennsylvania by Interestingness

8. Fix search. I’ve got a trip to Pennsylvania planned in a few months. Why when I search “Pennsylvania” (over 3.5 million photos on Flickr by the way) and sort by interestingness is the 2nd most interesting photo on all of Flickr a dumb aerial map screengrab with a squiggly blue line with a “whacking fatties” watermark? The photo has zero faves, zero comments and only 11 views. In fact there are four “whacking fatties” screengrabs in the top 20 most interesting of the millions of photos of Pennsylvania. This is dumb. If Flickr’s interestingness algorithm is so broken that it puts this photo as the 2nd most interesting photo in all of Pennsylvania at least give me the option to sort the photos by favorites. If I sort the photos by favorites chances are that some of the most favorited photos might be better and more interesting photos. While favorites alone might not be the best indicator of what photos are most interesting, at least give me that option. Alternatively, stop showing photos with low faves, comments, views on the first page of search results by interestingness.

9. Fix recent activity. The recent activity page is the most important page on Flickr. I load it more than any other page. For me (and many others) recently it stopped loading. It times out the majority of the time and returns a server error. I can get around this error by changing my recent activity settings from “since the beginning” to “in the last month” but I shouldn’t have to. I should be able to get it to load reliably 100% of the time since the beginning. Your most active users are users are your most valuable users. This should be fixed.

10. Let users favorite multi photo batches from the Flickr homepage. At present if I go to the main flickr homepage at flickr.com and I hover over a single photo there I’m given an option to favorite that photo by pressing a little star. This is great. But if I hover over a batch of photos that a user has uploaded I am not given this option. The only way there I can favorite a photo is to click through on the photo and leave a favorite. Flickr should treat all photos whether individual or batch on that page the same giving me a hover over star to favorite the photos.

Bonus: The “taken on” date on a photo’s photo page, really should be a hyperlink that you can click that will take you to that date in your camera roll.

That’s all for now. Much more later. See you on Flickr.

You can find me on Flickr here. 🙂

My Thoughts on the SmugMug Flickr Acquisition

Disclosure: I know people and am friends with people who work at both SmugMug and Flickr.

Earlier today we learned that the photo sharing site Flickr has been acquired by the photo sharing site SmugMug. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Flickr was purchased by Yahoo back in the early days of the internet in 2005 for probably somewhere around $40 million (give or take $10 million). Yahoo managed Flickr for many years, but more recently Yahoo’s core holdings were sold off last year to Verizon. Verizon folded Flickr into a new division called Oath which was made up of various Yahoo and AOL assets (another Verizon acquisition) run by ex-Google executive Tim Armstrong. Now Verizon/Oath has sold Flickr to SmugMug.

As They Pulled You Out Of The Oxygen Tent You Asked For The Latest Party
Flickr Fiesta party celebrating Yahoo acquisition in 2005 at Yahoo Campus.

Flickr Turns 2 (12)
Flickr Turns 2 Party, San Francisco, 2006.

As someone who joined Flickr back in 2003 pre-Yahoo and has been on the site pretty much daily since then, I thought I’d share my own thoughts on what this acquisition might mean for Flickr users and the larger Flickr community.

First off, I have to say that I think that today’s news is *very* good for Flickr users and the Flickr community. While time will tell how this acquisition goes, I have much more faith in SmugMug running Flickr than I do Verizon.

Before getting into the particulars about why I think this is a good fit, I think you have to take a general look at the types of companies Yahoo/Verizon/Oath were/are and the type of company SmugMug is. Yahoo/Verizon/Oath like Google and Facebook are largely advertising companies. These companies offer you free content and use your personal data to advertise at you. One of the things that I always liked about Flickr was that advertising was largely secondary to paid subscription accounts. Sure, Flickr had a free account, but at least as it was initially designed, the free account (which limited you to only seeing your last 200 photos) was really more of a trial for the real thing, Flickr Pro, for which you paid a subscription.

SmugMug has always been a profitable paid photo sharing service. They’ve never had a free option. This has served them well and has kept them profitable. At the same time it is hard to get people to pay for things on the internet so this in some ways limited their user growth compared to Flickr and other services offering a free option.

My own view is that I think people are waking up to the fact that “free” on the internet doesn’t really mean exactly free. The age old adage of if you are not paying for the product, you are the product is becoming clearer and clearer, even to the point of Mark Zuckerberg having to head on up to Capitol Hill and try to explain how all this social media stuff works to Senators and Congress.

Now, does this mean that SmugMug is going to kill the free Flickr account? Absolutely not. But I do think that they might try to nudge people in the direction of paid Pro — which I also think is smart and ultimately more sustainable than simply giving everyone a free terabyte. I LOVE that I have a complete ad free experience for my own use of Flickr AND also for the users who browse my pages of photos. I will happily continue paying for it indefinitely (assuming Flickr continues grandfathering my unlimited storage Pro account). I also think that SmugMug will likely be much better for Flickr from a privacy standpoint as well without having to worry about how to sell off our private information because we pay.

Ivan Makarov, SmugMug HQ
Ivan Makarov, one of my early Flickr contacts (now SmugMug’s VP of Finance) posing in front of a giant wall print at SmugMug’s Mountain View office.

In buying Flickr SmugMug more than anything is buying a community. I think that they are going to be very careful not to disrupt this community and look for ways to grow it thoughtfully. Having known the MacAskills (the family that owns SmugMug) for many years, one thing I can say for certain is that they LOVE photography and photographers. If you ever get a chance to visit their offices in Mountain View do it. What you will find is wall after wall covered with the biggest prints you have ever seen in your life. These are people who are passionate about photography, not advertising.

Baldy Behind the Camera
Chris “Baldy” MacAskill on a SmugMug photowalk in 2013

Flickr Over San Francisco
Flickr Photowalk, Bernal Hill, 2013

For SmugMug I think what is probably most exciting is that they are getting a very large community of photographers by purchasing Flickr. I think that this will allow them to do even more with community, photowalks, meetups, etc. They will need to make sure Flickr is profitable (and it will be) but they will have a much larger group to build a bigger and stronger community with. While Google+ sort of became a place for the photographic community for a bit, before Google largely abandoned it, there really is not a good place for a larger community of photographers today and I think with the acquisition of Flickr, SmugMug hopes that it can build this and I think they have a pretty good chance at doing it.

I think the other thing that SmugMug owning Flickr will do is that it will allow them to be much more nimble in terms of hacking on and developing the site. Big organizations (like Yahoo and Verizon) have layers of bureaucracy that sometimes make things difficult to get done. Small organizations, by contrast, can move much more quickly. While I don’t expect any immediate changes to Flickr, I think that going forward it will improve more rapidly. I also think it’s great that from what I can tell the entire team at Flickr is being retained.

Mostly what I’ve seen online since the acquisition was announced earlier today has been a positive response. Flickr co-Founders Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake have posted positive tweets on the acquisition as well.

As far as I can tell from looking at the new SmugMug/Flickr TOS everything looks pretty much for things to be business as usual at Flickr for the immediate future.

SmugMug and Flickr will be run as two different sites/properties.

Since Flickr is one of the few sites on the web that allows moderated adult content, I did wonder how SmugMug would treat that — at least per the current TOS it looks like that is going to be handled as it always has been at Flickr. Make sure you moderate your adult content, keeping it away from the kids, and it’s allowed.

If you want to read more in depth at what this might mean for Flickr users going forward I’d point you to a thread in the Flickr Help Forum where more details are provided and where the community is currently reacting to today’s news.

A big congrats to both the Flickr and SmugMug teams. I’m looking forward to being an active user on Flickr for many years ahead and am looking forward to all the ways you will continue to improve both sites.

You can find me on Flickr here.

The New SmugMug, Awesomize Your Photo Sales on the Web

My Home Page on the New SmugMug

SmugMug, widely regarded as one of the best internet sites on the web for amateurs and pros alike to share, and especially sell, their photos, unveiled an entirely new SmugMug this morning.

I’ve had early access to the new site redesign and have been playing around with it for the past few weeks — I’m a huge fan.

The new SmugMug brings fresh, updated, design and functionality to the service and is probably the most significant upgrade to the service since it started.

Most significantly, the new SmugMug brings a new line up of beautifully designed templates that allow even the most basic internet user the ability to have a photo commerce site up within minutes.

As much as I enjoyed the old SmugMug as a place to sell my prints, one of the negatives of the old site was that it could be complex and complicated to get a attractive looking interface up. The old SmugMug offered the ultimate in customization, but many photographers are not web design experts and it could be challenging to do it yourself. While you could hire outside pros to customize your site, this added a layer of cost and complication to the equation.

While the new SmugMug still allows advanced users an incredible amount of customization, they also now offer a series of basic templates that are pretty much plug and play. The new templates are stunning right out of the box and you can easily use a new series of tools to do minor edits to add in basic elements that you want to use to present your photos uniquely.

These new templates have been optimized to look good on the three basic interfaces, web, tablet and mobile. They have also added custom links that can be added to your blog, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter as part of any design interface.

In addition to the new design choices, SmugMug also rolled out today a new photo organizer that allows some of the most advanced functionality in photo sharing today.

When Flickr redesigned their site earlier this year, some users were disappointed that Collections lost visibility on the site. The primary way that Flickr manages photos is with sets. Sets can be one dimensional though. Sometimes you need sets of sets. Sometimes you even need sets of sets of sets. The new SmugMug allows seven layers of photo organization.

So if you want to have a page of American photos organized by states you can do that. If you want to be able to drill down into each state and look at the various cities, you can do that too. If you want to drill down even further and look at the various neighborhoods in each of the cities, you can do that.

More control over hierarchy was the number one feature request that SmugMug users had asked for in their user forums.

The new SmugMug organizer also offers lots of ways to bulk edit your photos, allowing you to batch add keywords, delete files, apply custom captions, etc.

Personally, I do 99% of my metadata work at the file level in Lightroom, but here is where SmugMug offers me one of my favorite features, Smart Galleries. Smart Galleries are not something new with this release, but Smart Galleries allow you to build highly customized automated galleries based on keywords. If I want to build an album of all of my photos of abandoned buildings in Detroit, I can do this simply by building a set that includes any of my photos keyworded with abandoned AND detroit. Now anytime I upload any new photos to the site that have these keywords, they will automatically be added to that album.

Creating a Smart Gallery on the New SmugMug

My Abandoned Detroit Set on the New SmugMug

One of the problems with redesigning photo sharing sites is it doesn’t matter how good a job you do at it, there will always be naysayers from the “who moved my cheese” crowd who will moan about it. It doesn’t matter how much better you make something, some people just love to complain. Haters gonna hate, gators gonna gate, tators gonna tate, all that stuff. One of the smart things that SmugMug did with this redesign is that they gave control over the new site to the user. If you are already a SmugMug user and *don’t* want to opt into the new site design, you don’t have to.

From SmugMug:

“Unlike many other services, we’re not forcing you to ditch your existing site. You’ll have your very own secret preview mode that contains all your galleries, so that you can personalize it and get familiar with the new features. While it sounds scary, migration simply copies your website contents into a virtual sandbox that only you can see. When you’re ready, YOU unveil your changes and make it public.”

I’m sure that there will *still* be some who complain, even though they get their *choice* over new or old SmugMug, but this should go a long way towards the inevitable backlash that comes with every redesign.

Also, the pricing is staying the same for the service and they are even adding unlimited video uploading to all levels of account with no price increase. At present SmugMug’s pricing remains: Basic: $5/month or $40/year, Power: $8/month or $60/year, Portfolio: $20/month or $150/year, Business: $35/month or $300/year.

Buying a Print on the New SmugMug

If you are a photographer who has thought about selling your photos on the web, but has held back, now is the time to jump in. With the new SmugMug today, you can easily have a professional looking photo commerce site up and running within minutes. SmugMug offers a generous 85% payout on all sales and gives you a great place to send people to who want to buy your prints.

I’ll be on a special episode of the Trey Ratcliff show tonight where we’ll talk about the new SmugMug — 7pm PST.

There is a live vidcast of the new designs with SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill at 10:30am PST today here.

If you want to check me out on my SmugMug, you can find me here. I’m in the process of adding several thousand new photos to my SmugMug. Feel free to buy a print if you’d like. 🙂

More from SmugMug on the new design here.

Two new videos about the new SmugMug here and here.

More from David Pogue at the New York Times here.

Trey Ratcliff: Top Five Features of the New SmugMug

Google+ Long Exposure Photowalk! Thanks to Chris MacAskill and SmugMug!

We had a great Google+ long exposure photowalk this past weekend.

Chris MacAskill and his team from SmugMug came out on Sunday morning and put together a wonderful behind the scenes sunrise photo shoot at the Golden Gate Bridge. Check it out!

My Thoughts on SmugMug’s Price Increase

A lot of people have asked me over the weekend what I think about SmugMug’s price increase. On Friday SmugMug co-founder Chris “Baldy” MacAskill presented a video outlining why SmugMug needed to raise prices. Basically it comes down to the fact that Pros really do use a TON of storage and now more than ever. SmugMug (like everybody these days) uses cloud storage and replicated storage for terabytes of data (possible for a single customer with today’s DSLRs and fast bandwidth speeds) is EXPENSIVE.

Back in 2005, when SmugMug last changed their pricing, it was harder to really flood a site with with serious storage. Bandwidth speeds were slower, file sizes were smaller, processing technology wasn’t as fast. Today Nikon’s D800 has a whopping 36.3 megapixel image. We’ve grown used to super fast bandwidth and now with my new MacBook Pro the only thing slowing me down in Lightroom is me. I can process so many more images today in Lightroom than I could with Photoshop back in 2005.

So SmugMug was faced with a tough decision — continue losing money on many of their best customers, or raise prices. Well, they had other choices as well, but none of them fun. They could start charging based on how much storage you use, but this would hit their highest grossing Pros even harder in many cases. They could start throttling your upload speeds to slow you down. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be (that’s how most of the cheapo cloud storage backup providers do it for dollars a month). They could take a higher percentage of your photo sales, but again this would cost many working photographers even more money.

What SmugMug decided to do is to ask their business customers (the ones who use the most storage and make the most *money* off the site btw) to pay $100 more.

Nobody likes to see prices raised — especially the working Pro photographer. Times are tough and every penny counts. It bothers me though to see SmugMug being attacked online. If Canon charges $100 more for a lens do Pros complain? Sure, but not like some of the comments I’ve read regarding SmugMug’s price increase. If Canon raises the price of a lens $100 does David Pogue from the NY Times feel the need to tweet about it? Canon, a huge nameless faceless corporation can raise prices and people don’t even notice, but SmugMug an accessible family run business does it and people take it out on them.

I pay Canon $500/year for their platinum CPS service. This is a service that gets me things that are valuable to me (discounted repairs, expedited shipping, loaner lenses), things that ultimately help me make money. It’s a cost to me but I justify it because I make money off my photography. I bet a lot of the other Pros on SmugMug use this service too. It’s part of the cost of doing business.

It’s odd for me to see people trying to compare this move by SmugMug as Netflix like. Huh? A consumer DVD rental company vs. a professional services company used to sell your photos? Let’s compare the situation to something a little more similar. Last year I made about $3,600 off my Flickr photos. I made this money through the Getty/Flickr deal. Flickr charges me $25/year to store my photos and won’t let me sell my photos myself on Flickr. Do you know how much Flickr/Getty grossed with my photos? About $18,000.

If people want to complain about high fees, how about complaining about Getty/Flickr payouts. Last year they took around $14,400 of the money made by *my* photos. You see Getty pays photographers 20% and keeps 80%. SmugMug on the other hand gives Pros an ecommerce engine that can sell both stock and prints and they pay out 85% of mark ups and keep 15%.

Yesterday a client contacted me about using a photo for stock that I own. I had to redirect them to Getty because Getty also demands an exclusive right on my images that they represent. Bummer! 20% instead of 100% sucks. I still use Getty/Flickr though. It’s a cost of doing business. SmugMug likewise is a cost of doing business for a photographer. If you don’t want to do it for business then just use the cheaper plan without the ecommerce engine.

The fact of the matter is that Pros have flocked to SmugMug because it gives them a very valuable tool that they need. Unlimited storage, an ecommerce engine with a high payout and really some of the most amazing customer service on the planet. They are a truly wonderful unique family run business operating in the photography space. What they are not, however, is a charity. They are in business to make money and they can’t continue losing money on their most active customers year in and year out. If someone doesn’t need the ecommerce engine the price is the same. If someone DOES use the ecommerce engine though (the biggest storage users and the ones making money off the site) then they will have to pay more. This sounds fair to me.

So those are my thoughts on SmugMug’s price increase. I support the company, one that has done so much for the photography community, and hope that this tough business decision is something that people can come to terms with and move on beyond.

[Disclosure: SmugMug is a former sponsor of my former photography show Photo Talk Plus, they are not a current sponsor of anything I’m doing though as we’re taking a break with the show. I also consider many of the wonderful people who work there personal friends.]

SmugMug’s New Camera Awesome App is, Well, Awesome!

Played around with this camera app on my wife’s iPhone earlier tonight. Best camera app I’ve ever seen on any phone. Check it out iPhone only (for now) and free for the basic camera and a set of filters. [Disclosure: SmugMug is a sponsor for Photo Talk Plus, a video show I host]

Thomas Hawk Original Prints Now Available Through SmugMug

Thomas

Over the years I’ve had many people ask me about purchasing prints of my work. With the rare exception I’ve turned down all of these requests. I’m not sure why. It’s probably mostly been that I’ve been too busy shooting and processing to get around to figuring out a good way to handle fulfillment.

Today I’ve begun offering prints of my work for sale for the first time ever. This is a work in progress and it may take me some time to get it right, but SmugMug (disclosure: who sponsor our Photo Talk Plus show on Wed nights) makes it super easy for me to sell my prints and they give the photographer a very generous payout of 85% of the photo markup. It seems like a lot of the photographers that I admire most like Trey Ratcliff and Scott Jarvie and Colby Brown are all using SmugMug to sell their prints. Its something that I should have done a long time ago and I’m glad that I’ve taken the time this past week to finally get this done.

To start with I’m offering about 5,000 of my images for sale for people interested in buying them. We’ll see how this goes and I’d be interested in any input from people about selling prints online. If you have any questions feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer them.

You can find the prints that I’m selling here at:

http://thomashawk.smugmug.com

Thanks to Markham Bennett and Katherine Cheng and their excellent team at +SmugMug for helping me get set up with this.

Do You Buy Photography Advertising?

Trey Ratcliff did a little experiment comparing the return on his advertising in traditional old world media like photography magazines vs. new world media like websites and blogs. His analysis shows a much better payoff for him using photo web sites and blogs to advertise vs. photography magazines.

Do you buy photo related advertising? If so what do you think of Trey’s analysis and where do you think is the best bang for your buck?

Oh and go check out Episode one of our new video show Photo Talk Plus. It’s out now. Sponsored by advertisers who DO get it over at SmugMug and Drobo. And don’t miss episode #2 next Wednesday night at 8pm PST when we’ll have space photographer NASA astronaut Ron Garan on the show.