Adventures in Smugmug Land

Oh my, time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like… nevermind, everybody’s heard that one. Anyway, long time, no blog, and it’s not because nothing blog-worthy has happened. It’s more like stuff happens faster than I can type it, or something.

Anyway, I’ve been putting some time and energy into promoting my nature photography online again. From a business standpoint, that’s just dumb. There are about a gazillion good photographers out there, and about three people who occasionally buy nature photography. Not a good ratio.

Ten to twelve years ago, I actually made a significant portion of my income from selling nature photography at art fairs. I had pretty much the only color darkroom in the area, so I had a nice niche selling my custom printed local scenics. My few competitors sold cheapy drug store prints or horrifically expensive custom lab prints.

As digital technology has advanced, my work has improved, but everyone else’s has, too. Now everybody and their grandma has a nice inkjet printer and a ten megapixel camera. Quite a few people even know how to use them. So, my product has improved and my sales have dropped to near zero, even while I have my own “gallery”… OK, it’s mostly a web design office.

But, I digress… this post was supposed to be about Smugmug.

A couple of months ago, a guy I met in a bar emailed me a link to some pics he’d taken. The photos were good, but the gallery site was even more interesting. The layout was attractive, the organization excellent. As I poked around more, I learned that they had “Pro” accounts, where you could set up galleries of your photos, and sell them without actually filling the orders yourself. The orders are sent straight to a specialty lab which prints and ships the orders.

I haven’t been getting many orders from my web site lately, but when it happens it’s consistently at a very inconvenient time: I’m off camping, I’m out of mat board, the jets on my printer are clogged, I’m drowning in a sea of urgent web work, or some combination of the above. With Smugmug, all that doesn’t matter; the order gets shipped promptly anyway. I was a little sceptical of the quality of their printing, so I ordered a few of my own photos (once you have the pro account, you can order at low wholesale pricing) and they turned out quite nice.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I plunked down the $150 for a year’s worth of Pro, and started uploading photos. It’s a frightfully time-consuming process, to get the right versions of the right photos uploaded and placed in the right galleries with the right keywords and looking up latitude and longitude data so the pics are listed on and getting the pricing right and yadda yadda yadda.

But, the time has come to formally start promoting my Smugmug site. It’s still fairly small; I’ll keep plugging away with adding new images, and new localized galleries. But, there’s enough there for the world to look at.

Photos of coastal Mendocino County

Photos of California’s Lost Coast

Photos of the Sierra Nevada

And there’s plenty more. I’ll try to find some time in the next few days to blog about the particulars of setting up the Smugmug site, tips I’ve figured out, etc. But for now, one last little thing: If you should find yourself setting up you own Smugmug account, use this magic personal coupon code: tFHWQQZiHZTI2. You’ll get a discount, and I’ll get a credit against next year’s account fee.

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