Recently SmugMug invited me up to London to the Nikon School of Photography for a tutorial on taking photos of children, I was handed a Nikon DSLR and shown how to use the settings which have always baffled me and then take photos of a gorgeous baby girl who was our model for the afternoon. A wicked experience. Not only did I take away with me lots of great tips which I shall share with you (jump to the bottom of this post for 10 ways to take stunning portraits) but I also learnt about SmugMug. Sadly Nikon wanted their camera back but you can’t have it all eh? I’m definitely putting one on my Santa list this year. This was taken during my photo session.
What is SmugMug?
SmugMug is an online photo storage solution but not just that. It is used the world over by professional photographers as a photo sharing website. It allows you to store and share your images securely without stripping any of the details like Facebook and other online photo storage places do. It allows you to present them beautifully and keep all your images safely in their own place in the cloud.
Did you know that you should store your photographs in at least THREE different places?
SmugMug told me all about the 3:2:1 formula (see below) and I realise I am totally in trouble should a hard drive fail me or worse my laptop get stolen. You should have
- 3 x copies of each image
- 2 x different forms of storage, ie. hard drive plus 1 other
- 1 x form of storage offsite like SmugMug for example
If you cherish your family photos or you use photography for your work then you really want to look into storage offsite like SmugMug.
What’s the UK Consumer site?
Where SmugMug originally was aimed at professional photographers looking for secure storage and a place where they could share and sell their images, today they have opened their doors to the consumer, ie you and me. What are they offering us?
- A fabulous home for our photos that looks like an art gallery. There are dozens of templates to choose form each one completely customisable allowing you to create a beautiful website in just one click.
- A safe home for our photos. SmugMug allows you to keep your memories completely private or share them with your loved ones. You choose the level of accessibility and security your photos receive. Both photos and galleries can be password protected and non searchable. You can right click protect, watermark or unlist your photos individually.
- An easy to organise home for your photos. It is deigned as a tool to enhance daily workflow and help users better organise their digital lives. The organiser tool allows users to easily access content and photos through their file system.
What are the key benefits?
- Security and safety of storage
- High quality of images and videos
- Customise your site to suit you
- Use the site professionals use
- Option to monetise your work as well as buy merchandise and prints
- Tailor the package to suit your needs choosing from four different products at different prices.
How private and secure is the service?
Privacy controls: SmugMug enables you to keep your images and videos completely private. You choose the level of accessibility and security, your site and galleries can be password protected, non searchable, have right button protection and watermarking.
Storage: The site allows you to keep your images safe from an unreliable PC, a dropped tablet or a stolen phone as your memories are all backed safely with Amazon Web Services, the gold standard in cloud storage.
What is the image quality like?
Images are stored on the site at the resolution that you’ve uploaded, SmugMug does not down res any photos. Photos are stored at a high resolution for ultimate quality. Power and Pro users get unlimited storage for 1080p HD video. You can save in multiple formats, embed them everywhere and replay them in every resolution imaginable.
What do I like about SmugMug?
- Prices start from as little as $5 a month
- There are no storage limits on SmugMug. None.
- It’s simple to share with family only or publish to Twitter of Facebook or by email.
- You can choose the privacy you want for individual galleries or the entire site.
- You can embed the photos for blogs and forums.
- You can label your photos by typing in keywords.
Upload from your smartphone or tablet with the SmugMug apps
A very quick email support with friendly human beings available all day, every day, all year round.
Take a look at my SmugMug site – it’s a work in progress but you’ll get the idea. I have set two galleries to public and other family shots to private which I can share with my extended family by password. This project should keep me busy for a while plus I can label all my snaps so if I need a shot of a cake for a post I search cake and voila! They all come up
10 ways to take stunning portraits
- Alter your perspective – Change the angle, get up high and shoot down on your subject or get as close to the ground as possible and shoot up.
- Play with eye contact – A strong gaze will give a powerful impact and creates a connection between the child and the viewer. The direction of the child’s eyes can give character too. Staring off camera creates a story as hidden from the viewer, If child is looking at something inside the frame it creates a second point of interest.
- Look for a full range of emotions – Don’t just take pictures that are sweet, try fascination, tears, passion and even boredom.
- Experiment with lighting – Side lighting can create mood, backlighting and silhouetting your child to hide their features can be powerful. window light is very beautiful for taking photos indoors but use a reflector to put light on the shadowed side of your child’s face. Use a large piece of white card.
- Move your subject out of their comfort zone – head and shoulder shots are nice but making your child jump or doing something silly with their body might turn out to be surprisingly unique.
- Shoot candidly – Posed portraits limit your creativity and block your child to a standard ‘camera’ expression. Take photos when the children are in a space they enjoy, they will be more at ease, reacting naturally. Get them to have fun and be spontaneous. The photos will be full of life.
- Use accessories – The child must be the main point of the photo but by adding accessories to the shot like a hat or a pretty piece of fabric creates another point of interest adding enhancement and depth.
- Play with background – By choosing a dramatic, colourful or minimalistic background changes the shot a lot. Experiment.
- Go with a wide angle – A wide angle lens produces creative and memorable portrait shots. You just need to shoot in a slightly different way.
- Share your photos with the right tools – Use SmugMug! with secure photo sharing you can create an online photo album where you can store all of your photographs in a simple, safe and secure place.