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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Have you heard of SmugMug?

I love photos. Always have. This is a great thing, as it means I have literally thousands (possibly millions?!) of memories to look back on which all make me smile. 
Siblings photos - these make me smile of course!
Someone on Facebook recently asked me to pick just five photos that make me smile. I nearly didn't do it, as I found it just too stressful. I mean, only five photos?! Crazy. I had to join in though, so I just picked any five photos after spending an hour or two pouring over some of the rest.

I've owned a compact camera for as long as I can remember, and the various versions of it have done their job pretty well along the decades (yes, I am THAT old). In recent years I've loved the introduction of smart phones, as they've made even more photo opportunities possible on a daily basis - I can probably count the number of times I've been out without my phone on one hand. I'm generally happy with the quality of snaps which can be achieved. On my Christmas wish list though, is a DSLR - a posh camera for those who have no idea what I'm talking about. Lots of people own them these days, and I LOVE the precision effects which can be achieved with them.

That's why I was so excited when I was offered the chance to attend a mini workshop with some other bloggers at the Nikon School of Photography. We were handed a 'posh' camera to experiment with, and there was a cute baby model on hand to snap away at.
The lovely Victoria from VeViVos and Mari from Mari's World




The event was actually being held to showcase the work of SmugMug. 


www.smugmug.com

I'll confess to not knowing about this company beforehand, but I came away super excited and impressed with their offering. The company was set up in Silicone Valley by a father and son team, and the business remains family orientated which I think is rare these days. They are all passionate about photography, and in their words they believe in 'service with a smile' and 'heroic 24/7 support'.

They gave us some top tips about photography which I hope to post in more detail soon, but the one that stuck in my mind was BACK UP following the 3-2-1 (Dusty Bin?!) rule. That means 3 copies of every photo, on 2 different types of storage (so hard drive and flash drive would work) and make sure 1 of those copies is off-site (ie if your house burned down you would still have them safe somewhere!). I have been guilty of not finding the time to sort backups out but it's now top of my priority list.

We were given the opportunity to try out their site and service and I can honestly say I am as impressed as I thought I would be. Customer service replies were super quick and very helpful. You can upload unlimited photos and video clips (up to 20 minutes per clip) to your own personal web page, and then customise that in any way you fancy, however many times you fancy! Each photo can be edited individually on the site and you can group your photos into albums of your own choosing.

You can have private or personal albums on there; the beauty of this is that you can choose to share with just your friends and family, whether that's everyday photos or special events, or you can showcase your work to the whole world.

So here's the link to my personal SmugMug page: www.stephstwogirls.smugmug.com 



As the (not very good, hastily snapped) picture above shows, you will be able to browse and see that I have two of my albums on show. In reality, I have several more saved behind the scenes which are not for public viewing. Clever eh? You can order prints, share to the usual photo media sites or send direct to friends, so it really is all encompassing.

Some of the features offered (too many to list!) are:

Customisable website, with responsive design
Fully hosted, unlimited traffic
No ads or spam
Unlimited uploads (each photo can be up to 50MB and video clip up to 3GB)
Gorgeous full-screen galleries
Embed photos and videos on other websites
Detailed stats and analytics
24/7 support (all across the world)
Create a completely personal homepage
Simple drag-and-drop site customisation
Every image backed up with Amazon web services

For the rest, check out their FEATURES page.

I was pleasantly surprised at the low cost for all these features - it is only $40 per year (about £26) which is actually much cheaper than some cloud storage I know of, and with so much more to offer. There are higher cost options for business use, but honestly the basic option will cover most people's needs. You can start with a free trial, that costs nothing....

A huge vote for SmugMug here, am happy to have them in my life! If you're tempted to try, please do use my referral code to sign up and then we can both benefit... https://secure.smugmug.com/signup?Coupon=jj0BYj45M4QJ2 



Disclaimer: we were gifted an annual subscription to this service in order to trial it, but all opinions are honest and my own and were not influenced in any way.

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