a26 March 2014

SmugMug review

Example SmugMug portfolio
Normally I don't review social networks and websites but SmugMug is a bit different. It's a website hosting photographers' portfolios (BTW you can see mine here) not the one where you share your images to gain 'likes' or comments.

Pricing and Features

There are 4 plans, which varying in features, that you can choose from. You will find them listed below with their pricing and core features. Please note that there are probably 10x more features for each of the plans - I just picked the ones I consider the most important (eg. I skipped images enhancement):
  • Basic ($5/month or $40/year)
    • portfolio website (with customization),
    • unlimited traffic,
    • ability to upload both images and videos,
    • detailed stats,
    • technical support
  • Power ($8/month or $60/year) - same as Basic and additionally:
    • ability to disable right-click images download,
    • premade themes for your page
  • Portfolio ($20/month or $150/year) - same as Power and additionally:
    • ability to add custom watermarks to your images,
    • a lot of settings to set up prints selling,
    • ability to sell digital downloads
  • Business ($35/month or $300/year) - same as Portfolio and additionally:
    • ability to create custom coupons for promotions,
    • a lot of branding settings.
I decided to go with Portfolio plan as it offers virtually everything I need (probably even more). However, if you're not much into selling your photos and you don't need custom watermark you can definitely go with Power program (which is more than 2x cheaper) as it's also feature-packed.

I recommend it over Basic plan because of the ability to protect your images on right-click... i.e. it won't be possible to download your images after right-clicking them. In fact I'm rather surprised and somehow disappointed that this feature isn't part of Basic plan as from my point of view it's crucial for almost any photographer. Another nice feature of Power plan are premade themes that are great starting point to customize your portfolio.


What's really important for every site hosting images (and especially ones that feature your portfolio) is its reliability. You don't want your potential clients to leave just because they can't see your images prior to contacting you because website is down. For me it's also very important that my images are online all the time as otherwise readers of my blog wouldn't be able to see them.

During few months of using SmugMug I haven't noticed a single issue with this. My images were available all the time and there weren't any strange delays or slow downs. I once couldn't access my account by signing in but it's possible that there were some changes being made to SmugMug at this time (but the images were still 'viewable'). And it started to work after just a few minutes so not a big deal.


SmugMug customization options
SmugMug is a website for storing portfolios. It means that each photographer should be able to customize his portfolio in order to fit his or her style. And in this category SmugMug is fantastic. You can set up your portfolio in multiple ways, add tons of widgets (ranging from simple logo to map to slideshows), customize colours, fonts... virtually everything. Sky is the limit. You will see portfolios so different that it's sometimes difficult to believe that they were all created on the same platform. And what's even better, you don't need to be a pro website designer to be able to customize your portfolio - ease of use of portfolio layout designer is a really great thing. You don't even need to know CSS or JavaScript. You can create good looking website by a means of a few mouse clicks. It's that easy.

And what's more, if you aren't good designer (like me... you know programmers are hardly ever good at designing anything ;) ) you can start by choosing one of premade themes and then customize it so it fits your needs. I followed this way, especially as I use my SmugMug account as a reliable hosting site for my blog.


So summing up SmugMug is a really great choice if you're looking for a feature-packed, customizable and reliable solution to set up your portfolio website. It's a bit pricey if you want to go with more powerful plan but basic plans (Basic and Power) are rather affordable.

However, if you're thinking of SmugMug as of just another website (like Flickr or 500px) where you can share your images, get likes and make friends - it's probably not for you. Most of the traffic to images on SmugMug comes from outside not from SmugMug itself - either from blog or links in social networks.

  • Dozens of useful features,
  • Ease of use,
  • Customization options,
  • Reliability
  • A bit expensive,
  • Right-click protection of images isn't available in cheapest plan,
  • Most of the traffic to SmugMug comes from the outside

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