I started out having photos on my website using a flash album. Unfortunately I quickly discovered that a flash album wasn't really what I wanted. It was OK to display a few pictures, but I have thousands of pictures that I share with family from four continents. To accomplish what I wanted would take months to develop, and I wouldn't come close to all the features that several websites already deliver. Once I realized that I needed to look elsewhere, I jotted down a few requirements. I was looking for a photo hosting site that gave me:
- Presentation Options
- GPS Support
- Clean Look
- No Advertising
- Video Support
- Affordable Packages
I looked at several of the popular photo websites options, and after a few days of reading and visiting the various sites I decided on SmugMug. I did a trial run on SmugMug before I signed up for the Power account. I liked what I saw and have been uploading pictures ever since. Take note that you need to think through how you want to build your galleries. In mid July 2010 I ended up doing a complete re-org of my site including reloading most of my pictures. I did this after purchasing Lightroom 3, but that is another post for another day.
For me, my photo website is about my life and experiences in pictures and video. Since all of our lives are touch by many others, the site cannot help but also include the lives of my family and friends. A feature I like, that SmugMug provides, is the ability to "Collect" a photo. For example, I have a gallery on my 2009 safari in Kruger Park, South Africa. That gallery contains pictures of animals, but also pictures of family, friends, buildings, rivers, etc. Through "Collect" I am able to create a subset of the Kruger gallery containing just the pictures of the animals. Strangers can enjoy the pictures of the wildlife without looking at my pictures of the evening cookouts. That is a great feature and I use it a lot.
Since SmugMug provided the essentials that I needed to create and organize my photo website, the rest was up to me to decide how to organize my photographs. I knew I needed the flexibility to organize my site, but I didn't know exactly how to do that. I have thousands of photographs of all sorts of things. How do you break that down into a few categories? It took me almost a year to really evolve to the structure I have today. Since I am a big nature lover I knew that I needed a master category for Nature. I do a lot of traveling so I created a vacation category which I later regretted and changed the name to Travel (I did this in my big re-org). I also love cars so I created a category just for cars. The Movie category I added is dedicated to the videos that I have created over the years. This structure process shouldn't be overlooked or down played. It is very important how you organize your photographs, otherwise no one will be able to find the pictures they are looking for, including yourself. The big thing is to know who you intend your audience to be, and what you want to accomplish. I have two messages. Get out and see the world and capture your interests and loves so they can be remembered and shared for years to come. Your photo site may be to sell pictures and therefore organized completely different than mine.
Regardless of your intent, SmugMug can provide the tools you need as an amateur photographer, or a professional displaying or selling their work.
Save $5 on a SmugMug subscription by using my personal coupon code (PKCMh9ndQs5rA) in the Coupon field at the end of your trial. Or, you can use this link to try out SmugMug: https://secure.smugmug.com/signup.mg?Coupon=PKCMh9ndQs5rA