Treat Yourself This Halloween with More Smug Friends

This is a favorite time of the year for lots of us who love to have fun with friends and family, dress up, and watch the leaves change on the trees. Remember pooling your trick-or-treating candy and swapping and sharing with friends? We hope that at SmugMug, you’ll still be able to do this in the spirit of the holiday.

No Tricks, Just Treats at SmugMug

20% credit is a sweet, sweet reward for every friend you bring over to join us. Remember that when you share the secret of beautiful online galleries with friends using your unique referral link, you earn a percentage of their account value back into yours. And they get a discount off their first year, too, just for knowing you.

Why would they join? Great memories start with friends, and everyone needs a safe place to put them. Whether they love to document the kids’ adorable costumes year after year or are famous for throwing wickedly delicious Halloween parties, there’s room for it all in SmugMug’s unlimited galleries.

SmugMug’s “Spooky” theme
Try our festive “Pumpkins” theme.

Let’s not forget that every account comes bundled with dozens of gorgeous one-click themes (like “Spooky” and “Pumpkins”), so your Halloween galleries will look appropriately festive… even if their personality’s sunny and warm.

And if the party gets a little too crazy, we’ve got powerful privacy features to boot.

So what are you waiting for? Your friends are waiting!

Kudos to September’s Winner: Chip Jones

Congrats to Chip Jones, our most recent winner of our monthly Refer-a-Friend contest! Chip takes gorgeous Fine Art, Landscape, and Architectural Photographs, and we’re pleased to be able to add a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition camera to his lineup of photo tools.

Chip Jones Photography

Time’s running out on our contest, so if you’re looking to win one of your own, don’t forget to check out the contest and prize details, and start sharing SmugMug with your circle of friends.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Links to love:

How To Avoid Leaking Sensitive Photos

Stories are breaking on sites like Fstoppers and Brandsmash about private Boudoir photos that appeared on a creepy voyeur forum.  It’s hard to imagine a more humiliating nightmare for a photographer or their clients.

Photo Used With Permission From Je Revele Photography 

Photos came from several sites, including SmugMug, and we paid extreme attention over the last two days to how it happened.  We tried to take some comfort in observing that in every instance, it came down to passwords that were guessable in just a few tries.

The question for us was what could we do that we weren’t already?  Over the past year, we’ve done considerable work around this problem, but yesterday we decided to expose some of the alerts our systems generate to our customers.

When our systems see several password attempts on a gallery or folder, they now send an email to the owner of the SmugMug site.  It identifies the gallery, gives the first few digits of each password attempt with asterisks for the rest (bou***), and adds info like time of day and geographic location the request may be coming from.

Today our Support Heroes are receiving thank-yous from people whose family members couldn’t get in because they left the caps lock key on or forgot some aspect of the password “it’s a cap O (oh), not a 0 (zero)”.

And we read two help tickets from photographers who discovered that their boudoir galleries had password guessers.  Fortunately, they had long passwords that were too hard to guess, but they are still making changes like removing the word Boudoir from the title, and making the gallery Unlisted so only people who obtain the link can know of its existence.

One of the security upgrades that came with New SmugMug is we don’t store passwords in a form that could leak in any way, including a systems breach, a bug, or a disgruntled employee. We use an industrial grade, Cryptographic hash function.

The breaking stories are about Boudoir photos, but we host incredibly sensitive photos (all cloud services do) of unannounced products and even, we remember, photos of an upcoming TIME Person of the Year.

Best Practices:

1.  Set a good gallery password before uploading photos!

2.  Set galleries and folders to Unlisted.  Unlisted means means no one can see them unless they have somehow been given a link.  They cannot guess the link because it has a random string added to its URL.  The combination of strong password + Unlisted is extremely secure.

You can learn more about how to protect your SmugMug galleries here.

We hope this helps, and thanks for being part of the SmugMug family!

Chris & Don MacAskill

Founders

3 Flavors of Privacy: Are You Using the Right One?

Did you know that the new SmugMug offers you a brand-new level of privacy for your galleries? That’s a total of three different flavors of security, so that your photos and stories can be shared, stashed or locked away however you wish.

So, what are your options?

1) Public – Visible to All

This is just what it sounds like. Your gallery is visible by everyone, including site engines like Google and all the people who browse SmugMug. You can, of course, share these galleries by sending links to people directly. Galleries set to Public will also be listed any time someone browses your website.

Tip: If you want your public galleries to be found faster, be sure to enter a gallery description, meta keywords and be sure that your Web Searchable and SmugMug Searchable settings aren’t set to “No.”

2) Unlisted – Visible to Anyone with the Link

This setting hides your gallery from anyone browsing your site. YOU will be able to see it when you’re logged in as the site owner, and you’ll see an “Unlisted” badge over the thumbnail for these galleries. The best part is that you can share these galleries with friends and family, because anyone with the direct link can browse the photos within.

Tip: When you share the link, be sure to copy all of the letters in the URL that your browser (or Get a Link) gives you. They may look like a random jumble (Example: n-fSzMC), but they’re literally the key to ensuring that your viewers are legit. Links to Unlisted galleries won’t work without them.

3) Private – Visible to Only You

This new option means that only you, the account owner, will be able to see the gallery and the images inside of it. Even if you share a link with someone, they’ll get a “Page Not Found” error. It goes without saying that galleries set to Private won’t be found by search engines, nor will they appear in SmugMug’s site-wide search (unless you’re the one doing the search.) Finally, when looking at your gallery, you won’t see the “key” in the URL, but rest assured that we’ll still keep your goodies safe and sound.

Tip: Private galleries are great for you, but less great for friends or clients – don’t choose this option if you want someone else to enjoy your photos! Additionally, don’t post photos from Private galleries into forums and blogs, because they won’t work.

What About Privacy Settings on Folders?

Good news! Folders get the same privacy options that galleries do. By default, new galleries that you create will inherit the parent folder’s  privacy settings… but you can, of course, change this on specific galleries if you wish.

Tip: Change the privacy setting on a Folder to change the privacy setting on all of the galleries within. Great for hiding (or revealing) entire categories on your site.

Bonus Tip: Privacy at the Photo Level

Want more specific control over what gets seen and what doesn’t? Try the Hide Photos option to keep just one or two photos secret from everyone but yourself, even in a Public or an Unlisted gallery. This option is perfect for the indecisive perfectionist who wants to display only the best shot from a series, or for people looking to hide certain images after guests have already viewed the gallery.

To find it, open up your photo’s lightbox, then click on the wrench icon in the corner. You’ll find the “Hide” open under the Organize menu. Or if you’re working in the Site-Wide Organizer, highlight a photo thumbnail and click on the wrench to access your Image Tools.

Remember that hidden photos can’t be shared on blogs, forums or anywhere else (including your banner or logo on your homepage), but we’ll display a little eye glyph over your hidden photos so that you’ll know.

Enjoy sharing (or not sharing) your photos! Questions? We’re always glad to help.

Link roundup:

Privacy: A Cheat Sheet for Boudoir Pros, Everyday Joes and Anyone Who Wants to Keep a Secret

No matter what you shoot, we’re pretty sure that all photographers need a little privacy every now and then. So whether you’re looking for a safe photo-home for an exclusive (reclusive) client or just for your mom, look no further than SmugMug. We’ve got a number of safeguards that can be mixed and matched to create the perfect bouquet of privacy.

Your Options, in a Nutshell

1) Unlisted Galleries. Often called “private” galleries by some, these galleries aren’t visible on your website to anyone but logged-in you. The only way fans can see one is if you give them a direct link.

2) Gallery Passwords. Provide a password and nobody can open it until they enter it right. You won’t be asked for it when you’re logged in to your account, because we know it’s you. Unsure? Look for the teeny yellow lock icon next to the gallery’s name.

3) Hello World! and Hello Smuggers! These toggles ensure that your stuff does or does not show up in web searches.  “World” = Google, Bing, etc.  “Smuggers” = SmugMug search. Set this site-wide from your Account Settings, or on a gallery-by-gallery basis via Gallery Settings.

Then, Take It Further With…

4) Hide Photo. Like unlisted galleries, but for individual photos. You can check the box under any image or video in your gallery to hide it, and only you, the gallery owner, will ever know it’s there.

5) Hide Owner. This gallery setting makes your URL generic. It doesn’t mean that your gallery isn’t visible, but it does remove your customizations and your nickname from the link so that viewers can’t trace it back to you. If you want, you can add a gallery password and/or make your gallery unlisted, too, when you use this feature.

6) Sharegroups. Share multiple unlisted galleries with one link using Sharegroups! These are amazingly useful for guiding friends, clients and family to specific galleries from your latest shoot, without having to worry about them being seen by the public eye. And better yet, they won’t get lost. You can put passwords on the galleries in your Sharegroups, if you wish, but you can also set a master password to let your viewers unlock them all at once.

7) Events. These are Sharegroups on steroids, available only on Business-level SmugMug accounts. You create Events with additional flashy features (slideshows, user registration, etc) and add galleries, give special people (e.g. clients) their own unique viewing link, and the ability to tag their favorite photos. Together, it makes browsing and buying photos a breeze.

8) Site-Wide Passwords. Not for the faint of heart! Lock your whole site from the top down. Anybody visiting links to your galleries will have to enter the correct password before they can see a thing. Even your homepage.

The Privacy Ripple Effect

  • Lockdown doesn’t mean your images can’t be shared. Anyone who can view the gallery can still click Share or post a link to Facebook. Please think about whether or not you want your friends’ friends passing your links (and potentially viewing passwords) around. Feeling queasy? You can hide the Share button from your viewers by toggling Easy Sharing to “No” in your Gallery Settings.
  • Keywords and searchability take a hit. This is a no-brainer to some, but we still sometimes get asked by photographers why their fans can’t find hidden photos via their site’s search box. In short: Only you as the logged-in site owner can search for (and find) images in unlisted and passworded galleries.
  • Photos can’t be collected from unlisted and passworded galleries, unless it’s by you. As the logged-in owner you’ll always be able to collect your own photos, but guests won’t see the orange Collect button if the gallery is protected in any way. If the photo is collected from an unlisted gallery then your visitors won’t see a link back to the original. Photos collected from public, passworded galleries will be visible, but fans will need to enter the viewing password when they follow the link to see more.
  • Feature a photo to make your locked gallery’s thumbnail pretty. We won’t display any part of the gallery when your gallery is protected with a password, and this includes thumbnails of the images within. But you can always swap the generic thumbnail for any image in that gallery — just use the gallery Tools button > This Photo > Feature.

Link roundup!