TWiP #271 – SmugMuggery


Hosts: Frederick Van Johnson, Doug Kaye, Dave Dugdale, and Ron Brinkmann

Episode Overview

This week on TWiP:

  • SmugMug doubles it's Pro Pricing (6:00)
  • Focus peaking coming to more cameras (25:00)
  • And an interview with Chris MacAskill from SmugMug (37:00)

Doug Kaye, Dave Dugdale, & Ron Brinkmann join Frederick Van Johnson to discuss these topics and more on this week's episode of TWiP.

Brooks Workshops offering TWiP Listeners $200 off!

Brooks Workshops is hosting a great weekend workshop in October, located at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara and taught by digital imaging expert Jim DiVitale.

Exploring Adobe Photoshop takes place on October 13th and 14th and is open to all skill levels. This class is designed to give you a working knowledge of Photoshop editing techniques -from opening images in the program to learning advanced creative techniques. Topics will include:

  • Workflow techniques
  • Understanding calibration and color management
  • Customizing Photoshop's settings to work for your specific needs
  • Processing Images from RAW capture to final DVD archiving
  • Shooting and stitching multiple images to create large panoramas
  • Working with layer blending modes and adjustment layers
  • Using selection and layer masking for the multiple image montage
  • Using light painting and selective focus for creative effects

This is a really great opportunity to improve your photography and post-production skills and escape to lovely Santa Barbara for the weekend. To register, go to, select your desired workshop, and enter the coupon code in the box at the top of the page.

The coupon code for Exploring Adobe Photoshop is r6w1u (for $200 off).

Interview with Chris MacAskill

In this interview, Frederick chats with the president and co-founder of SmugMug – Chris MacAskill to discuss their recent price increase and the passionate reaction they received from their customers. You can learn more about SmugMug by visiting their website at You can also follow them on Twitter.

Please Support our Sponsors:

This episode is brought to you by: The New Squarespace. Squarespace introduces a new content management system, making it faster and easier to create a high-quality website or blog. Plus mobile-responsive designs with automatic device scaling and more than 50 other new features. For a free trial and 10% off your first purchase on new accounts, go to and use offer code TWiP9.

Connect with Our Hosts & Guests:

Doug Kaye: or Twitter or Google+

Dave Dugdale: or Twitter or Google+

Ron Brinkmann: or Twitter or Google+ or

Frederick Van Johnson: or or Google+


Pre-production by: Bruce Clarke

Post production by: Suzanne Llewellyn

Bandwidth provided by: Cachefly

Intro Music by Scott Cannizzaro

Photo Credits: SmugMug


  1. Came across this by chance and as a Smugmug user, why can’t Chris MacAskill ‘speak’ to all account holders either through the blog, Dgrin or Facebook. The response to the blog post of 31st Aug now has over 1200+ responses and has drifted into discussions about politics, bickering and at times downright nasty.
    I’ve been with Smugmug for 6 years and have generally been happy but it feels like the whole thing is now falling apart. The departure of Andy Williams as COO and as ‘head honcho’ on Dgrin Smugmug’s user forum is a real blow – if you had a problem or question that wasn’t getting sorted Andy was always there, now it’s like a rudderless ship. Unless I’ve missed it there doesn’t appear to have been any comment from Smugmug at all about his departure and replacement – if there is one.
    There seems to be an overwhelming feeling that Smugmug are NOT responding to it’s customers.
    “”Are you rethinking the move?”” starts around 51 minutes in.
    Wish you had asked about Andy:)
    Anyway I really appreciate this interview not only for the insight to Smumug and also Chris MacAskill as a person.

    1. Likely anyone who has time to read through 1200+ responses is a troll, not a professional photographer, someone trying to promote their own photography hosting site, and/or is an immature child. What sort of response do you give to that sort of “discussion”? Best to leave it be.

      Ignore blogs. Ignore comments. They are worse than television.

      Shoot Photos. Sell Photos.

  2. No kidding Caroline. Why is SmugMug not talking to their customers? I am not talking about hero support. Why have the executives not addresses these issues directly?

    1. Who knows Matt, poor business ethics to ignore your customers or fob them off with pathetic excuses.

  3. I have been a Twip listener and fan since the first episode. They have encouraged me to step up my photography and my business. Zenfolio is the site that I chose to host my site. They are doing everything that SmugMug is trying to eventually get to. If you would like a discount from Zen you can use my referral code: 81K-G3F-A1V. I hope this is a help for other Twippers and SmugMuggers. Take care and I wish you all the best. TWIP is the best!!!

  4. I have used SMUG to setup photo galleries for nonprofits to sell photos from their event.

    I have been looking at smug mug as a photo solution after the shut down of MobileMe. I used to setup galleries for clients to look at photos and download them.

    I will tell what this price hike says to me. It looks like they are in financial straights and are under capitalize. Translation they may not have the money to stay open. This strikes me less of a greed move more of a desperation move to save the business.

  5. I may have just missed it, but I was surprised to hear no discussion of Photoshelter as an alternative to Smugmug. I switched from Smugmug a couple years ago because I was frustrated with what I perceived to be slow development of fairly straightforward features. Photoshelter was, at the time, a good deal more expensive, but with the price increase at Smugmug, my impression is that they’re relatively comparable now.

    Photoshelter is a bit “colder” than Smugmug in that I’m not sure it would work all that great for wedding or portrait shooters; it’s definitely got a more corporate vibe, but for my purposes, it’s worked great, and I’ve been very pleased. I’m by no means a Photoshelter fanboy — they’ve screwed up a couple things that frustrated me, but on balance, I’ve been happy.

  6. Great show and interview as always! Maybe take a survey among your listeners concerning smugmug. (Ask them how much space they have and I am sure many will be surprised they have more photos and total storage than anticipated.) There are many features within smugmug that are great but I am with the others hoping for some great new features. I have used them for years (as a pro) and expected this day. If a pro sells prints via smugmug then a few cents per print will more than cover the cost of the upgrade. My increase isn’t in effect for a year since mine renews (yes I will renew) prior to the increase. Although other sites are not increasing, can they sustain their model without an increase? Only time will tell for everyone involved in the industry. Too often there is a race to the bottom and all that does is drive the industry into the gutter. Hopefully, they can prove this decision is a great one for everyone in the industry regardless if they use smugmug or a different service.

  7. I listened to about a half hour of the podcast and found myself saying, “Really? All this fuss over less than a dollar a day?” You can recommend purchases of gear costing hundreds or thousands of dollars without batting an eye, but then you obsess over Smugmug charging a hundred dollars more per year. I won’t be listening to the rest of this podcast.

  8. I used Smugmug but after the recent changes I was motivated to check out Zenfolio. Wow was I surprised, I believe it is a better site with with a huge advantage of having a printing site in Australia, I have made the change already. It could not have been easier to change by using a service that took copied the pictures on smugmug and then downloaded to zenfolio. Changed the domain today and am more than happy with the new site.

  9. I’m surprised nobody mentioned Zenfolio as a great alternative to SmugMug. At Zenfoliio’s Premium level, you get many of the Pro level services of SmugMug at much lower cost ($120/year for new subscribers). Plus, you get self fulfillment, which SmugMug doesn’t offer at any level. I’ve been using Zenfolio for a number of years now and love the service. You ought to get someone from Zenfolio onto the show.

  10. I’ve been a smugmug pro user for years. I mostly shoot local sports and just to try and break even and the increase is significant to me. I’ll be looking at other options when it comes closer to my renewal date. Price increases I understand, but doubling, or near doubling…really? That is just poor management. Look at it this way, what would SM do if one of their vendors doubled in price and their were other options out there. I’m sure they’d shop around too.

  11. You should see if you can get somebody on from zenfolio. I have been using them for about a year now and really like it so far. What made me choose them over smugmug is you can self fulfill orders.

  12. TWIP – please mention Zenfolio to the TWIP listeners as a Zenfolio (and check it out yourselves) – I switched from Smugmug last year and have never looked back!

  13. The complaints about the size of prints available around 20-25 minutes in are straight-up wrong. All of that is controllable by the photographer. They offer a ton of non-standard sizes, and you can control whether the customer is allowed to purchase a standard size that would require cropping. I usually disable that ability because I too hate having other people crop my photos.

  14. The internet generation is going to have to learn that services cost money. Smugmug wants to improve and innovate and that all costs money. An example is Flickr. People wonder why flickr hasn’t changed very much. It is simple. The service doesn’t make Yahoo any money. So resources are allocated to the places where Yahoo still makes some money.

  15. I also would like to recommend Zenfolio as an alternate to Smugmug. I recently picked Zenfolio over Smugmug after doing a lot of research and couldn’t be happier. I can set my prices for prints, love the look of the site, and really love the uploader available from Aperture. I think they are going to look even BETTER now that Smugmug doubled their prices.