SmugMug (Opens in a new tab) is a media storage and sharing site that is simple enough for casual users, yet powerful enough for professional photographers. Considered by many to be the best cloud photo storage service, the platform offers a tempting deal: unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos.
It is not a classic cloud storage service. SmugMug is a photography-focused platform focused on organizing and managing images (including RAW file management via SmugMug Source). Securely backed by AWS, it's cross-platform, available on the web, Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. It even offers basic editing tools, a website builder, and an eCommerce platform.
- SmugMug Website Builder Subscription Options:
- 12-month plan: €3.99 per month (total cost €47.88) (Opens in a new tab)
In fact, it's no different than Flickr, the popular photo site that SmugMug bought in 2018, which we described as "a strong entry into the cloud image and video storage space" in our hands-on review.
We found both cross-platform services to be easy to use, emphasize the social and business aspects of photography, and both offer unlimited photo and video cloud storage to subscribers.
In our latest SmugMug review, we hailed it as “a great website builder option for any photography enthusiast – there's unlimited storage and you can easily upload quality images. There aren't as many templates as other website builders, each template is designed to specifically cater to professional photographers."
But how does SmugMug deliver on its promise to be "your preferred photo store" today?
With that question in mind, we take a look at what one of the best photo storage and sharing sites has in store for professional and enthusiast photographers.
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30 second review
SmugMug's online photo storage service is easy to use, beginner-friendly, yet incredibly feature-rich. We found the platform, which offers unlimited, full-resolution cloud storage for photos and videos, ideal for anyone looking to store photos securely online. But it is perfect for professional and creative photographers.
With powerful website design features and eCommerce tools, SmugMug has simplified the way photographers can reach new audiences, showcase their work, and sell their photos.
That may be more features than shade enthusiasts need, of course. So the four different subscription plans provide a flexible way to choose the best cloud photo storage option for you.
(Image credit: SmugMug)
- 4 subscription plans, no free storage plan
SmugMug doesn't offer any free cloud storage options, though it does offer users a 14-day free trial (and no credit card needed).
To take advantage of SmugMug's photo storage and sharing, you'll need to purchase a subscription. The service runs four monthly subscription plans, each of which builds on what's included in the previous tier.
Basic ($11/month) is for casual users looking for unlimited cloud storage. Power (€16 per month) is for those who want to start showing their photos online. Portfolio (€34 per month) will be the best option for anyone who wants to start selling their photography. Pro (€50/month) is designed for those taking their photography business to the next level.
If you prefer, subscriptions can be prepaid annually, which includes a discount of around 30% depending on the chosen plan.
SmugMug: Getting Started
(Image credit: future)
- Smart and elegant easy to use interface
SmugMug's interface is smooth and elegant. Exactly as expected from a creative platform designed for those who pay attention to detail. Navigation is smooth and simple: everything is where it needs to be and works as expected, and most actions can be performed by dragging and dropping or pressing the toggle switches.
This simplicity makes the platform too welcoming for new users. It only takes a few seconds to start uploading and editing images. Some of the more oblique options even include a "What's this?" button, which directs you to the SmugMug Help Center for in-depth details, so you can get the most out of every feature.
If we have one (admittedly small) complaint, we would have liked to see a right-click showing file downloads and other quick actions, like in Google Photos.
Despite this simple, even effortless interface, SmugMug reveals its powerful nature once it's time to start creating new galleries.
SmugMug: Create Galleries
(Image credit: future)
- Extensive control over galleries and images.
Photos uploaded to SmugMug are stored in galleries; At first glance, they're folders that help you keep track of all your images (and if you're not worried about organizing your photos, you can put any one in the default gallery). But they are worth using whenever possible. We found that this makes managing images and designing your photo website faster later on.
Every time you hit the upload button, SmugMug allows you to upload images to a new gallery, an existing gallery, or upload an entire folder. When choosing a new gallery, a configuration complete popup appears.
Take your time here, because it's not just where you'll set the look of the gallery. You'll also find options to configure gallery access, image visibility and privacy, and social and sharing tools. All of these settings can be saved as default presets.
Professional and corporate photographers will find additional settings here. If you plan to share, display, and sell your photos, go to the Purchases area to set up your purchase options.
If you want extra protection, SmugMug also gives you full control over what users can see and do in your gallery. Everything is handled through simple dropdown menus and toggle switches. Therefore, you can easily limit image display sizes and prevent other users from saving your work by disabling the right-click context menu.
The ability to create and add custom watermarks to photos is particularly effective. A powerful tool that allows you to quickly place basic text or an image on your media, with size, font, and fade controls. Image-based watermarks can be downloaded separately or pulled from your SmugMug library. In use, it's all basic, but it's all very welcome.
(Image credit: future)
- Good third-party cloud storage support and powerful engagement metrics for top subscribers
Uploading your photos to SmugMug is quick and easy. We particularly liked the support for a range of external cloud storage services. With support for Dropbox, Lightroom, Google Photos, Flickr, and Amazon Photos, it's easy to import images into your online library.
While this covers some of the most popular cloud photo storage providers, we'd like to see more integrations added. In practice, we've found connecting and uploading to third-party storage services to be relatively fast, although it's naturally quicker to upload files from your computer.
Once your images have been uploaded and added to a gallery, you can open them in the viewer. This space has some options, such as checking comments and uploading the image. You can also click View Participation in the gallery.
And that's one of the great extras of SmugMug. In addition to statistics and Google Analytics support, Portfolio and Pro subscribers can access engagement metrics for each of their galleries. Here you can see which photos get the most views and downloads, and which galleries are the most popular with visitors.
SmugMug: Photo Editing
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- Only essential editing tools
When it comes to photo editing, don't expect anything on the scale of Adobe Photoshop (or even the best Photoshop alternatives). SmugMug's rudimentary offering includes all the basic tools, but there are few full editing capabilities.
So you can crop and rotate your images, add titles and subtitles. You can add existing watermarks, and if you haven't created one yet, SmugMug will take you directly to the simple watermark creation screen.
Elsewhere, color effects let you adjust the look of the photo. However, they are essentially just filters, with no granular control over the effects.
Also, it is important to note that applying any changes will overwrite the original file.
SmugMug - Share, Display & Sell
(Image credit: future)
- Easy to create a professional e-commerce or portfolio website
SmugMug is more than just an online image hosting site. In slow motion in your library, go ahead and click +Create. This is how you create new galleries, new folders, and best of all, a fully customizable website builder to showcase your art.
This is more suitable for professional photographers looking to build or grow their online presence and following. But even basic subscribers can create their own photo site, though pro-style design and customization tools are included in the basic package.
This is a no-code setup, so you don't need to be a professional developer or designer to take full advantage of the tools here. Start by selecting a layout and theme that matches your style. We thought the themes were a bit basic, but there were enough to balance them out, and you can tweak them after selecting them for proper customization.
Once you're happy with how it looks, you can start dragging and dropping content areas into position on the page. This makes it very easy to put images, text, and videos on a site with a custom domain name. In fact, you can customize almost everything to make the website work for you, right down to the spacing between images. The results have a true professional polish.
For photographers looking to make money from their work, SmugMug also offers an impressive list of eCommerce sales tools that complement the website builder. You can easily set your own prices (or use a list of suggested prices provided by the site) and create coupons. On the admin side...