SmugMug review (2024)

SmugMug gives your photos the platform they deserve while also offering sales functionality

Screenshots from the SmugMug website builder
(Image: © Paul Hatton / Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Creating my portfolio was no easy feat, but the end result – pretty satisfying! My photos took center stage, beautifully showcased with a fantastic slideshow feature that provided an immersive full-screen experience. The portfolio builder's commenting and sharing functionalities were like the icing on the cake, adding an extra layer of versatility to the whole setup. However, SmugMug stumbled a bit in the intuitive website creation department. Despite this hiccup, if your goal is to showcase and sell your work without unnecessary complications, you're unlikely to find much to complain about.

Pros

  • +

    Easy to use

  • +

    Sell prints immediately

  • +

    Images fully protected

  • +

    Unlimited photo uploads

Cons

  • -

    Cheaper options available

  • -

    Poor interface

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There are a number of different platforms that provide photo-sharing capabilities. These include Instagram, Behance, and even Unsplash. Alongside these options, the past few years have seen a significant rise in companies not only offering portfolio upload functionality but also the ability to generate a fully functioning website and marketplace. SmugMug and Format are two of the most popular options. 

At its core, SmugMug delivers a quick and easy way to showcase and sell your photos online. This platform is designed primarily for photographers, something that is evidenced by the ability to upload unlimited photos as well as sync photo libraries with Lightroom. The addition of a marketplace means photographers can easily link with printers to sell their work.

There is unfortunately no free version of SmugMug but the 14-day free trial gives you enough time to see if it'll deliver what you need. Our best website builders for photographers guide will help you compare and contrast all the big players in the market.

(Image credit: Paul Hatton / Digital Camera World)

SmugMug: Who is it for?

SmugMug has video capabilities but it's better suited towards photographers. Gallery functionality takes centre stage with the website side of things coming secondary. This platform is a place to store and present photos with the additional option to sell your work. 

Very similar to Format, SmugMug lacks the extended functionality that the likes of Squarespace and Wix offer. It is possible to go beyond photo galleries with tools to create customized pages but these tools are not particularly intuitive or enjoyable to use. Anyone wanting to go beyond creating galleries and selling prints would be better off with something like Squarespace. 

(Image credit: Paul Hatton / Digital Camera World)

SmugMug: Price

The most basic package is $18 per month and offers unlimited storage and easy-to-share galleries with professional photography website tools. If you want to make money by selling prints and digital copies of your work then you'll need the portfolio package. This jumps up to $37 per month and makes it more expensive than the equivalent Format package. 

SmugMug: Key Features

SmugMug offers all the basic functionality that you would expect from a portfolio builder. It is possible to upload photos, videos and generate web pages that contain both text and gallery content. 

(Image credit: Paul Hatton / Digital Camera World)

Storage - One of SmugMug's biggest selling points is its unlimited storage. I'm forever running out of space with Google Photos and it's annoying to either have to upgrade or delete old photos. I won't have any of those issues with this storage solution. The uploads are also original quality so no compression takes place. Links with popular applications such as Lightroom make this builder easy to slot into existing photography workflows.

Sharing - With your photos uploaded it is now possible to create galleries and present them using four different layout types. I really would like to have seen more layout options but unfortunately it's limited to four of the most basic options.

Sales - After your photos are ready to go, users can use SmugMug's sales tools to connect with printers and deliver physical prints of their work. Photographers wanting to make money from their work will find all the tools they need to do so. 

App - Creatives wanting a mobile workflow will enjoy the SmugMug app. Mobile photography is becoming increasingly popular amongst professionals and having an app to meet the demands of displaying, sharing and protecting photos is important.

(Image credit: Paul Hatton / Digital Camera World)

SmugMug: Design & Ease of Use

It's fairly easy to get started with SmugMug. Account opening is a breeze with package features easy to differentiate. Answering a few initial questions related to what I wanted to achieve set me on the right path. A specific theme was picked but unfortunately, I couldn't find out how to change this afterwards. I was able to adjust individual colors and fonts but couldn't change the overall theme all at once. 

There are also less than ten themes available, which is very limiting for a portfolio website builder. By way of comparison, Format offers over 75 different themes and they're easy to change at any time. The same is true for Squarespace.

(Image credit: Paul Hatton / Digital Camera World)

Having difficulty finding settings and knowing that the expected workflow wasn't isolated to just the theme. I found myself regularly stuck or unable to find the part of the builder that I needed for specific tasks. It wasn't possible to upload images or videos at the point of creating content blocks but instead, they had to be added to a gallery first. These workflow limitations made for a really frustrating creation process.

Adding individual content blocks to pages wasn't too tricky but the clunky interface meant it was far from enjoyable. 

SmugMug: Results

Even though it was really hard work to create my portfolio, my final website was relatively pleasing. My photos were nicely displayed and the slideshow feature made for a great full-screen experience. Commenting and sharing functionality extends the capabilities of this portfolio builder and demonstrates what it’s all about. The lack of intuitive website creation tools really let SmugMug down but for those wanting just to display and sell their work, there's unlikely to be many complaints.

(Image credit: Paul Hatton / Digital Camera World)

SmugMug Alternatives

SmugMug's main competitor will be Format. Its closest rival is considerably cheaper and provides a much nicer interface for building the website. Squarespace and Wix are far more comprehensive in terms of tools but are less specifically catered to photographers.

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Paul Hatton
Freelance tech writer

Paul is a digital expert. In the 20 years since he graduated with a first-class honours degree in Computer Science, Paul has been actively involved in a variety of different tech and creative industries that make him the go-to guy for reviews, opinion pieces, and featured articles. With a particular love of all things visual, including photography, videography, and 3D visualisation Paul is never far from a camera or other piece of tech that gets his creative juices going. You'll also find his writing in other places, including Creative Bloq, Digital Camera World, and 3D World Magazine.