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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Your "private" photos on Smugmug (not!)
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01/29/2008 12:51:12 PM · #1
Are your "private" SmugMug photos really private?

01/29/2008 02:16:38 PM · #2
The more I deal with SM, the more I dislike them. Their privacy issues are horrendous, they never provide improvements in a timely manner (most requests wait YEARS before they're implemented), customization is a PITA, their anti-nudity rules are puritanical, and I'll likely move my stuff elsewhere at the end of this year.

Les, thanks for posting...
01/29/2008 02:21:13 PM · #3
Originally posted by rossbilly:

customization is a PITA


It is not that bad when you have Dgrin as a supplement.

Originally posted by rossbilly:

their anti-nudity rules are puritanical, and I'll likely move my stuff elsewhere at the end of this year.



I have yet to see proof of this. In fact when a "nude" search is performed I get this:

//www.smugmug.com/search/index.mg?searchWords=nude&searchType=global&x=0&y=0

I would think they would just like them password protected so just any 12 year old can't happen upon them.

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 14:25:15.
01/29/2008 02:39:45 PM · #4
Their policy states that the images can be removed if the nudity is 'more than what one could see in a museum', and there are several cases of people paying for SM, only to be kicked off due to certain forms of nudity. They are NOT clear about this policy before you sign up.

Customization SHOULD be easy for you, James... hell, you already knew how to DO half of that stuff before you even signed up (i think you said that, but i could be wrong?) You have to admit that lots of people here get referred to you, because they cannot figure out how to enhance their SM pages.

I hate those damned rolled-up prints they send; annoying as hell to flatten a product that should already be flat. They also take a huge cut of my profits (they charge the cost of the print, PLUS 15% OF MY PROFITS even after setting custom pricing).

The first year, they were kinda the only game in town. The second year, I figured I'd enjoy the referral bonuses. But I refuse to lead others into using a company / product that I no longer believe in. There used to be a 'use my smugmug coupon' link in my signature, and I've removed it. Does that say how much I dislike them?

(This post is NOT an attack against, or argument with, James ('rex'). He has always been friendly and helpful with anyone who asks for his help with SmugMug. This is just my feelings about smugmug & their services - nothing more.)

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 14:45:12.
01/29/2008 02:43:07 PM · #5
How big of an image did you order that had to be rolled up?

And as far as I have seen 15% is not bad. The only way out of that is print them yourself.

Yes I kinda knew some code before using them but if you want to customize there it is as easy as posting or searching a forum to quickly find your answer. But hey if you want to go somewhere else then I ain't begging you to stay. I just think it is rude for someone to post that doesn't have their facts straight.

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 14:44:51.
01/29/2008 02:45:52 PM · #6
what facts do I not have straight?

eta - anything bigger than 8x10 has been rolled up, and I've ordered PLENTY of them. well, I used to order them. Now I'm encouraging my customers to just order it from me (email / phone call) & I fulfill the order with other vendors. A LOT more profit in my pocket, and the prints look better.

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 14:48:32.
01/29/2008 02:49:53 PM · #7
Originally posted by rossbilly:

what facts do I not have straight?


I still can't locate anything about nudes.

And DPC won't allow you to post porn but I don't hear you bitchin about that.

The fact is that if you have porn shots you should either be hosting your own 18+ site or just keep them to yourself. Smugmug is a family oriented site just as DPC so I would think as long as you password protect nude photos they more than likely won't care.

I have pm'ed some mods there to see if they will post here to help answer questions and if I am wrong then I will deal with it. I just don't see why you HAVE to have a website host that will allow porn?

Adding that it is quite difficult to ship anything bigger than an 8X10 flat. In fact the big print I ordered from DPC (same print company as Smugmug) was rolled. I never expected them to ship a 16X20 flat and expect it not to get damaged.

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 15:12:59.
01/29/2008 02:56:44 PM · #8
Originally posted by rossbilly:

Their policy states that the images can be removed if the nudity is 'more than what one could see in a museum'
Surely that means there is no problem with nudity at all?
01/29/2008 03:01:09 PM · #9
Back to the task:

Here is a response

Hey Rex,

Thanks for the tip. Don has posted a blog entry rebutting the so called security issue and //blogs.smugmug.com/don/2008/01/28/your-private-photos-are-still-private/ has been updated to link to it. At this point, there's not much a post from us would do other than restate what Don's already said.

About the nudity issue: I happen to think we're pretty flexible. We get nudity reported to us all the time at the help desk. The standard response is to write the gallery owner and ask them to either a) remove the offensive material (generally only if it is downright porn) or b) put it in a passworded gallery so, as you said on dpchallenge, kids can't stumble across it. I am not aware of anyone having been kicked off because they posted nudity. It generally doesn't come to that. We write them, point to the terms, and ask them to please make it go away or to hide it. Every time I've seen this issue come up, the person says, whoa, sorry and hides it.


Thanks,



Message edited by author 2008-01-29 15:12:18.
01/29/2008 03:02:01 PM · #10
I still can't locate anything about nudes.
...and you just answered your own question. If a longtime user of their services can't even find the policies, what are the rest of us to do?


And DPC won't allow you to post porn but I don't hear you bitchin about that.

I wasn't bitching about DPC, and didn't plan to host porn anywhere, thanks. what are you pissed off about?

The fact is that if you have porn shots you should either be hosting your own 18+ site or just keep them to yourself. Smugmug is a family oriented site just as DPC so I would think as long as you password protect nude photos they more than likely won't care.

Nobody said anything about hosting porn, and I don't need a site to host any such images . No point in debating the whole 'DPC is a family site' bullshit either, since that horse has also been beaten to death. BUT since you brought it up, IF my clients wanted those type images, I would like to know I could store them securely with the company I received hosting from.

I have pm'ed Mike Lane and Andy to see if they will post here to help answer questions and if I am wrong then I will deal with it. I just don't see why you HAVE to have a website host that will allow porn?
Glad you'd like to welcome them - I'd love to see some improvements before I leave them.

Adding that it is quite difficult to ship anything bigger than an 8X10 flat. In fact the big print I ordered from DPC (same print company as Smugmug) was rolled. I never expected them to ship a 16X20 flat and expect it not to get damaged.
Most companies DO ship flat, and I don't have to uncurl anything - why is getting a better product that makes my job easier such a bad thing?

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 15:07:06.
01/29/2008 03:06:09 PM · #11
I just posted the pm.

If you have read the policy as you lead me to believe then why not post it for me?

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 15:12:33.
01/29/2008 03:06:13 PM · #12
Ummm ... Billy? 16x20s from DPC Prints come rolled up. And if I'm reading what you said right, then the equivalent here at DPC Prints is that they charges 50% of the profit above the cost of the print, not 15% as at SmugMug.

Now, I'm not big into selling prints, so maybe DPC's charges are higher than the norm. If that's the case, please do share where you get 'em for less.

Thanks!
01/29/2008 03:17:50 PM · #13
Actually, that's why I don't use DPC prints either - sorry, but you asked...

SmugMug allows users to set their own prices, but even after you pay them the cost of the print you have to pay an additional 15% of whatever price you set (AND the original cost of the print). In other words, I keep more of the profits by fulfilling the orders elsewhere (so that I ONLY pay for the cost of the prints & keep the 'markup' for our business).

I'm not sure what DPC prints charges to cut into profits (IF ANYTHING), so I'm not familiar with the 50% you mentioned (sorry).

As far as where I get the prints, I've made plenty of posts here about better quality & pricing found elsewhere... which is part of WHY I don't understand James' acting all pissed off with me: I thought we were all trying to help each other out here, and I was just trying to state what I've encountered with SmugMug, so that others don't get sucked in.

For prints:

MPIX
AdoramaPix
WHCC

I'm sure there are others that do a fine job - just be sure to use THEIR color profiles for the best results (as with any printing company).

Your welcome Jeffrey :D :) :D
01/29/2008 03:22:46 PM · #14
Originally posted by rex:

I just posted the pm.

If you have read the policy as you lead me to believe then why not post it for me?


'as you have led me to believe'??? wtf?

here's the link to THEIR policy, lest I type more untruths <sheesh>

SmugMug TOS

eta: my apologies to les, for the threadjack & 'other stuff'.

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 15:24:30.
01/29/2008 04:13:00 PM · #15
Back to the topic of private photos... as stated by smugmug, this is "expected" behavior.

I, for one, rely on the system working the way it is. I create these "private" folders all the time (I think I have about 800 now). I don't in any way expect that they are "secure". I only expect that people can't simply browse to them (by way of my home page) and find them. Meanwhile, I can hand out a URL to anyone I want (customers, parents of customers, friends of customers, etc), and they can easily get to the photos without having to also know a password.

To that end, it works perfectly. It lets me keep the images reasonably private (not secure, just private). While still sharing them with just about anyone who wants/needs to see them.

If they were to suddenly make the folders 100% private (requiring a password or something to get to them), it would be a major inconvenience for me and my customers.

So I vote they keep things exactly the way they are. If they want to add "more" security, that's fine. But don't change the existing security or they will break things.

01/29/2008 04:58:51 PM · #16
Hi folks, I'm from SmugMug.

We're really glad this issue was brought up, as it's caused us to think and review a few things. If you don't mind, for those interested, to follow along in our CEO's Blog, because Don's said it all much better than I can here. We've already made a few changes! And we'll do some more. They key here is the definition of "private" and what that actually means. We offer loads of security options, and our customers have told us that they like to choose what and how much privacy they implement - but maybe, this is telling us we should educate more? We're looking at that.

//www.smugmug.com/help/private-search-island
//www.smugmug.com/help/private-albums
//www.smugmug.com/help/private-photo-storage

@dwterry - we'd not make any folders passworded or anything like that, for you - it's always an option that you choose :)

@Nikon D200 - yeah, images over 10" on the long side are rolled up. I wish we could have it another way, but we can't & don't. It's not possible with our lab. Very few folks have had issues unrolling and flattening, vs the other problems we used to see with bent prints when they were shipped flat. That said, I'd love to ship them the way Mpix does :) I continue to work with our print lab on looking at improvements.

Re: nudity - yeah we're family & children safe. With 250,000,000 + images there for sure are some that probably don't fit that. If we find them or are directed to them, we'll ask for compliance. Most folks who shoot glamour or nudes tend to put them in passworded galleries, kept out of google and SmugMug search, and so are only used between photographer and client, and they're all quite happy :)

Re: innovation - I'll challenge you there, with our High Def Video, stretchy galleries, Private SmugIslands, Hidden Photos and more, in our release notes.

I hope this all helps! I'm heading out for PMA and won't get much time to check in here, but if anyone has any questions, we'd love to hear from you!
01/29/2008 05:50:05 PM · #17
if you're a professional or want a professional service, check out exposure manager. if you want to know more, pm me. they aren't the be-all-end-all and they aren't perfect, but i'm making a lot more money there with a lot less hassle--and, most importantly, they treat my customers as MY CUSTOMERS. i get names, addresses, phone numbers and my customers never get anything that says they've been dealing with a company called exposure manager...
01/29/2008 06:00:09 PM · #18
Sounds like a case of "horses for courses." SM has been a good place for me to share with family & friends, and there are plenty of folks using SM for their professional web presence, but certainly there are folks who's needs won't be met there.
There are things that I would really like to see there, like the ability to nest galleries, but they are sooo much better than, for instance, Pbase that it isn't even funny.

ETA: I also wanted to say that, like ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' dwterry, I find that the "Private" function works as I'd expect it to. I personally password protect all my family galleries, though.

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 18:04:45.
01/29/2008 06:09:01 PM · #19
Originally posted by dwterry:

Back to the topic of private photos... as stated by smugmug, this is "expected" behavior.

I, for one, rely on the system working the way it is. I create these "private" folders all the time (I think I have about 800 now). I don't in any way expect that they are "secure". I only expect that people can't simply browse to them (by way of my home page) and find them. Meanwhile, I can hand out a URL to anyone I want (customers, parents of customers, friends of customers, etc), and they can easily get to the photos without having to also know a password.

To that end, it works perfectly. It lets me keep the images reasonably private (not secure, just private). While still sharing them with just about anyone who wants/needs to see them.

If they were to suddenly make the folders 100% private (requiring a password or something to get to them), it would be a major inconvenience for me and my customers.

So I vote they keep things exactly the way they are. If they want to add "more" security, that's fine. But don't change the existing security or they will break things.


I agree with you 100%, no complaints from me at all with Smugmug, I love them :-) ...............Thanks for clearing thing up here Andy_from_smugmug for others whom dont really understand

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 18:11:21.
01/29/2008 06:09:54 PM · #20
FIRST and foremost, let me say that ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31_N.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31_N.gif', '/') + 1) . ' awilliamsny aka 'Andy', does one HELL of a job to keep people happy (WITHIN THE POWERS AUTHORIZED HIM BY SMUGMUG) I have personally received help from him, on more than one occasion, and was very happy with it. But DAMN, the guy is there number one guru, and even HE wishes they shipped differently!

There are plenty of threads on their own forums [ DGRIN ](and all over the web), that blatantly state the incredibly slow response times in providing the features requested. The major one being that there is no easy solution for order self-fulfillment by the photographer. While they seem to be nice enough people, that has nothing to do with how I need to operate my business, and the <numerous> features & benefits requested of them..... that they constantly ignore.

Look, I really do GET it; they make a fortune off each photographer's profit levels... but that IS the problem.

I don't recall anyone here stating that they never made upgrades to available 'features'. As to the 'challenge' above, adding video storage is far less important to me as a photographer, but I suppose they know their own market. What I said was that they are not the best at providing the features requested of them (repeatedly, for LONG periods of time), and I can no longer recommend them to others in good conscience - too many other choices out there.

Should they make improvements that actually help MY sales & profits before my subscription ends in October (instead of only helping their bottom line), I'll happily reconsider.

eta - thank you skip; it IS a problem not having the customer's information!!! MAJOR point!

Message edited by author 2008-01-29 18:14:28.
01/29/2008 06:18:04 PM · #21
Originally posted by rossbilly:

...and I can no longer recommend them to others in good conscience - too many other choices out there.


That's the kind of blanket statement that gets people's dander up. What's right for you may very well not be right for me. You should recommend (or not) based on the needs of the person you are recommending to.

Originally posted by rossbilly:

Should they make improvements that actually help MY sales & profits before my subscription ends in October (instead of only helping their bottom line), I'll happily reconsider.


So they charge 15% of your markup... what do you think is fair? If you host photos there, and then fulfill orders yourself, how does SM stay in business? Would you rather your customers have to look at ads that support SM? I think not. I'm not judging whether 15% is fair or competitive, the marketplace will do that.

01/29/2008 06:25:33 PM · #22
Originally posted by Skip:

if you're a professional or want a professional service, check out exposure manager. if you want to know more, pm me. they aren't the be-all-end-all and they aren't perfect, but i'm making a lot more money there with a lot less hassle--and, most importantly, they treat my customers as MY CUSTOMERS. i get names, addresses, phone numbers and my customers never get anything that says they've been dealing with a company called exposure manager...


That looks real nice skip!! Thank you... may check that out...
01/29/2008 06:44:09 PM · #23
the basic problem is that sm started out as a photo sharing site with printing, then bolted on professional services as a very poorly implemented afterthought. yeah, i said poorly. it is a slam. if you're not into photography professionally, it really doesn't matter. if you're into it professionally, sm is just not the place to be.

just for comparison, exposure manager charges a 10% commission and offers self-fulfillment. i also don't have to upload huge (or even large files) to be able to offer any and every product. i could go on and on, but i've got to run out to a job. i'll just say if the business side of things really matter to you, smugmug is not the place to be.
01/29/2008 07:11:25 PM · #24
Originally posted by rex:


And DPC won't allow you to post porn but I don't hear you bitchin about that.


Actually DPC is quite liberal when it comes to non-challenge, portfolio images, allowing photos that would get you kicked off of SM, for example non-in-your-face genitalia. Add to that, DPC is only $25/year and ummm, well, there is a reason he's not bitchin' :-D
01/29/2008 07:42:40 PM · #25
Originally posted by Skip:

the basic problem is that sm started out as a photo sharing site with printing, then bolted on professional services as a very poorly implemented afterthought. yeah, i said poorly. it is a slam. if you're not into photography professionally, it really doesn't matter. if you're into it professionally, sm is just not the place to be.

just for comparison, exposure manager charges a 10% commission and offers self-fulfillment. i also don't have to upload huge (or even large files) to be able to offer any and every product. i could go on and on, but i've got to run out to a job. i'll just say if the business side of things really matter to you, smugmug is not the place to be.


I just checked & it looks great, Skip. Do you only do self-fulfillment, or have you ordered their prints as well? I'm wondering if you/your clients are happy with the print quality.
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