Photo sharing websites

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Smugmug Review

Reviewer: Stephen Qualtrough
Developer: SmugMug, Inc
Overall rating:
Price: Visit website

Review summary

Good points

 Advertising free

 Stores full resolution photos

 Unlimited photo uploads

 Complete customization with Pro account

Bad points

 No free user accounts

 No video capability with the Basic account

Our verdict

A photo sharing website for the keen amateurs and professionals among us, whether that’s armchair professional or full-time pro. The tagline “your photos look better here” sums up the sleek, eye-catching style of this superior site.

Full review

SmugMug is a paid subscription photo sharing website that aims to give your pictures the professional touch. Unlike most other photo sharing websites it doesn't offer a free account, so considering its huge popularity there must be something going for this website. We've taken a closer look at SmugMug’s offerings and signed up to see if this photo sharing site is worth the money.

Sign up

You can set up a free trial without needing to enter your credit card details, but once your 14 day trial period is finished you'll need to sign up for a fully paid subscription. There are three seperate paid subscription plans that range from Basic ($40 per year) to Power ($60 per year) and Pro ($150 per year).


SumgMug enables you to easy share your best photos on Facebook and Twitter. You can also email them to a selection of friends and family. If you have an iPad, iPhone or Android you will be able to take advantage of the with apps and view your photos when you’re on the move. You can also add photos to your SmugMug site from Lightroom, Picasa, Aperture, iPhoto, and other programs.

Power and Pro users can embed videos anywhere – from forums to blogs and web pages using the site’s Flash player. Choose the size of your image to match the download destination.

Your photos don't need to be public. You can password protect your whole site or make your site private so friends can enter if they have the web address. We like the fact your friends don’t need to register or sign up themselves in order to see your photos. Pro users have the option to make certain galleries, like a client’s wedding photos, password-protected. You can un-list any gallery and send it instead to a client or group of friends via a URL. You can hide selected photos so only you are able to see them.


Photos - All accounts allow you to upload an unlimited number of photos - although you can't exceed 24MB for each one. You also get unlimited traffic and no advertising. All accounts offer you the chance to choose a personalized theme. There are fifty themes available - many designed for accassions like a wedding album or birth of a new baby.

Design - Premium account holders can completely change the look of their site. You can make the layout unique by removing the standard SmugMug header and adding a customized logo. Brand the site with your own logo, custom fonts, colors and images. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, you can pay to use a SmugMug approved external design firm for a more professional look and feel.

Video - When you want to share your wedding video, your underwater diving experience, or the funny moment you captured on your digital camera, you need a photo sharing website with video capability. On SmugMug with a Power or Pro account you take advantage of HD Video playback. Add any number of HD Video clips, lasting up to 10 minutes each.

Buy & sell - One of the best features of SmugMug is that you can not only buy prints, cards, photo books, framed prints, gifts and posters from the website but you can sell yours too. Your Basic account allows you to buy photo gifts from multiple vendors. With a Pro account, you set prices for your photos and make a profit. You can create promotional coupons and packages. You can set up event marketing and sell digital downloads. Pretty much everything a business needs – you can even let your clients design their own greeting cards.

Storage - Safe storage for your pictures is unlimited at SmugMug (you don’t risk losing your photos if you don’t buy prints), but you need to pay if you want to back-up files that aren’t JPG, GIF and PNG. Choose the SmugVault system powered by Amazon for 22 cents per gigabyte per month. If you’re a Pro account holder you can add custom watermarks to your photos to protect them before they are purchased.

Ease of use

The website is exceptionally clear and easy to navigate - infact we haven't found another photo sharing website that can match the excellent interface design. Changing themes is simple with just a few clicks if you have a Basic account. If you want to personalize your page further you'll need to upgrade your account. Then you'll be able to edit your own CSS, HTML and JavaScript. We found the instructions on how to customize your website are clear and easy to follow.

Help & support

SmugMug prides itself on being a friendly, personable business and they have definitely succeeded. If you want to submit an email inquiry you can do easily. Email is the best way to get your questions answered, but there is also a help desk which has a wide range of FAQs, forums, photography tips and a website status board to update you on how the website is running.


The tone of SmugMug is like chatting to an enthusiastic photographer friend who’s eager to share the latest developments and ideas with you. A family owned business that’s clearly passionate about photography, SmugMug could be the place for your prized pictures.

Looking for more photo sharing websites reviews?
See our side-by-side comparisons and in-depth reviews

1. Flickr
2. Smugmug
3. Photobucket
4. Fotki
5. dotPhoto