SmugMug vs Flickr: Comparison for Photographers

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When comparing SmugMug vs Flickr, it is generally true that SmugMug offers better features and value for money for photo storage, and also benefits from photo printing and gives you the ability to sell your photos online.

Although both SmugMug and Flickr were separate photo services for a long time, for the last few years they have been owned by the same company, after SmugMug bought out Flickr from Yahoo.

It used to be the case that there were far more differences between the two services, but no there is much more similarity, with Flickr essentially being a SmugMug-lite.

This article covers the key differences when deciding on the best site for photo storage, photo printing and selling your photos, between SmugMug or Flickr.

See the differences between the SmugMug Pro plan levels and how Flickr vs Flickr Pro compares.

SmugMug vs Flickr

SmugMug vs Flickr – Key Differences

Differences between SmugMug and Flickr
Photo Storage
  • Unlimited photo storage with all plans
  • Limited to 1000 files with the free plan; Unlimited with Pro
Supported File Types
  • Pretty much everything, including RAW files
  • JPG, PNG and GIF only for photos, plus video
Printing Your Own Photos
  • Wide range of printing options available
  • More limited printing options and quality
Others Printing Your Photos
  • Excellent eCommerce options, with varying price lists and high quality prints
  • Not possible
Ease of Setup
  • Can be up and running with a pro-level site in under an hour
  • Ready for upload pretty much instantly after signing up
Customization Options
  • Highly customizable designs for your portfolio, with plenty of templates for a quick start
  • Very limited design options – all Flickr accounts essentially look the same
Free Plan?
  • Only 14-day free trial – no permanently free plan
  • Free plan (with ads and storage limit) available
Overall Cost
  • From $59.99 per year for Flickr Pro
Ideal Use Case
  • SmugMug is perfect for building branded portfolio sites that you can direct users to to see your photography and hopefully buy gorgeous prints of your work.
  • Flickr is a community-oriented site useful for sharing your photos, and for free storage.

Is SmugMug or Flickr Better for Photo Storage?

SmugMug is the better choice overall for photo storage, as it allows you to store more photo file types, including RAW photos, and is slightly cheaper for its unlimited storage plan versus Flickr’s Pro plan.

Smugmug photo storage
Benefits of SmugMug’s RAW storage

Flickr has the advantage of offering a free plan that gives you the opportunity to store up to 1000 photos at no cost. This is a massive benefit if you are just looking for simple photo storage, but realistically you can only store your photos as JPGs, which is not good for long term backup.

Flickr also only offers photos to view at specific sizes, while SmugMug gives you greater range in the sizes, including full res, that you display on your site.

If you want unlimited storage, then SmugMug comes out on top, with a slightly cheaper yearly plan ($55 vs Flickr’s $60), and a much better experience for uploading.

You can set the SmugMug app to auto-upload new photos from both your phone and your desktop computer, and then use the app for further editing, although this is not as powerful as Lightroom and Photoshop.

Privacy is also a bigger issue with SmugMug, with it being much easier to control the sizes of photo that you display, even if you keep the full-sized image on their service. With the addition of optional watermarks, your photos are much better protected from theft, unlike on Flickr where the maximum size of image that you upload is always available.

With this automatic upload that integrates with Lightroom, privacy controls letting you password protect individual galleries, no compression on images and unlimited storage of JPGs and RAW files, SmugMug is the best online photo storage service.

Best Choice: SmugMug (with 15% off using this link!)

Unlimited Photo Storage

Flickr vs SmugMug for Printing Photos & eCommerce

If you are wanting to print your own photos and give others the opportunity to buy and print them, then SmugMug is again the best choice.

Although Flickr allows you to print your own photos, you cannot print them from anyone else’s photostream, and this means that you cannot sell your photos through Flickr.

SmugMug galleries let you set up password-protected galleries for friends, family or clients, who can then buy your photos through an easy to setup, professional-looking website, in multiple sizes and materials of photo, with prices set as you decide, with different price lists even possible on a gallery-by-gallery basis.

Customization options are excellent on SmugMug, with the templates making setting up a site very simple, and meaning that your site won’t look like everyone elses – a massive problem with Flickr.

Best Choice: SmugMug (with 15% off using this link!)

Smugmug prints
Examples of SmugMug’s wall art materials

Overall Comparison of SmugMug vs Flickr

Although Flickr has a free plan for photo storage, that is really the only major plus point of its service. It does offer some degree of community, with liking and sharing of images, but this has lessened over the years as most professional and semi-pro photographers have migrated to other services like 500px, which is now probably the top community-focused photography site.

SmugMug beats out Flickr both in pricing of its cheapest plan, and the overall user interface, which is just much cleaner and easier to use, with included templates meaning that you can create a unique site in just a few minutes.

For some examples of SmugMug created sites, take a look at the likes of Von Wong, Elena Shumilova and Elia Locardi.

Remember that if you are only looking for cheap photo storage, then the SmugMug Basic plan will easily cover you, but if you want to also sell your photos, or display them in a more professional way, you will have to go for either their Portfolio or Pro plans. These are more expensive, but you should be able to recoup the costs with your photo sales.

The current plan prices for SmugMug are below, but you can get 15% off, making SmugMug an even better deal, by following this link to start a free 14-day trial:

Smugmug pricing

Read More:

Compare the SmugMug Basic vs Power plan

Compare SmugMug vs 500px

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Follow Tim Daniels:

Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

4 Responses

  1. Jeff Badre
    | Reply

    Is there a way to migrate all our Flickr albums to SmugMug?

    • Tim Daniels
      | Reply

      You can associate your Flickr account with your SmugMug account within the account settings and then pull photos that you select individually into SmugMug, but I don’t think that there is a way to move the folders wholesale – you’ll have to recreate the folders in SmugMug then move the photos individually.
      There are some commerically available tools that will move albums (which you can find by Googling). I have not tried any though.
      For a free approach, there is some Python code on Github, but that is only really useful if you know what you are doing.

  2. TC
    | Reply

    Hello, looks like as of October 18th, the Basic plan is no longer available…

    • Tim Daniels
      | Reply

      Thanks for letting me know. I’ll check whether it is gone permanently and update this article.

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