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Online Photo Galleries

The modern web is more focused on multimedia than ever, with the exploding popularity of video, podcasts, and more. The research shows that images get more social media shares, comments, and engagement in general than just plain text. With that in mind, it makes sense that photo gallery websites are more popular than ever.

Your Photo Gallery Website

Whether you’re a photographer who wants to create an online portfolio, an entrepreneur planning a niche image sharing site, or you just want to share your wedding album with your family and friends, creating your own website photo gallery is a professional way to share your images while maintaining control over the look of your gallery and the use of your images.

Sharing your photos on social media might be an easy way to send them to friends and family, but if you dig deep into their terms of service, you’ll find that by uploading your photos, you’re giving up a lot of control over how they’re used.

If you want to maintain control over your images but still share them online, creating your own photo gallery website is a great way to do that.

But creating your own image gallery is a little more involved than uploading them to your social media accounts. You have a lot of options to consider when it comes to what software you’ll use to display those photos on your site.

Popular Photo Gallery Software Applications

To create a photo gallery website, you can use specialized software called a CMS (content management system) to manage your website. Some popular photo gallery CMSes include:

  • Gallery: Gallery was one of the first open-source photo album organizer software applications. It has plenty of features like slideshows, zooming, keyword tagging, watermarks, comments, and the ability to enable your website visitors to upload their own images. Gallery is no longer actively maintained by the developers as of 2014, but it still has a very active community.
  • Coppermine: Coppermine Photo Gallery is another open-source photo gallery application. In contrast to Gallery, it’s aimed more towards developers or users with some coding knowledge who want to create a highly customized gallery, rather than casual users who want to quickly create a simple gallery.
  • 4images: 4images is also a powerful photo gallery application that can support large customized sites. It has many features including a comment system, password protection, user registration, and a template system for easy customization of your website’s look and layout.
  • Zenphoto: Zenphoto is an all-in-one multimedia CMS that you can use to share audio and video as well as photos. Zenphoto has a ton of features and is also extendable via a plugin system.
  • TinyWebGallery: TinyWebGallery is a free photo gallery website application that’s appropriate for both personal and business use. While it does use PHP like other photo gallery CMSes, it doesn’t use a database, but stores all your data in XML files.
  • Xpoze: Xpoze is a photo gallery application that’s geared towards stock photo websites, or others who want to sell their photos online. It has a batch upload feature that allows you to upload hundreds of files at a time, as well as many other advanced features that make it easy to manage a huge gallery website.

However, one of the most popular ways to display photo galleries on the modern web is by using WordPress, a popular blogging platform and content management system. WordPress is extendable with plugins, and there are many free and premium plugins available for adding photo galleries to your WordPress-run blog or website.

Which is right for you: a photo gallery CMS, or WordPress with a photo gallery plugin? It depends on your goals for your gallery, and what specific features you’re looking for.

If you only want a photo gallery, with no other content on your site, you might want to browse the photo gallery CMSes to find one that fits your needs. Look closely at the available features to find one that’s a good match for your gallery.

If you think you might expand your website to include a blog and other features, WordPress might be the better option for you. WordPress is a very popular CMS with a large community and many themes and plugins available, so you can easily customize your website and find support for any issues you encounter.

Finding the Right Photo Gallery Web Hosting

Once you decide on what software you’ll use to create your photo gallery, you can begin to search for a web hosting plan that supports that software. Most web hosts support the minimum requirements for WordPress, and many even specialize in the software or offer easy one-click installations.

If you've decided to use another photo gallery CMS, be sure to check that your chosen hosting plan supports the software's minimum requirements before you purchase.

Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an online photo gallery application?

    An online photo gallery for your website is a way to allow visitors to your page to browse and navigate through a collection of images that you choose to display. There are websites that offer a gallery as a service, but hosting your own means total control over what the user experiences.

  • How does an online photo gallery compare against social media?

    Social media allows users to share photos, but those photos are assigned to your profile, or to a group. The experience is totally owned by the social media site though, and very often, the company running the site will gain access to freely use and sell your photos through their terms of service. Running your own gallery protects your intellectual property and lets you define how your photos are experienced.

  • How does hosting my own photo gallery compare against using a hosting service?

    Sites like Flickr, PhotoBucket or DeviantArt are more open about intellectual property than a social network site, and are dedicated exclusively towards showing art. However, the look and feel of your page is not determined by you as a user other than a few minor tweaks. The advantage is that you don't need to pay for hosting (unless you elect premium service), but if you use your own web application you get control over the experience.

  • What is the difference between a photo gallery web application and a photo gallery plugin for a general CMS?

    A Photo Gallery is a specific type of Content Management System (CMS), the "generic" type generally has a focus on blogging, or some type of written content. Most general purpose CMS platforms like Wordpress or Joomla have the option to display photos in a gallery. You can either use the default gallery, or install a plugin that changes the way the gallery is shown. In some ways this allows more configuration than a dedicated photo gallery application. However, extra configuration means extra work, with a dedicated photo gallery application, setup should be faster.

  • What type of hosting do I need to run a photo gallery online?

    That depends on whether you have a specific gallery application in mind or not. However, most popular options are PHP and MySQL-based, which means that the vast majority of web hosts on the market will be able to provide you service. More than that, most quality web service providers will probably have one-click installs available for photo-sharing applications. Getting a photo gallery up and running can be very easy.

  • Can I use my photo gallery service as a way to sell stock images?

    Yes, but you need to pick the right one. Some dedicated photo-CMS platforms have plugins for eCommerce, or you could select an eCommerce platform and sell your images individually on there. However, there are potential solutions out there. There is a platform called "Photo Video Store Script" which is a CMS with modern themes dedicated to selling stock photographs. Other options are StockboxPhoto or Xpoze, but those do not have modern responsive display.

  • Do I need to know how to code to set up a gallery?

    That depends on the application you choose to use, but for the most part a photo CMS exists to make it easier to put up photos without doing any code or HTML. So NO, the majority of options out there don't require code to get started. However, becoming comfortable with at least Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) will allow you to change the look and feel of your page through color and font selections. Some tools might let you change the CSS without code, but knowing how to make those changes directly means greater control.

  • Do I need to be concerned about storage space?

    Maybe, some hosts offer unlimited storage space, but they still might have requirements about maximum individual file size. They also might increase your costs if you go over a certain amount, so be sure to read the fine print. This also depends on how many photos you want to share and at what resolution.

  • How do I figure out how much storage I'll need?

    Raw photos, and even super high-resolution compressed photos can take up a lot of data. A typical 8k (8000 pixel width) jpg photo will take up around 5 MB of storage, depending on the image quality used, while a PNG will take up closer to 20 MB per file. That means every 50 photographs at 8k is 1 GB. Just check the file size of your photographs on your computer and multiply it by the number of photos you expect to share. It is highly recommended that you scale down your image size for use on the web, but if you are selling your photographs, you will need to be able to provide protected links to the high resolution versions.

  • Do I need to be concerned about site bandwidth?

    Again, that depends on how high of a resolution your are going to use on your site, and how many photos will be shared. While most hosts provide unlimited storage, they often have tight regulation on bandwidth limits for certain cost criteria. If however, you are more concerned with download speed then you are with hosting costs, you might consider a host that comes bundled with a content delivery network (CDN). This means that a grid of global datacenters will work together and will transfer the image to the users computer from the datacenter with the fastest connection to the user.

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