Bonus points if you can help me avoid looking like a Geocities site.
February 10, 2012 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I am an amateur photographer with 1) a subscription-based online portfolio, 2) a desire to take more control over my site, 3) a sense of reckless abandon, and 4) virtually no experience with, or understanding of, the inner workings of the modern internet. I'd like a really simple site on my domain to hold galleries of my images and a blog. Can I get there from here? How?

I have a Viewbook-based site using their standard templates that essentially looks like this one. My site is hosted by Viewbook, rather than on my own domain. Based on this thread, I plan on migrating to Webfaction. I'd like to move away from Viewbook, which costs me something like $200 a year--I want (and currently have) a very simple site, and there has to be some way for me to do this myself.

That said, the last time I built a website was in 1999 or 2000, when I pretty much coded everything by hand in Notepad and brute force kludged something together. I don't know how this stuff works anymore.

I have
--Lightroom 3 (which can create web galleries, though I've never actually tried it)
--CS 3 or 4 (with Dreamweaver)
--whatever you can install with Webfaction.

There's going to be lots of trial and error here (which I'm excited about!)--but can you point me in the right direction? I really don't know where to begin.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Wordpress? Webfaction has a one-click install, so that would be easy.

There are plenty of templates out there for you to pick from, and lots of gallery plug-ins you can use.
posted by pyjammy at 11:40 AM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

(one example of a theme is here. it's $89, but there are plenty of free themes out there too.)

(I know nothing about that one, I just googled "photography wordpress template")
posted by pyjammy at 11:43 AM on February 10, 2012

I'm currently on Webfaction and they are pretty great. The WP installer couldn't be more simple but setting up a domain and getting everything to work takes some work.

What you need to do is to find a Wordpress theme that's centered around photography. This shouldn't be a problem at all. You can find free themes at and commercial - really well designed, ones at ThemeForest.

Please do MefiMail me if you got questions about Webfaction or Wordpress.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:45 AM on February 10, 2012

Wordpress wouldn't be a bad way to start. If you want really easy, full markup control without coding around PHP, you might also try Textpattern. Webfaction will work with both. And having used both, I'd say that I wish I had started with Textpattern rather than Wordpress because of the unique approach to template markup. Wordpress does have a more active community and more plugins on offer, though.
posted by circular at 11:49 AM on February 10, 2012

I forgot to mention that you could start out by testing Tumblr and Posterous. What they lack in features they make up for in simplicity: they are hosted services so you don't need to worry about finding a hosting provider such as Webfaction. And they work with your custom domain too.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:50 AM on February 10, 2012

With the templates I've seen, Wordpress tends to be very blog-oriented for photographers and not portfolio-oriented. That means that rather than galleries, or a single image per page, you end up with multiple images in a long scrolling page, usually based on date.

Take a look at They have a very nice selection of portfolio theme templates and you can host your own domain with them for $50 per year. Their portfolio templates are also mobile-friendly. You could also try PixelPost, which has rally nice portfolio features, though development was abandoned a few years ago.
posted by cnc at 12:45 PM on February 10, 2012

I think you'd be almost crazy not to at least take a look at Wordpress. I'm currently in the process of helping my cousin, a painter, move his site from an old setup someone did for him that he's clueless about updating, to a new setup under Wordpress that will allow him to have complete control over the content without having to know coding and web design.

There are any number of themes with gallery and/or slideshow presentations already in them, and a whole slew of cool plug-ins for controlling how your images are shown. It's definitely doesn't have to look like a bunch of images running down a page.

I know pretty much diddly-squat coding wise, but what little I know, and a handful of Google searches, have been more than enough to tweak the theme he chose to look exactly how he wants it. Custom web-fonts, his own header, a new color scheme, etc. All in Wordpress, all with very little fuss. And it's definitely fun learning as you go along. Good luck!
posted by ronofthedead at 2:29 PM on February 10, 2012

This is my suggestion. Apparently, Kelby Training offers a limited number of free single-day passes to their site. Try to get one of those (or pay for one month...$25). Then, look up RC Concepcion's videos on Wordpress for Photographers. He will hold your hand through every step from, getting the domain name and hosting to Wordpress installation and theme selection (and along the way, you'll learn how to integrate Lightroom with an ftp program to help with uploads and updates).

Doing it this way, you'll pay for the domain name, host, and theme (if you want to buy don't have to) and you'll have a very simple and robust backend to make working on your blog easier.

Good luck!
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 3:38 PM on February 10, 2012

I would choose Wordpress over Tumblr, as a photographer.

The nature of the Tumblr beast is one of recursion and self-cannibalism. If your More Control imperative trumps your Reckless Abandon, and you prefer to curate your own collection instead of watching your work spreading through dozens of other people's Tumblrs, stay away.

Of course, if that sounds like fun, it is easy to set up.
posted by Sallyfur at 5:37 PM on February 10, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, all! This was very helpful. I think Wordpress is probably the way to go, maybe with Photocrati or PhotoPro (or similar, if anyone has any other suggestions). The Kelby training looks good too!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:51 AM on February 13, 2012

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