Building your Own Photo Website

Before you start

Many people now own a digital camera or have access to a scanner.
Quite convenient if you want to send your picture to your friends by mail.
However, wouldn’t it be nicer to have a place where you could simply direct your friends and family to view the pictures when they feel like it?
Or even better: to make new contacts with fellow photographers?

Nowadays, this is easily done.
However, there are some things you should decide before you start:

1.) Do you want your page to be public or only accessible to a few chosen people?
2.) Do you want to put some fixed galleries online or add individual photos regularly?
3.) Do you just need a gallery for a few shots or do you want a real homepage of your own?
4.) Do you plan to sell pictures at some point in the future (this would mean you need a reliable host that is almost always available.
5.) Are you prepared to pay for hosting or do you want to look for cost-free webspace. (This is possible)
6.) Are you looking for a nice, easy to implement out-of-the box design? Or do you want to spend the necessary time to program something yourself?
7.) How many visitors would come to your site? How many pictures do you want to present?

Depending on your answers, you could

  • get a gallery at an existing photo site. No need for programming. Simply upload your photos. Searching any major search engine for “free photo gallery”, you find many options.
  • design your own website with photo galleries. If it’s going to be big, you should seriously consider a database driven approach - this makes it much easier to add on to the site
  • get your own photolog. These work like diaries and you add individual photos regularly. Again, you can just grab an out-of-the box photolog at a big host, eg “Fotolog”, “Fotopages”, “Buzznet”, “Blogger” or install your own software and change the design to suit your needs.
    I have two photologs, a German one using a software called Movable Type and my English one using “Wordpress”. If you install a software of your own, you have to make sure beforehand that your webspace has the ability to support it.
  • Movable Type, for example, requires “PHP” and “CGI”, Wordpress “PHP” only.
    There are free hosters that offer these features and some commercial packages that don’t.
  • If you just want to share a few of your photos in a small website and are sure that you won’t need the above features, there are free hosting services (eg. Tripod, Geocities...) that make it very easy to design a site with little or no technical knowledge, using the templates in their site builders.
  • The most flexible option, of course, is a website of your own. If you decide that you need a big gallery and opt for a database-driven gallery software (eg. Coppermine), you should read the requirements carefully before selecting the host for your webspace.
    Very often, software producers will have a support forum where you can ask for a good host that offers all the required features.

Some more aspects: if you want to use your website commercially, you should consider getting a domain of your own. This is also quite handy if you first have your website on a free webspace and later decide to move to another place.
In this case, the domain address would stay the same - you just redirect it to another webspace. Domains are quite cheap nowadays and there are even some exotic countries that give away domains for free, such as “.tk” and “.vu”.

Planning a photo site
Designing a photo site
Promoting your photo pages on the web


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