Setting up and maintaining online photo galleries, aka “Frustration, Annoyance and Chaos”. As this is predominately a blog for my photography (photoblog), you would think I have a clue on how to best do this. You would be wrong.
I started this photoblog years ago, and things grew organically. By this I mean it just happened without any rhyme or reason. I started originally not grouping anything at all, which worked for a short time. Once I had posted a a lot of images I needed to do “something” which was breaking it out by location or activity. This is sort of how my photo gallery still is – by Country, City or event.
My online photo gallery is a mess and in need of a rethink & reboot.
Photo Gallery Plugins – Working with What You Have
Sometimes form is driven by function, and in this case the WordPress photo gallery plugin. I migrated to Envira Gallery some time ago and quite like the functionality it provides. What it doesn’t do for me is help me layout and organize the photo gallery. Yeah, I get it that no plugin could do that, but I am looking for best practices. Google, usually my friend, came up with nothing of value either.
All my searches for organizing online photo galleries and variants show pretty much the same links on tools to organize images on your computer. Not very helpful at all, unless you are looking for a new Digital Asset Management (DAM) Tool. (Yes – Another DAM(n) Tool). This leaves me on my own, looking at other photographer websites and thinking about the semantics of organization.
Envira Gallery Options for Organization?
So, as I mentioned above, sometimes Function drives Form. What does Envira provide by way of organization? As I see it, Envira is a large pile of photos that you can organize into Photo Galleries and Photo Albums. While a “gallery” is a collection of images, an “album” is a collection of galleries. This may not be 100% accurate in Envira, it’s close enough for government work. How does this help me? Before working out how to display a new online photo gallery rollout, first you need to think about what will be presented and in what groupings.
Using the Envira paradigms, I will probably create new location based ‘photo galleries’ and collect these within ‘albums’. I am thinking something along the lines of the image below. Blue boxes are Envira Albums, Green are Galleries. The Gold boxes are where I need to do some thinking and playing. I am going to hit the plugin’s documentation to figure out if nested albums are galleries are supported, and which is better for the use case. I tend to believe that the USA Album should contain the New York Gallery and a Pennsylvania Album, as “PA” will contain galleries for the Poconos and Philly. The problem is I am not sure the plugin can handle complex nesting.
After a great chat with the folks at Envia support team, I can have multiple photo galleries in an album, but an album cant exist in another album, nor can a gallery exist in a gallery. Time to go back to the drawing board.
Keepin’ it Simple Stupid
So how can I build out the structure above with the limitations on nesting containers? I could ‘fake it’ using WordPress Menus. Menus should be able to create the layout I am looking for, but may not provide the semantic correlation I want on the back end. I want to have searches for Philly Photos to return something like this in a breadcrumb: All Photos > USA > Pennsylvania > Philly > Image.jpg. I also wanted to allow users to browse through a USA Album that would show all photos across the galleries.
Thinking about the issue, I can get most of what I want (I hope). Using the USA branch I could create Pages in WordPress for each of the “albums” where there would be a sub-album and include that sub in the page. This would end up with a United States page, containing the New York Gallery and Pennsylvania Album embedded. This would support infinite nesting of galleries and albums, but could quickly become unwieldy so KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid). I am going to give it a try when I have some downtime and hope it works.
After I get through all that fun, there is another problem to solve. I already have galleries and they would all need to be moved and 301 redirects created for the old pages to the new pages. I can do this by hand, but I hope that the Yoast SEO plugin will handle most of them automagically.
Yes, I’m a bit nuts …
If you are still reading this, you are getting a look inside a fairly crazy mind and how it works. These little issues around the organization of my online photo galleries has been driving me nuts for a little while. Every time I would upload a new photo to a gallery it would torment me on how unruly it was becoming. I’ve been doodling things on napkins for a few weeks and now think I have a way forward.
Searching didn’t uncover any best practices out there for this, but if you have a link to any, or have suggestions please do post them in the comments below!