How to cobble together a photography website
The thing is, I don’t know the first thing about building a website. I’m a photographer, not a web designer. I have had a web presence in one form or another for over a year now, though, and during that time I’ve sweated and struggled and googled myself half to death, to find the way to get all the pieces of my online identity all together in one home.
This is what too much googling does to my face.
There are all sorts of resources out there aimed squarely at me (and maybe you), so I thought it might be nice to share some of the hard-earned knowledge. My main criteria has been how to do it without spending too much money, but to look at least coherent and independent. Saying that, it is inevitable that you’re going to have to spend some money if you want a good and functional photography website. So that means online galleries and portfolios, ways for clients to access your images, and probably a blog that holds it all together.
My starting point was Photoshelter. I think I’ve mentioned them before, but the fact remains that they are simply awesome. There are different pricing structures depending on how much you need from the boundless options to choose from.
And man, is it easy to use. There’s all sorts of archiving, and gallery-ing, keywording, storing, sharing, embedding and slideshowing up for grabs. And working out how to do it all is just so easy in a drag-and-drop sort of way.
If you’re interested in seeing a bit more about what they have to offer, click on the Photoshelter badge at the bottom of this post, and you get an introductory discount. They’re offering, so I’m just passing it on!
Now, this is where it may start to get confusing. I really want to try to explain some of the hurdles that had me stumped along the way. It’s a bit boring though, it’s about hosting and domains and….well, I don’t really understand it still. The point is, I’ve worked out how to make it work for me without needing to understand too much, and surely that’s an achievement worth sharing. I will plow on.
When I first started using Photoshelter, all my stuff was sitting on www.cathytopping.photoshelter.com. This was a problem, because when I typed in www.cathytopping.com into my web-browser, I ended up in the online equivalent of no-man’s land. And www.cathytopping.photoshelter.com just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I’ve got a funny name already, it certainly doesn’t need complicating. And how are all my old boyfriends going to find me to see what I’m up to these days?
It was a bit tricky to work out how to do this, and in spite of what I’ve been kind of threatening, I won’t go into the technical details (mainly because I simply can’t remember). What I did was email the nice Help people at Photoshelter, and tell them what I wanted to do. I wasn’t the first (surprise!) and so they have an easy-to-follow instruction email complete with links to the exact page in your website that needs updating.
Technophobe note: it does involve going back to your domain registrar and working out what they’re talking about when they say “DNS” and “CNAME”, and copying and pasting some gobbledegook code in a few places. Don’t get blindsided with the technical terms, just keep asking for help. Actually, this post should just be entitled “How to email for help from the people smarter than me”.
What I ended up with was a front page portfolio sitting at www.cathytopping.com and lots of ready-made links to my galleries and blog, Client Area and About Me page (hello old boyfriends!). I was very happy and pleased with myself. For a while.
OK, this post is getting ridiculous. For the sake of all our sanities, I’m going to finish these thoughts in a second installment. I know, I know, bated breath and all that.
Here’s a monkey, wistfully waiting for the second installment to arrive, wherein I explain all about working out a proper WordPress blog and related dorky plugins.