howto-addphotos

Since most photographers I know want to spend as much time shooting as possible and as little time on everything else, I’ve put together this overview of some of the fastest and most beneficial ways to get your photos into your wordpress blog.

An Overview

Images and flash media such as videos and slideshows can be embedded into wordpress blog posts several ways. Each method has it’s own benefits, pitfalls and implied workflow. Here the pros and cons of several different methods…

Method #1 – WordPress Upload/Insert

wp_image_insert

This method is the wordpress default. It allows you to re-size, caption, link and embed a single image file (jpeg, gif, png, etc.) into a post by uploading it directly to your website or by pasting the image url from another website.

What it’s Good For

The built in wordpress media upload is great for single “one off” images or videos. It’s easy to use and a very flexible method for posting low resolution images that don’t need to be cataloged or archived.  All of the images in this post were inserted using this method.

What’s it’s Bad For

It’s bad for dealing with lots of images over time because you can’t control how the images are organized on the server. Worse yet, it doesn’t work well for high resolution files because they’re large in file size and will kill your bandwidth when someone downloads them.

Generally speaking images uploaded using this method should be resized to a web-friendly resolution and sharpened to taste before putting them on your server. This of course means that you might need to create a separate copy of the photos specifically to upload to wordpress. The more versions of a single photo you have to manage, the harder it is to stay organized.

Method #2 – Flickr

flickr

Flickr offers huge benefits over the wordpress default. This option requires an account with Flickr (free or the $25/yr pro version) and either a matching wordpress plugin like Flickr Manager or the know-how to copy the static image URL from flickr’s image pages (instructions below).

What it’s Good For

Unlike option #1, Flickr allows you to organize and import large groups of high resolution photos as sets of images or flash embedded slideshows. If you’ve taken the time to properly tag (keyword) your photos and organize them into sets, all of that hard work will carry over straight into wordpress.

The screenshot below shows that the photo title, tags and description that were attached to the image in Flickr have all carried over into wordpress. Having this text around your photo increases the likelihood of google indexing your photos which is in turn good for SEO.

In addition to being good for organization and SEO, flickr is also good for getting traffic from flickr’s huge community of photographers to your website. If you simply include a link to your site in the description of each image, there is a more-than-good chance that interested parties will click through for a look at your other work.

Flickr also automatically makes several web-friendly versions of your images from your original file (see screenshot below). So, if your blog can take one of the sizes they create, it means that you can skip that entire process in your workflow.

Unlike the wordpress default, hosting the images with flickr doesn’t use your website bandwith.

wp_flickr2

What’s it’s Bad For

Even though professional photographers can (and most certainly should) tap into Flickr for its vibrant community base, the service remains solidly consumer level.

Chief among its shortcomings for professional photographers are its lack of image licensing and file distribution systems – even though a portion of the Flickr archive is searchable by Getty, image buyers cannot go to flickr.com, find a photo and license it without contacting the photographer directly. Even if a license is agreed upon, Flickr doesn’t have a secure means of completing the sale.

Furthermore, I don’t see image buyers flocking to Flickr to license photos because searching for quality images is currently too difficult. For instance a search for “wedding dress” returns 130,664 results that contain mostly amateur snapshots from people’s weddings with a handful of professional grade stock photos buried like needles in a haystack. Many of the images don’t even contain a dress.

Flickr also has some systemic characteristics that make it difficult to use professionally:

  • No licensing system
  • No image delivery system
  • No customization. By default, images link back to your flickr page therefore removing your branding
  • No watermarking system. If you want to watermark the images on your blog, you need to watermark the high res file before uploading it to flickr, which completely negates using flickr as an off-site backup for your archive.
  • The dimensions of the web-friendly versions of your photos are locked which, depending on your blog layout, may prevent you from having the ideal image size.
  • Flickr renames your files. Yup, you read it correctly. A photo of a red tea rose with an seo-friendly file name of “red-tea-rose.jpg” would be renamed to something like this “4150384447_170b9a229b.jpg.”

Method #3 – PhotoShelter

photoshelter

Even though PhotoShelter has been around for years, the ability to pull photos from your PhotoShelter image archive directly into a wordpress post is brand new. The implementation is still a bit rough around the edges, but I think it’s currently the best way to connect your blog to your salable archive of images.

You’ll need a PhotoShelter account (free or paid) and a subscription to Graph Paper Press (to download the customized PhotoShelter plugin for wordpress). You can also copy and paste the links to the images directly into your blog, just like Flickr.

What it’s Good For

What you get by integrating PhotoShelter with your wordpress blog is a fast, professional-grade, and e-commerce enabled system that offers many efficiencies over importing your photos using the wordpress default, Flickr or any combination thereof.

PhotoShelter will automatically resize, watermark and sharpen your images for the web; add your copyright and contact information to the file, and embed “click-to-purchase” functionality into every image on your blog. The kicker is that it does all this without so much as touching your original high res.

To put it another way…

PhotoShelter allows viewers to license your photos or buy prints simply by clicking on an image. Better yet, the buyer sees your brand identity throughout the entire purchase process.

To put it yet another way…

I think it’s the mutt’s nuts.

Pros

  • Visitors can licensing photos or buy prints by clicking on single images or slideshows
  • Ever improving SEO Optimization.
  • Fairly fast for single images. Very fast for gallery slideshows
  • Photos retain your branding from click to purchase
  • Single upload. No additional copies of files
  • Resulting image retains copyright and contact information when download (also see cons)
  • Photos can be resized to any dimension.
  • Watermarking is automatic
  • Sharpening is automatic
  • Conversion to sRGB is automatic (?)
  • Does not use website bandwidth
  • Name of original file not changed
  • Photos and slideshows create rich backlinks to PhotoShelter archive, helping SEO

What’s it’s Bad For

Right now the PhotoShelter plugin for wordpress isn’t so much bad as it is unrefined. If beautiful plugins like Flickr Manager did not exist, I might not think the current version of the PhotoShelter plugin (v1.5) was an ugly clunker. But they do and it is.

I should also mention that installing the plugin reminded me of my childhood when I would read the system requirements on the bottom of the hottest new video game only to find out that my PC didn’t have enough memory.

If you’re like me, you don’t go shopping for a new web host every year to make sure you’re getting the most up to date features for the best price. Thus, since version 1.5 of the PhotoShelter plugin requires PHP5, CURL, WordPress 2.8.6 and CHMOD server access you’ll need to make absolutely sure your website host supports those features.

Despite getting low marks for looks, the plugin actually works really well.

Cons

  • Plugin works, but it’s not pretty (as of version 1.5)
  • Resulting image does not contain original title or description
  • Plugin requirements are very specific.
  • When looking for a specific image in your archive, the plugin currently only searches the filenames of your photos.

What’s the bottom line?

If you need to add seamless e-commerce to your blog images, the PhotoShelter + WordPress integration is a good way to go. I would even go so far as to say that you should consider switching webhosts if your current host does not meet the rather specific requirements of the plugin. Chances are, the profit made from your first blog sale will be more than enough to justify the time and effort.

Although I primarily switched to PhotoShelter for the e-commerce and SEO juice. The simple workflow has also saved me a boatload of time.

My Old Workflow

  1. Create a separate 600px copy of the image in Photoshop
  2. Sharpen the image with unsharp mask
  3. Watermark the image with a prerecorded action
  4. Save a copy of the new low res image to my hard drive
  5. Repeat steps 1-5 for each image using a batch action in Adobe Bridge
  6. Open Flickr Uploader. Upload batch of images to Flickr.
  7. Insert images into a new wordpress post using the Flickr Manager plugin

My New Workflow

After following the instructions to customize my PhotoShelter archive and installing the plugin, my workflow looks like this:

  1. Log into PhotoShelter account in Firefox. Upload images to Photoshelter
  2. Create a new Gallery from the upload
  3. Insert images into a new wordpress post using the PhotoShelter plugin

Head-to-Head Taste Test

One of the images below was lovingly sharpened and watermarked by hand before it was uploaded using my labor intensive Flickr workflow. The other image was resized and sharpened by some automatic process on the PhotoShelter server. Can you tell the difference?

Flyleaf Flyleaf_002_CMO4951.jpg

Click on the images for the answer.

Best Practices for Photographers

In an ideal world there would be one service for photographers that securely archived our images, was huge with social media, and made selling photos as easy as clicking a button. Of course, this service would also have to be free.

Since we work in the real world, a more diverse and strategic approach is needed to reap the same rewards.

Since it’s very clear that blogging is good for business, I currently recommend using a service like PhotoShelter to host your image archive, sell photos and provide the low resolution versions for your blog. Since the social media life of your photos needs to be tapped into as well, I would also recommend posting your a selection of your best images to flickr.

In the end, both your blog and your flickr photos should point to your image archive – this will be good for SEO and image sales.

The PhotoShelter Plugin

The screenshot below shows the results of an image search within version 1.5 of the PhotoShelter WordPress plugin. There are four image sizes to choose from. The default size is 500px wide. The other three image sizes are completely customizable (see PhotoShelter Plugin Options screenshot).

photoshelter2

The PhotoShelter Plugin Options Panel

photoshelter1

Other Methods?

Have a better way of posting photos or linking to your image archive? I’d love to hear it!

  1. Chris, I really appreciate the time & effort you put into teaching the rest of us how to take back a few hours of our day and making this journey into photography a bit easier.

    I’m still trying to nail down my {run into the mosh pit, take photo, photo correct, resize, watermark, flickr, blog, write-up} process into a well-oiled machine.

    Thanks for the heads up about Photoshelter. I will definitely be looking into it.

    • Hi Raul,

      Thanks for the comment. Definitely give PhotoShelter and your general Flickr workflow a close look.

      I know from personal experience that when I get home at midnight from a show the last thing I want to worry about is resizing, sharpening and watermarking my images.

      Even though I had all of those things taken care of by actions in Photoshop, it was still extra steps that took processing time and the metal energy to keep the extra versions of the photos organized. Not fun.

      Let me know if you have any questions as you move forward.

  2. Three Ways to Add Photos to Your WordPress Blog — http://bit.ly/6E4iDE

  3. Chris, do you think the linking back and forth you mention, say via flickr, may step on the TOS regarding the commercial-ness of sites?

    I have not overly worried about this despite random chatter, but wanted your take. I am a big fan of working sites to all roads lead back to each other…I do that now with all my social networking and personal sites…so it certainly makes sense…it just made me think of some chatter I read on this issue the other day…

    Well laid out post…you should really be their spokeperson! I take a look at Photoshelter every now and then, usually when I read some mention on it by your self;)

    • Hi Elisa,

      I know that Flickr TOS states that any image coming from their service should link back to the flickr page of that image, but I don’t think selling images violates it.

      After all, you can buy all sorts of crap made by Snapfish from each flickr photo page not to mention that flickr sells images through Getty for stock.

      Futhermore, from what I’ve read, there is nothing that says flickr users have to sell their images through Getty to the exclusion of any other method.

      Regarding Photoshelter – I’m a huge fan (as you know). They just make many of the tedious parts of getting my photos to market a lot easier. For the $300ish dollars I pay them per year, I get piece of mind, the ability to sell my photos to people I’ve never even met, and a whole lot more sleep.

      It’s funny that you mention that I should be their spokesperson as I actually did speak at events they’ve sponsored several times this year.

  4. Hi Chris,

    I use Flickrpress (http://atastypixel.com/blog/wordpress/plugins/flickrpress/) to pull photos into my WordPress blog. However, something changed recently in Flickrpress and now my portfolio images are blurred.

    Do you know of any pull-from-Flickr options that use a slideshow or (optional) Flash format? PhotoShelter looks great, but I don’t make enough photo income to justify the expense yet.

    • Hi Michael,

      Your flickrpress portfolio is blurred? That sounds odd. Can you post a link to an example?

      I don’t know of a good wordpress plugin that does a good job of pulling flickr slideshows into posts that doesn’t just look exactly like the regular flickr slideshow.

      I know several people who use who use this though — http://flickrslidr.com/

      Photoshelter does have a free account. Their slideshows are highly customizable. — http://www.photoshelter.com/tour/pricing

      • Chris,

        I appreciate you listing all these options. There is a lot to review and consider. I have been using Flickrpress to pull random photos from portfolio sets. For next year, I’d like to switch to a slideshow format that isn’t random. That way everyone sees the same photos, and I can control the display order.

        The front page of my site (http://www.lafleurphoto.com) has two columns using Flickrpress. Images are sharp when opened in the Lightbox, but the thumbnails recently became blurry.

        I think it’s interesting that FlickrSlidr can use tags in addition to sets. However, I might try the basic PhotoShelter and upgrade later, if it appears that I can make back the investment.

        • Hi Michael,

          Now that I know what you’re working with, I’m going to write you a longer reply directly, via email.

          • Hey Chris,

            I’ve been a busy photographer the past few months. The time has come to drop a new portfolio and website, a la PhotoShelter. Since you have been a helpful consultant, I’d like to make sure you get the referral credit. I see an affiliate link on Todd’s site; do you have one as well?

            Thanks,

            Michael

  5. RT @chrisowyoung: Three Ways to Add Photos to Your WordPress Blog — http://bit.ly/6E4iDE

  6. Great post! Very impressed with what you are saying about Photoshelter Chris.. shame it’s not fully functional in the UK (i.e. prints).

    The two low-res images are close, but I must say that the flickr one has a noticeable sparkle to it ;) Not worth the extra work on your part though I’m sure. Automation ftw!

    Like the new site by the way.

    -J.

    • Hi Jamie,

      I agree – the flickr image does have a little “sparkle” to it. I can also tell you that it’s not nearly enough of a difference to justify the workflow headache. I would argue that if they weren’t side-by-side, even I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

      Which companies do the best prints in the UK? That’s definitely worth an email to the PhotoShelter folks.

      • I use photobox quite often and they give a good service. Naturally there are hundreds out there, but inertia has forced me to stick with the status quo ;)

  7. When I started blogging in 2007 I used Flickr exclusively for image uploading. Earlier this year, I found I had less time for browsing and generally wasting time on Flickr, so started using what you’ve put here as method.

    As I’ve now just spent the last week setting up at Photoshelter, I should look into serving the images from there. I installed the plug-in from GPP but haven’t really done anything with it yet. I’ll give it a try for the next post I do.

    • Craig,

      Definitely give me a shout when you start getting into the GPP plugin stuff.

      My journey from Flickr to PhotoShelter was much the same. I simply found myself wasting too much time there when I should have been improving my work or marketing myself better. In the end, flickr is much more a community than a set of tools for photographers.

      What I need right now are good tools. PhotoShelter is the place that has them and will continue to have them for a long time.

  8. RT @chrisowyoung: Three Ways to Add Photos to Your WordPress Blog — http://bit.ly/6E4iDE

  9. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been trying to figure out which way to go with showing work on my GPP site.

    I’m liking some of the plugins like Shadowbox and NextGen for how they display the images so prominently. But I love the streamlined option that photoshelter gives you. I dont think you can do both at the same time. Well, you probably can in the code but thats not going to happen for me right. The simpler the better.

    Thanks for pointing out the process for the Photoshelter method.

    • Hi Roger,

      Thanks for stopping by. I don’t think you can get the shadowbox thing and the click-to-buy functionality all at once. I’m of the opinion that if an image buyer wants/likes the photo, it doesn’t matter if it pops up in a fancy shadowbox or not.

      Right now, I’m all about simple workflows and for my money GPP + PhotoShelter is it.

  10. Chris,

    “PhotoShelter allows viewers to license your photos or buy prints simply by clicking on an image”

    But this is not the case for the homepage slideshow. Can you not pull in the images from PS, with the link back to the eCommerce page for a direct sale?

    • Hi Rhys,

      The best way to enable sale for your homepage slideshow would be to omit the Graph Paper Press slideshow entirely and paste a PhotoShelter flash slideshow into the header.php file of your wordpress template. There are a bunch of photographers who have done this (sorry, I can’t remember any off the top of my head).

      Personally, I’m not interested in a sales enabled homepage slideshow as I don’t actually want people to click on those images – I want them to continue down to the most current content.

      Instead of putting specific images in front of people, I’m focusing most of my efforts on making it easier for image buyers to find the photo they came looking for in the first place.

      An image buyer probably ended up on my website because google told them I had what they are looking for. The point being that they ended up here because they are searching for a specific image:

      a) If I have what they are looking for, I need to make sure they can find it, buy it and download it as easily as possible.

      b) If I don’t have what they are looking for there’s really nothing I can about it. I simply need to make sure that the website looks good enough that they consider coming here directly the next time they need something.

      Does that make sense?

      Chris

      • Thanks for the suggestion on embedding the slideshow in the WordPress header, thats a good solution.

        • No Problem Rhys. Let me know if you would like help setting that up. The placement of the slideshow will vary depending on what wordpress template you’re using.

  11. Chris,

    This is an excellent summary of available options. I also looked at a number of different ways to insert images into my blog posts. I pretty much came to the same conclusion as you, which is to use Photoshelter’s features to embed images (I am not using the WordPress plugin, but the end result is the same.) The big selling points for me were:

    1. Only need to upload image once
    2. Watermarking carried over from Photoshelter (this also provides the ability to tweak a watermark and have it reflected in all the blog images with no additional work.)

    The one drawback that I have observed with the embedded Photoshelter images is that the flash images do not show up in RSS feeds in Google reader. My workaround is to embed a small thumbnail image at the start of each post which shows up in the feed.

    • Hi Clarence,

      You bring up two great points: Single Upload and Automatic Watermarking were two reasons I switched my workflow over to PhotoShelter as well.

      If I were you, I would definitely install Google Analytics to see how much of your website traffic is actually coming from people who are subscribed to your RSS feed. You may find out that it is not a significant amount enough to justify the extra work of embedding the thumbnail images.

      Personally, most of the people who are RSS subscribers of mind also follow me on twitter or facebook. So it’s likely that they’ll come to my new blog posts from one of those roads before they get it through RSS.

      I’ve found that having multiple roads to my new content is the best way to make sure people see it.

    • Hi Clarence,

      I just had a closer look at your blog. It seems to me that you could use the PhotoShelter wordpress plugin to generate both the thumbnails you need for your RSS feed and the slideshows. This would eliminate the need to make separate thumbnails (which I can imagine is a pain in the ass).

      It would of course mean that you would need to buy the plugin from GPP and make sure your server can handle it.

  12. Wow Chris…really nice breakdown. I’m a long-time Photoshelter user and have been thinking about using it for our blog posting for a while now. Up to this point, I’m using the wordpress uploader and Shadowbox JS to present galleries. Integration with Photoshelter would be ideal, but I agree with you on the overall quality of the plugin so far. I like presenting photos as slideshows and while PS offers nice customization of their galleries through the site, there is no way to get the same customization through wordpress. If you have any insight on how to make it happen, I’d love to hear it. Great photography by the way…just stumbled onto your site via the GPP support forum. Cheers, Andy

    • Hi Andy,

      Right now the plugin isn’t smart enough to pull your custom slideshow styles from PhotoShelter. I agree that it would be awesome if it did, but I’m fairly sure this would take a lot of tricky code to do.

      My solution was to edit the plugin file to closely match the style I like. Send me an email and I would be happy to help you do this.

      Best,

      Chris

  13. Another option would be to add a gallery plugin to WordPress. The most popular one seems to be NextGEN Gallery (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/nextgen-gallery/), which is the plugin I use for my online galleries.

    This gives you more control over the images than hosting your images on online services like Flickr, but you have to handle hosting of the images yourself.

    I haven’t looked into options for watermarking or sharpening in NextGEN Gallery, since I export my web images from Lightroom with watermarking and sharpening applied. Automatic resizing is supported.

    I might have seen some option about watermarking a while ago and since the plugin is open source, it should be possible to add imagemagick commands for sharpening during the import.

    Jonas

    • Hi Jonas,

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to look into this some more to give proper feedback. As a photographer, my main reservation with using wordpress to handle groups of images will always go back two things:

      1) Lack of organization (galleries, sets, collections)
      2) The need to create versions of my files specifically for blogging.

      • The NextGen Gallery works pretty well and has a watermark feature. You can use a semi transparent .gif and can achieve the same effect photoshop creates.

        I have to take lots of party photos for my position at Scene Boston Magazine and started to compile them into a site to share with party goers here. The layout is rough and the nav is ugly, but you can see the gallery in effect on a post page. http://www.jazzwashere.com

  14. The more I think about archiving and taking my work to the next level…the more I think I need to pony up and get on photoshelter to start reaping the rewards…dang this was a useful post.

    Hope things are good in NYC! Rock on!

    • Hey Keith,

      Keep in mind that PhotoShelter is just a tool. It’s a very powerful one, but it only works for you if you use it!

  15. Great post Chris, really informative…

    I’m so tempted to try it out, I currently use a wordpress theme and was thinking of upgrading to one of those on GPP, when you edit the website in photoshelter is everything customisable just as you would when you have your own wordpress theme? (same dashboard / plugin) layouts etc… if so I take it theres not much point paying for my current host server.

    Thanks

    oR-

    • Hi Oliver,

      PhotoShelter is not a complete website replacement. If you decide to go with a GPP plugin, photoshelter gives you the ability to seamlessly match the look of your photoshelter site with your GPP site. They are still hosted separately – you will still need your current web host!

  16. Roel

    Hi Chris,

    I agree that the Photoshelter option is great and I’ve tried it myself. One question though: how do you format your copyright watermark to look the way it does? When I link to a photo in PS, it just writes the copyright message from the EXIF data across the middle of the photo and I haven’t found where I can change this. I hope you can point me in the right direction.

    Listing the pro’s and cons makes this a worthwhile post.

    Cheers,
    Roel

  17. Thank you for the usefull information.

  18. I really liked your web article. I am molding a lecture, and I would love to use some of the information in this post in it. Is this fine? If so, I may also use a little of the info on my Internet Marketing blog, but I will definitely leave a source link to your post if I use any of your material. Anyway, I look forward to more of your great material and shoot me an email if I can help you at all.

  19. nice tips Chris.

    so fari i’d love use 1st way, to uploaded the photo’s with one by one..
    i use that way because the internet connection in Indonesia isn’t fast as other countries was..
    so when the speed slowing down, i’m stopping to upload it then continue to other homework..
    but still, how fast or how slow the internet connection in here is really unpredictable..

    keep up the great review Chris, can’t wait for the others

    regards from Indonesia

  20. How to add photos to a WordPress blog | New York Music Photographer Chris Owyoung : http://t.co/kCLQyZC via @addthis

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