Several changes has happened in my life in the past few months. Time has come to share the joy of change with ConfusionArt. Any change is a gamble but I guess time has come to play this one. Ok, first of all this post might be interesting to you only if you are interested in making a portfolio based website, or if you are too attached to ConfusionArt (like me :), or else if you are one of those to whom everything seems interesting.
To begin with, I have felt the need to change the way I showcase my photos on this website. It was becoming too time consuming to add photos to www.confusionart.com/photoblog (PB) and then write a post about it linking the thumbnails from there on to this blog. Moreover, PB was meant for a-photo-a-day philosophy and as you might have noticed, my posting habits were quite different. So summarizing, there were problems with the existing photoblog (List A), although it addressed some other issues (List B),
- It was too time consuming to add photos to the photoblog.
- The photos were stored in low resolution. Lately I had started uploading 1200px pictures
- The whole idea of storing photos in my own database was risky.
- It was slow to retrieve the photos from my own database.
- The whole look and feel was of a blogger and not a semi-professional photographer.
- There was no way to show photos in a full screen mode.
- It was free to build and operate (I have a lifetime account with textdrive so dont have to pay for the space everyyear)
- Not much time was spent in customizing it.
- I have a good commenting system in place.
- Its integrated with confusionart blog.
So I started looking for alternatives for building a photography website. These were my options
- Stick to wordpress and look for a theme that solves the above problems, such as core, delight, etc.
- Start looking into professional photo hosting websites such as www.smugmug.com, www.zenfolio.com, www.500px.com, etc.
- Start looking into professional portfolio showcasing websites such as www.viewbook.com, www.carbonmade.com, etc.
- Look for content management system designed for the task of portfolio showcase such as www.indexhibit.org, staceyapp.com, etc.
- Or look for something else completely different.
All of the above solutions, except #5, had issues.
- #1 did not solve issues (A1, A3, A4) and partly (B2). I was okay with a small one time investment of $30.
- #2 did not solve issue (B1, B2)
- #3 did not solve issue (B1, B2)
- #4 did not solve issue (A1, A2, A3, B1, B2)
So basically after tying for a couple of months I was not able to come to a conclusion on what to do. For me the most important issue was the photo management. I do not want to manage storage, retrieval, resizing, thumbnail creation of my images. So basically I wanted to outsource my backend. Well an obvious solution was to use either Flickr or Picasa to manage my backend. The second most important issue was that I did not want to pay a monthly or yearly fee for the service. So although smugmug, zenfolio and the likes solved the backend problem they are quite expensive for the pro option. Flickr and Picasa again came to rescue, with Picasa taking the lead as I can store unlimited photos less than 2048 x 2048 pixels plus they also give free 1GB for bigger images. Enough for me for the next couple of years. So this became my #5 solution – to look for systems that can be integrated with Flickr/Picasa. I could not use them for the frontend as they do not allow much customization and have poor look and feel.
So thats what I was doing for the past month – looking for solutions to use Flickr and Picasa as the backend. There are a bunch of tools available out there that provide such an integration. They can be categorized into two categories. First, the ones that use wordpress as the front end – such as www.picasna.com, and others. Second, the ones that used jQuery to build a front end – such as galleria, supersized, etc (note that there are a bunch of other jQuery based fullscreen photo portfolio tools but they do not provide integration with Flickr/Picasa). So the problem with wordpress based solution was again look and feel, and I always felt wordpress to be a bit slow. This narrowed down my choice to using galleria or supersized. Of these, galleria supported both flickr and picasa, so I chose it. In short the combination of Picasa+Galleria seems to be an optimal solution. It solved almost all of the above issues, except (B3, B4) which I think I will be able to find a solution in some time. There is an active group of developers supporting Galleria.
This is my first attempt to showcase images from Rashmi’s wedding – http://confusionart.com/clients/rwa.html using the new solution. If you have been able to read this far, I would request you to please have a look and give some feedback as to what do you think about the solution. I still have to have a good commenting system in place, and think of ways to integrate it with confusionart. Also note that you will need to know some programming to install/integrate it (although I shall be happy to share the knowledge I got in the process of building it). Once build, its not much of a work updating the photos / adding new albums.