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creating photo albums on the web


  • there are many options for publishing you photos on the internet.
  • you can use online image galleries such as and where you may be able to have a free limited account to publish photos within the format and requirements of the chosen website
    • this type of publication has several big advantages:
      • you don't have to pay to have your own domain name, website and maintain it
      • your photos become part of that site's search engine and “latest” or “most favorite” photo galleries
      • you only need limited computer skills to be able to open an account and upload photos
      • other users can generally comment on your photos and provide critiques
    • but they also have some big disadvantages:
      • you are often limited in the size you can upload and display, as well as often having to pay annual fees for additional space on the site (ie. the number of photos is usually limited on free accounts)
      • you have restricted flexibility in how your photos are displayed and how they can link to other webpages of your own or others
      • you usually cannot create a shopping cart that YOU control for users to order prints of your images
      • your photos can get lost in the millions of images on those web sites
      • the websites agreement may mean that YOUR photos can be used by the website elsewhere and for other purposes, even commercial purposes.
  • you can create your OWN website and take full control of it
    • this is not as expensive or as hard as it may seem
      • you can register a domain name for as little as $20/yr these days and web hosting for as little as $60/yr for 500Mb space and 10Gb traffic - should be plenty for most people.
    • you will usually need to create some textual information on your website if you wish search engines such as Google to have any chance of finding it (if you don't want it found by these search engines, you can place a robots.txt file in the main folder on your website and indicate which folders and subfolders you do not want to be included by these search engines).
    • be aware that adult material is prohibited from being published on web servers located in certain countries such as Australia - contact your potential web host company regarding this if this is likely to be an issue.
    • most of the software needed is available as freeware for example:
      • image editing tools to post-process and optimise image size and compression for web display
        • Thumbs-Plus - not free but cheap and gives good control on saving jpegs for the web.
      • metadata editing tools:
        • ExifTool - Mac and Win versions (there is a standalone Windows version that does not need Perl to be installed)
        •  - batch edit function coming in version 1
      • photo album creation tools:
        • JAlbum and the many third party skins provides a nice and easy classy interface for end users as well as provide shopping cart for easy ordering of prints via PayPal.
      • website creation software:
        • MS Frontpage (not freeware but often available in your MS Office suite) - although many sites no longer support Frontpage extensions and Frontpage tends to add a lot of code to your web pages which not all browsers appreciate.
        • Nvu
      • FTP software to upload your files and manage the files on your website:

Purchase a web hosting account:

  • there are 2 things you need to do:
    • purchase a domain name
      • you will need to decide on a suitable name and then check if it has not already been taken - usually your potential web host will have a mechanism to search for you and for you to buy a 1-2yr lease of an available domain name
      • in Australia, you will generally need an ABN with a similar name if you wish to use a name, if you don't have an ABN for your photography in Australia, you can either use a name as I have done or use a .com name.
      • if you want to use a trading name, consider also registering that name as a Registered Trade Name otherwise someone else may register your domain name as a Trade Name and create confusion.
    • purchase a web hosting service
      • there are many web hosting companies, and these are usually 1-3year contracts
      • decide on which country you want it to be in, and what features you need (eg. do you really need MS Frontpage extensions or Windows functionality), how much space you are likely to need and how much bandwidth per month it will need (ie. how much data is allowed to be downloaded per month).
      • web hosting company will then send you details on how to upload your website with your user names and password to administer the website.

Create your web site on your local computer:

  • in Windows, usually you will create “website” in a sub-folder in the My Webs folder of My Documents
  • create sub-folders in a logical manner, for example:
    • “photos” where you will place your photos (perhaps make sub-folders for each category of photo)
    • “album” where your album software will create your web photo album
  • use your favourite web page editing program to create your main web pages such as:
    • homepage (index.htm or index.html) which is the default page a user will open when they open your website
      • place links on it to your album index page and other main pages such as contact.htm, search.htm, links.htm, about.htm, etc, and on each of these pages place a link to your main pages.
  • consider creating an image file displaying your email address rather than using text to minimise spam to your email address. 

Create a Paypal account if you want to sell prints via Paypal:

  • this is fairly easy, just go to and follow instructions, but you will need to link it to your credit card or bank account so transactions can be made.

Optimising your photos for web display:

  • apart from the usual post-processing to make your photos look good (contrast control, ensure horizon is level, etc), there are several other things worth considering before you create your web albums
  • choose image format and size:
    • the most popular format is jpg although a newer format png is used by some people
    • you the need to decide on what size you want:
      • although many users have computer screens with resolutions 1600×1200 or larger, it is safer to assume most users will be using more like 1024×768 or 1200×800, thus the largest dimensions should probably be 1000×700 and perhaps even smaller.
      • although many users have broadband, others will be on dial-up and thus you should consider compressing your files by using a jpeg compression level of 6-8 (about 60%) to give a small file size without creating artefacts in smooth areas from the compression (ie. use less compression if you have large areas of smooth gradations such as sky).
    • also assume that no matter what method you use to publish your photos, users will ALWAYS be able to have a way of downloading them - even if you disable right-click Save as options. If users can see your image they can download it. Thus if this is a concern then you have two main ways of “protecting” your images:
      • use a smaller image size or higher compression level than is useful for printing
      • embed a watermark or copyright notice onto the image
  • manage your metadata:
    • this is the textual information that is embedded in your image file but not visible on your image, there are several main formats:
      • EXIF - camera settings
      • IPTC - photographer's details and copyright
      • Maker Notes - proprietary notes
      • GPS - location data
      • ICC profile - colour management
      • XMP - Adobe's tagging format
      • JFIF - embedded thumbnail image
      • GeoTIFF - location data
    • most cameras add EXIF data into the images which contain information such as:
      • date, time image taken (if GPS module in camera then GPS location data may be embedded)
      • camera type & settings used
    • unfortunately some image editing programs lose this EXIF data during post-processing when saving to another file.
      • for example:
        • if you use Adobe Photoshop's Save For Web function, the EXIF data is removed, thus if you want the EXIF data, alter the image size first then use Save As function.
        • Adobe's DNG converter (convert proprietary RAW files to DNG) conserves standard EXIF information, but not proprietary information (the Maker Note).
        • exporting from Adobe Lightroom to Adobe Photoshop often loses EXIF data, try exporting in .psd format, then using PS to save as jpeg, although I have not checked this.
    • sometimes you don't want this data included and you may have to manually remove it.
    • sometimes you may wish to add extra data:
      • GPS data - see GPS for photos
      • word search tags that can be extracted by your album creation software
      • IPTC category tags that can be extracted by your album creation software and used to decide which images can be allocated special print options for your shopping cart system.
  • save the optimised photos to their appropriate folders in your website on YOUR computer:
    • in Windows, usually you will create “website” in a sub-folder in the My Webs folder of My Documents
    • under this sub-folder, create another folder such as “photos” and optionally create sub folders in this to help categorise your images so they end up in separate galleries in your web album, eg. “people”, “macro”, “holidays”, or whatever.
    • under this main sub-folder, I would create another folder to place your automatically created web album, so perhaps name it something like “album”.


Creating your web photo album for your own website:

  • my current favourite program is JAlbum, it's free, relatively easy to use, creates classy albums and allows many features such as ability for viewers to order prints via PayPal from you (you still have to respond to the email from PayPal, get the images printed and mail them out but much of this can be semi-automated by using online photo printers and uploading images to them for printing and then they can post directly to purchaser).
  • JAlbum has many options you can set as well as third party skins which provide a different user interface for the viewer and different functionalities.
  • there are versions for other operating systems such as Apple Mac.
  • don't forget to put your PayPal account into the shopping cart settings (or the XML file if using 3rd party skins such as Fotoplayer)


Upload your website:

  • most web editing software have a command “Publish to web” and you just enter the details provided by your web host including:
  • alternatively, you can do it in a more manual and controlled manner using FTP software such as Filezilla which will display the contents of your local website on your computer and the contents of your hosted website on the right side.
    • you can then usually drag and drop files or folders to the hosted website or vice versa.
    • you can delete files or folders, and create folders on your hosted website.
    • it's pretty easy once you have had a play with it.
    • NB. if using MS Frontpage Extensions in your website, you may have to use MS Frontpage to do all your publishing to avoid causing corruptions.
photo/webalbums.txt · Last modified: 2011/10/02 13:26 by gary

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