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WordPress Basics for Photographers: Part One
I am a big fan of WordPress. I love the ease of use, and the total attention to quality that the WordPress folks apply to the changes and updates to the core product.

I also love traditional websites and feel that they do have their place for photographers. But many photographers don’t want to have to learn any coding or programs like Dreamweaver and CoffeeCup. And that’s fine.

Sure, there are other content management tools like Joomla out there… but the interfaces and limitations that make them great for corporate and larger sites make them a bit of a problem for photographers.

The point of this workshop in four installments is to get you up and running on a gorgeous WP Theme and get your work to market.

Part ONE: Choosing a Template

Not all WordPress Themes are created equal. There are free themes, inexpensive themes and custom themes.

If this is your first site, let’s look at getting the right theme for you.

Free themes can be a great bargain. There are some really good ones out there, and I will list a few for you.

Caveats: No support on free themes, and there may not be any updates coming as WordPress keeps changing. That may not be problematic at all for you if you plan on changing themes every year or so.

Inexpensive Themes: (Less than $50). These usually come with support and are backed up by updates. When WP changes or updates a new theme item may be needed to be rewritten, or tweeked.

Custom Themes: We are not going to look at custom themes, as they can run from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.

The Themes

A Theme is a look and feel design that is overlaid on the WordPress base code. The theme is different than the content.

So if you change themes, you don’t lose your content. It just changes into looking like the new theme you have chosen.


WordPress began as a blogging tool. That means the latest post was on the home page, and the “posts” went in reverse hierarchical order. Last post in, first post up.

That was great for blogging, but we need a theme that is more like a website with a home page, additional pages, a portfolio and a blog built in. That is the type of Themes we will be looking at.

Installing WordPress

Most hosts have a “One Click” method for installing WordPress, or will let you know where the WordPress is running on your server. WordPress is NOT your website, it is the system of files and folders that will form the base of your website and allow you to manage your content with ease.

Check with your host for instructions on installing WordPress on your server. I use HostGator and GoDaddy for my servers. GoDaddy has a request form that you will fill out and they will install it and let you know that it has been installed. HostGator uses a tool called Fantastico that is about 2 clicks to installing WordPress and the installation is instantaneous. Other hosts may use different tools.

Choosing a Theme

This is where a lot of photographers get bogged down. There are a lot of choices to be made, and a lot of different theme tools that can be used to advantage – or get in the way – when you start down the road of getting your WordPress up.

Let’s look at what we need:

A “Home” page.

An “About” page.

A “Portfolio” page.

A “Contact” page.

Some “Projects” pages.

And some other assorted pages that you may want to use for your specific business – a “Fees” page, or a “Prints” page.

And we want to feature our photography right up front.

When you are looking for a theme that may be useful for you, consider looking for themes that have a very clean look… I prefer minimalistic designs, but you may prefer something more illustrative or with texture.

Responsive Themes: Are They Important.


And no.

I am currently working on my www.dongiannatti.com site and have chosen a responsive theme for it.

What does that mean? It means that the site will reconfigure for screens of different sizes and resolutions. While the new iPads have more than enough resolution to show a site full size, Android and iPhones do not. So instead of the normal thing that we have to do when browsing the internet on our phones… you know… pinching and making parts bigger so we can click and such.

The site will actually reconfigure to be more smart-phone friendly.

While that may be a big consideration for some folks (I am doing it for my design site, but Essentials for Photographers will not be responsive) it may not be for others.

We also have a few plugins that can do the same thing… stay tuned for more on plugins.

Choosing a Theme

When I am looking for a theme, I want to see how many choices are given to me, as well as how easy it would be to customize the site.

Some themes are cast in stone, and some are fairly open. I have some experience in code, but you may not. If you are looking for a theme to be used right out of the box, then the options should be easy for you to work with.

Ask yourself these questions;

1. What do I want to ‘say’ with my opening page?
Are you fun and full of personality, more formal in approach, or somewhere in between? Are you fashionable and ultra-stylish, or ‘Americana’ old world styled. Does your logo give you some ideas on what you are about… and how will that logo look with the style you are looking at?

2. What do you want the visitor to do?

3. Do you want to show “projects” or “stories” to entice the visitor?

4. Will you be blogging? And will you be showing recent blog posts on the home page somewhere?

5. Will this be a very interactive site – blog and portfolio and projects and ‘what’s new’ all wrapped up in there, or a simple “portfolio” site that has the bare amount of pages and a portfolio?

Note that there are no wrong answers and there will be no test later. Heh.


There are several ways to show your portfolio within WordPress. WordPress ships with a very nice gallery tool and there are many additional types that can be added as a plug in. Most are variations of the “Lightbox” type of gallery – click on an image and it gets larger in the middle of the screen – and they work very well. I like the way they show portfolios, but can be a bit limiting when it comes to ordering and re-ordering the images. But for a basic shooter, they work great.

Here it is in action at Project 52.

You can also use the elegant portfolio tool from SlideShowPro.net.

A few clicks and it is installed.

GalleryPro is another alternative (full disclosure, I am part owner in this).

You can see it in action here on E4P.

So choosing and having a specific look and feel for your portfolio is fairly easy to accomplish.


So here is our first assignment: Take a look at the themes that are out there.

Theme Trust.

Elegant Themes

Theme Forest


(I am an affiliate for some of these. Purchasing through these links helps support this site with no additional costs to you.)

So take a look and see what is out there.

Look for something that says “you” and that you feel will support your images.

Note: this is Part One.

In Part Two we will look at some specific tools and styles that will work best, so do NOT purchase anything yet. We will get to that after we do Part Two.


1. Begin with making a folder of your images for the portfolio. Do not worry about sizing them yet, we will do that when we know what size your theme is calling for.

2. Research “About Me” pages. What do you want to say about you… and yeah, every site has an about me page so get over it. You will need some biographical material as well as a photograph of you.

3. What will you want on your contact page? Will a map be a good addition? Will you want a form? Start planning how and in which manner you want people to contact you.

4. Take a few screen shots of themes you like. Be sure to name them with information that will allow you to find them again. It is important to see where things lay out when you are planning your theme.

5. Think about colors and textures… will they enhance or detract from your imagery? Will there be any challenges with your current logo? Will your logo work in the space provided by the theme designer?

OK – we are off on Part One.

Next Week will officially look at purchasing and installing the theme you like.

I am teaching a workshop tomorrow, April 5 at creativeLIVE. It runs through April 7. Hit www.creativeLIVE.com for more info and to check out the other great workshops they offer.
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april 2012 by L33Fly
Your ‘About Me’ page image: Make it part of your brand
Over at Project 52 we did an assignment to do a self portrait, or at least a portrait of ones self. An “About Me” page is such an important part of the website that it must be addressed in a professional and stylistic manner. Some statistics show that it is the most ‘hit’ page of the website.

Since the summer is a great time to get some things done, I am offering some links and a look at some of the shots we got for the Project 52 assignment. (For those of you who do not know, Project 52 is an ongoing 1-per-week assignment/critique site. Come on over and join in.)

As social media sites become more and more a part of our life, having an image of you that supports your ‘brand’ is important. Facebook Pages, Twitter backgrounds, About.Me pages, Blog Headers and Gravatars are all sites that make having an image of yourself important. And because we are photographers, that image should show a level of competence and style that helps us let our viewers know a bit more about us.

The shot I use for a lot of stuff was taken by Megan Abshire in Mexico. The class had decided they wanted to do a shot for Bill’s Rangefinder article. I grabbed a cigar and a chair and headed for the water. At the time I planted my self in the surf, it was swirling around me. By the time they got down with the lights and the booms and such, the tide had moved on out. And that worked pretty well.

To me it shows enough fun to get the message across (I am kind of a laid back, fun, politically incorrect kind of outspoken guy) and has a high level of interest and ‘brand’. It shows me as I like to see myself, and it represents me as being that kind of guy.

Take the time to create a shot that will tell your possible clients how you see yourself. And how important the imagery on your site is. Even a photography of you means doing the best job you can do. I rarely shoot self portraits, but would rather have someone else shoot it.

Your personal brand gets a lot of attention these days, and you should make sure your image presents it with the best possible solution.

How do you see yourself? What can you do to let people know a bit about you, your work and your style?

I wrote this post a few years ago, “It’s All About Me! Photographers ‘About Me’ Pages” – it has a lot of photographer’s about me pages to take a look at.

Here are some links to some galleries of “About Me” webpages. While they are not necessarily about photographers, the information is very much what we need to know.

Six Revisions has 30 Inspiring ‘about me’ pages.
“About me” pages have the ability to engage and inform your site visitors in a personal and friendly way. For web professionals, our “About me” page can be critical in establishing a true connection with potential clients, and it can set us apart from a sea of other designers and developers.”

Best Practices For Effective Design Of “About me” Pages at Smashing Magazine.

The Definitive Guide to About Me Pages at Web Design Ledger.

Showcase of Inspiring “About Me” Pages at Net Tuts.

Let’s take a look at some of the “About Me” portraits from the Project 52 members.

Wonderful feel and a whimsical approach to the image.

Chris looks intense, and the old film camera helps tell the story of craftsmanship that he brings to his imagery.

If you are going to do a camera shot, do it with this attention to style. Kyle brings a gritty look to a well known shot.

Nick’s avocation as a trucker was recently brought to a close. He is now a full time photographer.

Tucker presents a more ‘hip’ look with a bit of fun in his ‘about me’ photograph.

Eric brings a more formal approach to his image, which fits his target audience.

Charles presents a straight up shot for his consumer base.

Richard chose an interesting shot to create an image that showed his way of working with light.

Very moody, yet fun image of Perl_Monger. A very nice shot for an about me page.

Steve shows a great style and a bit of humor in his self portrait.

Kindred adds some warm, stylistic lighting to his portrait.

Rob D shows a very formal portrait in an informal environment. That is in keeping with his style.

A nice environmental by Pete.

A good about me photograph for your website is very important. These shots may give you a good idea for your photo.

As always, follow me on Twitter, learn more about the workshops, visit the Facebook page, or find out more About Me.
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july 2011 by L33Fly

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