This article is part 4 of this Creative Transmissions guide to launching a professional photography website. You can find part 1 here: How To Launch A Professional Photography Website With No Free Time.
It has been a little while since the last post in this series which explained how to choose the best photography website theme for your new website. The main reason for this is that the next topic – WordPress plugins is a big one so I have decided to split it over a few posts.
Now that we have a theme in place to handle the look of the website the next step is to installing some plugins which will give WordPress some extra feature which will make updating and managing your photography website a breeze.
Bulk Uploading and Publishing
Publishing your images on a WordPress based website is a multi-step process which can be time consuming when you are setting up your website in the beginning. The most common steps are:
- Upload a large number of images
- Watermark them to prevent unauthorized use
- Create a WordPress post for each image
- Set the image to be the featured image of the post so it shows up in slideshows
- Publish each post
WordPress has a great multi-file upload feature allowing you to select a whole folder full of images and drag and drop them into your media library as a batch, but this still leaves all the other steps to do.
Fortunately we can automate much of this work with a couple of essential WordPress plugins for photographers.
Automatic Featured Image Posts is a free WordPress plugin that creates a new post with a featured image every time an image is uploaded.
The plugin’s setting page gives you the option of setting the status of each new image post to Draft or Published.
Setting the status to Published will make the posts visible to your visitors immediately using the picture’s file name as a title.
I would suggest changing the title of each picture to something meaningful that your target audience is likely to search for. This will make your website easier to find for people searching the web.
Another useful setting is the ability to choose the post type for all uploaded images. Many themes have an “Image” post type or post format which displays the post with a focus on the featured image rather than the text. If this is the case with your theme you can set the Image format as default and don’t need to remember to change it with each upload.
Overall Automatic Featured Image Posts is an easy to use and well made plugin and an essential tool for all photography websites.
Watermarking You Photographs
If you plan to sell your photographs you will want to prevent visitors from simply downloading your images from your website and printing or using them for free.
The only way to do this effectively is to watermark your image. This is the practise of overlaying a logo, web address or phrase such as your business name on top of your digital image.
Some other methods of preventing downloading of images exist but do not work. They include:
- Displaying the image only though a Flash slideshow. This can be circumvented simply by taking a screenshot of the page and pasting it into a graphics program.
Semi-transparent watermarks work best as they do not obscure any part of the image while still making it clear that use of the image is unauthorized.
While setting up MacPherson Landscape Photography I spent almost a full day trying out different watermarking solutions. There are plenty of plugins but none seemed to do exactly what I wanted without having to pay for a premium version.
In my latest round of experimentation I found the Easy Watermark plugin can produce excellent results as long as it is configured correctly.
Easy Watermark will let you watermark photos individually in the Media Library or all photos on your website as a batch. You can also set it to watermark all images as they are uploaded, which is the really useful part.
The plugin has the option of typing in text to use as a watermark, using an image or using a combination of both. The text is a nice idea but has a big flaw in that it does not scale, so the text stays the same size regardless of the resolution of the image. This means high resolution images will make the watermark tiny and unreadable.
I recommend using the image watermark without text. Here are some tips to get the most from the plugin.
- Make sure to test your watermark on a single unpublished photograph before applying it to your whole website. There is no Undo option so the only way to restore your image to the original is to upload it again.
- Create your watermark image in a graphics program like Photoshop and give it a transparent background and opacity of 50 or less.
- Make the watermark high resolution, at least 1600 pixels across. This will make sure it is scaled down instead of up when applied to your images. Scaling the watermark up will make it appear rough and pixelated.
- Save in png format to ensure the transparency works on the web.
- Set Position to centre, Scaling Mode to “Fit To Width”, Offset to 0 and Scale to 25%. This will make sure the watermark is always centred and in proportion to the size of the photograph.
You should end up with an image something like the example picture at the top of this post.
The best thing is the above plugins work perfectly together so instead of the 5 step process above you can simply upload and then use the Quick Edit option to change your posts titles and publish them as required.
There are many more plugins that can be combined to make WordPress into a professional photography showcase and social media marketing system and I will be sharing more of these on the Creative Transmissions blog in the near future.
Until then just start uploading and you will find that seeing your photographs on your own professional website is a very rewarding experience.