Ask DN: How to build a photography site?

almost 7 years ago from , Designer & Front-end Developer

Hi, so my brother is an event photographer and he wants me to design and build his new site with his new branding and that he can update easily. His old site is pretty slow but functions alright. It was built using a WordPress template and the images do not load quickly.

His current site: http://www.jeremyblode.com

For his new site I am thinking of maybe using Jekyll (and maybe siteleaf) with a Flickr API so he can easily add images in high quality that load quickly and can be easily managed by him. It could be deployed on GitHub pages too for free.

I have made almost all my sites in Jekyll or Middleman and have a tiny amount of experience with Squarespace or WordPress but would they be better options for this site?

Thanks for your help and let me know if you need more info.


  • Nacho ToledoNacho Toledo, almost 7 years ago

    If I were you, I'd just stick with the current WP template and try to shave off whatever is making the site slow. I know how we always want to reimplement everything in the latest tech, but take it as an opportunity to learn performance.

    His site works alright, perhaps is already ranked on Google, he knows how to update it and use it. Also -and more importantly-, what considerable advantage could this entail for his (potential) customers?

    Think how you will benefit from a redesign and how your potential and current customers will benefit, and you'll come with a solution in no time. Then, measure the impact.

    Also: Koken, like suggested, is great. WordPress is great too for users. If used with Timber and ACF it's piece of cake to build a custom theme.

    7 points
  • Jimmy OfisiaJimmy Ofisia, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    I think you might want to check out Koken (demo), since it is geared toward photographers.

    3 points
  • Cristian MoiseiCristian Moisei, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    +1 for optimising images. The site itself has little to do with how fast images load. Try compressing them with a non-lossy program (so that no quality is lost) and you'll see how much faster they can get. On a mac I use JPEG Mini and ImageOptim (both non-lossy and pretty great). Not sure for windows or online solutions.

    1 point
  • Oleg Gorlachov, almost 7 years ago

    Like about Adobe Portfolio? https://www.myportfolio.com/

    1 point
    • Matthew Blode, almost 7 years ago

      What's your experience using it? And how is the Lightroom integration?

      0 points
      • Oleg Gorlachov, almost 7 years ago

        Don't use yet, but official site give info.

        Lightroom Photos: Easily access and import your photos from Lightroom with your Creative Cloud account.

        It's all Adobe products, that is why have a closed integration.

        0 points
  • Brad Oliver, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    If he's doing client work (for hire), why not consider something like SmugMug? It has all the portfolio, proofing, sales and printing tools built right in. It's responsive and customizable, and they manage the content delivery so an optimized version is quickly served. Plus if he's using Lightroom to manage/process his photos, then it's one click publishing/sync from Lightroom to SmugMug.

    I've used it for my photography work for years and while there are tradeoffs when compared to something I've designed or built myself, but the benefits far outweigh the tradeoffs as it offers many of the workflow tools professional photographers require.

    Another similar tool is Zenfolio, but I am partial to SmugMug.

    Good luck.

    1 point
  • Mikael StaerMikael Staer, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    Some good responses so far.

    I would also look at tweaking the current site first. Part of the problem seems to be the current design: it is simply listing all the images within a single category on one page - even if the images are well compressed, that's a lot of images to download! Maybe look at some further categorization/organization or at least add a lazy load plugin to the page.

    1 point
  • Rick Martin, almost 7 years ago

    This may be irrelevant if you're doing a full-blown CMS, but for photo essays, I've really enjoyed using Expose.

    1 point
  • Tony Jones, almost 7 years ago

    Optimize the existing site OR build a new site in Jekyll and host the images on an external service so they can add photos. Full CMS is way overkill. You can easily get pages to load in Jekyll under 800ms and use service worker for offline caching.

    1 point
    • Matthew Blode, almost 7 years ago

      Thanks for the helpful reply :) How would I go about using service worker? What features would I be implementing? Does this work for chrome or all browsers?

      0 points
      • Tony Jones, almost 7 years ago

        Service worker is supported in most major browsers. Full Supported List

        It's not difficult to setup, but I recommend using a pre-built solution like Web Starter Kit

        I have a simple marketing site that I am working on now that is made with Jekyll, Github pages, Gulp, service worker, etc. You can see the source code and get an understanding of my stack. Navigate around the site, then turn off your internet and navigate around again. Will still work offline and loads much faster. I haven't even optimized much yet.

        0 points
  • Lucian MarinLucian Marin, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    A PHP script that renders images from a directory using a nice designed template.

    I can share the code if you want. Here's photos.php showcased using EXIF date.

    1 point
  • iterati designiterati design, almost 7 years ago

    I always recommend Squarespace/Readymag/Semplice kind of services to my fellow photographers asking for advice regarding the web.

    The key here, in my view, is being able to update and change the site without accessing code or pinging the person who created the site (you). Then it's cheaper and better, you save a lot of time too.

    Existing site isn't that bad, you could look into optimizing it as well.

    1 point
  • Jared Pike, almost 7 years ago

    You could use Imgix to host the images.

    1 point
    • Matthew Blode, almost 7 years ago

      Imgix is awesome! Would hosting the images on an S3 bucket be fast enough? Or is there a better place to store the photos? And how could I make it super easy for my brother to add the photos?

      0 points
  • Nice ShoesNice Shoes, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    Squarepace. Does all the image resizing for you which will lighten the load. Plus it's a easy CSM for the photographer to manage, small learning curve.

    1 point
    • Matthew Blode, almost 7 years ago

      Squarespace sites always seem loaded with cruft and JavaScript and therefore sometimes slow/non performant. Could you elaborate on your experience with Squarespace in the past and also the client experience? Thanks a bunch! :)

      0 points
      • Nice ShoesNice Shoes, almost 7 years ago


        I worked with a photographer to create this site on SS


        I've never had any complaints in terms of loading etc.

        Works fine on 4G too. Can't comment on 3G.

        All the tools been mentioned on this thread (imgix etc) are great. It's a trade off between how much time you want to commit and how much you're willing to spend vs performance.

        For me, I felt SS was the best option. Easy to set up. Easy to maintain. Does a good job at image optimisation and a really easy learning curve for your client to take control of their own content.

        0 points
  • Nitin Tiwari, almost 7 years ago

    Hire a WordPerss developer and get a custom design designed and developed in WordPress. There are many fancy plugins that will help in showcasing the photographs flamboyantly.


    0 points