Online Galleries and Photoblogs?

Greetings all,

Does anyone on the forum have any experience with blogging or creating websites to display photos? I have primarily used Facebook to create albums and share my photos with family and friends. As time has passed, though, many of my friends have left social media, and I cannot blame them. Facebook ads have become very intrusive and the content that is recommended to me on my feed has become more and more unsavory despite my attempts to block all the content I find objectionable. So now I am looking for alternatives to be able to share my nature photos without dealing with worst of humanity and the internet working its way into my feed using Facebook’s terrible algorithms. iNaturalist is great, but it’s not really for photos without an organism or for sharing photos for social purposes.

What services have you used to build a blog or a photo gallery? Was it easy to use? Did it cost money or are there recurring hosting costs, etc.? This is all new to me so any advice would be appreciated.

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In the past, I too used Facebook to share my images and thoughts, but I’ve become more and more disillusioned with the platform, to the point where I now post virtually nothing and use it almost exclusively to keep up with a number of well-administered nature-oriented groups which have retained some of the “community” feeling of the old FB. Apart from iNaturalist and this forum, I entrust my on-line presence to a Wordpress-based website which has followed me in various very different forms for the last couple of decades.
Wordpress takes a bit of getting used to, but its infinite flexibility makes it well worth the initial effort. With the right choice of theme and a minimum of intervention, you can have a simple blog or gallery up and running almost immediately. Then the bewilderingly vast choice of themes, site builders and plugins means the website can evolve with you in whatever direction you decide to take.
All this can be achieved without any cost at all, choosing from the many free themes and plugins available and hosting the site on the Wordpress platform (Wordpress.org). Or if you prefer, you can register your own domain and host the Wordpress site with one of the many hosting providers now available. The costs vary and it can seem a bit daunting at first, but many of these specialise in Wordpress and are there to help get things started.
Good luck with your new venture!

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Mine is still blogspot. Free. With a circle of bloggers who have been with me for years.

From https://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2015/01/we-have-moved-to-False-Bay.html

To https://eefalsebay.blogspot.com/2021/11/great-southern-bioblitz-october-2021-cape-town.html

And I link from blog to iNat, iNat to blog, both blog and iNat to relevant nature groups on FB.

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Thank you both for the suggestions.

@dianastuder I took a peek at your blog for an example. The format looks pretty simple, but viewing on mobile, the text doesn’t wrap very nicely. Are there options to make it mobile compatible? I’m pretty sure most of my friends/family would be visiting my site on a cell phone.

@lynkos I’ll have to give wordpress a try (at least get a feel for their creation process). Do you have a nature blog or follow any on wordpress that might be good examples of what you can make on the site?

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do you really plan to blog or maintain a website?

if you just want to share photos, there should be simpler ways to do that. each of the major OS companies offer ways to store and share files / image in their respective cloud services – Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, and there are other cloud storage services like Dropbox that allow you to share files / images, too. Many of these offer several GB in their free service tiers, and you can always pay for more, if you like.

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It is set to device responsive. I check the display on my laptop, for tablet and mobile, when I write each post. For mobile my pictures default to a standard size (and I have learnt to use fewer collages with less photos). Text fits? With sidebar and pages accessible via clicks. About a third of my readers are on mobile. I have had comments - I skim while commuting, then read on my laptop at home.

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If you only want to share your pictures, Instagram is another option. Or a Whatsapp group if it is a small group of friends / family.

A blog is a good option if you plan to write text as well. But it is clunky to make a blog accessible to non-bloggers. To set up a subscription service. I offer my FB page and also use Feedly - for my readers, and for my own (neglected for iNat IDs) reading list.

Writing a blog post takes me half a day, sorting the pictures another half. And you have to FEED social media. To find your readers. And to engage with your readers i.e. go and read and engage with their blogs in turn.

Do you have a FB page? If your readers are already there, that would be the simplest and best option. iNat and Great Southern Bioblitz and City Nature Challenge are also on FB.
https://www.facebook.com/people/Elephants-Eye/100063586116685/

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If you just want to share photos and don’t want the entire social media aspect, I really like Gurushots and ViewBug. Unfortunately ViewBug has a limit on uploads/week so I don’t use it as often, but I’m a curator there and still try to find time to interact with and support newbies.

Gurushots is good for building a portfolio even if you’re not interested in the competition aspect, but if you want exposure the competition aspect is really really good.

ViewBug has a dedicated website and portfolio builder as art of the subscription as well as a way to accept donations and photo gigs, but unfortunately they support NFTs and are very heavy on the “upgrade to get access to X feature.”

I agree with the wordpress idea if you just want to do something like blogging, but there can be some formatting issues and I’ve noticed it doesn’t like big files at all.

Wix is another good idea if you want your own website, it’s a free website builder and they have lots of templates for photographers so you don’t have to do any coding. If you do want to do coding, then Neocities is an easy to use HTML/CSS website builder that also helps get your site discovered by new people.

If you want to set up a premium subscription service, then Patreon or Ko-Fi would work.

Hope this helps! I’d be really interested in seeing your work!

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I don’t really want just a photo dump. Most of my pictures come from hiking trips, so being able to add some description and talk about where I was would be nice. I take a lot of photos, though, so I’d probably include the highlights with the story and relegate the rest to a gallery.

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I’m afraid I don’t have any real coding knowledge. I’ve heard of Wix before, so I may check that one out, too. I’m not necessarily interested in driving a lot of traffic to my page, though, and I’m not looking to monetize. It’s mostly just a project for me to waste time on and a way to share my adventures with friends and family (I live far away from all of them, otherwise I could just bring them with me).

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I have just the thing! https://neocities.org/ is a free website platform. You make an account, and then with a bit of html (easy to use, pm me if you do sign up and if you need some basic codes and I am more than happy to give them to you. html is easy once you learn it, but I honestly don’t mind providing a template if you need one :-) )

You could have your homepage, and then links for all your different ‘albums’. So if you wanted one for butterfly pics, one for images of your art, one for your cat, etc. that can easily be done. Neocities is free.

You could also use Pinterest, which makes your feed based on what you have viewed before and is for making ‘boards’ for your photos.

Hopefully these help!

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this is still possible with most of the services that i pointed to earlier. just for example, if you create a photo album in Google Photos, you can add section headers that can include long descriptions and locations, and then group your photos within those sections, like so:

in Dropbox, you can annotate each photo if you like. or if you need even more formatting options, you can use Dropbox Paper to add narratives, etc…

With Microsoft, if the basic OneDrive photo albums isn’t enough, you could use PowerPoint on the web for free to create a more structured presentation, and then share that.

these are just examples of what can be done. there are lots of ways to achieve what you’re talking about for free and with having to a platform that will feed you a ton of miscellaneous ads.

to me, the biggest thing is how you plan to notify your family and friends about your photos. if you don’t plan to share through a FB post, then are you planning to e-mail them, or something else? whatever that notification medium is, that’s probably another option to publishing your main narrative. for example, if you’re doing an e-mail blast, you could just put your main narrative in the e-mail and then link to the photo gallery.

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That’s a good question. It’ll probably just be an initial email directly from me after I get it set up. Ideally, though, whatever I use would have an option to subscribe so they get a notification whenever I put up something new so I don’t have to do the periodic email blasts myself.

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Sorry for the delay in replying, I’m just back from a few days in a mountain hut above 2060m without internet, an unusual experience for these times :roll_eyes: ! I have a website lynkos.net, but the latest version is mainly dedicated to photos. I did try and keep a blog (click on “Through other eyes”), but I’m afraid it’s woefully neglected, there just never seems to be enough time! Wordpress would seem to have all the characteristics you’re looking for, including a subscription feature that would automatically inform subscribers when you publish a new post and/or photos. Sounds to me like just what you’re looking for. Best of luck.

I have a question that is about photos and so am just sticking it here in hopes someone who knows the answer might see it.

If a photo exists on iNaturalist and one wants to post it on the forums, is there a way to do that without re-uploading it? So that it is not being hosted twice which seems unnecessarily and perhaps not cost considerate? If so, specifically how does one format one’s post?

I started using mastodon a while ago to post my favorite observation of each day: https://flipping.rocks/@elias I suppose it’s very similar to Instagram etc. but there is no ads or signup and can just share a link to a post in a text to my parents for example.

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A few years ago I would have said Tumblr, but from what I’ve heard it’s transmogrifying into some ad-focused monster mashup of what was formerly Twitter and TikTok, so I can no longer recommend it.

For web building I would maybe try Webflow as opposed to Wix as the latter has had extreme security breach issues in the past. Webflow operates on drop-and-drag principal so the knowledge you need of code should be minimal or next to none. I haven’t used it myself yet but it’s on my list once I get going with my artistic endeavors.

There’s also Google Sites which is available through a Google account, but I have no personal experience with that so I’m unable to offer any opinion. It is free up to a point and that’s all I’m aware of.

If you copy/paste the image itself, it will be automatically reuploaded by the forum. Using markdown or HTML to display the image will also result in it being reuploaded.

But you could copy/paste the link to the image instead, like this: https://inaturalist-open-data.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/306475035/original.jpeg

I’m not sure there’s a way to actually display the image without it being reuploaded.

(also feel free to use Forum Feedback for Qs like this!)

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