Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, or freelance writer, WordPress has all the tools you need to get your website up and running. You don’t even need the help of a professional web developer to create a visually-appealing site. All you need to do is the right idea, a brilliant theme, and a collection of plugins that will help you accomplish your goals.
For starters, it is one way to create your online portfolio, which can instantly boost your visibility and hire-ability — especially to forward-thinking clients who see the value in technological inclination.
It can also help you hone your craft by collecting feedback from an audience, reviewing your past works, and getting your hands dirty in the world of online promotions.
Without further ado, here are 15 of the best WordPress plugins you need to your photography site right now:
1. NextGEN Gallery
With WordPress, you can pick from a myriad of photography-centered themes that let you highlight your works in high definition. But with a gallery plugin like NextGEN Gallery, any theme can effectively highlight your photos in a way that’s intuitive and convenient for your visitors.
After installing and activating NextGEN Gallery, you can launch the plugin by clicking ‘Gallery’ from the WordPress dashboard. Alternatively, you can go to the post editor and click ‘Add Gallery’.
When creating new galleries, you can pick from different display types such as basic thumbnails, slideshow, compact album, image browser and so on. Each display type is fully customizable, so you should have no problem looking for a layout that will match your current theme.
2. Photo Gallery by WD
Photo Gallery by WD is an excellent alternative to NextGEN Gallery. It is fast, simple, and straightforward to use. Just go to the WordPress post editor and click the ‘Insert Photo Gallery’ button from the main toolbar.
The biggest advantage of Photo Gallery by WD over NextGEN Gallery is the single-page gallery creation window. All the options you can need ask for are available in a single location — thus, making the entire process a breeze.
Some of the plugin’s customization features include lightbox effects, social media integration, control buttons, and external advertisement links.
If the visual features of NextGEN Gallery and Photo Gallery by WD look too rigid or boring for your taste, then the next plugin you should try is FooGallery. Appearance-wise, it’s one of the most advanced gallery plugins you can use for WordPress. You can create a simple portfolio gallery with bite-sized image descriptions, compile your best works with the masonry layout, or leverage the unique “cube” gallery’s creative animation effect.
FooGallery also enables you to create albums that can lead your visitors to different collections. This is useful if you want to show off your versatility with various photography genres or techniques.
To start building your album, you’ll need an extension called “FooGallery Albums,” which should be available for free by going to ‘FooGallery’ > ‘Extensions’.
4. Instagram Feed WD
Instagram is one of the go-to social media platforms for photographers who want to spread their work. With Instagram Feed WD, you can easily import your Instagram photos into a WordPress gallery. Simply install the plugin, sign in to your Instagram account, and share your feed straight through the WordPress, post editor.
Instagram Feed WD allows a high degree of customization for your photo feeds. You can set up conditional filters, modify the loading effect, integrate hashtags, and more.
Using Instagram Feed WD also provides numerous marketing benefits to your photography brand. Thanks to the built-in follower counter and ‘Follow’ button, potential clients can gauge your influence, credibility, and ability in making an impact to a certain niche. Of course, this can also attract more followers to your Instagram account as you focus on promoting your WordPress site.
5. Meta Slider
If you prefer a full-width image slider to showcase your best shots, then you need to check out Meta Slider. While they may not be as interactive as full-fledged galleries, sliders are faster to load and offer a pure, distraction-free viewing experience to your audience.
As the most popular slider plugin regarding installations and ratings, Meta Slider has everything you can ever ask for. It is mobile responsive, comes with customizable themes, and has a simplistic interface that anyone can master in a matter of minutes.
Using Meta Slider, you can easily incorporate each slide image with a succinct description as well as the essential SEO elements, namely an “alt text” and “image title” text. For the general appearance of your slider, you can refer to the options in the right panel to adjust settings such as transition effects, navigation buttons, alignment, and so on.
6. Master Slider
In the age of mobile devices, you need to make sure your content is optimized for smartphones and tablets. Master Slider makes it possible for you to quickly create responsive sliders that are also well-suited for touch controls. You start by picking a “Starter,” which is a pre-built layout.
In the main editor, you can start importing your images into slides and then topping them off with rich text descriptions. You can also modify properties such as transition effects, slider dimensions, navigation controls, and color schemes. Thankfully, the plugin has a neat and well-organized layout, so it should be easy for you to know your way around.
7. Responsive Slider
Responsive Slider by Huge IT is a good alternative to Master Slider and Meta Slider. It offers a fluid and neatly presented interface that can help you build beautiful sliders in less than a minute. Just click ‘Add Image Slide’ to begin inserting your photographed works and filling in the necessary details.
To the right of the main editor, you can edit options such as the slider’s dimensions, position, transition speed, and loading icon. Scroll further down to receive the shortcode, which will enable you to embed your slider into any post or page easily.
The best thing about Responsive Slider, however, comes with the pro version. It allows you to use videos and rich text content as slides. This is useful for photographers and professionals who want to spice up their self-promotion and branding efforts.
8. WP Smush
As a photographer, you may want to share your photos in full resolution. Unfortunately, adding them to your WordPress site can dramatically increase its loading time. This will ruin the experience of visitors and put off potential clients.
A classic plugin amongst WordPress users who value performance — WP Smush is a one-click image optimizer that can compress the size of your images without compromising quality. Once installed, head to ‘Media’ > ‘WP Smush’ from your main dashboard to start optimizing or “smushing” your photos.
You can also use WP Smush to optimize newly-uploaded images automatically. Just scroll down to the “Settings” section to activate this feature. While you’re at it, you can also specify which image types are subject to future optimizations.
9. EWWW Image Optimizer
As effective as WP Smush is in optimizing images, it’s not exactly the most cost-effective option. For one, it imposes a “smushing limit” that skips files that are bigger than 1 megabyte. To remove this limit, you can either pay for the pro version or use EWWW Image Optimizer as an alternative.
Despite being free, EWWW Image Optimizer is surprisingly very easy to use. Just go to ‘Media’ > ‘Bulk Optimize’ to launch the optimization utility and click ‘Scan for unoptimized images’. If you’re curious as to how the plugin works, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘EWWW Image Optimizer’ to play around with its components under the hood.
10. W3 Total Cache
Enabling browser caching is another way to speed up page loading speed, especially for graphic heavy websites. It works by letting a web user’s browser save or “cache” the response of a site to HTTP requests — along with all the data sent. For example, if a user comes to your city photography album and completely loaded all the images, they no longer need to load the same images again on their next visit.
W3 Total Cache allows you to implement site-wide caching without writing a single line of code. It’s also equipped with several other tools for performance optimization, such as code minification, CDN integration, database caching, and so on.
The only drawback to this plugin is that it can be confusing to use for beginners, particularly those who have no clue on what each feature does. For more information on how to set up W3 Total Cache, you can refer to this step-by-step guide.
11. Image Watermark
Unless you willingly offer your onsite photos for free, then you need to use a plugin like Image Watermark to prevent them from unauthorized use. This can be done automatically or manually through your WordPress media library.
By going to ‘Settings’ > ‘Watermark,’ you can specify which images get watermarked by ticking the check boxes under “General Settings.” You can also change the watermark’s position as well as the watermark image. And for the further protection, you can also enable image protection to prohibit visitors from right-clicking or dragging and dropping them.
12. Enhanced Media Library
Organization is not one of the WordPress media library’s strong points. That’s why, as a photographer, you need a plugin like Enhanced Media Library to sort your images into categories.
Enhanced Media Library works by adding media category check boxes in the “Attachment Details” panel of your images. To create categories, go to ‘Media’ > ‘Media Categories’. You can then use these categories to search for content using the drop-down menu in the media library.
13. Yoast SEO
As a photographer, your on-page content will most likely be built around images rather than text. Yoast SEO not only ensures your images have proper meta data for indexability, but it also isolates all the on-page issues that affect your website’s rank-worthiness in search engines.
Don’t have a clue on what SEO means? Don’t worry — Yoast SEO will show you everything you need to do to optimize every single page and post on your site. Just scroll all the way down in the editor to see the plugin’s recommendations and your content’s SEO score.
Remember that, in the online world, nothing screams authority more than being on the first page of Google. This will supply your site with a consistent stream of organic traffic. Furthermore, it will significantly boost your credibility in your niche, particularly for tech-savvy clients who look for professionals online.
14. Pinterest Pin It Button
Apart from Instagram, Pinterest is another popular image sharing network that photographers leverage. As the name suggests, Pinterest Pin It Button lets you add a “re-pin” button in any of your pictures. It is a straightforward plugin that allows you to manage everything on a single page.
Once you have everything set, all your in-post images will be automatically embedded with a pin it button. Take note that a single share from one of your site visitors can bring hundreds of new clicks to your site — depending on their social media reach and the shareability of your images.
15. Contact Form 7
Simply put, adding your contact information to your header, footer, or anywhere else in your site is not enough to encourage prospects to contact you. That’s why adding a contact form is one of the absolute priorities of any WordPress site.
For this job, one of the most popular plugins you can use would be Contact Form 7 — a tool with a smooth learning curve but an incredibly high ceiling. It breaks down the form-building process into two simple steps. First, you need to go to ‘Contact’ > ‘Add New’ to launch the visual contact for the builder. This allows you to specify which fields to include, the email address you want to use, the default notification messages, and so on.
Once your contact form is saved, all that’s left to do is to insert your contact form to any post or page via shortcode. This can be obtained from the main form builder or by going to ‘Contact’ > ‘Contact Forms’ from the WordPress dashboard.
Take action, get started now!
As a photographer, the fact that images can slow your website down can be concerning. Even though you have optimization plugins like WP Smush and W3 Total Cache, having too many images loaded on a single page can lengthen page loading times and ruin the user experience. Take note that, aside from on-page content, your hosting provider also plays a role in site performance.
Christopher Jan Benitez is a professional freelance writer who provides small businesses with content that engages their audience and increases conversion. If you are looking for high-quality articles about anything related to digital marketing, then he's your guy! Feel free to say "hi" to him on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.