My Photo Galleries

So, I have this dilemma about the photo galleries I have on my site, and what to do with them going forward. I’ve had them ever since I got a digital camera in 1999, and since then they’ve been a major feature of my site, although it’s one I never managed particularly well.
My Big Things Photos especially have generated a lot of attention; I’ve been recognized on the local news and in several local papers because of them, as well as getting lots of traffic.
However. I’ve been building my photo gallery pages by hand since I started, and it’s an incredibly tedious process, even though I’ve built templates and tried to make it as simple as possible. There are lots of events I took pictures of and should have displayed, but I just never got around to building the pages and the photos are sitting on my external hard drive or in iPhoto.
Another part of the problem is that I’ve built the existing galleries in different ways in the past, and I’ve refined my methods over time, so older galleries need to be redone to streamline the code and to make them web standards compliant. On top of that, I hate the design of my galleries, and although I’ve played with it, I haven’t found a look that seems as polished and professional as I think it should be.
And then there are the photos of my house. I always had a different method of displaying them, because they are such a specialized thing. Since I’m restoring an old Victorian, I wanted to show the different areas of the house and how I worked on them over time. Unfortunately, when Stephanie and I started dating, we had a creepy stalker who apparently used the pictures of my house to locate us, which was so terrifying that I removed them from my site. The whole experience really colored the way I feel about pictures of my house, and about my house in general, honestly. I used to love every nail and board in the old girl, but the event really killed my enthusiasm and my sense of security. There are several major projects that I’ve worked on (patio installation, exterior work, and this weekend’s fireplace mantel installation) that I’ve not documented like I would have in the past.
I want to put the pictures back up, but I need to take the time to rework them to make them standards compliant, and I’m thinking about re-arranging them also.
I should have a more automated process for building galleries, but I’m not enough of a programmer type of geek to have the solution leap right out at me. I’m more a interface design geek, and while I can build a lot of programming stuff, it doesn’t come naturally.
Then along came Flickr. If you don’t know what that is, take some time to play around on that site; it’s a way to build photo galleries of you pictures, and it’s also a social site, where you can look at and interact with other people’s photos, too. You can tag your pictures with key words, and they show up in photo pools with other people’s photos that are tagged similarly. You can comment on people’s photos. You can save other people’s photos as your favorites, have your friends pictures show up with yours, search for pictures, create themes. The site is nothing short of fantastic, and it’s so easy. I can upload pictures right out of my iPhoto storage, tag them, add them to sets, caption them and they’re done and on display. I’ve been playing around with adding pictures to Flickr, although I’ve been selective about what I’ve put up there so far.
Flickr is awesome, and I want people to be able to comment on my pictures, and I want all the features of Flickr. But it’s sort of important to be able to host my pictures on my site, where I control what happens to them. On top of that, there are THOUSANDS of pictures on my site, that I would have to upload, caption, tag, if I decided to move them over to Flickr. And it would really dilute the uniqueness of my Big Things pictures to a great degree.
On top of that, yesterday I came across a method of doing photo galleries in Movable Type, the software that I use here to blog with. I could use a plug-in to upload pictures right out of iPhoto in an automated way, and galleries would be built on my site that people could comment on. It seems to be the automated solution that I was looking for, with the features I want, and it’s probably the way I need to go, but I need to set it up and see if it works. At the same time, I should probably upgrade my Movable Type software. And again, there’s that dilemma of moving the thousands of pictures I have over.
Sigh. One way or another, I have to come to a decision and get started.

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