Ann Arbor Business to Business
Small Business and the Internet

Customized Photo Galleries

September 2003

By Mike Gould

By now, most of you are back in town from your summer vacations, cameras bulging with pictures of distant lands, smiling families and killer sunsets over Lake Wan-To-Kickback, or whatever. Fully half of you, according to statistics, have these pictures in digital format, and a good portion of you are now wondering, "How can I get these onto the Web so that they can gather the glory they so richly deserve?"

Easily Done
Suspicious readers with long memories may suspect this is a rehash of "The Pictures of Summer", my article from 2 years ago (found handily enough at http://mondodyne.com/b2b/smbiznet.42.shtml), wherein I went on and on about how much fun I was having with my Canon digicam. But no, this is all about getting your pictures online in a spiffy and original format.

Posting "pix" (as we ever-so-hip digital photographers write when we are too lazy to spell out "pictures") is a several-part series of steps: you shoot, download to computer, process, upload to website, and then alert the media (or the family).

There are a bunch of outfits on the Web eager to post your pictures for a few bucks a month; Ofoto, Snapfish, Photonet, etc. A Google search on "Post your pictures online" will reveal a plethora of places able to put your pictures into mundane picture galleries, where they will be presented in as bland a manner as possible. "But wait," I hear you exclaim, "I want to tweak the presentation of my photos, maybe put my company's logo in a header or something, because these are pictures from my business trip to the new plant in Oshkosh!"

Aha! The business-related tie-in that enables me to cover this in B to B. (My editor has probably been anxiously awaiting such a development - relax, Jim, this is legit.) The following is also useful for tweaking your vacation pix, but now we're talking business.

Headers Galore
In my previous article, I recommended Photoshop Elements software as a way to put together a web slideshow. This inexpensive (less than $80 if you shop around) application has a feature called "Web Gallery" that enables you to turn a given folder of pix into a web gallery in one swell foop. (The command is found at: File/Automate/Web Photo Gallery, for those or you with Elements who haven't stumbled across this).

You aim Elements at your folder, fill out some fields for header information, colors, etc., hit the OK button and you are cooking. An example of this can be found at:

http://www.custom-designbuild.com/repertop2003/

This is a bunch of pictures of the fine band Repercussions, which performed at Top of the Park this summer. You get a header (called a "banner" by Elements) and a navigation structure that enables you click on a small picture (called a thumbnail) to see a larger picture, and to subsequently go from picture to picture until you have seen them all.

All very nice, but kind of format-du-jour in the presentation department. But I promised you customization:

Hire a Pro
The cool part of this is that you can customize the template that Elements uses to put these shows together. This requires some web-coding HTML chops that you may have to hire out, but the phone book is full of web designers who could help you out for not a lot of money. If you have in-house web talent, it would not take much time to put one of these templates together. And once you have a template, you can use it from then on to make more slideshows without professional help.

Here's how it works: Let's say you are a local consulting firm called Robert W. Jacobs Consulting, and you have just moved into new offices above the Ann Arbor Art Center. You whip out your inexpensive digital camera and take a bunch of pix to show the world your new digs. You call up your on-call web guy (me) and order up a page to show off your efforts. Said web guy makes a copy of an existing template (found buried in the bowels of the Photoshop folder), and tweaks it to order, incorporating the company logo into the header. He then runs the pix from the client's camera through the template. He posts the results to

[Whoops, this site has disappeared since 2003]

and voila, instant PR on the web for all to see. I did this using full-tilt Photoshop, but you can do it with Elements in the same way.

For a more elaborate setting, check out:

http://www.saxpix.com/saxgalleries/newwork/index.html

This is a template I designed for professional photographer Andy Sacks. He often needs to post pictures for client approval and he uses Photoshop web gallery for this. He is adept at Photoshop, but like most regular (i.e., non-geek) folks, doesn't know from HTML. So he hired me to whip up a template. I did so, and emailed it to him. Now he can put up a customized gallery whenever he needs to. This gallery, for those of you who didn't rush to your computers to log in and view, features a nice header he designed, a custom colored background that matches his logo, and a footer with navigation and contact info.

Mike Gould is a mouse wrangler for the U of M, runs MondoDyne Web Works, is a member of Fac·totem.com, and welcomes comments addressed to mgould@mondodyne.com.

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