This was originally written and published for ShootDotEdit. The article is republished here with search engines blocked and canonical set to the original published article. It is here for archival purposes and so my community can find it too.
I’m often hearing from wedding photographers who want to know what WordPress plugins they should use on their site. So today I’d like to address this popular question.
To be specific, though, I’m going to offer my recommendations for visual plugins. Plugins which add features to make your website more aesthetically pleasing.
Before we dive in, I want to make sure you understand that almost all the plugins I’m recommending are free but have paid counterparts and services.
If you’ve been tempted by the commercials on television for Squarespace and Wix then you likely have an interest in drag and drop page builders. It’s understandable as they make website creation and editing extremely simple.
Well guess what, WordPress can do this!
There are countless page builder plugins available for WordPress. But the one that stands out above them all is Elementor. It’s 100% free, if you want it to be. But there are many other reasons to choose Elementor over other page builders.
- Many page builders will litter your website with something called shortcodes. And if you ever decided to stop using those page builders, your site will be a pain in the behind to clean up. Elementor does not litter your site with shortcodes.
- Usually the free page builder plugins are limited to what they can do next to their paid counterparts. Not this one. Elementor is the most robust page builder available. The free version can actually do more than some page plugins.
- Just above I wrote that this is a plugin. Many page builders are built into themes, which is not a good thing. That makes you stuck with using that theme because if you change themes you lose all your site content. Elementor is a plugin that works with any theme.
As I mentioned, Elementor is extremely robust in its free version. But there is a paid version, which has an annual cost. It does include some additional elements, or modules, that you can drag into your site. As well as additional features like their pro template library and support.
As photographers we have to share photographs on our website. And we like to share them in large size, so our clients can see them. That has some drawbacks. Here are two:
- Large images can slow down a website
- Slow websites can impact SEO, even slightly
My go-to image compression tool, out of Lightroom and Photoshop, is JPEGMini Pro. But it’s a desktop app. And it’s only existed for a couple years. So what about all those other images already on the website?
That’s where Imagify comes in. It’s an image compression tool for WordPress. It compresses images during upload and also offers the ability to bulk compress all of your images previously uploaded.
Imagify offers three levels of compression.
I keep my website set to Aggressive. I found that it doesn’t degrade the image quality and still saves a lot of space on the server, by reducing the image file sizes.
Imagify is a free plugin with a limit (by file size) to how many images can be compressed. By creating an account on their website and adding your API key to the plugin, it unlocks additional compression ability. And then there is the option to pay for even more compression.
If you’ve never compressed your archived images then I recommend paying for a higher plan from the get go, running the bulk compression and then changing plans to a lower one based on your upload rate. Imagify will analyze your ongoing upload rate and offer its advice as to what plan you should be on.
IMPORTANT: By default the plugin is set to strip EXIF/Metadata out of images it compresses. Turn that option off so it retains your EXIF.
There are numerous gallery plugins available for WordPress. But only one WordPress gallery plugin is designed for photographers in mind. It’s designed for users who heavily work with a lot of images on a regular basis. It’s more than just a gallery plugin. It’s a gallery management and display plugin.
I work for Imagely, the company who develops NextGEN Gallery, but I want to tell you why it’s on my recommended visual plugins list.
- Photographers need galleries. They need multiple ways of displaying their work.
- The plugin is used by over 1.3 million people
- NextGEN Gallery existed before WordPress had a useful media library
- It offers a familiar gallery management interface
- It allows for dragging and dropping for sorting
- And the plugin comes with many display styles
- NextGEN Gallery offers Albums which are a group of galleries, similar to Collections and Collection Sets in Lightroom.
- Finally, you can upload your images, galleries and albums directly from Lightroom
By the way, Imagify can also compress the photos you upload to NextGEN Gallery.
In addition to the free plugin is NextGEN Pro, a paid upgrade. The paid version comes with additional display styles for galleries and albums. It also includes the ability to do proofing on our website as well as ecommerce for selling prints and digital downloads.
The combination of NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Pro is ideal for any wedding photographer who wants complete control over customer experience.
Don’t tell anyone, but print lab integration is coming soon too.
WP Instagram Widget
The last visual plugin I want to recommend is WP Instagram Widget. It’s literally a widget that allows for pulling from your Instagram feed. With it, you can display your Instagram photos anywhere on your website, where your theme offers widgets.
Combine it with Elementor and you can put your Instagram photos on any place on your website.
It’s worth noting that by calling external images from Instagram can have a slight impact on site speed. I have examined many Instagram plugins, though, and I found this specific plugin to be the lightest weight for fastest load time.
So there you go – 4 visual plugins for your wedding photography websites. Let us know if you’re using any of these, or if you have your own preferred visual plugins.
Next time you hear from me, it will be in an article about the best lead generating plugins.