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HostPapa Blog / Web Design & Development  / How to Make a Photography Website for Free with 2 Different WordPress Themes
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23 Oct

How to Make a Photography Website for Free with 2 Different WordPress Themes
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(Last Updated On: November 11, 2020)

You decided to start your own photography business. You’ve gathered your best work, decided on pricing, and purchased our all-in-one WordPress Hosting plan to set up your website.

Now what?

You didn’t think we’d leave you out to dry, did you? 

In this article, we’ll go over the step-by-step of how to create your photography website with not one, but two free WordPress themes. So read these simple instructions and choose which theme works best for you and the design you have in mind, because today you’re building your website.

No coding skills required. No hiring a fancy development team. No hassle.

Before you begin, make sure you have your UX design selected from our 5 Free Photography Website Templates Kit – because you’re going to want to recreate it using one of these two templates.

Ready? Let’s start with the Photo Perfect theme to create our free WordPress photography website. 

Photo Perfect

The Photo Perfect theme is simple, but it delivers an elegant presentation of your photographs. One of the primary features of this template is its header. You can highlight one of your best photographs with an overlay of your website name and a tagline. Two overlay menus complete the design and provide access to additional pages (i.e., About Me, Contact Me).

After installing and activating the Photo Perfect free WordPress theme, select the option to Customize. You will be presented with the theme’s default settings shown in the image below.

Following these nine (9) steps, you’ll soon have a WordPress photography website to share your photos and highlight your talents.

Step 1. Select and upload your best photographs.

Since you’re creating a photography website, you must have many photos you are eager to publish on the Internet. It is best to select your very best photos to represent your entire collection. When creating a photography website, display only portions of your complete collection.

Step 2. Personalize the Home page.

Your Home page is the first impression. On the web, your first impression is crucial. Most websites’ visitors take a glance and then move on to the next site in their search. You have to grab your audience and entice them to dive deeper.

From the Customize menu, click on Site Identity and choose a Title and Tagline that describes your website. We chose the title Nature’s Beauty. The website created during this guide will highlight nature photos.

All images shown in this guide were downloaded from Unslash.com – a source for free photos without licensing restrictions. Obviously, you should not use stock photography on your site. The purpose of your WordPress photography website is to showcase your work.

Step 3. Edit your first blog entry.

Each blog entry on your website will either be a single photograph or a group of photos. Since this is your first photo grouping, edit the Hello world! entry included when you activated the Photo Perfect theme.

Select the Posts, All Posts dashboard item to view all your posts. Click on the Edit link of the Hello world! post. To add posts, select the Posts, Add New menu option, or click on the Add New button at the top of the Posts management page of WordPress.

In the post editor, change the title to a descriptor of the photos displayed. In our example, we changed the title to Mountains. Delete the text from this sample post. When you click on the post’s content area in the editor, a plus sign icon is displayed. Click on this icon.

A menu will provide you with display options to choose your post’s content. In this guide, we’ll create Gallery posts. If you have only one photograph to display in a post, select the Image option. Click on the Browse all bar at the bottom of the popup menu to see more design options. Experiment with these options after you have completed the steps in this guide.

Select the Gallery option. 

Step 4. Select the photos to display in your post.

You’ll have the choice to Upload files or select an item from your Media Library. Every photo you upload is in your Media Library. We have uploaded a selection of stock photos to our sample Media Library.

Select the photos you want to include in this post. Since we chose Mountains as our post title, we’ll select mountain photos from the gallery. Simply click on the thumbnail to select or unselect an image. Selected images will be marked with a check and appear at the bottom of the Create Galley page.

Once you have selected your photos, click the Create a new gallery button.

A gallery will be created, and you’ll see an Edit gallery page. You can rearrange, add additional, or remove photos on this page. Once you’re satisfied with the gallery, click the Insert gallery button.

You’ll be returned to the Edit post page. Options will now be available to help you further format the post.

Experiment with the options on the right side of the editor to get a feel for the changes you can make. These options provide you with several adjustments you can make to your photos’ presentation.

Step 5. Publish your gallery post.

Click the Publish or Update button. After you’ve published your post, click the WordPress logo at the top left of your screen.

You can now review your WordPress photography website by clicking on your site name in the WordPress top menu bar—select Visit site from the dropdown.

You can click on the link in the Mountains post to view your gallery. This is a start, but there are a few more steps to complete your photography website.

Step 6. Add a menu.

You’ll notice a Menu overlay on the previous image. On your screen, you’ll see a Category menu overlay. For this guide, we removed the Category menu and added a main menu to the website header.

Categories are an additional method of presenting your photos. You can create any number of categories and assign them to each of your photos. This guide is not going to cover the use of categories, but you should explore the feature.

The menu created in this guide includes three options: Home, About Me, Contact Me. The Home option is self-explanatory. The About Me option is included, but creating an About Me page is not covered in the guide. The main reason for the menu is to create a Contact Me page.

Publishing your photos on the Web is a great idea, but you need to provide a method for your site visitors to contact you. You could include a “mail to” link, but that approach adds security risks. It is best to provide a form for the visitor to send you messages.

We’ll include steps to create the Contact Me page after we finish a few more items to improve the overall website appearance.

Step 7. Add a featured image to your post.

At this point, you have a nice header for your WordPress photography site, but your posts are displayed on the Home page as a gray box with a camera icon. This is not the look you want.

To fix this, you need to add a featured image to your post.

From the Post option of the WordPress side menu, select All Posts. Click the edit link of a post to add or change its featured image. The image below is a slice of the post editor. On the right side of the editor, there’s a Featured image section. If you don’t see anything on the right side of the blog editor screen, click on the Gear icon on the right side of the top menu.

If you haven’t selected a Featured image, you’ll see a gray box with the Set featured image prompt. Click this box and select a photo from the Media Library or use the Upload files tab to add a new image.

Now that you’ve set a featured image, your website will display that image in place of the gray box with an icon. Your WordPress photography website is nearly complete.

When selecting a featured image for a post, you also add that image to the post itself. The featured image will appear above your gallery. You may be okay with this, but let’s remove the featured image from the post, so the post presents the gallery we designed.

On the post editor page, scroll to the bottom. You’ll see a few Theme Settings. We’re going to change the Choose Image Size in Single Post/Pag dropdown selection. Select No Image from the dropdown. Click the Update button in the top menu. You’ll not see any changes on the editor screen. Still, if you go to your WordPress site and click on the post’s link, the featured image will no longer appear as part of the post’s gallery.

Step 8. Repeat to build out your WordPress photography website.

After repeating the steps above a few more times, you’ll begin to see a complete but expanding photography website. Continue adding more posts and galleries to share your photography with the world.

Step 9. Create a Contact Me page.

Once people are viewing your photography, they may want to get in touch with you. Maybe they want to use your work in a publication or contract you as a photographer for their project. Whatever the reason, you need to provide a way for visitors to connect with you.

Earlier, we added a Contact Me menu option. Selecting this option will take you to an empty page. Let’s add a contact form to this page.

The quickest and easiest way to create a Contact Me page is to use a free WordPress plugin designed for this purpose. We’ve installed the popular Contact Form 7 plugin. Once the plugin is installed, a Contact item is added to the WordPress side menu.

Click the Contact menu item. Highlight the shortcode displayed at the top of the screen and copy it to the clipboard. Then, click the Save button.

Click on the Pages menu item (All Pages), then click the Contact Me page’s edit link. If there’s any content on the page other than the title Contact Me, delete it and then paste your clipboard’s content.

Click the Update button at the top of the page editor screen. When the update is complete, go to your WordPress photography website and select Contact Me from the header’s dropdown menu.

Now you have a beautiful WordPress photography website, complete with a Contact Me page.

Add to and modify your website often. Return visitors want to see new content or layouts. Post new photographs, change your galleries’ content, and add comments and captions to further develop your web presence. You now have a working photography website. Put it to good use.

Now that you know how to make a photography website using the Photo Perfect theme, let’s repeat the process with another popular free WordPress photography website theme – Electa.

Electa

Electa is a simple grid-based theme that’s easy to learn and simple to use. It uses a more modern design – minimal but feature-rich. It positions your best work in the direct line of sight of your website visitors. It will grab their attention and lead to clicks, revealing more of your talent and works. The Electa theme presents your home page as the focal point of your WordPress photography website. The home page serves as a visual directory to all the photographs you publish on the website.

After installing and activating the Electra WordPress theme, select the option to Customize. You’ll see the theme’s default settings shown in the image below.

We will follow the same nine steps we used with the Photo Perfect theme.

Step 1. Select and upload your best photographs.

When we introduced you to the Photo Perfect WordPress theme, we recommended selecting your best photos to represent your entire collection. Select the best from your collection, upload your photographs to the Media Library, and follow these steps to make a photography website using the free WordPress theme, Electa.

Step 2. Personalize the Home page.

Select the Customize option. In the Site Identity section, set a title for your Home page. For this guide, we chose Nature’s Beauty again. With Electa, we decided not to include a tagline, keeping the design simple and clean.

While still in the Customize menu, click the Home Layout Options and the Enable home blocks layout checkbox. Return to the menu and click the Blog Layout Options. In this section, check the Enable blog blocks layout option. Leave the Blog Page Title blank. In the Electa theme, having no title for your blog posts provides a cleaner look.

Click the Publish button to save your changes. When you view your website, you’ll see an image similar to the one shown here.

If your version includes a menu under the website title, that’s fine. We’ll adjust the menu later in this guide.

The gray box is your first blog post. It is the default Hello World! blog post included with any WordPress theme.

Step 3. Edit your first blog entry.

Click on the Posts, All Posts item in the WordPress menu. If you don’t see the menu on your browser window’s left side, click the WordPress logo icon at the top left of the window.

The Posts window is where you’ll manage your site’s home page images.

Click on the Edit link of the Hello World! blog post. Change the post’s title to Mountains and delete the default text of the post. You’ll now see a plus sign icon. Click on it, and a menu will appear, providing several options to select from for your post’s body. The options available are the same as those available with the Photo Perfect theme. 

Step 4. Select the photos to display in your post.

Click on the Gallery option, then click on the Media Library link. If you haven’t already uploaded your photos, click on the Upload files tab and upload your photographs now. Select the images you want to include in the Mountains gallery in the Media Library tab.

When you finish selecting photographs for this gallery, click the Create a new gallery button. You can rearrange your images, add new ones, or remove photos on the Edit gallery page. When you have the look you want, click the Insert gallery button.

Step 5. Publish your gallery post.

Click the Update button and publish your Mountains gallery on your WordPress photography website. Visit your website, and you’ll see an image similar to the one below.

If you click on the gray box, you’ll see your Mountains gallery.

Step 6. Add a menu.

These next two steps will change your home page’s look to that of a finished photography website.

First, we’ll create our home page menu. Click on the Appearance, Customize item from the WordPress menu. Next, open the Menus option.

In the Menus section, click the Create New Menu button. Enter a name for your menu (we chose Main menu) and check the Primary Menu checkbox. Click Next.

Now, you need to add items to your menu. Select the checkbox: Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu. Any Page you add to the top level of your website will be added to this menu. We’ll add pages from the main WordPress menu, so click Publish and close the Customize menu. The menu will not be displayed on your home page yet. We’ll add a few pages to the menu and make it visible in Step 9.

Step 7. Add a featured image to your post.

Let’s get rid of that gray box on your website’s home page.

To replace the gray box, you need to select a featured image for your blog post (or gallery). Click on the Posts menu item, then the Edit link of the Mountains blog.

A list of options you can set for your blog is displayed on the window’s right side. If you do not see a right sidebar, click on the Gears icon at the window’s top right.

Scroll down the list of options to the Featured image section. Click on the Set featured image box and select a photo from your Media Library or upload a new file to use as the featured image.

Click the Set featured image button. Now, when you view your website, the image you selected will replace the gray box.

Step 8. Repeat to build out your WordPress photography website.

Add more blog posts to your website. We added four more blog galleries to create the home page shown here. Yours will display your photographs. Keep adding blog posts (or galleries) until you have published your collection on the Web.

Step 9. Create a Contact Me page.

Now let’s complete your menu and create a Contact Me page.

Click the Pages item from the WordPress menu. On this page, you can add top-level pages to your website. Click the Add New button at the top left of the page. In the Add Title space, type Contact Me. Click the Publish button and then repeat the process to add a Home and About Me page. You can click on the Pages menu item to edit the page content later.

Publishing your photography on the Web is a great first step! What if someone saw your work and wanted to contact you? We’ll create a Contact Me page so fans of your work can contact you directly from your website.

From the WordPress menu, select Plugins, Add New. Locate the Search box (to the right of the Keyword dropdown button) and enter contact. Several choices will be displayed on the page. Click on the Contact Form 7 choice. It will likely be the first option since it’s a widely used plugin to create Contact Me pages.

Install and activate the Contact Form 7 plugin. It will display a text box for you to enter a title for your page. Enter Contact Me and click Save. Next, highlight the text in the blue box below the title you just entered and copy it to the clipboard.

From the WordPress menu, select the Pages item and then the Edit link of the Contact Me page. In the editor, paste the clipboard’s content in the content section, just below the Contact Me title. Click the Update button at the top right of the edit. You now have a Contact Me page on your website.

Visit your WordPress site and select the Contact Me menu item. You should see a page similar to the one below.

Congratulations! You now have a working WordPress photography website. You should explore the many options WordPress and the Electa theme have to offer. Style your website to provide a rich visual experience for your visitors. As your website grows and develops, you’ll be sharing your work and talent with friends, family, and many more.

The Internet is vast! Now, you’re part of that world, sharing with people around the world.

Maria Di Lorenzo

Maria (Belle) Di Lorenzo is the Content Marketing Manager at HostPapa.

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