I think it’s fitting that the first post for the Vibrant Shot Blog be about building your own portfolio website, so that’s exactly where we will begin. For many photographers the world of web design and development is a far removed and scary one. I have the luxury of a background in computer science and strong familiarity with a gamut of web technologies. You may be thinking to yourself “great, he’s going to try to explain how to build a page using Python, Scala or some other flavour of the month programming language, all hosted on a complex distributed environment” (well maybe you didn’t think exactly that), but don’t fret, that’s not the way this is going to go.

Given my familiarity with so many technologies, there were a number of options available to me as far as building this site. My initial plan was to write a custom Java/Scala based application from scratch with lots of bells and whistles, thus giving me the maximum amount of control and flexibility. As I began designing the site and considering the elements that I had to develop I began to think “does anyone really give a damn that the site is custom with lots of cool technology?”. The answer is no, I’m promoting my photographic efforts, not my development prowess. Further, I later wondered “what do I want to be spending the next 4 months doing, writing a bunch of server and client side code or be out in the field taking pictures?”. I think we both know the answer to this question.  Finally it donned on me that the best portfolio website is the one that’s actually done.

The best portfolio website is the one that’s actually done

So with my new approach I decided to seek out different CMS (content management system) options such as Joomla, DotCMS, and finally WordPress. Like many other photography websites out there I chose to go with WordPress because of the extensive number of out of the box plugins and ease of use. Chances are that your site will contain the same sections as any other photographers site: a blog, a contact page and a gallery, exactly what WordPress is good at so why not use it. When you consider some of the stellar plugins that are out there such as Fotomoto or Prettyphoto, you can create a very rich and full featured website with little coding and in no time. While I’m still in the process of building up the site at the time of writing this, I’m quite impressed with the overall functionality and simplicity of WordPress. The initial setup is simple out of the box but can get a little more complicated if you want to do it right and prevent problems in the future. This will be the focus of the next blog post which will explain how to launch your WordPress site using the powerful and reliable Amazon Web Services technologies.