Flickr vs. Gallery2

I’ve been checking out photo gallery software online, trying to find one that does exactly what I want. Of course, part of that search involves figuring out exactly what I want from gallery software.

Currently my gallery is powered by Gallery2, and while there is nothing wrong with it, I wish it did more. The organizational structure (nested albums) lends itself well to event-based photography, which until recently was all I ever had a need or desire for. I love that it’s customizable; I can change themes, and install modules until it looks like I want, and does almost anything I want. Permissions can be assigned to nearly every task, allowing only registered members to vote on photos, or requiring a password to view certain galleries. Basically, I love that I have complete, neurotic control over every minute detail. But while I like the control, I’m starting to outgrow the nested album style of organization. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk, and take some silly pictures just to play with settings and learn what I can do. If they turn out nice, I’d like to post them to the gallery, but where? They don’t really fit into any of the existing albums, so do I just leave them loose, on the top level? Or do I make a “random” album and drop them in there? In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a bit neurotic about having things all put away and organized.

This is where Flickr tempts me. I don’t like the loss of absolute control, but I really prefer the organizational style. It’s like my Outlook to Gmail conversion; while Gmail has been my primary email address for a year or two now, I’ve only recently converted to using the web interface. Previously, I had been using Outlook , with it’s directory-style email storage. With the switch to the web interface, comes the use of Gmail’s organizational scheme; labels rather than folders. At first I hated labels, just because I was used to folders. But then I discovered exactly what I could do with labels, rather than folders. Email messages could have multiple labels, and show up under each label without needing to copy the email message to multiple folders. Flickr has tagging (which can also be accomplished with Gallery2, via plug-ins), but it also has sets and collections. A set is like a folder, and yet not. Photos can belong to multiple sets, a single set, or to no set at all. The sets can be grouped into collections, and those collections can be grouped into higher order collections. A good example – I took photos at weddings this summer. As I am wont to do, I ended up taking some photos at the wedding, that had absolutely nothing to do with the wedding (nature shots of the outdoors, etc.) With Gallery2, I would need to decide if they were going in the album with the wedding photos, or in another Nature shots album, since they can’t go in both. With Flickr, I wouldn’t have that problem – the photos could go in the set of photos from that wedding, and whatever other set I wanted. I could create a Collection of sets for Family Events where each set is photos from an event, and another Collection for Wedding Prep, with the actual Wedding Set belonging to both collections.
So this is my conundrum; I like how Flickr organizes photos, but I prefer having the control of Gallery2. I would actually consider springing for a Flickr Pro account, because honestly $25 a year isn’t bad for unlimited photos and unlimited bandwidth. But if I could find a free, self-hosted alternate (like Gallery2), I would seriously consider that as well. At the moment I’m trying to determine if there’s a way I can make Gallery2 more like Flickr, but I suspect it isn’t possible. So, do I sacrifice absolute control to get an organizational scheme I like, or stick with absolute control but remain unhappy with how photos are stored?

2 thoughts on “Flickr vs. Gallery2”

  1. This post hit it right on the nail, I was just considering whether or not to switch to Flickr. I tend to have the same issue as you with wanting control over my site. Especially now that I have the lightbox effect running on my gallery website I think I’ll stay with gallery2 for now.

    Meanwhile one thing that entices me is mapping pictures on a map. I do a lot of traveling and I would love to be able to see my pictures mapped out but using gallery2. Although using a plugin for that (WPG2) is pretty slow to load, especially with a lot of pictures. I’m using Panoramio through google earth which suffices for now. I just think there are way too many options out there to choose. Almost like you must have your database of pictures on several sites to do all that you want.

    Also with all these plugins that you integrate for WordPress and Gallery2, you have to be careful with how much there is to load especially with JS files. Just a thought…

  2. The closest thing to Flickr’s sets with Gallery2 is the tags module plus linkitem; you upload to generic albums (perhaps by month), add tags to photos (like sets), then link to the virtual tag albums from the main page or a sub-album. There’s no good way to batch assign tags, unfortunately.

    Desktop solutions like Lightroom, IDImager, IMatch, etc. all offer virtual folders, streamlined cataloging interfaces, etc.; why can’t we have the same for the web without going to a third party? I don’t like Flickr because I’m at their mercy if I post my photos to them, and the free accounts are so limited anyway.

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