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Using The Best WordPress Gallery Plugins To Create Beautiful Photo Galleries

Posted on May 7 by in Resources | 72 comments

Using The Best WordPress Gallery Plugins To Create Beautiful Photo Galleries

WordPress introduced a gallery option into their core way back in 2008 with version 2.5. More features have been added to the WordPress gallery over the years, however the functionality is still limited in many respects.

That is why many WordPress website owners use a plugin to power their gallery instead. There are many great premium gallery plugins available, however in this article, I would like to show you who you can use add a gallery to your website using three different WordPress plugins.

The plugins in question are NextGEN Gallery, Gallery, and Photo Gallery. All of these plugins can be downloaded free from the official WordPress plugin repository, though a premium version of each plugin is available should you want more features.

NextGEN Gallery

NextGEN Gallery is a gallery plugin that I installed one of my own websites three years ago. With nearly ten million downloads, it is one of the most popular WordPress plugins ever released and is packed full of features.

Despite having a lot of functionality, the plugin is very simple to use. You upload your images into a gallery and then assign the gallery to an album. For example, you could create an album for your wedding and have a gallery for your photos, another for the official photos, and another for your friend’s photos etc.

Images can be uploaded directly from your computer or imported from a directory on your domain. The latter option is useful if you need to upload a lot of images.

The gallery modification page allows you to change settings such as the gallery name, gallery description, and the page the gallery links to. Titles, descriptions, and tags, can all be added to individual images. You can also edit image thumbnails and rotate images.

Modifying Your Gallery

The plugin allows you to modify multiple gallery images on the same page.

Once activated, you will see an icon for NextGEN Gallery in your post editor. Clicking the icon allows you to choose what galleries and albums are inserted into the content area. You can choose from image thumbnails, a slideshow, an image browser, tag cloud, compact album, and extended album. Additional settings are available for thumbnail galleries and slideshows.

Inserting Your Gallery

NextGEN Gallery offers six different styles of gallery.

The final output looks great. Clicking on a thumbnail image will display the full image in a lightbox. Users can then change images by using their mouse or through keyboard shortcuts.

An Example of NextGEN Gallery

An an example of gallery images displayed using thumbnails.

NextGEN Gallery is a fantastic option for a gallery. It has everything you need for a basic gallery, however it also had advanced features such as watermarking.

A pro version of the plugin is available for $39. It offers many more gallery types, social sharing of images, commenting, and deep linking directly to images.

Gallery

Gallery is an easy to use gallery plugin that allows you to add simply galleries to your website. The plugin utilizes the WordPress media uploader for images.

Once you have uploaded images, you will see an option to modify the title, alt tag, and URL of an image. A download link can also be added so that visitors can download images directly to their computer.

Uploading Images

Gallery uses the traditional WordPress media uploader to handle image uploads.

The settings page allows you to change the size of image thumbnails and the number of images that are displayed in a row. A slideshow can also be enabled from this area and you can define the way that images are arranged.

Gallery Settings

Most of the lightbox settings are only available in the pro version of Gallery.

Galleries can be inserted directly into your posts and pages using shortcodes. The default shortcode will display all gallery images as thumbnails, however there is another shortcode available that displays one image with a link to a dedicated gallery page.

Gallery Lightbox Example

Gallery displays images using a beautiful lightbox.

Gallery is a simple solution, however it works really well. A pro version of the plugin is available for $10. It offers additional styling options and like buttons for FaceBook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery is an advanced photo gallery that offers many of the same features as NextGEN Gallery. It offers thumbnail editing tools, watermark functionality, and even the option of playing audio while slideshows are displaying images.

The plugin allows you to display image galleries using thumbnails, slideshows, image browser, compact album or extended album. The pro version of the plugin also offers masonry and blog style modes.

Every aspect of the gallery can be modified before you insert it into your content area.

Insert Photo Gallery

Inserting a gallery using Photo Gallery is similar to NextGEN Gallery.

What sets Photo Gallery from other gallery plugins is the ability to customise every aspect of the themes that are used to display your gallery. Each gallery type can be styled in its own unique way.

The default styling of your galleries is minimal, however the theme editor gives you the option of customizing your design in many weird and wonderful ways.

Edit Styling of Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery allows you to change every aspect of your gallery’s styling.

The final output looks fantastic. Images can be viewed using a lightbox when the visitor clicks on the image. Multiple galleries can be inserted into one page too. Galleries can also be inserted into your website design using widgets.

Photo Gallery Thumbnails

Image thumbnails look great with Photo Gallery.

Photo Gallery is a great alternative to NextGEN Gallery; a plugin that it has obviously drawn inspiration from. It supports unlimited galleries and albums and you can tag photos. Galleries are responsive too.

A pro version of the plugin is available for $19.99. It offers addition gallery types, a tag cloud widget, commenting, and social media sharing for images.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at how you can add a gallery to your website using a gallery plugin. If so, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter in order to get updates of our latest blog posts :)

Article thumbnail image by Dacian G / shutterstock.com

72 Comments

  1. Photo Gallery looks like an amazing plugin. I’m going to have to check it out. It could be very useful for contractor sites, travel sites, etc. As always, thank you Kevin for another great, informative post.

      • hi Kevin;
        May i know that which newsletter plugin you(elegentthemes.com) using?It looks very pretty.

  2. I’ve been using Nextgen for some time now, especially because of the Lightroom plugin (http://alloyphoto.com/plugins/nextgen/). I manage the galleries in Lightroom and the plugin uploads all changes. Perhaps good to know for others.

    • Timo, that is good to know. As a budding photographer I wanted to be able to showcase some of my photos on my everyday blog with links back to my photography portfolio was being able to do it via Lightroom is an excellent option. :)

    • That’s a great tip about the plugin, Timo! Thanks :)

    • Hi Kevin,

      I’m looking for a basic photo gallery that will allow the image with a caption to be clicked and then the user is taken to another page that where the larger image view with a description of my desired length can be added. WordPress’ native gallery allows this, but it takes you to a post rather than a new page. I’m working on a medical site, and I want the doctors’ images with captions (for their names) to be able to be clicked and then either a pop-up or new page will contain the larger image and information about their experience, credentials, etc. I’m having no luck in my search for a solution!

      Thanks so much for any ideas you may have. I’m very appreciative!

      Kimberly

  3. NextGen is a big disappointment for me. It is very heavy and takes a very long time to load. PhotoGallery is a way better option.

    • I agree that NextGen is a disappointment. Used it years ago and it worked fine. I’ve recently tried using it for two clients. One on a GoDaddy host and one on our dedicated server. In both cases there are serious issues. One does not display thumbnails and has issues with image sizes on screen even though the correct dimensions are set. The other had issues of a different sort. Of course, there are also issues with the Chrome browser on MAC (can’t speak to Windows). It may all have something to do with the enhancements WordPress has made it its Media area. The biggest problem with the way WordPress handles images is that it organizes them by date. It should allow for folders like NextGen and other Plugins. Keeping this organized so you can find them is the hardest part. Displaying images nicely is not hard at all.

      • We also found NextGen 2.0 way to heavy for our use. So we went with NextCellent, a branch off the old NextGen 1 but kept updated with security fixes etc.

    • thats true

  4. Another awesome photo gallery that plays well with the newer trends of the web with the larger screens and mobile usage is Final Tiles Grid Gallery. It can be found on ThemeForest.com and has a ton of features in it. It can do a random sort or an ordered sort. You can select an image to feature at the top of gallery. It has category sorting if you choose to use it which is great for a portfolio. Very incredible, powerful and easy to use.

  5. Another great post. Thanks!

    I assume all are responsive?

    Someone above mentioned NextGen was slow to load… Do all 3 use about the same amount of resources or is one “lighter” than others?

    Using plugins is like watching your waistline…. You want that extra potatochip but at what cost to your weight. One chip doesn’t seem like much… until you eat the whole bag.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I believe all are responsive (though it is past midnight here and not sure if my memory serves me well!).

      As many others have said, NextGen can be heavy.

      My advice is to always check the speed of your website before and after activating a new plugin. This will help you see whether it is worth eating that potato chip :)

  6. Most of these gallery plugin’s work fine, but all lack the posibility to enable your site viewers to select and download images. There is an plugin that enables downloads on Nextgen, but it is at the least a bit crappy in de theme section. It would be great if the Elegant Themes guru’s would work out a solution for this, it would be solid!

  7. What is the best gallery plugin for a membership site running WordPress or BuddyPress?

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Most gallery plugins would work well with a membership website, though I do not believe any have been specifically been designed to be hidden in a private area. I am sure this could be achieved easily by simply wrapping the membership private content shortcode around the gallery shortcode.

    • I have been searching for the same thing. BuddyPress group needs to make albums and share to show artwork. I can’t find anything simple.

  8. Both seem very promising Gallery plugins. Problem I personally have is that most of my photo’s are stored on Picasa at the moment. Both mentioned galleries do not support gallery ‘linking’ to Picasa, Flickr or any other storing place.
    At the moment I’m checking two plugins: “Alpine PhotoTile for Google Plus and Picasa” and “Picasa and Google Plus Express”. The first one has a nice layout on screen but a terrible support for mobile/tablet devices, the other one vice versa.
    Would be great if the ‘bigger’ galleries could support something like Picasa, Flickr support. Or does anyone know a plugin for NextGen or Gallery??

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I have seen some slider plugins offer support for Flickr, but I haven’t seen any gallery plugins that offer it (I suspect there might be one out there) :)

      • re Flickr support: I use Juicebox.net’s slideshow plugin because of the Flickr support (it also supports Picasa but I haven’t used it). I can get the gallery artists to set up a free Flickr account and use tags to control the images that appear on their individual slideshow. That way I don’t have to give them access to WordPress and I don’t have to keep all the slideshows updated myself. It’s useful for technical artists or photographers who want to control their own page on the fly. Thanks for the roundup though, and I will check out Photo Gallery for other sites.

    • I agree. I’ve been looking for one like that as well. The focus should be on integrating it with the build in media manager such that you then can use any kind of gallery plugin. I don’t like it how some have their own gallery that just looks rubbish.

      It is especially useful since I can’t get S3 hosting working anymore for my images, the Jetpack CDN doesn’t seem to copy them out of your own site as external links. And my site disk space is becoming rather large….

    • I use Juicebox.net WP plugin. It supports Flickr just fine. I use it for the savvier artists on our Gallery website (ET theme) and it means they can update their slideshow on their own, without having to bother me or without having to have WP login credentials.

      Here is one example: the slideshow is from Flickr image tagged with a simple tag. http://thegalleryabq.com/chris-meyer/

  9. Anyone know a gallery that has a slideshow that doesn’t crop the images vertically — but instead adjusts to the height?

  10. I’ve been using “lightbox gallery” plugin for several years: very simple and fully integrated with wp standard gallery, it gives you the choice between Colorbox, Lightbox and Highslide functions.
    It worths a try!

  11. Another wonderful post. Thanks!

    But we prefer using WordPress gallery and just add a plugin on the top of it like “gallery carousel without JetPack” (check it on WordPress plugins repository). It shows photos in a fancy slider, there is no need to overload WordPress with a lot of plugin, and keeping the site running faster.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Thanks Aziz.

      The WordPress gallery is actually quite good. Doesn’t have a lot of the features of other solutions, but it’s a quick and easy way of inserting images into a website :)

  12. Hi Kevin,

    The new updates to WordPress Gallery functionality … did that improve the gallery to the point that you don’t need a plugin do you think?

    I have not really explored it … but I did see when the latest WP update came it talked about some big improvements in that area.

    Love your posts Kevin … great work! Thanks

    https://affinityshop.com.au

    • Kevin Muldoon

      The WordPress gallery is still quite basis. I use NextGen on one website, though the WordPress gallery would be sufficient on that website as I only need a basic gallery.

      So, in the end, it comes down to what you need. Personally, I’m usually happy with the default gallery option. Plus it means you don’t have to install another plugin.

  13. Thanks Kevin, I will definitely try out the Photo Gallery because I loved the features it offers.

  14. Thanks Kevin for WordPress gallery plugin article.

  15. Hi!
    thanks for the wonderful themes
    .

  16. Another great post Kevin.

    I am getting a little concerned that there maybe some kind of mind reading going on as this is the 3rd time I have decided to add a function to one of my blogs and low and behold 24 hours later Elegant Themes produce a blog post about the came thing! :)

    You guys are saving me tons of time as I just research your recommendations and pick a plugin to use.

  17. All plugins are awesome. As always, thank you Kevin for another great, informative post.

  18. Hello a divi compatible gallery plugin with very good support of the developer is on codecanyon.net. Its called awesome gallery.
    http://awesome-gallery.karevn.com/
    its worth a look. I bought it for a soccer club homepage (divi-Theme).

    • That looks awesome…no pun intended. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Hi Kevin,

    Greatly appreciate all your excellent value added info and tutorials on elegant themes and throughout your own branded web resource too!

    Awhile back I was reading a really great article all about curation, misc. plugins suggestions, along with other details on your site: http://www.kevinmuldoon.com/
    But for some reason digging through your archives etc., I can’t seem to find it any longer… :)

    If you can post that article here if possible, hopefully you remember the article I’m referring to. An updated version on the topic and subject would be really great to see too in the very near future on elegant themes with your continuing series with wordpress and elegant themes, divi included… :)

    Thanks!
    Dave

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Hi Dave,

      I am not sure about the article you are referring to. Was it a gallery plugin review?

      :)

      Kevin

      • Kevin,

        Originally, after reading all about you and your business models over the years http://www.kevinmuldoon.com/about/
        I came across the excellent article covering the topic of curation but different than most because it was focused on wordpress with being in control of the content through your own blog not the many different external curation systems used and available throughout the web today…

        I’m very familar with all the internet marketing curation systems available today to purchase but I believe your article included various methods you were personally curating some of your content and articles if I remember correctly… :)

        Guess I should have saved the article. Definitely a subject and topic you need to write more about especially in regards to elegant themes, divi etc… :)

        Thanks!
        Dave

        • Kevin Muldoon

          Mmmm. I am curious as to what this article is, however I cannot recall ever writing an article about curation. Was it an article I published on my blog or one which I linked to?

          Kevin

          • I was sure it was through your site but maybe it was a link connection and we know with the web it can be endless. I’ll keep looking around and if I find it I will post in this thread. Maybe, in the meantime another member might remember as it all started with your writings and tutorials on elegant themes… :)

            Thank you for your quick replies and trying to figure out where it might be. Hopefully, some good food for thought into the very near future as we all know curation is a hot topic and will continue to stay that way as we continue to be overwhelmed with information on specialized subjects & topics!

            Dave

          • Peter,

            Thank you for the suggested article. I appreciate the info and could be useful, although not exactly.

            With all the interest and curiousity, I think I have found mostly what I was looking for, could be more. Ends up it’s a close business connection and friend of Kevin’s I believe. Also found it using kevin related keyword phrases, so all is good! Thanks again for the help and trying… :)
            Those interested, here you go…
            kevin muldoon human curation
            https://managewp.com/wordpress-content-curation
            https://managewp.com/autoblogging-plugins

            Thanks!
            Dave

  20. Great article Kevin, Thanks for sharing with us. My favorite is NextGen.

    • NextGen My favorite too, i have been using it for long very easy to configured

  21. Gallery just killed the site.

  22. Hi. I played around with NextGen and several others before coming across InPost Gallery which several reviewers had indicated was light and extremely flexible offering lots of lightbox, gallery and slider choices.

    I have been using it on my son’s photo site http://guyfattal.com which is based on Elegant Themes and it works flawlessly with different Elegant themes, and runs great on mobile phone and tablet as well.

    Definitely worth a look.. http://pluginus.net/inpost-gallery

  23. thx kevin,
    it’s amazing, each time i am on the hunt for a useful plug in, i find a blog here from you :) keep up the great work

  24. thank you for info Nextgen plugin.. i try now.. ( i love eleganthemes)

  25. Hi. Please I need help! is there a way of improving the speed of Nextgen Gallery? displays are really slow, mainly with IE.

    Thanks!!!

    Sandra

  26. Is there any merit in having a theme that’s focused on photo gallery functionality rather than a plugin? I’m setting up a new site solely for a single wedding photo shoot and had planned to use a theme but now you’ve got me thinking that I could use Twenty Thirteen plus a plugin.

  27. Dear Sir/Madam,

    I was using a gallery plugin for about six months. That plugin is now stop working so tell me what is the great free plugin for me to use having no problem in future.

  28. Thanks for the post! You saved me a lot of time :) great job

  29. Awfully none of em works for my problem. May be anyone can help me?
    I search a free picture gallery for wordpress which shows captions beside. So e.g. i need the feature nextgen has (NexTgen basic extended album) just for galleries. So i have the pictures with the title and caption aside. is there any possible way? a workaround is creating albums with just one picture and map those albums in there. but the work to archieve that is way too much for that. i tend to just put them in a table without a gallery function jsut because i cant find any!

  30. I found a way now ! i use a portfolio plugin and hide the html links and boxes in it via javascript. Pain in the a… but it works as a charme. Thanks though ;)

  31. Hi

    I had downloaded the free nextgen and had tried to add a link to each individual picture to open the picture to an other page.
    I have been searching everywhere and didn’t find!
    I would like to know if there is the possibility to do this in pro nextgen?
    There is something else I would like to know about nextgen.
    Can nextgen match with other plugins?

    Thank you

  32. Is there any plugin which can add photos and videos to my wordpress website without going for backend procedure.

    Eg:- add photos / video icon from FACEBOOK

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