You may have looked at Lightroom’s Web module and decided the galleries are… well… a little boring. Taken straight out of the box, that might be a fair comment, but there are some fantastic third-party galleries that stretch the limits well beyond its intended purpose.
I’ve long been a fan of Matt Campagna’s work at The Turning Gate, as you may remember from our interview, so I was excited to hear that he and his co-developer, Ben Williams, have just released their latest web gallery – the CE4 Client Response Gallery.
TTG’s galleries are not just basic Lightroom web galleries. They can all interconnect to build an entire website that’s hosted on your own web server and that can be managed using Lightroom’s Publish Services. You can include slideshows, videos, eCommerce facilities, password protection, image downloads, feedback forms, search engine optimization, social media links, Map links and more. The designs are all fully responsive, which means that they work on a range of desktop computers and mobile devices, and you can tweak the color palette to your heart’s content. You can even mix and match components to build your ideal site.
The Client Response Gallery is just one of these components, and it’s designed to fulfill a very specific need: it provides an easy way for your clients (or friends/family) to select photos and automatically send that information back to you as the photographer. They can view and compare the photos, view metadata, mark specific ones as favorites or even assign star ratings, and leave notes with specific photos.
Using the extensive controls in the Web module, you can adapt the design of the Client Response Gallery to blend in with your existing website. Here’s a couple of quick sample galleries. Feel free to test the feedback options!
Unlike Lightroom’s standard web galleries, the Publisher plug-in allows you to add new photos, delete old ones, make metadata and Develop changes, and then automatically update the web gallery with the changes without having to recreate the gallery.
To be fair, I should say that with all this flexibility comes a level of complexity. The setup process had me scratching my head a number of times, especially as there are hundreds of sliders, but the initial setup instructions have since been rewritten and clarified. On the up side, the support offered by Matt & Ben is excellent, there’s an active community forum, and once the initial setup’s done, it’s relatively straight-forward to maintain.
The costs are very reasonable too, especially considering how much you’d spend on similar functionality from websites such as SmugMug or Zenfolio. Client Response Gallery costs just $50, the Publish Services integration is just $35, and the Auto Index plug-in that creates an index pages of your galleries is just $15. The whole Client Proofing Bundle, which includes all three components, is currently on offer for $85 instead of $100. If you’re using it for commercial use, you’ll also need a Highslide Commercial license at $29 for a single website.
While you’re there, take a look at the range of other galleries available and start planning your new photo website.