I am trying to find a simple yet solid solution for a self-hosted photo site. I have been through a bunch but have found them outdated code-wise (Gallery2), technology-wise (Flash based) or just plain ugly or disorganized (Coppermine).

I am considering using non-photo CMS like WordPress simply because the themes look good and the user interface is so simple, but would like to know if there are any other options out there.

P.S.: Please don't mention photo sharing sites like Flickr, Picassa, etc. I'm not interested in anything that is not self hosted. And nothing based on Flash, please.

Edit. I am a web developer and have no problem working with code/servers/etc, just wondering what options are out there, most everything I have seen is dismal.

  • Are you looking for somewhere which lets you install an arbitrary program? Or do you want someone to do that level for you?
    – mattdm
    May 27, 2011 at 22:31
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    I think you will find that most professionals outsource this to focus on photography. Meaning they don't host it. Also many of the better solutions will provide better support and upgrade paths when they host them.
    – dpollitt
    May 27, 2011 at 22:34
  • I am also a web developer/designer and comfortable with using anything built with php/javascript/etc. I could built this from scratch but that is too time consuming.
    – Wyck
    May 27, 2011 at 22:42
  • It doesn't sound like you want a "service" as suggested in the question. Do you actually want a website backend framework? A service implies you want more of a hands-off approach.
    – dpollitt
    May 27, 2011 at 22:44
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    "Self-hosted" technically means "a piece of software which can build or run itself". That's clearly not what you mean, but it's also less explanatory than you think it is. I'm also not sure you can get good recommendations without being clear about what you don't like about apparently-reasonable options.
    – mattdm
    May 27, 2011 at 23:22

8 Answers 8


My favorites are ProPhoto and RawFolio. Both of these are going to cost you money up front and both of them have self hosting options. They even have the option to install the software for you if you decide that is the path you want to follow.

You will find that the ProPhoto blog is used across the photography industry. It is hard not to run into this template at some point if you view a lot of photography websites. I personally like it, and am very happy with its customization options. The backend GUI is very intuitive, and the support staff is very helpful if you need further customization added.

  • 1
    I see your comment on being a web developer was now added. I would look at both of these same options, but just install them yourself. The great thing about these options is you will spend less time customizing code and more time photographing, editing, and posting great photos.
    – dpollitt
    May 27, 2011 at 22:43
  • yes this is more in line, thanks, something I can customize but won't take forever.
    – Wyck
    May 27, 2011 at 23:02

Give a try to Piwigo : this is an open source photo gallery software. It includes many features such as hierarchical albums, tags, search, browse by date or in a map, EXIF/IPTC support, additional features with 150+ plugins, change appearance with themes... A few examples made with Piwigo:

Piwigo can be downloaded (for free) on Piwigo.org and you can test it very quickly on Piwigo.com (no installation required).

If you're a web developer, you will probably appreciate to have a "ready to use" solution and the possibility to adapt it to your needs with themes and plugins.

  • Just wanted to comment that I tried this recently and was very impressed. Noob-friendly(which I needed), and a responsive developer. Active forums and plugin development & updating. Jan 26, 2012 at 21:12

If you just want a very simple way of displaying photos on the web you could give picasa a try. Not the Google hosted service but the "export as html page" option in the folder menu. This then generates static html files which can be put on any web server without requiring any server side scripting or a database.

  • Why the down vote? This answer was before the comment about being a web developer was added, so I went for the a simple solution that would achieve what was requested.
    – Phil
    May 29, 2011 at 13:59
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    The original version did say "don't mention flickr or picassa".
    – mattdm
    May 29, 2011 at 15:53
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    It said "don't mention photo sharing sites like Flickr, Picassa" this doesn't use the picassa photo sharing site, it uses the application which runs on your computer, so it meets the self hosting requirement rather than using someone else's infrastructure. I'm still getting the hang of this SE system so am interested in finding out how improve my answers.
    – Phil
    May 29, 2011 at 16:22
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    I think your answer is fine and actually the question a little iffy. (More hostile than necessary; not enough explanation).
    – mattdm
    May 29, 2011 at 16:34

I pretty much was in the exact same situation as the OP. I wanted a simple portfolio site that wasn't a gallery host (flickr, 500px), wasn't ugly (Coppermine, ZenPhoto, Pwigo), wasn't full of security holes (Gallery2 no longer being updated, anything WordPress based), and I could self host. Open source would've been awesome, but I was also willing to pay for it.

The primary choices were ProPhoto and RawFolio. Both were easy to use and self hosted, but once you've seen one of the layouts, you know you're looking at a ProPhoto or RawFolio site. That normally doesn't bother me too much, but it's become extremely common to the point that it's cookie-cutter looking.

Lychee isn't bad, but extremely limited in its current incarnation.

I also looked at Ghost to host it. I love using Ghost as a blogging platform, but adapting it to a portfolio site wasn't great, and it felt clunky; similar to adapting WordPress in the same manner.

I've finally settled on Showkase. It's not terribly expensive, doesn't look like everything else out there, and can be customized from a bunch of knobs in the GUI down to the code. It unfortunately doesn't have an extensive theme collection at this time.

The variety of themes on Squarespace avoids the issue of cookie-cutterness, but obviously you're not self hosting anymore.


Another couple of open source, maintained and self-hosted options:

I'm currently deciding which to go with for my self-hosted photo gallery.



Lychee is a free photo-management tool, which runs on your server or web-space.

Lychee is open source, written in php, and attempts to provide a modern photo management interface through a web browser.


I haven't tried it myself (I use Flickr) but I've heard good things about Stacey. Personally I use blosxom as my blog and Stacey seems to have a similar philosophy.


I've created a really simple and fast self-hosted PHP photographer portfolio

It's called Turbo Photo Portfolio. It is far simpler than the software in other answers - all you have to do is put your photos in a certain file structure as well as changing the about file and it's done!

My photography website currently uses it with PHP and nginx.

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