Managing an image gallery with Lightroom and Zenphoto

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I will assume that you want to have a gallery with full image information:

  • title
  • description
  • keywords location info

This is made easy by Lightroom as it enables easy edition of IPTC data. But you need to set it up first.

Lightroom setup


Selecting the pictures you will publish on your website can be done in two steps:

  1. make your normal image selection using the P (for keepers) and X (for pictures you will erase) keys.
  2. add one or more stars for pictures that you will upload on the web

You can refine this further by giving pictures a variable number of stars based on what you will do with them (* for slideshow, ** for web, *** for print, etc.) Then select flagged pictures that have at least 1 star.

You can save this as a preset filter to make selection easier in the future. Here is how the preset filter list looks in my case.

Custom directory preset

Add data in Lightroom

Add information to the pictures metadata in Lightroom, NOT in Zenphoto. Several reasons for that:

  • it is faster to write in Lightroom than in Zenphoto
  • it will be part of your image catalog in Lightroom
  • you will be able to use this data with any app or website that can import it: 500px, FlickR, Panoramio, Tumblr...
  • image information will be attached to the images, not only in the Zenphoto database. If the Zenphoto database gets corrupted, you will not lose it.

Data correspondance table

Here is the data you can add and where it will appear in Lightroom

In Lightroom In Zenphoto
Filename URL
Title Title
Caption Description
Keywords Tags
Location(with map) Location on the GoogleMap in pages
Copyright Copyright

Most of this information will have to be added manually. You can add copyright information automatically by writing it upon import into Lightroom.

If you have enabled the "look up city, state and Country of GPS coordinates" you should see the corresponding fields filled in Lightroom. This does not always work as the feature is notoriousely instable.

Keyword handling

I found that hierarchical keyword lists were more efficient to deal with large and varied photo sets. To have a good start, import several keyword lists fitting your needs into Lightroom and organize them in categories and subcategories. You will then be able to add new keywords on the fly when needed.

See the Lightroom keyword list project for more information on this matter.

Export from Lightroom

It is now time to prepare the files you will upload to Zenphoto.

Export vs plugin

I export to disk and do not use a plugin to connect to Zenphoto because the plugin I once used is no longer maintained.

Export your pictures to a directory structure similar to the albums structure you have in Zenphoto and your files will be ready to be uploaded.

Here is the compared directory structure on my hard disk and on this website.

Directory structure

Export settings

After finding one of my photos printed in a magazine without my consent, I no longer upload pictures more than 800 pixels in their Long edge and always add a watermark.

Here my current export settings:

Export presets 

Make sure you export all the picture metadata and write keywords as Lightroom hierarchy.

In Zenphoto

Album setup

No need to create the album in Zenphoto. All you have to do is upload the directory containing the exported pictures. I generally do this with FTP, rather than use the uploaders provided in Zenphoto.

The new directory now appears in the Zenphoto album list where you uploaded it. By default, the albums take the name of this directory.

All you have to do to finish the upload is:

  • Rename the album to its real name
  • Add a description
  • Choose a thumbnail

Zenphoto creates the image pages as well as the tag pages structure automatically.

Other tips

  • Make sure you upload full albums rather than isolated pictures: it is far more manageable.
  • You can replace files that do not have metadata with the ones that have their full data. This will instantly add the data in Zenphoto. You will not even lose the number of views.
  • Zenphoto displays the full tags architecture, even though they do not appear in Lightroom.