Two Favorite Free WordPress Photo Gallery Plugins (ones that you may not be aware of)

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For many years I used NextGen to create, manage and display photo galleries in WordPress. It was and is a very good gallery plugin. But then WordPress’ native image tools became much much better following the version 3.1 and subsequent updates. And I like being able keep all the images together in WordPress’ native media manager and use just one media library system. It also makes it easier to maintain optimal image SEO across all of a website.

For that reason I use NextGen much less these days and instead reach for either Shiba Gallery or Gallery To Slideshow. Now a little about each.

Shiba Gallery:

“The Shiba Gallery Plugin allows you to display a variety of javascript galleries within your WordPress blog. All you need to do is specify the type of gallery you want in your regular WordPress gallery shortcode.

The Shiba Gallery is very flexible and can render post, page, and gallery objects, in addition to image attachments.”

You gotta love Shiba Gallery’s flexibility, plus the huge library of included javascript galleries, particularly the ease of use of noobslide (a favorite), and that is can present even pages and posts in a slider. All within the native WordPress media manager. In using this plugin over the last almost two years, I have yet to be presented any conflicts caused by Shiba Gallery. It is a very tight well crafted gallery plugin. I wish I was in the WordPress plugin repository, but it is not. So you don’t see it all over the WordPress website universe, which can be good if you want to make your galleries look a little unique.

Gallery to Slideshow:

“Gallery to Slideshow converts the built-in gallery into a simple and responsive slideshow. It uses the FlexSlider jQuery image slider, and requires zero configuration from the user.”

UPDATE – (9/26/12) COULD NO LONGER FIND THE PLUGIN AT WORDPRESS, BUT THE GALLERY TO SLIDESHOW PLUGIN CAN BE DOWNLOADED FROM GITHUB AND MANUALLY INSTALLED – https://github.com/sksmatt/gallery-to-slideshow. I am leaving the WP repository links in place in case the author returns it to WordPress.  If you do not want to download from GitHub, suggest using the free version of Portfolio Slideshow – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/portfolio-slideshow/

For 2012 I am trying to make all my websites fully responsive to the device and display used by the visitor. With the huge growth of all types and sizes of mobile devices, and mobile users increased likelihood of purchasing, and Google’s advice to use only one domain (no mobile domains or subdomains) I believe responsive design is the best way to go! So the relatively new Gallery to Slideshow is getting a lot of use on the sites I am creating for photographers and others. It is simple and easy to use. And presents a good-looking fully functional gallery for Windows, Mac, Android or iOS visitors regardless of the browser and display size.

Although Shiba has many great and attractive features and is very reliable, the growth of mobile and the related marketing advantages has made Gallery to Slideshow my current “reach for first” short list WordPress gallery plugin. And I hope that Shiba will someday add responsive css.

Below are a couple of quick screen shots from the same site/page using Gallery to Slideshow, one with the browser at about 1140px width, and one at less at 400px width. You are welcome to visit the webpage gallery yourself and test it on different devices. If you have any display or sizing comments or other favorite responsive image gallery plugins, please let me know in the comments.

full width responsive photo gallery screen capture
WordPress responsive photo gallery at less than 400px

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