Workflow: Lightroom to Wordpress

One of the struggles I had with developing my photography website was in getting a really good workflow from Lightroom (my preferred image editing/cataloguing application) to Wordpress (my current content management system for the site). I think I've finally found a good combination of tools that give me a fairly smooth workflow. Lightroom is a great tool for editing and organizing your images. It also has some web export functionality included and LR3 includes publishing services as well. However, I wasn't very happy with the built-in web galleries and I wanted to find something that looked good but didn't rely on Flash.

On the Wordpress side of things, I wanted to find a good way to get my galleries into Wordpress so that I could make use of all the great content management it brings. I've seen plenty of tutorials which simply suggest creating your galleries in Lightroom with the web export functionality and then linking to them from within Wordpress (often while using some type of lightbox effect for the linking). While this does work, your galleries are completely external to Wordpress so you lose a lot of integration.

I began looking into gallery plugins and found that Nextgen Gallery was extremely popular and seemed to offer the features that I wanted. It includes a really nice upload tool and does handle resizing. I played with this for a little while by exporting my images to disk from Lightroom and then using Nextgen's upload functionality to add the images to a gallery, it worked fairly well.

This was a pretty good workflow but I wanted something more automated if possible. With LR3's new publishing services I began to wonder if there was one for wordpress. A search on Adobe's site turned up very new plug-in called Dossier de Presse. What this plug-in adds is an additional set of options to the export command in LR. Wordpress has an XML-RPC funtionality which allows for remote publishing and once enabled, you can use this plug-in to directly publish to Wordpress from within LR. Even better, the plug-in works with either the Wordpress media manager or Nextgen Gallery.

There's still a little bit of manual work at the very end to get things exactly how I like them but it's very smooth. Here's a quick outline of how it works:

  1. Select my images in LR and go to export
  2. Select Dossier de Presse as the destination (I've saved this as a preset)
  3. Rename the gallery name (I usually create a new gallery each time, but you can update an existing gallery as well).
  4. Hit export
  5. In Wordpress, update any details on the page (the plug-in is still very new so there's a few things I still tweak manually after creating the page)
  6. Publish the page
  7. Add the page to my menu (Wordpress 3.0's new menu manager makes this very easy)

I know that probably looks like a lot but in action most of this goes extremely quickly and in the end I have a page and a gallery both within Wordpress itself so then I can manage it from there.

The final tweak I made was to update the effect I was using for Nextgen. After some other experimentation I seem to have settled on the Fancybox for Wordpress plug-in. This worked out of the box with Nextgen but I have adjusted the settings so that Nextgen adds a rel element to gallery images and Fancybox only groups images with the same rel (these are both easily setup in the settings for the plug-ins). I set this up so that I can control when images group if I have multiple images on the same blog post.