halfpress.com: the big overhaul

I’ve been wanting to return to active blogging and more frequent posting of photo galleries for quite some time now. The sysadmin/geek in me also wanted to completely overhaul the halfpress.com blog including finding a new approach to how my galleries are created. I also needed to refresh my approach to online photo sales, not just for the regular events I shoot, but to begin dabbling with the sale of some of my photos on an artistic basis.

The blog was originally hosted on my own server(s) using MovableType and a few layers of self-written Python code to support a database-driven, slideshow-capable gallery workflow. This approach became cumbersome after a while, namely once Lightroom came into my life and my editing workflow changed significantly (for the better).

the new halfpress

I’ve had cause in the last year to build other blogs related to my work and have taken a real liking to the modern WordPress. As a result, I’ve moved everything to one of my beefier, more modern Linux servers and ported all of my MovableType halfpress content to the latest release of WordPress. Once again, the sysadmin and geek genes in me have plans for some custom components, so I’m continuing to host on servers that I maintain from the physical hardware level on up.

Frederick Van Johnson turned me on to Graph Paper Press a year or so ago and I’ve been eyeballing their slick, media-centric WordPress themes for a while. I went ahead and subscribed to their service this past week and have started out with their ultra-flexible Modularity theme. There is a lot the theme can do that I haven’t implemented, and I might still dabble with some of their other theme lines or Modularity-parented variants. For now, this gets me going.

The last major element was the hosting of my photo galleries. This is one area where I have decided to move from my own servers to outside hosting. After some inquiries to my always helpful Twitter followers, I quickly landed at Zenfolio. Their system has great backend management, nice presentation and kills two birds with one stone for me: it serves as both an elegant portfolio site and a very capable photo sales site.

I do a good bit of event photography, some of which is annual (namely for my employer, Sweet Briar College). Since 2006, I’ve been selling those photos online with good success. My photo sales galleries were always a world all their own, disjointed from my workflow and galleries on the blog. I also periodically tossed random stuff on Flickr, but I’ve never been a fan of their user interface despite the massive community they represent.

<a href="http://halfpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/zen1 .png”>Zenfolio provides me with an opportunity to put everything in one place using an interface that I really like, including a nice Lightroom plug-in by Jeffrey Friedl that massively streamlines my gallery creation. By placing all of my photos here and linking those galleries to my blog entries, I have a fairly transparent bonding of the two sites. I also have less individual sites to manage and an opportunity now to offer virtually anything – events or non-event artistic photos – for sale online.

I’m just now completing the initial blog move and Zenfolio configuration. There are still rough edges and lots of unexplored territory, so things will likely continue to change in the coming days. Since I ported all of my previous blog content, but haven’t been blogging much in the last two years, my front page will still have quite a few old entries. This gives me more incentive, however, to get some momentum and push those things off the main page by adding new content. One can hope. ?

the old halfpress

The old incarnation of halfpress is by no means dead (yet). While the content has been migrated to the new site, the old server is still in operation in all of its antiquated glory: http://archive.halfpress.com.

I’m open to feedback, which you can place in the comments on this post or tweet to me (@halfpress). I’m especially interested in comments on the site navigation, overall aesthetics and my choices of imagery for the slideshow, etc. Also try the small images you see in my posts (like the ones to the left and right of this text) – they should be clickable for enlargement and I’d like to know if they pop up cleanly for everyone. I’ve implement reCaptcha, too, in my comment system and would like to see it in action with users (I had this implemented on the old site, too).

Mobile users (iPhone, Nexus, etc): please let me know if the streamlined mobile version looks good. There is a toggle switch at the bottom of the mobile version allowing you to switch to the full site if your device is up to it.

It’s almost 4 AM and I’m going to be insanely tired tomorrow, so I’ll wrap this up, send out a tweet and hit the sack!

– Aaron

3 Responses to “halfpress.com: the big overhaul”

  1. JoeyHeadset says:

    THIS CITE IZ GOOT BUT NEEDS MOR TACOEZ LOLZ

  2. John Jaffe says:

    I really like it. The zenfolio linked stuff obviously comes through a little slower than the things hosted on your servers. Looking forward to the navigational tweaks. Zenfolio at the $25 basic level looks like it would be great for individuals who are really photographers like me but with tons of family and historical pictures they just want to upload and have securely backed up and available. Seems to have all the features of higher cost levels except for the professional sales features and links to personally hosted servers/urls/etc.

    John

  3. Brian says:

    Love the new design. Especially like this update. I’m also a sys admin thinking about redesigning my boring blogger site. The gallery on top of the page is really eye catching. Excellent photos and keep up the good work.