Step-by-step setup guide

Don't waste time, get the first version of your website in minimum time!

This guide is designed to help you achieve two things, in an efficient manner:

1- Quickly evaluate PhotoDeck

We've worked very hard to build a product we are proud of, a solution to real-life needs. But we also recognize that we can't be everything to everyone, each solution has benefits and drawbacks, and more importantly, everyone has different needs. We don't want to waste your time.

2- Get a functional working website in minimum time

This guide will help you focus first on what really counts, in order to get a working solution that effectively supports your business in as little time as possible, without compromising potential future improvements and customization.

Follow these steps -- and iterate!

So with both objectives in mind, the approach we recommend is one of progressive iterations. For example, if you are looking for an integrated portfolio and proofing solution, you should not spend days customizing the design before even setting up the proofing part. This is also the approach we used when building PhotoDeck.

We recommend you follow the steps outlined in this guide, but you can safely skip some to back to them later.

Remember that everything in PhotoDeck can be changed or refined at a later stage.

Please let us know if you have comments or suggestions to improve this guide!

Basic Settings

Important note: changes can take a few minutes to appear on your website.

Head over to My Website / Setup / Name & URL.

  • Adjust your Website name (keep it short)
  • If needed, adjust the URL to use under You will always be able to connect to your own domain later on.
  • Adjust your operating currency and the main language for your website
  • Remember to hit Save!

Don't jump into the website design/style just yet, it won't be practical until you add some images...

Set up the first main galleries

In this section, you will create your first galleries in such a way that they match the purpose(s) of your website and provide a solid foundation for the long term.

What is a Gallery?

Galleries are groups of images shown on your website. (Services and applications other than PhotoDeck might also call them "albums", "folders" or "categories").

Images must be published in galleries to be visible on the website. You can publish an image to multiple galleries.

Like folders on a hard disk, Galleries are hierarchical: you can create as many levels of sub-galleries as you wish.

Creating the basic gallery structure

For maximum flexibility and ease of management, you should organize your galleries like you would organize folders on your computer, creating a "category" of galleries for each type of galleries you will create.

Even if you can change the structure later on, it is advisable to do it right initially, especially if search engines (Google) are important to you: changing the structure might affect individual galleries' URLs.

If you plan to use PhotoDeck for a single purpose (for example, portfolio display or stock), you can skip this step. But if you feel you even might use PhotoDeck for multiple purposes in the future (e.g. public galleries AND protected client galleries), we recommend to create the proper structure upfront.

Gallery structure illustration

Create the first-level galleries on your site

Here are a few important examples - you don't need to create them all at once:

  • Portfolio (use the Portfolio preset)
  • Client galleries (use the Private gallery preset. This section will be hidden on your website.)
  • Archive / Stock / Fine-art prints... (use the Public archive/ecommerce gallery preset)
  • Blog (use the Blog preset)

Note that when a gallery is empty, it is not visible on your website.

Gallery Presets

A key promise of PhotoDeck is that your website can be multipurpose. You can combine a portfolio, a client proofing area, ecommerce archives, and even a blog on the same website. Naturally, the presentation of the images and features vary depending on the purpose.

So when you create a new gallery, we present you with a few presets to speed up your workflow. Pick the preset closest to what you need, and if required, you can subsequently adjust the settings once the gallery is created. (You can change all settings at any time).

PresetDisplay styleAccess settings
Portfolio gallery

Public gallery with Portfolio display style. Ideal for portfolio displays.

“Portfolio” display style.The gallery is NOT hidden, no free download allowed.
Public archive/ecommerce gallery

For standard, public galleries that balance functionality with aesthetics (e.g. public archive, ecommerce galleries or stock)

“Standard” display style.The gallery is NOT hidden, no free download allowed.
Private gallery

Same as archive/ecommerce gallery, but hidden. Ideal for private ecommerce galleries.

“Standard” display style.The gallery is hidden, no free download allowed.
Simple Client Download

Perfect to send high-res images to a client

“Proofing” display style.The gallery is hidden, with 1-click download enabled. You can add a password to the gallery via the gallery’s access settings.
Private proofing & ordering gallery

For proof-order-retouch-deliver scenarios: recommended when working with professional clients, and when the client must select images before their final versions can be prepared and delivered.

“Proofing” display style.The gallery is hidden, with Download via Cart enabled. You must add permissions to the access settings to authorize specific clients.

Create your first gallery with content

After you have set up the basic structure for your galleries, you are ready to create your first "real" gallery, with images/videos.

Open the top-level gallery that is most important for your website (Portfolio, Client proofing...), then click on New subgallery. This will nest the new gallery under that top-level gallery.

Name it (e.g. "Portfolio 1", "X+Y Wedding"...) and choose a preset.

When the gallery is created, you are finally ready to upload images or videos into it! Upload via the Upload to gallerybutton.

At this point, only upload a few test images. A watermark will be applied to images when they are uploaded, and it cannot be easily changed without re-uploading.

You can also customize the watermark already now, from the upload window.

What kind of files should I upload?

We recommend you upload full-resolution images/videos to benefit most from what PhotoDeck has to offer, as the system automatically generates the preview images on your website. If you are not planning to deliver the images digitally (e.g. if only for portfolio display), and if you don't wish to upload high-res files, uploading 3000px-wide images will you the best long-term flexibility.

Supported formats

  • Images: JPG, TIFF, PNG and GIF (including animated GIFs) ;
  • Videos: all common video encodings ;
  • Documents: PDF

The max image file size allowed with your plan is indicated in the upload window.


Images are best left not sharpened (or only very slightly sharpened as part of e.g. the RAW conversion process), so that your clients keep full flexibility in the printing process.

To save on disk space and upload times, we find that high-quality JPGs (rather than TIFF images) are suitable for most applications.

What image size do you provide to my clients?

In most cases, images are resized automatically. For license purchases that specify a size in pixels or a file size (e.g. Royalty-Free, Rights Managed Web uses), the buyer gets an image exactly the size purchased. For low-res downloads, we deliver an 800x800 pixel image that has your watermark applied, if it was applied upon upload.

In all other cases where a digital file has to be delivered, we deliver the high-resolution image you have uploaded, without modification.

Image color profiles

All preview images are converted to the sRGB color space, so you can safely upload high-resolution images in the space of your choice (e.g. AdobeRGB), as long as you embed the profile.

Note that for performance reasons (page display speed), the sRGB profile is not embedded in the thumbnails, so the color will be accurate only on the larger previews (assuming the viewer's browser is properly color-managed).

Ready to finally see your website with content on it!

At this point, you have created galleries and uploaded images to at least one gallery. Time to go look at how your website looks!

Click on the top-right corner button with your website name on it. This will open your website in a new window.

For the time being, you will most likely see only a thumbnail for the top-level gallery you have created that contains images, and clicking on it, it will show you another thumbnail for the actual gallery that contains images.

  • Only galleries with images are shown on your website
  • You will be able to change what the website opens on, it doesn't have to be the top-level index

Feel free to create a couple more galleries if you wish -- or move on to the next step.

Basic design customization

In this section, we will start customizing the website design so that it matches more closely your brand, and so that you get an understanding of the customization possibilities offered within the system.

Display Styles: controlling how images are displayed

Gallery display styles make it easy to change the way galleries are displayed on your website, from full-screen autoscaling slideshows to mosaic tile walls.

A gallery style applies to all galleries using that style.

Gallery styles also allow you to display images and galleries in a different way, according to each gallery's purpose.

To change the Display Style used by a gallery, open that gallery under My Images & Videos, then click on the link displaying the current display style in use, located right below the gallery title.

Default gallery styles

Each theme includes the following default display styles:

StyleWhat for?What it does
PortfolioTo showcase your work with as little visual distraction as possibleAesthetics first: large images, no distracting action buttons or metadata (so it's not suitable for ecommerce or proofing galleries), automatic slideshow, no search box.
ProofingUseability first: best user interface for a client to select images.Uncropped thumbnails with hover preview, easy access to proofing features and image information.
StandardSimple ecommerce and searchSomewhere between the Portfolio and Proofing styles, good compromise between useability and aesthetics.
BlogBlog index and blog postsDisplays a gallery like a blog: big previews on the same page, image descriptions readily visible as text, ...

Customizing gallery styles

To edit a display style, simply click on it in the top menu. When the popover window opens, select Customize display styles. You’ll be presented with 3 main sections:

Thumbnails pages

This section controls the gallery index pages (i.e. the pages where the images/videos thumbnails for a gallery are displayed). For example, you will find here the option to either split long galleries onto multiple pages, or to display them as a long page with "endless scrolling".

Gallery cover thumbnails

Use this section to customize the way thumbnails are displayed. Most notable here is the Gallery opens to parameter. This will dictate if visitors see a large image / slideshow or thumbnails when they first enter a gallery.

Image/Video thumbnails

Change the way thumbnails are displayed within galleries. Choose from great presets such as the magic mosaic wall tile, or edit small details like whether or not to display download icons on the thumbnails.

Enlarged images and videos

This section gives you complete control over how opened images and videos appear in your galleries. This is also the place to adjust slideshow behavior for full-screen autoscaling slideshows using, for example, the Portfolio style.

Image quality on a website is always a compromise between:
- displayed size on screen
- quality
- loading time (its importance is too often overlooked)

You can adjust various settings in the gallery display styles to maxize quality:
- use a higher size - this will result in longer loading times
- turn upsizing off in the auto-scale settings
- reduce the allowed crop
Also make sure that you upload files that are at least 3000px wide.

You can also create your own display styles by using the Duplicate this style button at the bottom of the page.

Changing your website's frontpage

The front page ("home") is what visitors first see when they go to your website URL. It can be changed under My Website / Front Page.

The front page can be:

  • The index of all top-level galleries, displayed as thumbnails. This is the default. Hidden galleries are excluded.
  • A specific gallery. For example, you can display a portfolio gallery with a selection of your most unique shots (see below to create an impressive frontpage slideshow).
    Alternatively, if you have organized your galleries by categories (e.g. "Portfolio", "Archive", ...), you can also put the most important top-level gallery/category as the frontpage. The index (thumbnails) of subgalleries under it will then be displayed.
  • A custom page, if you prefer to have a free-form page on your frontpage. Note that the mobile theme will revert to the gallery index as the frontpage.

If you set a specific gallery as the frontpage, you will need to make sure that the other galleries are accessible via links in your menu. Refer to the section on menus for further help!

On mobile devices, custom pages can't be set as the frontpage for usability reasons. The gallery index will be shown instead.

TUTORIAL 1: displaying a full-blead background or slideshow on your frontpage

Frontpage slideshow with multiple images and taking the text from the image titles

  1. Create a new custom page under My Website / Pages. Uncheck the box to add the page to the menu ;
  2. Leave the page content blank, and head directly to the Slideshow / Background tab ;
  3. Select the Background template, optionally add the text that will be displayed over the slideshow, and hit the Create button  ;
  4. Select the gallery you want to take the slideshow image(s) from. Alternatively, select to hand-pick images, save, and add the image(s) via My Images & Videos 
  5. Adjust the settings under the Text section to taste. If you display several images, instead of (or in addition to) a fixed text, you can also use the images titles to have the text change with each image. You can also adjust the slideshow luminosity and text color for legibility ;
  6. Under the page's Settings tab, set the page as the website frontpage.

TUTORIAL 2: Displaying an auto-scaling slideshow on your frontpage

  1. Set your frontpage to be a specific gallery, one that contains the images you want to display (see above). It can one of your existing galleries, or a new gallery created for that purpose.
  2. Make sure that gallery uses the default 'Portfolio' display style. (You can also use a different gallery style, but it must be set to open galleries to their first image, with both auto-scaling and slideshow enabled.)
  3. If needed, adjust the slideshow timer, loop type, transition style and maximum image crop by editing the display style. You will also be able to hide the Lightbox and e-commerce buttons if appropriate.
  4. Optional: if you wish, you can also hide the gallery so that it doesn't appear in the galleries thumbnails index.

The size and layout of the slideshow within the page will be directly based on your design.

How does design work?

A design in PhotoDeck is only concerned with the overall layout and the style of your website. Designs are like "skins", the same features are always available regardless of your design.

Within any design, it is also possible to greatly customize the way the images and galleries are displayed (via the Gallery Styles), what is shown on the front page when a visitor comes to your site, etc...

The Desktop/Tablet Website and Mobile Website panels

This is where you choose and customize the overall "skin" for your website, both for the desktop/tablet and for the mobile versions. What is done on this panel applies to all pages of your website.

This is where you customize the items that form the layout of your website: logo, menus, colors, fonts, ...

The Theme Settings and Theme Styles tabs allow you to easily customize your theme. The Advanced tab gives you tremendous control over the design and is mainly meant for advanced users willing to go deep into their design customization.

Preview - Commit - Revert

You can preview a work-in-progress design via the Preview button, without it affecting your live website. If you are unhappy with the changes you have made, hit the Revert button to reset the work-in-progress design to what you have on the live website.

Click on Commit & apply to live website once you are happy with the changes. After that point, there is no going back to a previous design.

Gallery Display Styles

The gallery Display Styles allow you to customize how images are displayed, based on the purpose of the gallery they are in. Please refer to the section on Gallery Display Styles for further help.

To get started, pick a theme

Head over to My Website / Desktop/Tablet Website and explore the base themes. First, look for a theme that has the layout you like most. Then, select the color variant that is closest to what you'd like.

Once you've found the base theme that is closest to what you wish, click on Commit & apply to live website. This will apply the theme to your website.

Preset themes are just starting point for your customization.

Using your own logo

To use your own logo:

  1. Prepare your logo in the size and format it will be displayed on your website. If it is meant to be displayed in a side column, it is best not to go over 130-150px of width, depending on the theme. We recommend saving the logo as a PNG file, with transparency if appropriate.
  2. Go to My Website / Graphics Library and upload your logo.
  3. Go to My Website / Desktop/Tablet Website / Theme settings and open the Logo dialog. Click on the logo you've just uploaded, and hit Apply.
  4. Your logo is now visible in the preview window. Once you are happy with it, click on Commit & apply to live website.

Adjust colors and fonts

You can also quickly adjust the colors and fonts used on your website, still under My Website / Desktop/Tablet Website

Going further with design customization

It is possible to go further in customizing your design, via the Advanced tab of the Design editor, as well as by customizing the gallery Display Styles.

Note that this can be a time-consuming task without direct impact to your business. Unless you are only building a simple portfolio website, we recommend that at this point in this guide, you move on to populating your website and setup ecommerce and/or proofing features.

Setting up e-commerce basics

You can safely skip this section if you are not interested in using PhotoDeck to sell or license images.

In this section, we will see how to price images.

To get started, create your first "pricing profile".

What is a pricing profile?

A pricing profile is a set of prices. It can be a simple price list, or a much complex structure for which the final price depends on a number of options -- PhotoDeck gives you extreme control over your offering and your prices.

To show prices on your website for an image or video clip, you must attach one or several pricing profiles to the image / video clip.

Defining several pricing profiles allows you to split your collection into different pricing tiers, and/or sell different kinds of products.

There are multiple pricing profile templates available to sell downloads, prints, stock photography, videos and documents, and all can be deeply customized.

Creating a first pricing profile

Go to My Business / E-Commerce / Products & prices to create a new pricing profile: use one of our example templates, then adjust to taste the options and prices. Start with only a few options initially.

Once your pricing profile is defined, go to My Images & Videos, select the images you wish to sell under that pricing profile, and in the right-hand-side panel, attach the new pricing profile to these images.

On your website, pricing options will then appear for these images.

At this point, we strongly recommend you test the system, putting yourself in the role of a client, to better understand how it works. For clarity, remember to use a different email address for the test client than the one you use to access your PhotoDeck account!

Going further with ecommerce setup

With a pricing profile defined, you can delve deeper into setting up a shipping profile, if you sell physical goods, as well as a tax profile to compute taxes at checkout based on the location of your clients.

In addition, you will probably want to connect to a payment solution provider, like for example PayPal, or offer a solution for offline payments.

You will find help with these topics on their respective pages in your admin interface. You can also perform these steps later on.

Setting up client galleries

In this section, we will see how to create your first client galleries for two common assignment cases: private consumers as clients (for social photographers), and editorial/commercial proofing with professional clients.

Galleries for private clients: events, portraits, weddings

Here is a recommended way of setting up galleries when working with private individuals, where privacy and simplicity are key.

Once you have set up a first gallery, it will be easy to reuse the same settings for other clients.

  1. Create a new gallery, ideally nested under a common "Client Area" gallery. Use the Private Gallery preset. The gallery will use the standard Gallery Style, which is a good balance between aesthetics and proofing functionality. The gallery will be hidden, i.e. not visible in the thumbnail navigation for maximum privacy.
  2. Click on the Private, hidden link to open the acess settings. Set a password to access the gallery. Setting a general password will not provide you with as much detail as to who exactly accesses the gallery, but it will be very simple for your clients. Save.
  3. Optionally, you can allow commenting on images and/or star-rating (More / Comments and star rating).
  4. Upload the images into the gallery.
  5. If the images are for sale, attach the proper pricing profile(s) to all images in the gallery.
  6. Done! All you now have to do is send the link to your clients, with the password. To that avail, you can use the email feature under More / Email link.

It should look like this...

Allowing free high-res downloads to consumers

In some cases, you might want to allow your clients to download high-res files. This can be done by adding new authorizations to the access options.

Note that you can allow only specific clients, based on their email, to download the images. This has two benefits: you get a better control and view over who downloads what, and you can allow a wide group of people to purchase from the gallery (say wedding guests) while allowing a subset (e.g. groom and bride) to download high-res files for free. The drawback is that it requires your clients to create a login on your website in order to access the free downloads.

Alternatively, you can allow anybody with access to the gallery to download for free. This of course, will override any download pricing profile set for the individual images and won't provide you information on who downloads images.

Please refer to the help on authorizations for further help!

Proofing and delivery for professional clients

Here are two recommended ways of setting up galleries when working with professional clients, where security, accountability and effectiveness are key.

Once you have set up a first gallery, it will be easy to reuse the same settings for other clients.

Simple case: making high-res files available for quick download

  1. Create a new gallery, ideally nested under a common "Client Area" gallery. Use the Simple download preset. The gallery will use the Proofing Gallery Style, which focuses on proofing functionality. The gallery will be hidden, i.e. not visible in the thumbnail navigation for maximum privacy.
  2. Open the access options by clicking on the Public, hidden link. 1-click download is pre-enabled for anybody who has access to that gallery. To make things simple for your client, simply set a general password to access the gallery.
  3. Upload images into the gallery.
  4. Done! All you now have to do is send the gallery link to your client, with the password. To that avail, you can use the email feature under More / Email gallery link tab.

Typical settings for a quick download gallery.

For a more secure alternative, or if you wish to keep better track of who downloads what, you can add login-based authorizations either to access the gallery, or to be able to download. It requires the client to login (and potentially register if he doesn't already have an account) and provides better accountability. If you do so, remember to disable downloading for the Anybody row in the authorization table!

Please refer to the help on authorizations for further help.

Professional assignment proofing and delivery

This section will show you how to let a client order a selection of images or videos out of an unprocessed shoot, so you can process/retouch ordered images and delivery them, in a professional and integrated way.

  1. Create a new gallery, ideally nested under a common "Client Area" gallery. Use the Private proofing & ordering gallery preset. The gallery will use the Proofing Gallery Style, which focuses on proofing functionality over aesthetics. The gallery will be hidden, i.e. not visible in the thumbnail navigation for maximum privacy.
  2. Upload the "proof" images/videos into the gallery.
  3. Open the authorizations dialog (by clicking on the Private link) and add your client(s) to the authorization list. You can share the gallery link with your client(s) easily by using the Notify feature. That feature will also guide them to open an account if needed.
  4. Done! Your clients are now able to order a selection of images as downloads.

Typical settings for a full assignment proofing gallery.

When your client has made a selection and placed an order, you will be notified by email. When you receive the order:

  1. If needed, reprocess/retouch the images/videos on your computer. Upload them into the gallery making sure you use the same filenames as for the proof images, and using the Replace image option. This will replace the proof images with the final ones. In the upload form, also set the status of the new uploads as Final, which indicates to the system that the files are ready for delivery.
  2. When all (or part of) the images have been replaced with their Final version, open the order, and click on Deliver PENDING downloadable items now. This will trigger the delivery of the FINAL images to the client. You can do this in several iterations, as this button will only deliver images that have not been delivered yet.

Image delivery on the order page.

To get familiar with the process from a client's perspective, try it yourself with a "test client" email address! For clarity, make sure it is different from your PhotoDeck login.

Going further

By now, you should have a fully working website, and a pretty good understanding of PhotoDeck's overall capabilities.

We've just scratched the surface

Our objective is to offer a simple interface for the most important tasks, but provide you with extended control at the same time, via advanced options. There is plenty to be customized and many, many options, so if you have a special need, either in terms of design or in terms of functionality, feel free to explore further!