How to Create a Photography Blog – Part 1

Whether you are an aspiring photographer or a full-time pro, a blog can help you showcase your work and connect with your viewers, fans and potential clients. In these series of articles, I will show you how to create a photography blog from scratch – from buying a domain and hosting, to installing the most popular blog platform in the world known called “WordPress”. I decided to do this because I know that many photographers simply don’t have the technical know-how to create and manage a blog, while others don’t have the financial means to pay for the installation, configuration and customization of WordPress. Once you get your own blog up and running, you will be able to perform routine maintenance yourself, instead of relying on someone else.

Since this is going to be a rather large tutorial/howto, I decided to split it into several parts. In part 1, I will provide some basic information on domains, hosting, databases and content management systems. I will also go through the process of purchasing a domain together with a hosting account, then will set up a hosting account with a database. In part 2, I will go through WordPress installation and initial configuration. In part 3, we will deal with some customization and basic plugins, while Part 4 is going to be on themes and templates that you can use with WordPress. I will obviously try to explain everything in very simple terms, assuming that the reader has no prior knowledge of the Web. Let’s get started!

WordPress Dashboard

1) How Websites Work

Before delving into some blogging verbiage, let me first explain how websites work in general. Every time you open up your browser and type in a website, or find a website through search engines like Google and Yahoo, your computer obtains some information about the website on the Internet and then connects to a particular server that hosts that website. The particular server I am referring to has a unique address on the Internet and that’s how it is found. Ever heard of a term “IP address”? When computers and servers communicate on the Internet, they find each other through unique IP addresses that look like a bunch of numbers with dots in between – something like 55.66.77.88. Since those numbers are hard to remember, domains like “.com” were invented. Thanks to those domains, you just need to know the address of a website like “cnn.com” or “mansurovs.com” and you can get to a website without even knowing the IP address of the machine that hosts that website on the Internet. This domain name to IP translation happens through Domain Name Servers (DNS) on the Internet, the sole purpose of which is to convert domain names to IP addresses. Here is how the actual communication takes place:

  1. Once you type the website address/domain on your browser (client), it looks up the IP address of the server that hosts the requested website (through a DNS server).
  2. Your browser then contacts the server through the IP address and sends some information to the server about what page/URL is being requested.
  3. The server processes the request and outputs a webpage, which then gets fetched by your browser.
  4. Your browser goes through the content and then parses it in a nice, readable format for you.

This client/server communication is very similar to a restaurant (as an analogy). The client (your web browser) goes to a restaurant and places an order for food from a waiter (the server). The waiter takes the oder and remembers the location (IP address) where the client sits. Once the food is ready, the waiter brings it out to the client. To be more efficient, the waiter serves multiple clients. Similar to this waiter, Internet servers are also meant to serve many clients and requests, not just one. For example, our website is visited by tens of thousands of visitors every day and we have one server that handles all those requests.

Why is the above information important? Because as a future website/blog owner and operator, you need to understand these basics of Internet communication.

2) Introduction to Content Management Systems (CMS)

Now that you know how websites work, let me give you a very quick tour of what content management systems are and how most modern blogs work today. Every time you visit a website on the Internet, the content that your browser receives from the server that hosts that blog is coded in one or more Internet languages that your browser can understand, parse and display for you. Historically, being able to publish content on the Internet required a lot of technical skills, because you had to know how to program in those languages. Every time you wanted to upload an article on your website, you would have to write a separate page in that language and publish it one by one. Overtime, it became a maintenance nightmare for website owners, because they had thousands of custom-written pages that were extremely hard to modify. If owners wanted to change the layout of their website or make modifications to all pages, they had to go through each page one at a time, which was a very inefficient and expensive process.

Some programmers and website developers realized this problem and came up with an idea – why not store content in a dynamic system with a database to store all the content (which would eliminate the need to program individual pages) and find a way to use templates to manage the look of the website, so that the appearance and the layout of the webpages could be changed automatically. That’s how the first “Content Management Systems” (CMS) were born. With these systems, the cost and the time to maintain websites went down dramatically and CMS systems quickly gained popularity on the Internet. But those CMS systems were hard to set up and required some coding experience to maintain them, which limited the use of CMS to only those, that could afford paying programmers to publish content. This eventually led to the creation of blog platforms – the aim of which was to provide a simple foundation for ordinary “non-techies” to publish content on the Internet. Blogs also offered a different format of presenting the content. Instead of serving pages in a traditional way with hard links and navigations, blogs displayed dynamic content like in news sites, with the fresh content on the top of the page. Compared to complex CMS systems, blogs were free to download and use, were relatively easy to set up and did not require any knowledge of programming languages to post content – special “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editors made it easy to perform simple functions directly from browsers. In addition, most blog platforms were open-source (meaning anybody can make changes to source code) and were designed to run on MySQL database and PHP scripting language, both of which are also free and comparably easy to learn. This meant that anybody could add and change the code, which resulted in communities of developers, who collaboratively worked together to enhance the blog platform and make it better. Next, something big called “blog revolution” happened. That’s when blogs went mainstream and thousands of blogs started appearing all over the Internet. All of a sudden, many website owners started turning away from their old “static” content and started evaluating different blog platforms to transition their websites to a better and a more flexible platform to cut down their costs and start focusing on the content, while providing a different navigation experience to their visitors.

3) WordPress and its success

As CMS systems gained more popularity and the blog platform got kicked off, many different variations of blog systems started appearing on the Internet. While adoption of blog platforms between tech-savvy users was quite high, most blog systems were still hard to get going, even for people with some technical experience. Blog systems seemed to lack one component – simplicity. That’s when a young kid by the name of Matt Mullenweg came up with an idea to write a very simple blog system that was easy to set up and configure. And WordPress was born.

I remember the day when I met Matt at a conference in 2005. Back then, I was playing with a really old version of WordPress and I had many complaints about it. I discussed some of my frustrations with Matt and he told me that he was working on many of those problems already and that the next releases of WordPress would address some of my concerns. I had some challenges with the initial WordPress versions and I even thought about creating my own blog system just to run my blog (which I obviously did not have the time or resources to do, so my idea never materialized). I waited for the new version of WordPress and indeed, many of the discussed items such as ability to upload images were released in the next version. Overtime, WordPress got better and better, while its installation process pretty much remained the same – a one button click to get it installed and configured. And that was the major reason why WordPress was getting adopted very quickly. Simplicity. Always. Wins. Whether you were a programming guru or a novice, all you had to do was upload some files and run an installation script and voila – your blog was ready to go. In just several years, WordPress became the most popular blog platform on the Internet. It still is today.

With its latest releases, WordPress is not a simple blogging tool that it used to be several years ago anymore, but a product that rivals even some of the most powerful Content Management Systems.

4) Why use WordPress for your photography blog

Besides being the #1 platform for blogging, what are the reasons why you as a photographer should choose WordPress as a blog platform? Here are some of the reasons why I believe WordPress is a good fit for photographers:

  1. It is easy to set up and configure.
  2. Once you learn the basics, publishing media content is a simple process.
  3. In the long term, WordPress is easy to manage and maintain.
  4. Photographers work heavily with images. WordPress has a powerful media upload/management tool for images and videos. Although the image processing/resizing feature is not optimized for quality, it can be tweaked a little to work better. With the help of some plugins, images can be presented to clients for viewing in a neat way.
  5. It is highly customizable through templates and plugins. Thousands of templates and plugins are readily available for free, with some very good commercial options developed specifically for photographers.
  6. It can be tightly integrated with social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
  7. It is search engine friendly and there are some great ways to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  8. It has lots of built-in functionality and some external tools to convert from other popular blogging platforms (in case your blog is currently hosted elsewhere).
  9. It looks nice and clean.
  10. It has the biggest community of developers that constantly work on improving it and adding more features.
  11. Considering the community size and millions of blogs that use the same platform all over the Internet, WordPress has a good future. So you don’t have to worry about spending your time on a system that will have no support tomorrow.
  12. It is free.

I’m sure there are other reasons/advantages, but I consider the above to be the most important.

5) Hosted vs Self-hosted Blog

The big question many potential blog owners ask, is whether they should use a hosted solution or a self-hosted solution. Let me go over these and their differences really quick. Most hosted blog solutions are free – websites such as WordPress.com and Blogger.com offer a great way to start a blog without paying anything for it. Your blog is automatically set up and hosted for you and a list of templates is readily available to choose from. Because these large blog websites are hosted on very reliable networks, chance of problems such as potential downtime are very low and the overall responsiveness and the speed are also very high. But hosted blog systems have one big limitation – they do not allow blog owners to add new features or change existing ones. Also, if you wanted to have your own unique style and a customized theme, you would not be able to use it in a hosted environment. At the same time, due to tight control on the blog functionality, hosted blogs have a very low risk of failure due to user error. You would have to try hard to break a hosted blog.

On the other hand, a self-hosted blog gives you all the freedom to do basically whatever you want. You can get whatever plugin or theme you want to install and change the site appearance completely. On the negative side, if anything goes wrong, your site could potentially be inaccessible to your visitors. Obviously, a self-hosted blog means that you would have to pay for hosting it on the Internet.

Here is a short summary of advantages and disadvantages of both:
Advantages of a hosted solution (like WordPress.com)

  1. Reliable service
  2. Low-risk hosting
  3. High uptime and fast speeds
  4. Able to handle high loads and lots of traffic
  5. Automatic setup that does not require any technical/programming skills
  6. Comes with plenty of functionality to start a blog
  7. Automatically pre-configured for you
  8. Great tools to import blogs from other blog platforms
  9. Free, unless premium services are used

Disadvantages of a hosted solution:

  1. No flexibility to install new features and themes
  2. Minimal control over site layout and functionality
  3. Slow to changes and new features
  4. Advertising is not allowed

Advantages of a self-hosted solution

  1. Highly flexible and customizable
  2. Can add/use any features/plugins and themes
  3. Ability to sell advertising anywhere on the site, including feeds
  4. Full access to WordPress files
  5. Ability to run the latest versions of WordPress core files (including beta releases) and plugins
  6. Can run multiple blogs from the same installation (WordPress multi-user)

Disadvantages of a self-hosted solution

  1. Requires purchase of a domain and hosting
  2. Blog can be prone to hacking, if not updated regularly
  3. Some bad plugins and custom themes can break site functionality
  4. Uptime and speed depend on the hosting provider

The biggest drawback of a hosted solution is inability to use your own custom themes and plugins. While there are companies that offer better hosted solutions for photographers, the flexibility to use plugins and themes of your choice is still not there, mainly due to high risk of a potential failure. If you are serious about your photography and want to run a photography business, you should definitely choose a self-hosted solution. It is certainly more work to have a hosted solution, but don’t forget that your website is your face and your image – your clients will certainly notice it.

6) Total cost of a self-hosted solution

Before you continue any further, you have to get a good understanding of the cost of owning a self-hosted WordPress installation. While hosting prices really depend on hosting companies and their pricing models, I will be particularly focusing on one company I personally use for my hosting needs – GoDaddy.com. I am not affiliated with GoDaddy in any way. I just like the pricing, service and overall value of their services. Talking about value, their domain + hosting packages are very cheap, certainly some of the lowest in the industry. If you do not currently your own domain like yourphotography.com, I would buy both a domain and a hosting package directly from GoDaddy. Commercial .com domains are just $11.99 per year and if that’s too expensive for you, you can get a .info domain for even less.

Here are the three hosting packages the company offers:

GoDaddy Hosting Prices

The Economy package is good enough for most people and you can always upgrade to Deluxe or Ultimate packages, if you need more storage later. As you can see, it can get as low as $2.99 per month for hosting if you pay for 3 years of service, which is dirt cheap. If you want to try it out and see how far you can get, just go with the 1 month or 3 month service and see if you like it or not. You can prolong your hosting service later.

In summary, if you were to buy a domain plus hosting from GoDaddy.com, your annual cost would depend on the length of the hosting plan you selected. For example, if you go with a 12 month Deluxe hosting plan with a domain, your total cost is $11.99 (domain) + $83.88 ($6.99×12) = $95.87 – less than a hundred bucks for the entire year!

7) Purchasing a domain and hosting

If you have made up your mind to buy a domain and a hosting account, here is what you need to do:

  1. Go to www.godaddy.com and type the domain name you want to buy on the main page. You will have to find a domain name that is not used by anybody else, so you might end up spending some time looking for a good domain name. Here is where you type the name of domain to search on the main page:

    Domain Purchase

  2. If the domain you searched for is available, the next page will indicate that you can purchase the domain. Click the “Add” button to add the domain to your shopping cart.
  3. The next step is fill out a Registration form, where GoDaddy will ask you for your personal information such as name, address, etc., so click the orange “Continue to Registration” button.
  4. You will probably get a screen with some additional offers, such as purchasing .net, .org and other similar domains – just click “No Thanks” on the bottom and you will be taken to the registration form.
  5. Fill out the registration form and proceed to domain settings and then Privacy/Domain Protection. Don’t worry about any of these and just click “Next”.
  6. In step #4, you will have an option to add email and hosting. Scroll down to “Add Website and Hosting” and pick either “Web Hosting Economy” or “Web Hosting Deluxe”, then click the orange “Add” button. The status should change to “Pending Purchase” as seen below:
    Add Website and Hosting
    The default hosting plan is “Linux”, which works great for WordPress hosting.
  7. Click “Next” and finish up the Checkout process. While checking out, you will be able to create a username and password to access your GoDaddy.com account.
  8. Once you complete your purchase, you will receive an email with order confirmation.

What if you already own a domain? If you bought it through GoDaddy.com, all you have to do is login to your GoDaddy dashboard, then add a hosting account to your domain. If you bought a domain through somebody else, then the process would require you to transfer it from your current domain registrar (the company you bought the domain from) to GoDaddy. Look up domain transfer instructions on both your registrar’s website and GoDaddy and follow the process. Depending on your registrar, the process might be fairly straightforward to somewhat complex. If you are not comfortable with the process, simply call your registrar and they should be able to help you. GoDaddy.com has a great phone support, so you can call them to get instructions and help with the domain transfer process as well.

8) Hosting Account – Initial Setup

Now that you have the domain and your hosting plan purchased, you need to set some things up for WordPress to work. Start by logging into your WordPress account, then see if “Web Hosting” is already listed under “Products” as shown below:

Web Hosting Account

If you do not see it yet, wait a few minutes and refresh the page you are on. Once your web hosting account is created by GoDaddy, you should see the above link that says “Set up now!”. Click the link and you will be taken to the Hosting Account Center, where you will have to go through some steps to set up your hosting account. Here is the initial screen:

Account Setup

Click next, then set up your account login/password that you will be using to access the Hosting Account Center. Don’t forget to write down the username and password, since you will need it to access your account later. Next, under “Account Details”, choose “Select from existing:” and pick your domain name that will be associated with the hosting account:

Account Details

Click Next to continue to the Options page. Select PHP 5.x as the PHP Version and click Next again. The final page is the confirmation page, that should look something like this:

Confirmation Page

Click the “Finish” button and you will be taken to the Hosting Account Center:

Hosting Account Center Pending Setup

Initially you will get the “Pending Setup” message under “Status”. Just wait for 5-10 minutes and then refresh the page and the status should change to “Setup”. After that, click the domain name link and you will be taken to the “Hosting Dashboard” which will look like this:

Hosting Dashboard

I deleted some private information from the page, but you should see some information like “Admin User Name” and “IP Address”, along with “Hostname” on this page. Everything is good to go, now we need to set up the database for WordPress.

9) Easy WordPress Install

When it comes to installing WordPress, some hosting companies like GoDaddy make it very easy to get everything going with the least amount of effort. While I will be going through a detailed installation process for those who choose a different hosting company, it is up to you to choose which route you want to go through. For most people, using an automated way to install WordPress will work best, because you will not have to go through the process of setting up a database or uploading WordPress files. So if you choose a simple install, you can skip steps #10, #11 and #12 completely.

When you are done setting up the hosting account, you will be taken to the main page of the “Hosting Control Center”. On the of the page you will see a bunch of green buttons, along with some large buttons lower on the page that say “Files”, “Domains”, “Email” and “Install Apps”. The “Install Apps” button is the only one that is black and you will see “WordPress” listed as the very first link on that page. Click the “WordPress” link, then when the next page loads, click the “INSTALL NOW!” link:

WordPress 3.1 Easy Install

Next, you will see an End User License Agreement, which states that GoDaddy does not necessarily endorse third party products and that GoDaddy has no control over how they function. Just click “I Agree” and you will be taken to a four step wizard to install WordPress. Here is how the first Step looks like:

WordPress Easy Install 1

Just select your domain, then click “Next” on the bottom of the page. The second step is skipped, because you already have a hosting account and you do not need to set one up. Here is what you will see in Step #3:

WordPress Easy Install 2

Just give a description to your WordPress database – something like “WordPress Install” and then type a database password twice. Make sure to write down this database password – you might need it later! Once you click the yellow Next button, you will be asked to choose an install directory:

WordPress Easy Install 3

Here you will have to make a choice on whether you want your blog to reside on the main page of your domain or within a folder. For example, our blog is accessed through the domain mansurovs.com directly and you do not have to put the word “blog” at the end of the URL. If you are planning to have a separate “Portfolio” page in the future, then it is probably a good idea to put your blog under a folder like “blog”. That way, you could have something like “myphotographysite.com” reserved for your portfolio page and “myphotographysite.com/blog” just for your blog. If you are not planning to have a portfolio page, then just remove everything after the slash “/” and leave this field empty. This is an important decision to make, because it will not be easy to change the URL in the future, especially after search engines index your website. Some photographers choose to have two separate domains – one to host a portfolio and another to host a blog. If you are planning to do the same, then just leave this field blank. Click “Next” to go to the final step:

WordPress Easy Install 4

Here you need to provide WordPress username and password, along with your email and “Blog Title”. Make sure to write down the username and password – you will need these to access your WordPress admin page.

Now click “Finish” and your WordPress will be installed and ready to go!

10) Setting up MySQL Database

For those who are buying hosting through another company or want to go through the full process of installing WordPress, I am also including all manual steps that require setting up a database, downloading WordPress installation files and uploading them to your hosting account and finally getting WordPress installed and configured. If you have taken the shortcut by doing the #8 above, then skip this step, along with #11 and #12.

As I have pointed out earlier, WordPress needs a database to store your blog posts and other information. The database type we will be using for WordPress is called “MySQL” and it is the most popular and the most used database on the Internet today. In order for WordPress to access the database, you will need to set it up first and create a separate username and password to access the database. Let’s go through the process of setting up your MySQL database.

While you are in the same “Hosting Dashboard” screen, click the “Set up” link under “Database” -> “MySQL: 0 of 25″. A new “Create Database” screen will show up like the following:

Create MySQL Database

Type the name of your domain under “Description” and then specify the username and password to access your MySQL database. For security purposes, I highly recommend to use a long username and password with a mix of uppercase, lowercase letters and numbers. Write down the username and password you typed in these fields! Don’t worry about “Read-Only User Name” and password fields below that. Make sure to pick “5.0″ as the “MySQL Version”. Set “Allow Direct Database Access” to “No”. Click OK when you are done and your database will be queued for setup. You will see another screen with “Pending Setup” prompt. Just wait for 5-10 minutes, then refresh the page by clicking the “Refresh List” button. When the MySQL database is fully setup, the status will change to “Setup”.

Now that the database is set up, we are ready to install WordPress!

Continued in Part 2 of “How to Build a Photography Blog”.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) [Gm]
    February 28, 2011 at 12:51 am

    “Most hosted blog solutions are free – websites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com and Blogspot.com offer a great way to start a blog without paying anything for it”

    Actually, Blogger.com and Blogspot.com is the same. The ‘dashboard’ is at blogger.com, but the blog is at blogspot.com… I think. :D
    Other than those three, might also consider simple/straightforward blog that might be suitable for photoblog like posterous.com or tumblr. I personally use posterous for photoblog… while my blog is at wordpress.com

    Anyway, thank you very much for all of the information. This can be very handy when one wants to make a self-hosted blog using WP engine. I personally would prefer free hosted photoblog as I still think that self-hosted blog is too much efforts and hassles. I just don’t feel the necessity to have self-hosted blog, yet. I might change my mind in the future, though :D.

    • February 28, 2011 at 1:01 am

      GM, thanks for pointing it out – I fixed the article.

      If the provided themes and functionality suit your needs, then there is really no need for a self-hosted solution :) I personally use self-hosted WordPress, because it gives me lots of flexibility. Full Facebook/Twitter integration and ability to use plugins/my own themes are huge for me. Plus, I have the flexibility to have a separate portfolio and other pages on the same domain…you cannot do that in a hosted environment.

  2. February 28, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Hi Nasim. I read your website and like it very much. I learn a lot about photography and appreciate your advises and tests. However I wonder if each photographer must be a web designer and do weddings to get some extra money. Should not we specialized in photography and leave website stuff for web designers and also do photos for fun not for money. What do you think?

    • February 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Tomasz, great question! This article is clearly not to make photographers web designers :) As I have pointed out, WordPress is a very simple blogging tool that anybody can install and configure. If an aspiring photographer does not have the means to pay someone to develop a blog for him/her, then these series of tutorials are here to help. Professional photographers that can afford to have someone do it will obviously skip this tutorial, although some parts of it (especially parts 3 and 4) might be very useful to existing blog owners.

      • February 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

        I like the answer. I will follow your site to find out more about photography. All the best for you and your family.

  3. February 28, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Thanks a lot for this article!! I still own a hosted wordpress.com blog but have been thinking about upgrading for a while, your advice is really useful!

    • February 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Adriana, you are most welcome! As you will see from these series of articles, getting a blog up and running is not hard at all.

  4. 5
    ) Noreen
    February 28, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for this great information. This will totally come in handy when that day I’d like to have my own…Thanks, really!!!

    • February 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

      You are most welcome Noreen! Stay tuned for more.

  5. February 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Great part 1, can’t wait to read the rest. I do think it’s worth mentioning that some hosting solutions can automatically install blog software using scripts like Fantastico. GoDaddy apparently doesn’t have this feature, so you have to manually set up things like SQL databases which can be really confusing for beginners.

    • March 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      GoDaddy actually does have this feature – a single click WordPress install, but their WordPress versions are typically outdated. Plus, I thought it might be a good idea for people to understand how this process works and learn some new things along the way :)

  6. 11
    ) azmibogart
    March 2, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Thanks Nasim
    waiting for part 2 and so on….

    azmiBogart

    • March 3, 2011 at 5:34 pm

      I am currently travelling, so hopefully will put up part 2 this coming weekend.

  7. 12
    ) LaneReynolds
    March 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Hey guys i know that this is probably not the correct thread to post this but im doing it anyways. Im a new wannabe photographer and im looking to purchase a dSLR camera. I want something that is not over about $400. But i work at best buy and have a great employee discount on Sony cameras. Its basically half off, So any suggestions? The camera will mostly be used at the lake with a LOT of sun light, but towards the evening it will be used in low light conditions again mainly on the lake to take pictures of jetski’s and boats. Thank you for all of your help in advance!!

    • 13
      ) Rahul
      March 3, 2011 at 8:14 am

      Low light+action ? That’s expensive street ! $400 is too low for low light demands.
      For bright shooting conditions, you can get long zooms at inexpensive prices. It’s low light shooting that gets pretty expensive.

      For fast moving subjects like jet-skis and boats, you can’t get by with long shutter speeds ;you want fast shutter speeds, which makes fast aperture lenses even more critical. This presumably is from a distance, so that translates to fast telephotos like a 70-200 f/2.8 – pretty expensive equipment. But if you could get closer to the action, a smaller cheaper 17-50 f/2.8.

      Thing is, for DX SLRs like D3000/D3100/D5000, there are no fast telephoto lenses, prime or zoom, only in FX which are more expensive. The cheapest of those fast telephotos cost over $1000. The 80-200 f/2.8D is perhaps the cheapest and it’s still over $1200 new and needs a D90 or better to auto-focus, on cheaper Nikons you have to focus manually. You could try renting a ($2500 new)70-200 f/2.8, or buy used.

  8. 14
    ) lanereynolds
    March 3, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Thank you for your reply. I’m not trying to get that expensive. I only want to get the camera right now and I can get half off on sony products. I was told that the sony a55 is a really good camera that takes fast pictures would yall recommend this camera?

    • 15
      ) Rahul
      March 3, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Only the camera ? You can’t shoot without at least one lens !
      Like I said before, low light is a very demanding type of photography, as I found out the hard way. It’s difficult getting good shots in low light for moving subjects.

      The A55 is good, and shoots upto to 10fps, but it has a pellicle mirror, which reduces the amount of light directed to the sensor. For low light, you’re better off with a true DSLR. Try the low end Sony DSLRs like A290, I don’t know the prices but the body+18-55 kit is perhaps about the cheapest DSLR around. Here, the A290 + 18-55mm + 55-200mm lens retails for around $700. US prices could be cheaper, and if you can half-price, that’s well under your $400 budget . A55 here is over $900, but may be cheaper for you in the US, and you have your discount as well.

      Caveat : these are kit lenses and the cheapest consumer lenses, with slow maximum aperture of 5.6. That does make low light action photography pretty difficult, so you’ll likely want to shoot from a tripod. The Pentax K-X probably might retail at similar prices around $750-800 for 18-55 + 55-300mm , but again those are not fast lenses.

      Good luck !

    • 16
      ) Rahul
      March 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

      If you can shoot in good lighting, the A55 is great for action, just as long as you’re shooting at late evening. Since you mentioned boats and jet-skis, I supposed they’d be running in daylight and not late into the evening. In that case, you could get by any on the A55 or other DSLRs with regular consumer grade lenses.

  9. 17
    ) Lanereynolds
    March 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Just a couple more questions. If I like and continue with photography then I would like to not have to upgrade cameras. I would like to just be able to buy different lenses and other equipment. Would the a55 be enough? Also what lens would yall recommend for shots further than about 200yds but up close as much as 50yds is there one? Also it will be focused on something about the size of a person. Also when I say low light conditions I don’t mean twilight its still pretty bright, there isn’t many trees and very few shadows.

    • March 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      Lane, the Sony A55 should be good enough for what you are trying to do. Just get the camera with the 18-55mm kit lens and if you need more reach, you can always get longer lenses later.

  10. March 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Hello Nasim,

    Very nice post about the different solutions in which you can choose and very good job breaking down the pricing. The one thing I wanted to mention that I did not see mentioned is if GoDaddy supports Add-On domains. My current host is LunarPages and while they do have a little down-time or they pull your site for over cpu usage etc. they allow for up to 10 add-on domains for my account. You might be asking well what are add-on domains. You can think of them as additional sites but they are all on the same IP address.

    For instance on my hosting account codebowl.com is my primary domain associated with the account, however I also have josephcrawford.com which I added as an add-on. This basically setup another site in my web-root and points the domain at that folder for the web-root.

    This means that I can run a total of 11 different sites under the same hosting account so long as I do not exceed the bandwidth/space and if I do I could upgrade my package.

    I would be interested to know if GoDaddy offers the same or if you will have to spend around $100/yr for each site (if you choose to pay by the year).

    I will also have to put in my $0.02. If you have never owned a blog go grab one from WordPress.com and get familiar with the system. Maybe install something like WAMP, XAMP, MAMP on your machine. These are just all in one packages that have everything you need to run your own web server. Install WordPress and play around with it locally on your machine. Once you are familiar and comfortable with the full un-restricted version of WordPress go get your own hosting account and move away from the hosted solution on WordPress.com.

    Thanks,
    Joseph Crawford

    • March 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      Joseph,

      Yes, GoDaddy does allow you to have add-on domains – as far as I know, you can have as many of those as you wish, as long as you do not exceed the number of databases limited by each hosting plan. The only inconvenience is the fact that all domains have to point to a specific folder inside your main hosting folder. For example, if your abc.com domain is the main hosting account, you could host def.com in a folder inside the root folder. You might want to give them a call to find out the details, but I know for a fact that you can do that, since a friend of mine is hosting 3 separate domains under 1 hosting account. Godaddy is pretty reliable, but it does go down every once in a while when their servers get slammed. It does not happen very often and goes back online after a minute or two though.

  11. March 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    So even though I have used WordPress for about 5 years now I must ask. How the heck did you get different color schemes for different parts of your pages? Did you just implement conditional statements in your theme so that you could choose which CSS file is included based on the URI?

    What I mean is

    http://photographylife.com/ has a completely different color scheme/background, etc than http://photographylife.com/weddings/

    I also noticed your header images change based on what part of the site you are on or which category etc.

    • March 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      Joe, good questions :) I am using WordPress MU, so each subfolder within mansurovs.com is treated like a separate blog. I have the same theme copied for each blog, with slightly different backgrounds and colors. That’s why when you go to the main page or the recipes section, you see different stuff. In fact, I could have a completely different theme on each sub-blog. As for the header images, I just created a very small PHP file that randomly picks up a JPEG file from an image folder (loads from CSS) and it does it for each individual blog :)

      • March 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

        Hello Nasim,

        Thanks for the very quick reply. I love this feature and had no idea that it was available. I am going to contact my shared host to see if they support this feature. Did you specifically check with GoDaddy if they allowed it or did you just set it up? I ask because if my host does not allow it and GoDaddy does I will make the switch.

        Now I can have http://development.josephcrawford.com for all my web-dev stuff and http://photography.josephcrawford.com for all my photography stuff without running different WP instances, LOVE IT!

        Thanks,
        Joseph Crawford

        • March 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

          Seems you have a template issue, look at the above comment by me it is numbered as just )

          where’s the 1, 2, etc. :)

          Thanks,
          Joseph Crawford

          • March 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

            Ah I think it was awaiting Moderation so it didn’t show the number. Odd how some comments are held for moderation while others are not.

  12. 28
    ) Adham Kurbanov
    March 10, 2011 at 12:32 am

    there are also dreamhost.com and bluehost.com with good prices and one-click services including WP.

  13. 29
    ) Kathy
    September 1, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Hi Nasim,
    Thank you so much for this information and the time you have spent putting it all down. You have given me the confidence to set up my own blog. I have just done my first ever portrait sitting so am looking forward to getting my name out there:)
    Kathy

  14. 30
    ) Jaison
    December 20, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. I have bookmarked this article and I am starting my photo blog using this wonderful tutorial. Thank you very much for your efforts.

  15. 31
    ) Jay
    June 27, 2012 at 5:39 am

    I think I might be a bit late here, but I can also recommend one.com as host (for europeans atleast). Easily configured with wordpress CMS, have decent speed and is cheap.

  16. 32
    ) Tom
    March 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Hi there all, here every person is sharing these kinds
    of knowledge, so it’s good to read this weblog, and I used to visit this website everyday.

  17. May 22, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Hi everybody, here every one is sharing such experience, so it’s pleasant to read this webpage, and I used to go to see this web site daily.

  18. 34
    ) James
    February 18, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful tips. For a professional photographer, I think its best not to use the free blogging platforms like blogger and tumblr, because there is a limit on layout and creativity.

    I must say this is a handy help for me, I’m sharing it straightaway with my twitter followers; its going to be a resource page for my readers as some of them have been asking me the question on how they can start such blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

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