How to Host Your Own Photography Website

Whether your looking to advertise your work as a professional photographer or just want a unique way to share your photography there’s nothing more effective at reaching the masses than an online portfolio. This guide will help those looking to host their online portfolio at home. This article will guide you through how you can host your own photography website from your home PC.

Domain Name
The first step is to secure a domain name. This is the unique URL which will point incoming traffic to your computers IP address. Domain names can be found on GoDaddy for as little as $2.99 per year. Obviously for this site I chose benjaminleephoto.com.

DNS Mapping
Once you have obtained an IP address you will need to point it to your home computer / network. To do this you first need to identify what your IP address is. The easiest way to find your public IP is to just type “what’s my ip” into Google and it will display it for you. Once you have identified your public IP address you can load this to the nameservers on GoDaddy. Your domain name is now pointing to your home network.

Creating Virtual Machines
The next step is to set up your webserver. You can either do this on your operating system itself or install virtual machines to keep your webserver segregated from your primary machine. To do this download VirtualBox which is free software and can be found at the link included. Once VirtualBox is installed you can create your new virtual machines. To do this you will need an image of an operating system. Two of the most popular would be Ubuntu or Windows Server. This article will describe the process using Windows Server. When configuring the new servers you may also find it useful to create two virtual machines, one for your webserver and one for your database server. Load the image of your operating system to both new machines. I suggest you allocate at least 50Gb for each machines disk (.vdi), 4Gb of RAM and access to all your computers processors / cores.

Once the machines are created you will want to designate them with static local IP addresses. This can be done by logging into your router and reserving IP addresses for them based of their virtual MAC addresses (which can be defined in VirtualBox). While logged into your router you will want to select port forwarding and forward port 80 (internet traffic) to the static IP of your web server.

Configuring IIS
Login to the virtual webserver. Upon login it should present you with a list of server roles. Select the webserver role and it should prompt you to install IIS, accept the prompt allow it to install. Once it’s running you should be able to access your domain name on the internet in any browser and see an IIS dummy homepage. Once you have IIS working be sure to install the latest version of PHP as well.

Configuring the Database Server
Once both IIS and PHP are functioning properly its time to setup the database server. Login to the Database Server and download and install MySQL, a great free database with huge user base and plenty of online support should you ever need to troubleshoot. Installing MySQL should be pretty self explanatory, you can click through the prompts selecting the defaults. Once installed you will need to create a new database, the name is arbitrary but for simplicity sake we’ll name it “wordpress”. There is no need to add any objects yet, just create the database, wordpress will do all the rest.

Installing WordPress
Return to your webserver and download the WordPress zip file to the machine. Extract the file and copy the contents to C:/inetpub/wwwroot.
Open C:/inetpub/wwwroot/wordpress/wp-admin/install.php in your browser. This should prompt you for information while guiding you though the setup process. Most of the information is arbitrary such as Website Name but be sure your domain name, database server IP and database name (“wordpress”) are accurate. Once installation is completed you should be able to navigate to your /wordpress (ex. benjaminleephoto.com/wordpress) in your browser and see a sample WordPress site.

Applying a Theme
You are now ready to begin using your site. The first this I suggest doing is heading over to themeforest and selecting a WordPress theme that fits your taste. I have chosen “Invictus” and have nothing but good things to say about it, however there are countless great alternatives so take your time and pick something you’ll be happy with. Once you have downloaded the these it should be copied to your C:/inetpub/wwwroot/wordpress/wp-content/themes. Then go to /wordpress/wp-admin, login and you should see the theme available to select under your “Appearance” menu on the left.

That’s all folks. I know lots was glossed over and I’m sure there will be hiccups that may be encountered throughout the process but don’t get discouraged. Use this as a guide and if there are any questions of suggestions leave a comment here and I’ll reply usually same day. Thanks for viewing and best of luck!

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