If you want to spice up your blog posts with a few images, you may find yourself in a bit of a bind. If you don’t take a large number of images yourself, you may not have a good stash of images to pull from.
Fortunately though, there are plenty of photographers and artists on the Web who are happy to allow you to use their images on your site for free, under certain restrictions, and they clearly tag their work with Creative Commons Licenses.
However, finding CC-licensed images can be a bit of a pain and inserting them into your blog posts an even bigger one. Not only is following a CC license trickier than first meets the eye, but sizing and formatting an image for your blog typically requires extra steps, even when done from Flickr.
Fortunately, Photo Dropper, a WordPress plugin, has a very simple solution to the problem. It automates every step of the process, from searching for and locating the image that you need to sizing, formatting and attributing it in your blog.
For those that like to include images in their blog, Photo Dropper is a one-stop shop and a plugin that is too powerful to ignore.
How it Works
Installing Photo Dropper is the same as any other WordPress plugin, you download it the zip file from their site, extract it and upload it to your plugin directory.
Once you’ve activated Photo Dropper, you then need to configure it to work for your site. However, the settings of the current version of the plugin are very simple.
First, you select if you want to use the “classic” interface, something we’ll discuss in a moment. Then you select how many images you want displayed per page, the default of 25 is pretty good but some may want more. Then, if you’re using it on a blog with advertising or is for a business, you need to be sure to check the box to only show images available for commercial use. After that, you select if you want photos sorted by “most interesting”, which is something that simply has to be experimented with, and you set up the formatting with HTML that goes before and after each embedded photos, such as including DIV tags or TABLE tags.
Once that’s done, the plugin should be ready to go. When you go to create a new post, you will either see a Photo Dropper logo in your media bar above your writing are or, if you selected the “classic” interface, as a box below your writing pane.
To use Photo Dropper, you just put your cursor where you want the image to appear in your post and click the button. You are then prompted to enter a keyword similar to Google Image Search. Simply put in something that is relevant to the types of images you are looking for and Photodropper will search Flickr for correctly-licensed images. It will then return a set of results based upon your search with the option beneath each thumbnail to either view it large or embed it as a small, medium or large image.
When you have found the image you want, simply click the “S”, “M” or “L” and it will insert the needed HTML into your post. Photo Dropper will automatically embed the image from Flickr, meaning there is no need to upload it to your server first. It will also link the image back to the source and provide a correct CC-compliant attribution as a caption to the image.
The end result of Photo Dropper is that, within a matter of seconds, you can import, format and attribute an image in your blog post and rest assured that your use is legal and compliant with both the Flickr terms of service and the requirements of the image’s Creative Commons License.
Tips and Tricks
Though Photo Dropper is powerful out of the box, there are a few tips and tricks you can take advantage of to get the most out of the plugin.
- Left and Right Justification: The only weakness of the plugin is the formatting. The way it displays the image and the caption can cause problems in many templates, especially if the image is meant to be justified left or right. This can be easily overcome with the “code wrapping” feature that allows you to insert HTML before and after the image. Using either a DIV or a table around the image will help ensure that it aligns correctly.
- Most Interesting: The ability to search by most interesting is a powerful one, but how useful the feature is is, at best, debatable. I found with my keywords that it was best to leave the option unchecked though others feel strongly the other way. It is important to play with this feature and see which setting gives you the best results.
- Good Keywords: It is important to remember that a Photo Dropper search does not work like a Google one. Adding more keywords will not help refine it. Use one or two good keywords and scroll through the results to find what you are after. Adding more keywords usually just causes no images to appear at all.
In short, getting the most out of Photo Dropper is pretty easy to do, especially when you take a few moments to set it up correctly and experiment with its use.
Images are an important part of a blog entry. They not only help the entry stand out in the mess of content that is most people’s RSS reader, but they provide a visual punch to the site itself. Furthermore, to the photographer or artist that is sharing their work, having it included on other sites can be a great means to promote their work and expose new audiences to it.
Bloggers need images and artists need an audience, it can be a win-win relationship. However, it is the complexities, both legal and technical, that prevent it from being executed.
However, Photo Dropper has helped overcome all of these obstacles and produced a plugin that makes it both easy and legal to add images into your blog, even if you had not seen the image before writing your post.
There is little reason to not try it and a great deal to gain from it.