If you find yourself dealing with tons of images on your website, you need a better solution than slapping them up one-by-one. Not only does that look ugly, it also makes it hard for people to peruse all your photos. Go with a better way – go with a photo gallery plugin.
In this post, I’ll share 5 of the best WordPress photo gallery plugins with you. Every single one has at least some type of free version – so you can get started without spending a penny!
Best Photo Gallery Plugins – Spoiled for Choice
For all of these plugins, you can click the Try…for Free button to quickly spin up an Addendio test site and play around with a live version of the plugin.
1. NextGEN Gallery
With over a million active installs, NextGEN Gallery is one of the most popular photo gallery plugins at WordPress.org.
The core plugin is free, but the developers also offer a bevy of premium extensions that are available in two different packages.
In the free version, you can choose from two display styles – slideshows and thumbnail galleries, as well as two album styles – compact and extended.
No matter what your choice is, you’ll be able to control options like size, styles, timing, Lightbox effects, and lots more.
How NextGEN Gallery Works
To get started, you can build and arrange your galleries in the backend using helpful features like bulk upload and metadata import. One neat feature here is that you can opt to upload an entire ZIP file and let NextGEN Gallery deal with extracting the images:
I haven’t encountered any other photo gallery plugins with that easy ZIP functionality.
Once you’ve got your photos uploaded, you can insert galleries anywhere on your site using shortcodes or the dedicated Insert Gallery menu option. When you open the Insert Gallery option, you’ll be able to configure styling and layout for your gallery.
Go Pro For More Features
If you go pro, you’ll get tons of new gallery options like:
And you’ll also get the ability to allow comments, deep links, and social sharing…even on lightbox galleries.
Finally, if you’re looking to sell your images, you’ll appreciate the built-in eCommerce features that are available in some versions.
NextGEN Gallery’s pro versions range from $69 to $119, depending on the bundle that you select.
2. Envira Gallery
Envira Gallery is a popular freemium photo gallery plugin from, in part, Syed Balkhi at WP Beginner.
Depending on whether you have the free or premium version, you’ll be able to create galleries containing everything from photos to videos, WooCommerce products, and more.
In my opinion, the gallery creation process is much simpler than NextGEN gallery, which makes it ideal for beginners.
It’s super easy to use – just upload your photos, run through the options, and then publish your gallery:
If you want to get detailed, you can choose things like gallery columns, themes, lightbox settings, and lots more (you can also feel free to leave these as the defaults if you just want a basic gallery).
Then, you can insert your gallery using either shortcodes or PHP functions.
Envira Gallery’s free version is good for basic photo galleries, but you’ll need the pro version for more advanced features like:
- Social sharing
Envira Gallery’s premium plans start at $29 and go up from there. Or, you can always try the free version:
FooGallery is a popular and well-rated image gallery plugin listed at WordPress.org. The core version is free, but the developers do offer a number of premium extensions to add additional functionality.
The free version ships with 6 different image gallery types covering everything from masonry to lightbox galleries and more.
While its interface isn’t quite as well-designed as Envira Gallery, FooGallery makes it similarly easy to get up and running with your first gallery.
All you need to do is:
- Upload your images
- Choose a Gallery Template
- Configure styling options
FooGallery also offers Retina Support, even in the free version of the plugin.
To extend the plugin further, you can utilize a number of free extensions that are similarly listed at WordPress.org. Or, you can also purchase premium extensions from the Foo Plugins site.
Those premium extensions add features like:
- Video galleries
- Custom branding
- New templates
4. Photo Gallery by WD
Photo Gallery by WD is a free core plugin with an affordable pro version that tacks on additional features like more gallery types, image commenting, social sharing, and more.
In the free version, you get 5 different gallery types:
- Image Browser
- Compact Album
- Extended Album
You can also:
- Add watermarks
- Perform basic edits like crops, rotations, and flips
- Let visitors directly download your images
How to Use It
To create a gallery with Photo Gallery by WD, you can use an FTP-like interface to bulk upload images to a dedicated photo gallery folder:
One nice thing about the upload process is that you can automatically resize images during the upload process.
Once you upload your photos (or choose existing photos from your media library), you can use the separate Generate Shortcode menu to choose a template and further style your gallery:
This interface could be a bit more user friendly, but it’s still pretty easy to use.
5. Huge-IT Image Gallery
Let’s round things out with a look at Huge-IT Image Gallery.
Like some of the other plugins, Huge-IT Image Gallery offers a free version with a limited feature set, as well as a pro version with expanded functionality.
The free version gives you 7 different gallery views that you can quickly get up and running with.
If you go with the pro version, you’ll get:
- Additional templates for albums and galleries
- Video galleries
- Social sharing options
- More lightbox galleries
- Hover effects
How to Use It
Creating a gallery with Huge-IT Image Gallery is easy – you just upload your photos, choose your “view”, select a couple of other options, and you’re good to go:
Then, you can insert your galleries using either a shortcode or raw PHP to put it directly in your theme’s template files.
Which Photo Gallery Plugin Should You Choose?
I think your decision should come down to whether you:
- Want the deepest functionality
- Want something that lets you create stylish galleries quickly.
If you want the deepest functionality without needing to shell out tons of money, I like NextGEN Gallery.
If money is no object and you want deep functionality, I think Envira Gallery is a good option. The interface is well-designed and it offers tons of functionality – it just gets pricey at the higher tiers.
And finally, if you just want something that will let you quickly create basic, but stylish, galleries, I like FooGallery or Envira Gallery for how easy to use they are. Envira Gallery wins for interface style, but FooGallery is just as functional.
Now over to you – there are a lot of photo gallery plugins out there, so I’d love to hear which is your favorite and why.