We got pictures back from our photographer a while ago—so naturally I had to create a photo gallery website. This stuff is still way too hard…

All told, my wedding photo gallery is 6.5gb. That means my go-to, GitHub Pages, won’t work for hosting as they only allow 1gb projects.

I’m embarrassed to admit, my beautiful wife was the one who had to remind me where I work—I am web hosting. So, I spun up a cheap VPS and got things setup.

I’m not good enough as a designer to come up with a design on my own. So, I bought the Aurel theme on Themeforest (a different place I used to work).

First up, I needed to create thumbnails for all the photos. I threw together a quick and dirty ruby script to do just that:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby
require "mini_magick"

ARGV.each do |file|
  destination = "#{file}.tmp"

  puts "Resizing #{file} ..."

  MiniMagick::Image.open(file).tap do |img|
    img.resize "500x500"
    img.quality 88
    img.write destination

  File.unlink file
  File.rename destination, file

Next, I created a script to generate YAML files for the fullsize and thumbnail images:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby
require "mini_magick"
require "yaml"

output = {}

thumbs = ARGV.delete "--thumbs"

Dir["photos/**/*.jpg"].sort.each do |path|
  next if thumbs && path =~ /thumbs/
  next if !thumbs && path !~ /thumbs/

  i = MiniMagick::Image.new(path)

  name = File.basename(path)

  type = case path
         when /wedding/
         when /engagement/
         when /booth/

  info = {
    "width"  => i.width,
    "height" => i.height,
    "path"   => "/#{path}",
    "name"   => name,
    "type"   => type,

  output[name] = info

puts output.to_yaml

I generate two files with this:

resize-photos --thumbs > _data/thumbs.yml
resize-photos > _data/photos.yml

These files can be looped over in my theme with site.data.thumbs or site.data.photos.

I won’t go in depth on the theme setup. The interesting part is the photo galleries.

There are 3 galleries: engagement photos, wedding photos, and photo booth photos.

The Jekyll template for the engagement photos page looks like:

layout: gallery
permalink: /engagement/
paginate: false
title: Engagement Photos

{% assign photos = site.data.photos | where_exp: "item", "item.type == 'engagement'" %}
{% for img in photos %}
  {% include photo-grid-item.html type="engagement" path=img.path name=img.name width=img.width height=img.height index=forloop.index0 %}
{% endfor %}

That uses the _data files created above to loop through each photo for the engagement gallery. Each photo then renders photo-grid-item.html:

{% assign thumb = site.data.thumbs[include.name] %}
{% assign name = "" %}
{% assign name_a = include.name | remove: ".jpg" | split: "-" %}
{% for s in name_a %}
{% assign n = s | capitalize %}
{% unless forloop.last %}
{% assign n = n | append: " " %}
{% endunless %}
{% assign name = name | append: n %}
{% endfor %}
<div class="grid-item element grid_b2p">
  <div class="grid-item-inner">
    <a class="aurel_pswp_slide aurel_drag_protect aurel_dp aurel_no_select" href="{{ include.path }}" data-size="{{ include.width }}x{{ include.height }}" data-count="{{ include.index }}">
      <img src="{{ thumb.path }}" class="grid_thmb" alt="{{ name }}"/>

      <div class="grid-item-content">
        <h4>{{ name }}</h4>

      <div class="grid-item-overlay aurel_js_bg_color" data-bgcolor="rgba(17,17,17,0.3)"></div>

    <div class="aurel-img-preloader"></div>

Since there are 6.5gb of photos in total, I also threw in this Jekyll plugin at _plugins/photos_symlinker.rb that runs when I use jekyll build:

require "fileutils"

Jekyll::Hooks.register :site, :post_write do |site|
  source = "#{site.source}/_photos"
  dest   = "#{site.dest}/photos"

  FileUtils.ln_s source, dest, force: true

  Jekyll.logger.info "photo-symlinker", "symlinked #{source} to #{dest}"

To deploy the generated site I have a Rakefile with a few tasks:

desc "Build and deploy the site to production"
task deploy: :build do
  sh "rsync -P -auv --exclude downloads --copy-links --delete -e ssh _site/ gallery.chrysandjosh.wedding:/var/www/html/"

desc "Build the site"
task :build do
  sh "jekyll build"

task :generate_downloads do
  require "yaml"

  %w[booth engagement wedding].each do |type|
    Dir.chdir "photos/" do
      files = Dir["#{type}/*.jpg"]

      sh "rm -f ../downloads/#{type}.zip"
      sh "zip -r ../downloads/#{type}.zip #{files.join(" ")}"

I manually run rake generate_downloads to create zip files of each gallery in a downloads/ directory. Then rake deploy builds the site with Jekyll and uses rsync to copy the _site/ directory to my server (I skip the downloads directory).

That about covers everything!

This was a fun project to work on because it used to be a lot harder to generate image galleries with Jekyll. These days you can actually do it without data files as I outlined in a different post but I wanted to be able to edit the YAML files to be able to skip certain photos.