If you are using your blog to display and document your family treasures, your first thought is to create a post for each item with a picture of that item and text to describe what it is and its importance to your family. With WordPress, you do have other options and one of them gives you a lot more flexibility for sharing and displaying these treasures.
I’d like to introduce you to the WordPress Media Library.
When you click the Media > Library option in the Dashboard’s sidebar, you see a screen similar to the one below showing all the images and other media files you’ve uploaded to your WordPress blog. The panel to the right of the screen gives you the ability to add alt text and other metadata information about the selected media item and choose display options before inserting it into your page or post.
My guess is that most bloggers are more interested in the display settings than the metadata section, but you may want to rethink that. Why? Those metadata fields can be used to describe that image just as well as your blog post can. AND . . . by taking advantage of those fields, you’ll have a lot more control and flexibility in how you display those images. Let me explain.
When you complete the title, caption, alt text and description fields for an image, WordPress will use that to build an attachment page for that image. You may have noticed that one of the Link To options in the display settings is to link to that attachment page.
A sample media attachment page.
When links to the attachment page are used, WordPress displays that page much like any other post or page. The actual design depends on the theme you are using. In the example above, I’m taking advantage of Jetpack’s new Carousel feature to display a collection of images. Here you see the title with the description below it. The caption appears under the image. Thanks to the theme and my blog settings, there’s even a comment form just below the description.
The difference here is I’m attaching the information about this image to the image rather than a post or page. This means that the metadata “travels” with the image giving me more flexibility for displaying my treasures. Think about it. I can build a gallery page of family portraits where clicking on any portrait will display a page (your readers don’t know the difference between a post, page or attachment page) describing the details about that portrait. Later, you may want to create an article about a family group. Inserting images of that family into the family post instantly adds the information about each individual while you concentrate on the story about the family. You can repurpose your media in any number of ways and the metadata for each item goes with it.
If you’re interested but find those tiny fields in the side panel too confining for any serious descriptions, don’t worry. WordPress has thought of that too. Go to the Media > Library screen and you’ll see that you can open any media item to display a much more sizable editing screen.
Media library list
This is a list of items in my Media Library. Notice the Add New button at the top of the media list. You can add new media items here just like you do on the Posts or Pages list screens except that you can’t insert them into the post from here.
Media attachment editing screen
Here you see the editing screen itself. You’ll find many of the same tools available on other editing screens, including the ability to edit the permalink to this attachment page. You’ll also find fields for the image’s caption and alt text information. The description editor only offers a text view so you will see HTML code when you format the text.
Now that my images have been added to the media library with all the captions, descriptions and other metadata, what can I do with them. In the example below, I’ve created a page titled Art Gallery and inserted the three images you see here using the tiled mosaic gallery option that was recently added to Jetpack. Clicking an image will display its attachment page in the carousel format shown earlier in this post.
As I create new images, all I have to do is upload them and add my metadata in the Media Library then edit the gallery on this page to add them to the mosaic. If at some future date I decide to create a post displaying just water-related scenes, all I’d have to do is pull appropriate images from the Media Library into that post and all the detail information comes with them.
As a family historian, WordPress’s Media Library makes it easy for me to catalog and repurpose treasured photographs as well as images of the places and things that are a part of my heritage. I like that!