Make a Photo Website with Lightroom and Koken


Photography website created with Koken

We’ve already looked at how you can use Lightroom Collections to organize your images and how to upload your photos directly from Lightroom to Flickr and 500px using Lightroom’s Publish Services.

But did you know that there’s a way to upload photos directly to your own photo website from Lightroom? Before I explain precisely how to do that let’s think about the advantages of such a method:

  • You can decide which images to add to your website while in Lightroom. Decision made, it takes only a few seconds to add them to the appropriate Published Collection and publish them to your website.
  • Removing images is just as simple, just remove them from the Published Collection.
  • You can add watermarks to your images in Lightroom. If you change your watermark design, it’s easy to republish all the photos with the new design.
  • You can upload photos to a private album on your website for someone else to view, without having to use the standard Lightroom Web module formatting.

This is where Koken comes in

Interested? The software you need to do this is called Koken (rhymes with spoken). The best way to think of Koken is as WordPress for photographers. Like WordPress, it is a free CMS (content management system) and you need your own domain name and hosting plan to use it. But whereas WordPress can be adapted to all kinds of uses, Koken is designed to do one thing only: build websites for creative individuals with portfolios, such as photographers, artists and graphic designers.

Make a Photo Website with Lightroom and Koken

You can learn more by going to the Koken website, where you will also be able to download the free software and try it out if you have a domain name and hosting plan.

Koken website

But before you do, there are a few things you should know:

  • The main advantage of WordPress over Koken, for the purpose of creating a photography portfolio website, is that there are lots more themes available for WordPress. Koken, at the moment, has eight built-in themes (which you can see here). However, the themes in Koken are easier to modify, although you will need to be familiar with HTML and CSS to do so. You can also create your own Koken themes if you have the know how, and they are starting to appear on some of the websites that sell WordPress themes.
  • The main advantage of Koken over WordPress is that Koken integrates with Lightroom’s Publish Services, enabling you to upload photos directly from Lightroom. This is a huge benefit to Lightroom users.
  • You do not have to own Lightroom to use Koken. You can install the software and upload photos from your computer’s hard drive, just as you can in WordPress.

Koken close-up

Here’s a closer look at the Koken interface. But first, let me show you how it works in Lightroom. As you can see in the screenshot below, you can create Published Collections containing the photos you want to use on your website. Lightroom lets you know if you have added new photos, or made changes to existing ones. Click the Publish button to update your website.

Lightroom interface

Then in the Koken interface (accessed through a web browser) you can view the photos, change title, description and keywords, and rearrange the order in which they are displayed.

Koken interface

You can also create static pages (such as an About page) and blog entries (called Essays) in Koken:

Koken interface

The verdict

I’ve only used Koken for a short while, but I’m impressed by how easy it is to use, especially with Lightroom’s Publish Services. The exciting thing about Koken is that the software is in its early days – I’m sure the system will grow as the developers improve it and more themes become available.

To get an idea of the sort of thing you can do with Koken, you can check out my portfolio pages (created with a modified version of the Boulevard theme) and the Koken demo site to see the built-in themes in action.

For more Lightroom articles try these:

Mastering Lightroom Book One: The Library Module

Mastering Lightroom ebookMy latest ebook Mastering Lightroom Book One: The Library Module is a complete guide to using Lightroom’s Library module to import, organize and search your photo files. You’ll learn how to tame your growing photo collection using Collections and Collection Sets, and how to save time so you can spend more time in the Develop module processing your photos.


Read more from our Post Production category

Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, photographer, traveler and workshop leader. He's an experienced teacher who enjoys helping people learn about photography and Lightroom. Join his free Introducing Lightroom course or download his free Composition PhotoTips Cards!

  • Been using Koken for about 2 months on my website, I really love it. Allows for quick publishing as a part of my work flow.

  • stephane


    Is it possible to publish essays from within the lightroom plugin?


  • Hi Stephane, no it isn’t. You have to log into your website using a browser to do that.

  • Feel free to share the link to your website, it would be helpful for other readers to see what other photographers are doing in Koken.

  • Dan

    Been using Koken for about 6 months. Works great. Smooth, easy, minimalistic.

  • Henrik Møller

    Looks great.

    Tried to install it on my webhost (unoeuro). But i get the error:
    Koken is incompatible with PHP’s safe_mode. Ask your host or system administrator to disable safe_mode in PHP’s configuration.

    And Unoeuro wont change that. So it seems im out of luck

  • Hi Henrik. I did some research and it seems that PHP’s safe mode is something that has been removed from the lastest versions of PHP. There’s a post here which may help:

  • I have been using Koken for a couple of months now for It is really simple to install, there is lots of functionality available and it creates beautiful sites. All for free! The Koken team is also working on a new Store where additinal plugins and Themes could be purchased. However. Koken is still in Beta release and there are some bugs.

  • Pinaki

    You need ask your to turn off safe mode in php.ini file which is the php configuration file of the server on which your website is hosted.

  • I just set up Koken from 0 to live site with a little filler content in about 15 minutes. I really like this platform I think. I’ve still only scratched the surface and my site needs a lot of work, but I think this will be powering for some time.

    Thanks for the tip!

  • Been using Koken on my site since it came out

  • Beanuts

    I tried this last night and had that problem with NeerlyFreeSpeech as my host. However, I just had to upgrade my PHP to a newer version that does not use safe_mode. Once I selected the newer version, I just waited for sometime and tried again. It works now ( There may be an option to upgrade to a newer version of PHP with your host.

  • Mau
    Starting using koken after this post!!! I’m really happy with it until now!

  • Koken is an excellent CMS for developing websites with artistic content. Photographers and graphic designers will find it easy because Koken has an administration panel like Lightroom.Here is the post shows how easy it is to create a website on Koken,

  • koken_disappoin

    I made a try with Koken because convinced it was an interesting idea, so I
    purchased also an optional theme, Regale2. After that I discovered the Theme
    cannot work correctly on my host. Asked several time for a support or for a
    refund but never heard back from them. Really unprofessional, avoid Koken!

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  • Just found out about Koken and it looks like they’re selling the service to whoever wishes to buy it.

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