Personal photo agency? SYMBIOSTOCK!

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Brief presentation and tutorial on Symbiostock the WordPress theme / CMS allowing you to create own portfolio/store site and connect it to the network of independent photographers and illustrators.

Here it is, a brand new content management system for visual artists
trying to show or sell their art online, photos or illustrations… and somehow to get a level up from others in all that overcrowded microstock agencies
or PODs (post own design).

I have already set up my personal site, which may be also internally linked to other artists in the Symbiostock Network. What for?

If a customer searches for a ‘pirates’ image at my own site (Imagerion) –  Symbiostock is going to show results from my portfolio plus below, pictures found in portfolios of other artists in my network.
Nice… if there are no ‘pirates’ on my site – network search is not performed.

There is a lot more interesting features in this framework and one of the best news is that it’s based on the WordPress engine. So it’s easy to use, customizable and realy powerful.

Check out my personal photo agency. It’s still a work in progress, for example I did not enable Paypal and prices yet. First I need to configure it better and add some more visual features.
But there is a lot of information you can find there about the Symbiostock initiative and links to other artists in the network which already have Paypal enabled.

How to start with Symbiostock and how to install – a brief introduction

Overall, this is a very simple and reliable process Although If you never had anything to do with websites, WordPress or hosting, it may take few days to make it work. Next time it would take you less than few hours.

In case the is unreachable get the Symbiostock Theme from the source site

  1. to install WordPress, a hosting account ( Bluehost is recommended or get one from your local good hosting company – read about already created sites and hosting companies )
  2. get a cool domain name for your site or create a subdomain (as I did) or use a subdirectory
  3. go through the WordPress installation checklist and set all the standard options (Bluehost has the autoinstall feature)
  4. install SYMBIOSTOCK Theme from site
  5. to customize the look you must download and install also the Symbiostock CHILD Theme – otherwise any of your customizations made will disappear while updating the main theme
  6. go through all of the tabs with settings and set them carefully:
  7. upload own logos and watermarks (very important for networking and image processing)
  8. watch the video tutorials and the manual to know the options
  9. be careful and do not hurry
  10. you don’t have to activate the network immediately, but you can
  11. set up the Paypal if you want to sell right of the bat (prices are set by you)
  12. if you’re sure that all options are set correctly, try to upload a few high quality pictures to perform a system check (processing, watermarking, categories etc…)
  13. after the initial setup the workflow is as easy and comfortable as it is in WordPress
  14. all your high resolution files go to a protected directory, only watermarked previews and thumbnails are public. All files and data stay on your server 
  15. you may use the upload widget or FTP
  16. finally create all pages containing legal information, your licenses, copyrights, “About” profile pages etc.
  17. for more information use the forum where other artists connect to the network and discuss
  18. SYMBIOSTOCK is a fresh Open Source project in development, so there is a bit of patience needed

The Symbiostock Network

How to add people to your network?

CLICK: Use Symbiostock Network?

Each site has so called Symbiocard, it’s a file with information about the artist, the web site, images, categories, promoted keywords etc.

You just have to get this file (symbiocard.csv) and upload it into your “Symbiostock Network – Associates and Status” area in WordPress.
You may add up to 10 sites / artists at the moment, which means the networked search will show results from you and those 10 sites – their images will show up after yours, so you’re always first.

How to get this symbiocard.csv file for a certain artist / site?

It’s easy – you just enter the filename after the main site url:

No need to download this file, just go straight to the “Associates and Status” tab, click the Browse input field and paste this link, then click UPLOAD. Scroll down and save.


Go to the artist’s site like click “Attributes & Symbiocard” and then click the “Get Imagerion’s Symbiocard”

That’s it. I am sure this process will be easier soon.

Few important tips


Check out your first

Use the wordpress plugin
for example (After installation – WordPress/ Tools / Sysinfo)

php.ini should exist in your main WordPress folder or in the main SITE folder.
If there is no such file – just create it and edit.

1.) It may be necessary to add / increase some options to php.ini (if you have some image processing issues)

DO NOT COPY - PASTE it, because it's only an EXAMPLE!
Don't change if you have no issues

memory_limit = 256M   //try 96, 128, 256 M
upload_max_filesize = 25M  //what's your largest file in MB ? Large files need an adjustment 
post_max_size = 25M   //similar to upload_max_filesize
max_execution_time = 600  //30 typical (try 60 to 600?) seconds
max_input_time = -1   //(try up to 60) seconds

Keep the lowest working values


Add this option above, if you see in “Process Images” tab: “Using GD Library. • info: Image Processing.
It may not be necessary to switch to ImageMagick (I can use GD only too), but if you can, do it before uploading any images for sale. You’ll benefit from faster processing times and a bit better image quality. Otherwise processing more than 20 images at once  may be pretty difficult.

Check if these changes appeared. Unfortunately there are hosting accounts, where you can do these changes and they’ll show up in your table, BUT THEY WON’T WORK :> Bluehost works for 100% it’s just an example. Well.. looks I need to switch from my hosting company to B…then I will move Phototric and Imagerion there.
See Configuring the PHP Environment With php.ini at Bluehost for example

3.) How to customize Symbiostock site look and do not loose it after the upgrade?

If you want for example:

  • change some colors or layou, fonts
  • add or remove some text in a certain area
  • remove the WordPress from the footer
  • etc..

… just install the Child Theme to customize anything.

It’s EASY! Main theme updates won’t remove your changes. There is only a single empty CSS file and single functions.php

You may change CSS styles there to change the look, or add some code to functions.php if you know how. If you want to change another template file from the main theme just copy it to your child theme folder and change


– v2.4.4 installed. Update to 2.4.4. ??? 

yes it’s normal, it’s beta software so you are going to see moreweird things, get used to it at the mioment

4.) You may Install WordPress on your computer – did you know?

Before trying to do everything online or just to have a safe area to test things without ruining your online store, you might want to try the InstantWP on your local machine.

Such testing platform may help you to get familiar with both, Symbiostock and WordPress, without spending any money. It’s very easy to set up, you have also few additional tools for your database management (phpMyAdmin).

I use it for testing purposes, like changing my theme design or other customizations, before I am ready to publish them online.

Local WordPress installation allows you to do all WP stuff like updating plugins, themes or posting and of course it works without problems with the SYMBIOSTOCK Theme, allowing to upload images, adding keywords, descriptions, changing the site look, widgets, plugins and everything you would like to do online.

You can use it also as a backup for your online Symbiostock store.

I had only two problems while working with InstantWP

First one was the fireewall issue, InstantWP may not want to start because of some firewall rules, so remember to disable firewall after installing InstantWP for a while. Then check if it works, enable the firewall back and try to reconfigure it to not block the InstantWP processes.

Second one (WordPress related), I did a backup of my site to upload it locally. Things went smoothly, until I checked the Symbiostock images area.
What I saw was a total mess with Images Categories – every image created it’s own category set.

So, if I had 5 images in Architecture category – after importing the backup locally I had architecture, architecture-2, architecture-3, …-4 and ..-5 slugs. That was terrible…
I don’t really know if I did something wrong while doing an online backup or while  importing the backup or maybe at some other stage.

That was my first time with InstantWP the mistake could appear anywhere.  So before doing a full backup copy from your online WordPress installation and importing it locally, try to export few posts first and import them to check if all works ok.

Otherwise you will have to reset the WP data base and delete files or change all categories manually (thanks to God Term Management Tools plugin exists!)

Here is the video Install WordPress on Windows

Content of this article may change as Symbiostock changes all the time, so be prepared.

If you have a beter solution for any problem described here or you’ve found any mistake, please comment.

See you @ Symbiostock!

4 responses to “Personal photo agency? SYMBIOSTOCK!”

  1. Alberto pixelsonthego says:

    This is a great and useful post. Thanks Pirang I share this.

  2. ason says:

    Great post ! :)

  3. Plrang says:

    Great to hear that /lena :)

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