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Eamonn Cottrell
Eamonn Cottrell

Posted on • Originally published at on

How 2 Quickly Create a Lightbox Photo Gallery in Your Bootstrap 5 Site


Let's lead with the goods: bs5-lightbox. This little javascript library solved my problem quickly, efficiently, and with little effort.

Here's the GitHub page if you want to cut to the chase and install.

Keep reading to find out more about using it in a Bootstrap 5 project 👇

Project 🏢

I'm building a portfolio site for an independent game developer who needs a marketing page to showcase the game, and I like grabbing Bootstrap 5 to get things running quickly.

I, like you, am pretty bored with the sameness of many of the Bootstrap sites out there. So, in addition to adding some custom CSS, we wanted to add a lightbox photo gallery component.

A little tweaking can really help sections to not feel like they were not simply CTR+C | CTR+V from Bootstrap examples.

Problem 🤔

There's not an out of the box solution for this. We had three options as I saw it:

  1. Use Modals from Bootstrap
  2. Write custom JS and probably use the Modals on top of it
  3. Find somebody smarter who wrote better JS and use their solution

Bootstrap Modals 📷

pic of bootstrap modal

Bootstrap has modals which allow for this behavior. However, they are best used for one or two things at a time. When multiple photos are required, you'd have to repeat a bunch of CSS that gets ugly and unruly quickly.

Don't do this.

Custom Javascript 👨💻

You could also write custom JS to prevent the repeat code. But this requires you doing a lot of querySelecting and such that is great if you're learning how JS works and how to write stuff from scratch.

But it's not great when you need to ship a product and want the thing to be functional and as clean as possible.

BS5-Lightbox 🖼


Here's what I found that works like a charm. BS5-Lightbox is written by Travis A. Wagner, and solves the lightbox Bootstrap riddle very succinctly.

A pure JavaScript Bootstrap 5 lightbox that supports images, galleries, YouTube, Vimeo, and Instagrambuilt around Bootstrap's Modal and Carousel plugins.

--from bs5-lightbox GitHub description


Three options:

  1. Download
  2. CDN
  3. NPM

Because I'm simple, I grabbed the CDN approach for our project.

Throw the script at the bottom of your <body> and you're good to use this handy library.

<script src=""></script>

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Don't Forget BootstrapJS and Popper 😉

Much of Bootstrap works fine without Javascript and Popper, so I don't use it unless I need it for cases like this. See the documentation for further information, but you can include them both by adding this script at the bottom of your <body> as well:

<script src="" integrity="sha384-ka7Sk0Gln4gmtz2MlQnikT1wXgYsOg+OMhuP+IlRH9sENBO0LRn5q+8nbTov4+1p" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>

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Add two things to the elements you want to target for the lightbox:

  1. data-toggle="lightbox"
  2. data-src="src-of-asset"

I was targeting images, and wanted to have them appear as links, so I wrapped them in an <a> tag:

<a href="/assets/img/small-screen3.jpg">
    <img class="img-fluid rounded pb-1" data-toggle="lightbox" 
    data-src="/assets/img/small-screen3.jpg" src="/assets/img/small-screen3.jpg" 

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Go and Do Likewise! 🏆

Hope this has been helpful to you! It was a great find for me in this project, and surprisingly took a fair bit of googling before stumbling across. There are many other custom built components that I came across, but this seemed the cleanest.

Drop a star over on its repo, and let me know if you've used something else similar.

Come say hey 👋 can find me on Twitter.

Have a great one!

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