Any PHP script solution will have the option for you to embed certain interface elements within a web page designed in other applications. Typically, you would design a compelling home page for your site that would “Sell” what the site is all about. You would then embed the search function (which is the real key and purpose of the site) either into the home page via a code bric, or you would have a prominent link in your home page that would take visitors to the front end of the script.
The front end can usually be styled to match the rest of your site through the administrator back end, or by editing the style sheet associated with the script (CSS).
The only issue I have with using Wordpress for a site of this type is that you will most likely be faced with duplicating much of the effort needed to get the site up and running as you want it. Firstly, there will be a 30mb Wordpress installation which will use it’s own mySQL database. You will then probably need one or more add-on scripts to make it function as a photo-sharing site. This could entail extra costs, more databases and more complexity when it comes to site maintenance - and that’s before you’ve designed and uploaded a theme for the WordPress installation. Faced with these issues, I would prefer a situation where I had one database driven application that could deal with the main function and purpose of the site, then build a normal site in Blocs that can incorporate the script’s various interfaces (photographer accounts, visitor searches and image display/download) It can also handle payments if that is something you would wish to incorporate.
In a nutshell, the installation of a photo-sharing script will be almost identical to installing Wordpress, only the script will be tailored to your eventual needs, rather than having to be configured or adapted to meet the needs. In my mind, it’s a far simpler option which gives you the flexibility to build a more conventional website around the application, rather than trying to adapt the website to make it work like the eventual application.