Yeah, I certainly hope the galleries are coming back. They are fun to look through and I'm glad you enjoy trying to make the cut. I also think it's an important way to demonstrate exactly what can be created with these patterns.
The main issue is that the current site is designed to be responsive and good for mobile / touch devices. The old galleries were not. So that's the current challenge. We need to come up with a new system to manage and display the ZP photo galleries. The galleries have been missing for a couple seasons now. So I'll likely take your suggestion to cull photos from the forum posts here, to fill out some galleries for recent years. As for collecting photos for galleries in upcoming years...
Well, previously people were required to upload using their pattern membership account. A great way to ensure that the person was a member (who should have access to that pattern) and it also tied all the pictures to their user account (for which I can see their email). Makes it easy to keep a record of exactly who submitted what, and contact them if I need to. Our photo upload system also had size requirements to make sure photos were big enough for display (but not massive in file size).
This upload tool brought in thousands of photo submissions. Probably way more than we'd ever get from only forum members. It's a good way to offer me broad choice, bringing some variety to the galleries. This way it's not just the forum users (although that sort of happens anyway, the forum users just happen to take some of the best photos!)
Overall, I think the goal is to bring back an easy photo upload tool, collecting submissions that I can curate with a custom admin tool, which automatically generates a mobile-friendly gallery. Same goes for this forum too - I need to finally convert this to something mobile-friendly, before we lose everyone to social media apps.