I'd say you're being overly complicated and a few points come to mind. Pop-up killers could well knock the whole system sideways and even though it is for friends and family it should be usable without asking people to turn of or disable any security software they may be running.
Have you looked at the Dreamweaver tool you can reach in: Commands, Create web photo album.
Assuming you have Fireworks installed [free 30 day trial can be downloaded from the Macromedia site] it creates a thumbnail gallery from a folder of images and lays out a series of text navigation links leading to full size image pages and saves it in a gallery folder within your main site root folder.
There's a free extension at the Macromedia Exchange site which has the original name of 'Create web photo album 2.1'. It is broadly similar to the original Create web photo album command built into Dreamweaver but has quite a few more bells and whistles.
The Java command for pulling a copy of the image into a new browser window is a simple hook and there are more ways of doing this than you could shake a stick at. If you want some examples get back to me.
There are loads of ways of doing galleries and most high end image editors can produce some pretty impressive results.
If your web host supports PHP there is a superb gallery project available for you click here which allows on the fly image processing for thumbnails, user accounts, authentication and so on.
I'd look to something a little simpler or that will not be affected by software.