Harvesting from Flickr

Filed under: flickr,harvesting — caulcairss @ 4:36 pm

Please note – The CAIRSS blog has relocated to

Flickr is a web suite capable of hosting still images and videos. CAIRSS has received questions from the community regarding harvesting from this suite in particular.

There are other types of photography management software available such as Picasa, F-Spot and DigiKam. However these are out of the scope of this blog post.


To get started with Flickr you have to register for a Yahoo account. Once registered you are able to create a Flickr account and customize your profile.

Uploading content

There are quite a few ways to upload content to Flickr, examples of these include:

Flickr Uploadr
A client application available for Windows and Mac. This software is an official Flickr tool and allows the user to add titles, tags, descriptions and sets.
iPhoto and Aperture
iPhoto and Aperture are client applications for the Mac, features include uploading, editing and organizing images.
Flickr is capable of accepting content from a users computer or mobile device via email.

Editing content

Picnik is an online photo editing and official Flickr partner.

Organizing content

Organizr, an official Flickr tool, is an online photo organizer and editor used to search and browse content as well as organize content into collections and sets.

Harvesting content

There is a growing number of third party applications (not official flickr applications) available for harvesting content from Flickr. Examples of these include:

Upload, Download and search tool for Windows (requires .NET framework).
Desktop Flickr Organizer for Gnome. Preferably installed in Ubuntu Linux this application allows online and offline editing including adding, removing and editing of photos, tags, sets and comments.
Windows application that allows downloading of photos in bulk using sets, requires .NET framework.
A plugin capable of directly exporting flickr images via iPhoto or Aperture.
An Adobe Air application available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Flickr API

Flickr has provided an API for non-commercial use by outside developers.

Interacting with the Flickr API can be done using most of the common programming languages such as Java, .NET, PHP, Python, Ruby and Perl.

If there is sufficient interest from the CAIRSS community, CAIRSS Central can move to investigate creating a customized application using Java, PHP etc or even a command line script using Curl, Python or Perl.

If anybody has successfully harvested from Flickr and would like to contribute their information to the CAIRSS community or if you are a member of the CAIRSS community and would like to request assistance with this topic please contact


1 Comment »

  1. Since early 2006 the National Library of Australia has been harvesting records about contemporary Australian images into its Picture Australia metadata corpus. Currently we use three Flickr groups to achieve this:

    1. People, Places and Events: images of social, political, contemporary and historical events of national significance ( ).
    2. Ourtown: local perspectives of Australia’s rural and urban spaces. ( ).
    3. Re-Picture Australia: mashups of public domain historical images. ( ).

    In order to provide the metadata about these images to Picture Australia Flickr users submit their images to one of these groups. We generate a Harvest Control List (eg ). This list contains links to XML documents generated by the Flickr API which are ingested and mapped to the Picture Australia metadata schema ( ) by our metadata harvester on a weekly basis.

    This process works well for us and has added over 55,000 contemporary image records to Picture Australia. There are a few issues though:
    – Monitoring: Contributions to the groups need to be monitored and images that are inappropriate or out-of-scope (puppies and kitties) need to be removed from the group. Thankfully such images aren’t added very frequently.
    – Metadata quality: Often a title, a description, some subjects and coverage information is useful – particularly if the record in question is to be discovered (!). When such information isn’t provided we try to make contact with the contributor of the image and request that some of this information be added to their record.
    – Persistence: Image records removed from Flickr by users disappear from Picture Australia. Will Flickr be around forever or at least as long as most collecting institutions?

    Comment by Basil Dewhurst — 2009/10/13 @ 11:37 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: