thinking about migrating from flickr to wordpress

I haven’t posted a photo to Flickr in a couple months, and am starting to think about how to migrate photos from there (a place I don’t own, and where the photos are only fully available if I pay an annual fee) to here (a place that I do own, where I get to say when/if stuff goes offline).

I can think of two scenarios:

  1. Some mythical WordPress plugin that connects to my Flickr account and sucks in all of the images as Media items (for management) and Posts (so they’re visible) using the correct date/title/description/keywords. This doesn’t need to pull in the full resolution originals – I’d be happy with the Large (1024 pix wide) version.

  2. Another mythical WordPress plugin that can process a folder of images, sniff out the EXIF data in the file, add a Media item, and create a Post using the title, date, keywords and description in the EXIF. I can have Aperture crank out fresh copies of photos I want to put here, and drop those into a folder I can upload manually to the server, if needed.

There’s something kind of close to #2 – the Import Legacy Media plugin – but it’s kind of borked, possibly just unhappy with the current version of WordPress.

I’m probably missing something. What’s the best way to batch-import say a few thousand images into a WordPress blog? (remembering to disable Twitter Tools first, of course… cough)

14 thoughts on “thinking about migrating from flickr to wordpress”

  1. Let me know what you find out, I have had similar thoughts. There are a couple of bulk export tools for flickr out there that will grab your photos and stick the tags in EXIF, so it sounds like #2 is already feasible with some futzing with the borken plugin. #1 sounds more elegant though beyond my current capabilities.

  2. I get the whole “I need to own my data” thing but it does make the community aspect difficult. It’s fine for you to own your stuff and all but we miss a little when you’re on the island of D’arcy. Again, I dig what you’re doing and want to start more of this myself but it’s a little like buying your own beer and taking it home rather than just going to the local pub where your buddies are. Sure you might be happy to have them come to your house but we kind of like hanging out in the pub since it belongs to us all.

    Not sure if the analogy totally works but I like having a single feed of folks in flickr. Tell me I’m missing something here.

    1. Maybe, but we’re not talking about physical places. We can all brew our own beer, or buy whatever beverages we like, and keep our fridges stocked. The infrastructure is all there for us to have really amazing distributed and decentralized house parties, but we prefer to pay a cover charge for some club downtown, and we’re fine with them being able to put a bouncer out front if we decide not to pay the grift any longer. Or the club can shut down, and then we get to try to all meet up at the next cool hangout. Or the club can get purchased by UltraMegaGlobalCorp, who can then sell everything you’ve done in the club to marketing companies so they can target ads at you. Sounds like a fun place.

    2. Dean, in my mind the step D’Arcy (and others) are proposing is a first step, not a final one – figure out how to do it on your own. Step 2 – figure out how to network those standalone installations to create community, but distributed across servers. And/Or Step 2b – figure out (just like with WPmU) how to do multi-user installs so that folks not so technically inclined can still benefit from hosting, but hosting that is not driven by the profit motive. But it has to start someplace, and this is to me that exploratory work.

      1. Scott and D’Arcy,

        Thanks Scott for that perspective. I agree D’arcy with what you’re saying about the bouncer dude and all, but I worry about those non-technical folks who aren’t able to easily come to your place. We put up with a certain amount of crap in order to be in community. I agree, virtual is different and I think as Scott points out, this is exploratory and can hopefully be developed to the point of more broad take up.
        I suppose it’s a bit like those of use who started out with blogger or and have since migrated to our own servers. The difference is we are still individuals and aren’t asking others to come with us.

        All I know is that if D’arcy moves out of flickr, a whole bunch of folks will miss out from his work. I realize he’s not hiding it and it’s still accessible but the barrier for many is too great. I think that’s the trade off we all have to consider at this point. I applaud your efforts but worry what it does to the community aspect of learning and sharing.

        1. Here I thought you were worried about others not being able to move off flickr themselves, but you’re actually meaning more basically that people won’t see his work? If it were me, I’d just keep the free flickr account and put a large URL in my profile pointing to the new site. It’s not like following a link is creating a really huge barrier.

          I think this is a red herring Dean – I get that there are some small conceptual hurdles people will face in finding “communities” spread across servers, but that seems just like a new network literacy that is being learned. After all, the misnomer is “digital immigrants,” not “digital incompetents” – this feels too much like spoon feeding and care taking to stop from doing it.

          1. It’s a great question for sure. Some will take a hard line and say “screw it, I’m doing it this way and the rest of you figure it out”. I’ve taken that approach with many things too. I don’t email things I used to since I think people need to develop their own RSS feeds in order to manage their own information. True, that’s a skill everyone needs to learn.
            In this case, I still think the trade off is trickier. It’s a community space and while many of us will indeed figure it out, Lots of us aren’t seeing the evil of flickr, in this case, to the same degree. That’s fine. But places like Facebook and flickr have developed intuitive and user friendly spaces where people do live nicely in community. The hidden issues such as privacy and ownership still have to be raised and dealt with but in the mean time I fear a loss for folks who aren’t as concerned about this as you guys are.

            I don’t really like Facebook and spend little time there but I do have a presence for family in particular who are not about to explore other online options. I don’t post anything there other than links and the odd updates. I guess I am spoon feeding somewhat and I’m okay with that in certain instances.

            1. This is a perennial struggle, between “ease” and “freedom,” between “community” spaces and distributed, loosely coupled approaches. It has been going on a long time (a lot longer than web 2.0 actually) and will continue. The point I would make is that it doesn’t have to be an either/or – it is only the commercial interests, who make money by enclosing/excluding, that force it to be one way only. In the open source world, we now can see architectures (either P2P or community instances that federate) that allow for local communities that ALSO interconnect with each other (hey, kinda like the INTERnet!) I’m not claiming this is perfect yet, it has a long way to go, but the last 5 years has seen a real growing consciousness about the importance of both architectures of participation but also architectures of freedom. These will only improve. While all the while facebook will ship additional confusing redesigns to enclose more of the web into its own interface (I don’t want to lump flickr into the same boat, but in for a penny…)

            2. just to be clear – I don’t think Flickr is evil. I love Flickr. I’ve been a paying member for over 5 years. But, if I’m thinking through what it means to own my own content online, a big part of that is photographs. Why would it be OK to let my photos be managed by a third party service provider, but not the text of my blog? Are different kinds of content worth more, or more deserving of direct and personal ownership? Flickr solves some very important problems, but it’s not the only solution possible. The hardest one, however, is the Contacts Recent Activity page. A single, simple interface to see the latest media posted by dozens of people all at a glance? That’s a hard one to solve, in a decentralized model. Not impossible, but hard. That’s why Flickr is still so powerful and attractive.

        2. Flickr’s Contacts Recent Activity page is the best page on Flickr, and that’s the one thing that makes me pause. It’s just not that easy to see activity from a bunch of people I care about, in one place.

          but… that also suggests that if people don’t buy into a club membership, that I can’t be bothered to follow them and subscribe to an RSS feed. Maybe this is a way to think more about friend-iness?

    1. that plugin solves a related issue – for posts that have embedded flickr (or other external) images, import a copy of the image into this blog and use that instead of the external one.

      but, that relies on a post pointing to the image elsewhere – I have thousands of photos on my Flickr account that aren’t embedded here, so they’d be missed by that process. I ran it, and it grabbed a couple hundred of the photos – the ones I used here – but left the rest.

      What I’m thinking of is a way to feed WordPress either a Flickr account, or a folder of images, and have it crunch through it and import the media and autocreate a post for each one, using the metadata available. I haven’t found a tool that works – there’s a plugin that’s this close but doesn’t work in the current rev of WordPress.

  3. I’ve already built plugin #1 and migrated all my Flickr photos (no video) to my WordPress site last month:

    You can see that it emulates the Flickr structure: collections, sets, photos, and tags. It imports each Flickr set as a custom post type, adds photos to the post as attachments, and uses a custom taxonomy for collections.

    I was contemplating selling this as a premium plugin, but I think I’ll just release it on

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