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Flickr favourites and photos-of-you downloader in python

From 5th February 2019 Flickr are going to be deleting an unknown quantity of older photos. So I wrote a python script to download all of your “Faved” photos and videos, and all those that other people have taken tagged with your name.

I’m sure there are plenty of other scripts and tools to do similar but it was a satisfying little project to spend most of last Saturday doing. Inevitably I got a bit carried away and it’s slightly more complex (internally; not to use) than anticipated. It’s not the most elegant thing — a bit of a nest of methods dependent on being run in a specific order — but it does the job.

The photos are all kept in one directory, named with the date and the person whose photo it is — I imagine that might be useful for any “play a slideshow from a folder of images” things. The script also saves all the data the API has about the photos in JSON format, and makes a simple HTML page describing each photo and linking to the downloaded file and its page on Flickr.

It could do more but one has to stop at some point.

It’d be nice to make stuff like this that doesn’t require people to be comfortable installing python (or ruby or whatever) dependencies and running code from the command line, but… that’s a whole different level of complexity.

A bunch of the downloaded files always end up incomplete or corrupt, partly flat grey. I wondered if I was doing something wrong but a couple of friends who’ve used other “download your Flickr photos” tools said they found similar with their results. So I guess it’s an issue at Flickr’s end, with the API, or the servers, or who knows what.

I was looking forward to looking through all my faved photos… but I realised many of them are “good photos”, and look stunning, but they’re not necessarily personally interesting to me. Some include friends but there are a lot of scenic shots of buildings and views. On the other hand, most of the “photos of me” were taken at events and include other people and so they’re generally more interesting than I expected.

I was going to post a bunch of the photos I liked the most below, and I chose a dozen or so, but all except two were “© All Rights Reserved”. So, tough.

Photo of Natasha with her back to the camera, drinking a pint, giving a v-sign
Natasha by Alice Taylor, 19 December 2012. License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Photo of me and Mary walking through woods
Phil and Mary modelling for the Forestry Commission catalogue by Russell Davies, 30 October 2014. License: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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