Creating a Photo Archive Website From My flickr Data

I am not sure when exactly I finally canceled my flickr Pro account. I had been a paying Pro user for a long time and I always liked flickr for what it was, but for the last couple of years I have only ever used it to upload photographs for events I documented. Today, I’d much rather do that on my own website or photo blog.

I was thinking about deleting my account, but it has grown to a substantial archive with lots of images, and it felt wrong to just delete them. I definitely wanted to archive it for my self, so I requested my data from flickr. (If you are a flickr user, you can do this via your account settings page.)

What you get is one folder containing all of your images, and another one, that contains all the data about your account and images (split into various .json files), including your profile information, photo meta data, albums, and more.1 For me, all in all, it amounted to approx. 7 GB of data.

After poking around in the files, I thought it would be pretty straight forward to make this information more accessible, and to even create a website based on that data. So I did.

I built a basic PHP script that reads the aforementioned .json files and turns them into a website. Using the same URL structure that flickr is using, I can just replace the domain and get the same content. Neat!

This is my Albums page on flickr:

A screenshot of my Albums page on
My Albums page on

And this is the current state of my flickr archive website, showing the same Albums page:

The same Albums page generated by parsing the json files

(It has been a while since I downloaded the data from flickr, so the view count is somewhat off. I will probably remove the view count, as it is not really relevant for the archive.)

The album and single image views are also working, but there are still lots of issues, before I can think about actually putting the archive online. Eg. only original image files are included in the flickr data, so right now, the album page is roughly 70 MB of data! I will need to find a convenient way to create smaller versions.

Anyway! I very much like the idea of having this archive available under my own domain some day – a history of the images I shared on the web, starting more than 15 years ago.

  1. Thank you flickr btw, for making this data available and in a format that is actually usable.↩︎