Flickr feeds from Lightroom

Whoa, what gives? Yes, you are absolutely reading about a Wordpress-based photography site on a blog that is no longer based on Wordpress. I seemed to get a fair bit of traffic on my site from people wondering how to do this, so I am leaving these posts here for posterity. That said, the internet world has evolved quite a bit in the last four years, so I now use a system that is simpler in some ways, but immensely flexible. So read about this newer flat-file CMS approach as I document it over the next few months.

If you have had the patience to labor through all the material on this part of my website covering the subject of photo website creation, you will notice that the driving force behind all my modifications over the years have had to do with ease-of-maintenance and my efforts to come up with methods to streamline the process of updating content, especially photo content.

I was an early advocate of using the Adobe Lightroom application program to create web galleries and subsequently embedding these galleries in static Wordpress site pages. The technique I use centered around the use of iframes, which is more or less an antiquated HTML technique that was commonly used back in Web 1.0 days. (The 1990s, for all you youngsters out there)

As always, technology has moved ahead, and with the release of Lightroom 3 over a year ago, the coding teams at Adobe recognized that one of the most common types of venues for showing photographic work is on photo-sharing and social networking websites such as Flickr, Facebook, and SmugMug. So the Adobe programmers have added a section called “Publish Services” to the Lightroom application. What this allows a Lightroom user to do is to automatically upload content to services such as Flickr.

But this new capability offers more than mere uploading of content. It creates a separate little corner of Lightroom that keeps track of all of your work on the photos in your Library and offers to update your Flickr library with newer versions of your photos if you have changed them since the original upload. It also keeps track of deletions. If you decide to get rid of a photo from your Lightroom photoset, the Publish Services feature allows you the opportunity to delete the same photo from your Flickr Photostream as well.

So the new automated Lightroom-to-Flickr capability is the first piece of the puzzle. The other piece is a Wordpress plugin named Awesome Flickr Gallery. Not the most modest title I have run across, to be sure, but this Plugin is incredible. What it allows you to do is connect to Flickr from inside your Wordpress site and stream content from Flickr to your website to be used in any way you see fit. And one of those ways is the automatic creation and display of galleries of photos streamed from your Flickr account.

“Yeah, so?” you say? Well, ponder this for a second. You work on a new picture in Lightroom and decide it is ready for prime time. You click on the photo and drag it to your Flickr account in the Publish Services tab in Lightroom. This Flickr account is hooked to your blog or Wordpress powered web page via the Awesome Flickr Gallery plugin. All you have to do is press the “Publish” button and the content automatically appears in the gallery in which you decided to publish it. No additional work is involved. It magically appears both in your Flickr account and on your web site. No mucking around with html or css stuff. For a Wordpress-based website that is already in place and looking good and running well, photo content creation is now a one step process.

The steps

  1. Create a Flickr account I won’t cover too much in this part. You will need to go to Flickr and create an account if you don’t already have one. Depending on both the volume and the type of content you want Flickr to host, you may want to upgrade to a Pro account for $25 per year.

  2. Hook Lightroom to your Flickr account In Lightroom, you need to open the Publish Services tab in the Library Module and choose “Set up” on the Flickr button. It will walk you through giving the Lightroom application permission to access your Flickr account so it can upload and organize content. Adobe has a great video that shows how this is done.

  3. Find, install and activate the Awesome Flickr Gallery plugin The easiest way to do this is to go into your admin panel on your Wordpress site and select the Plugins tab. Choose to search for new plugins and type in “Awesome Flickr”. When it finds it, choose to download and install and activate the plugin. Once the plugin has been activated, a new tab entitled ‘Awesome Flickr Gallery’ will appear below the ‘Settings’ section in the Dashboard. Press this button and navigate to the “Default Settings” tab. At the very top, you will see the Flickr Settings section. You now need to get a Flickr API key. Press the link to the right of the ‘Flickr API Key’ entry box to go to Flickr and generate an API key. This allows the wordpress site to interact and fetch content from your Flickr account. You will also need to enter your Flickr User ID. This is not your user name. It is the code at the end of the url you see in the browser address bar when you are on your Flickr home page. It will be something like http://www.flickr.com/photos/ USER_ID . Copy and paste this user ID into the flickr ID field. This plugin has a handy preview feature at the bottom of the tab that will show 5 of your most recent photos. This preview is an excellent way to check that you are streaming content from the correct Flickr account!

  4. Organize your content on Lightroom In Lightroom, click on the ”+” button to the right of Publish Services. You will see a contextual menu appear. You want to choose “Create Photoset..” Give this a name for your first proposed gallery. Now in the library module, click and drag photos you want to add to that photoset on Flickr. (Note: you must click on the image area itself, not the border around the image, to successfully click drag and drop content into a photoset. Continue adding content until you have collected all the photos you wish to publish. Now click on the label under the Flickr tab that is the name of the photoset you created. Now you will see a thumbnail array of all the proposed content for that photoset. All you have to do now is press the “Publish” button.

  5. Create a gallery on your Wordpress site Now go back to your Wordpress Admin panel and select the Awesome Flickr Gallery tab and choose the the ‘Add Gallery’ sub-menu. in the Gallery Parameters sub-panel, enter a gallery name. For the sake of organization and your own sanity, I would recommend you use the same name as you used when you created the set in Lightroom before publishing it to Flickr. Next, give it a good description.

    The Flickr Settings sub-panel has a drop-down selection box for the gallery source. The default source is your entire Photostream. You probably don’t want that. Select ‘Photoset’ and another selection box will appear with all of your photosets listed. Click in this selection box and choose the named set you created earlier from inside Lightroom. New galleries will appear as additional choices automatically as they are published from inside Lightroom.

    Next, set any parameters you want in the Gallery Settings sub-panel. For most width-constrained Wordpress pages, you will probably want to limit the number of columns in your thumbnail display to 3 or possibly 4. The size of the photos displayed in the thumbnail gallery is also a user-selectable option. The small (240px max) selection is probably the one you want. All the other options are self explanatory, and can later be changed if desired using the ‘Edit Galleries’ tab.

    Click ‘Add Gallery’ and you will see an information box appear at the top of the page with a gallery shortcode for the gallery you just created. Highlight and copy this shortcode to your clipboard, which will be in the form of [AFG_gallery id=2], where the gallery ID number is a unique identifier for the gallery just created.

    In the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab, change the Slideshow program to HighSlide if you are not creating a commercial site.

    Finally, in the Wordpress Admin panel, choose to create either a post or a page to embed your gallery into. Add any desired text to this new post page and at the point you want your gallery to appear, paste the shortcode you just copied. And that is all there is to it.

    Any additions or deletions initiated and published from within Lightroom will automatically appear on your site. The only issue I have run into so far is that the order of the photos in the Gallery seem to default to the original ordering in Lightroom. Changing the order in either Lightroom or the Flickr account does not seem to propagate to the gallery page. I will investigate this further and make another post if I find a solution.

'Add Gallery' dialog


categories:  lightroom, portfolio, presentation, programming, flickr, web design   tags:  tips, publishing