Calling API functions

You start by creating a FlickrAPI object with your API key and secret. These can be obtained at Flickr Services. Once you have that key, the cool stuff can begin. Calling a Flickr function is very easy. Here are some examples:

import flickrapi


flickr = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, api_secret)
photos ='73509078@N00', per_page='10')
sets = flickr.photosets.getList(user_id='73509078@N00')

The API key and secret MUST be Unicode strings. All parameters you pass to Flickr MUST be passed as keyword arguments.


Contrary to Flickr’s API documentation, you should not pass the api_key and api_secret parameters to each call. Passing them to the FlickrAPI constructor is enough.

Parsing the return value

Flickr sends back XML when you call a function. This XML is parsed and returned to the application. There are two parsers available: ElementTree and XMLNode. ElementTree was introduced in Python Flickr API version 1.1, and replaced XMLNode as the default parser as of version 1.2. If you want another format, such as JSON, you can use that too - see Unparsed response formats.

In the following sections, we’ll use a sets = flickr.photosets.getList(...) call and assume this was the response XML:

<rsp stat='ok'>
    <photosets cancreate="1">
        <photoset id="5" primary="2483" secret="abcdef"
                server="8" photos="4">
        <photoset id="4" primary="1234" secret="832659"
                server="3" photos="12">
            <title>My Set</title>

Response format: JSON

When using JSON as the response format, there are a few possibilities. The most common use case is to use Python’s built-in json module to parse the response, and return it as a dict:

flickr = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, api_secret, format='parsed-json')
sets   = flickr.photosets.getList(user_id='73509078@N00')
title  = sets['photosets']['photoset'][0]['title']['_content']

print('First set title: %s' % title)

To get the raw JSON response, use format='json'. This will be directly parseable, as the Python FlickrAPI will pass nojsoncallback=1 by default:

flickr = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, api_secret, format='json')
raw_json = flickr.photosets.getList(user_id='73509078@N00')
# raw_json -> '{...}'

import json
parsed = json.loads(raw_json.decode('utf-8'))

To get a JavaScript callback function, use format=json and jsoncallback='foobar':

flickr = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, api_secret, format='json')
raw_json = flickr.photosets.getList(user_id='73509078@N00',

# raw_json -> 'foobar({...})'

Response parser: ElementTree

ElementTree is an XML parser library that’s part of Python’s standard library. It is the default response parser, so if you create the FlickrAPI instance like this, you’ll use ElementTree:

flickr = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, api_secret)

or explicitly:

flickr = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, api_secret, format='etree')

The ElementTree documentation is quite clear, but to make things even easier, here are some examples using the call and response XML as described above:

sets = flickr.photosets.getList(user_id='73509078@N00')

sets.attrib['stat'] => 'ok'
sets.find('photosets').attrib['cancreate'] => '1'

set0 = sets.find('photosets').findall('photoset')[0]

| variable                      | value     |
| set0.attrib['id']             | u'5'      |
| set0.attrib['primary']        | u'2483'   |
| set0.attrib['secret']         | u'abcdef' |
| set0.attrib['server']         | u'8'      |
| set0.attrib['photos']         | u'4'      |
| set0.title[0].text            | u'Test'   |
| set0.description[0].text      | u'foo'    |
| set0.find('title').text       | 'Test'    |
| set0.find('description').text | 'foo'     |

... and similar for set1 ...

Response parser: XMLNode

The XMLNode objects are quite simple. Attributes in the XML are converted to dictionary keys with unicode values. Subelements are stored in properties.

We assume you did sets = flickr.photosets.getList(...). The sets variable will be structured as such:

sets['stat'] = 'ok'
sets.photosets[0]['cancreate'] = u'1'
sets.photosets[0].photoset = < a list of XMLNode objects >

set0 = sets.photosets[0].photoset[0]
set1 = sets.photosets[0].photoset[1]

| variable                 | value     |
| set0['id']               | u'5'      |
| set0['primary']          | u'2483'   |
| set0['secret']           | u'abcdef' |
| set0['server']           | u'8'      |
| set0['photos']           | u'4'      |
| set0.title[0].text       | u'Test'   |
| set0.description[0].text | u'foo'    |
| set1['id']               | u'4'      |
| set1['primary']          | u'1234'   |
| set1['secret']           | u'832659' |
| set1['server']           | u'3'      |
| set1['photos']           | u'12'     |
| set1.title[0].text       | u'My Set' |
| set1.description[0].text | u'bar'    |

Every XMLNode also has a name property. The content of this property is left as an exercise for the reader.

As of version 1.2 of the Python Flickr API this XMLNode parser is no longer the default parser, in favour of the ElementTree parser. XMLNode is still supported, though.

Erroneous calls

When something has gone wrong Flickr will return an error code and a description of the error. In this case, a FlickrError exception will be thrown.

Unparsed response formats

Flickr supports different response formats, such as JSON and SOAP. If you want, you can use such a different response format. Just add a parameter like format="json" to the Flickr call. The Python Flickr API won’t parse that format for you, and you just get the raw response:

>>> f = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, api_secret)
>>> f.test_echo(boo='baah', format='json')

If you want all your calls in a certain format, you can also use the format constructor parameter:

>>> f = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, api_secret, format='json')
>>> f.test.echo(boo='baah')

If you use an unparsed format, FlickrAPI won’t check for errors. Any format supported by Flickr but not described in the “Response parser” sections is considered to be unparsed.