setting flickr metadata using IPTC information

I've tried setting Flickr metadata using IPTC information before, but got snagged on the keywords. I'd assumed you should use comma or quote delimiters, but Flickr just reads that as one big keyword.

I couldn't find any details about it over at Flickr, apart from a brief blog post. There's nothing in the FAQ about IPTC metadata. I realise now that you can search the help forum but at the time I was FAQ-focussed :)

I tried to look up the IPTC standard (to find out what the standard delimiter is) but their website is a warren and I had no luck. A little ironic really.

But anyway I've worked it out - keywords need a line break. I find that a bit of a weird delimiter but what the hey. So I'll be using IPTC fields to set up my metadata from now on. The main advantage is storing the metadata inside the asset - that is, the photo's JPG contains the metadata. So if I have to re-upload, or upload to another system sometime down the track, then my original files have the metadata.

I set the IPTC metadata using Irfanview, my image viewer of choice. Some editing software might have different names/labels for the IPTC fields.

First off, all IPTC fields seem to be revealed on the 'more detail' screen. Some are extracted for more general use though; this is the rough map based on some experiments:

Map of IPTC fields (as shown in Irfanview) to Flickr fields
IPTC Field Flickr Field Notes
Caption Description  
Headline Title See Object Name
Object Name Title Object Name overrides Headline for use as Flickr Title if both are present in IPTC.
Keywords Tags Each keyword needs to be on its own line in the IPTC metadata.
City Converts to tag(s) Bug 1: Multi-word location fields will be added both as a single keyword and separated keywords. I tried wrapping them in quotes but that didn't help. It's a single-line field so I gather line breaks don't apply. I'm pretty sure this is a bug and not some kind of quirk of the IPTC standard..
Bug 2
: sublocation does not convert to tags but does show in 'more detail' view. A fix has been suggested in the Flickr Ideas group.
Sub-location See bug 2
Province-State Converts to tag(s)
Country Converts to tag(s)
??? Geotag I've seen a couple of posts which suggest this is possible but I can't find definitive info.

The full list of fields that I'm sure are shown in 'more detail' view:

  • Caption/Abstract
  • Caption Writer/Editor
  • Headline
  • Special Instructions
  • By-Line (Author)
  • By-Line Title (Author Position)
  • Credit
  • Source
  • Object Name (Title)
  • Date Created
  • City
  • Sub-Location
  • Province/State
  • Country/Primary Location Name
  • Original transmission reference
  • Category
  • Supplemental Category
  • Urgency
  • Keywords
  • Copyright Notice

Other fields might also come through. This list is pretty much everything shown in Irfanview. I'd look up the IPTC standard again to see if there's a full list, but life's too short to dig through that mess again.

Anyway, hopefully that info will be useful to someone else too... :)

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Anonymous Stuart Whitmore  

February 17, 2010 9:49 am

Interesting info, thanks for sharing the results of your research. I ran across this by looking for info on geotagging photos with Irfanview, since my cameras don't do that themselves. I was surprised to read that line breaks should be used for the keywords, and wonder if this is specific to Flickr. I've always used comma-delimited keywords in the IPTC data of photos that I upload to microstock sites, and they seem to be handled just fine.

Blogger 200ok  

February 27, 2010 1:11 am

It's possible that the line breaks thing is a quirk of Irfanview rather than Flickr. It might be quietly converting to commas in the background or something - I'm not sure. I just know it works :)

Blogger Unknown  

March 09, 2010 11:39 am

How do you get to the MORE DETAIL view on FLICKR pls? Their interface is inscrutable.

I am trying to figure out if I should use FLICKR or SmugMug. My criteria is ability to read IPTC tags correctly.


Blogger 200ok  

March 09, 2010 1:10 pm

You can find the extra details via the "More properties" link in the "Additional Information" section, on the right-hand side (just after it says which camera was used to take the pic).

Or you can just add "/meta/" to the end of the photo page URL ... thus bypassing the interface entirely ;)

Anonymous vince68  

April 28, 2012 6:18 am

this works fot multiple tags with exvi2 :

exiv2 -M"set Iptc.Application2.Keywords \"tag1\" \"tag2\"" test.jpg

Blogger Blacklister  

May 29, 2015 12:10 am

Using Adobe Bridge to add keywords, I've found that semi-colons between keywords works fine in Flickr.

Blogger Peter  

April 19, 2017 8:18 pm

Great post, thanks. I would actually like to edit the metadata in flickr, so that it will stay with the file and downloaded along with the file. However, if I amend the metadata in flickr, these are NOT downloaded with the file, which I find is quite weird. Have you tried that?

Blogger 200ok  

April 19, 2017 9:44 pm

Peter - I actually hadn't tried that, but I tried now and got the same result. Seems anything added in Flickr is only stored in Flickr, which sucks.

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