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Flickr Hacks by Jim Bumgardner, Paul Bausch

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Hack #6. Post Pictures from Your Cell Phone

Using Flickr's post via email feature, you can send photos directly from your cell phone while you're out and about.

Imagine you're out walking around your city, and you notice that the annual fair is setting up for its week-long extravaganza. You'd like to share the news with your friends and family. You could take a picture of the newly unloaded carousel with your digital camera, walk home, transfer the photo to your computer, and then upload it to Flickr. If you have a cell phone with a built-in camera, however, you can take the picture and post it to Flickr on the spot. Hooray for convergence!

To post from your cell phone, you'll need a cellular plan that lets you send photos via email. The data-transfer plans are usually $5 to $10 more per month than standard plans, or you might have a pay-per-use option that lets you pay for the number of messages you send. Check with your cellular service provider to get details about sending email from your phone. Once your plan is in place, posting from your cell phone relies on Flickr's "Upload-by-email" feature. Most camera phones can send any of their photos via email. With the proper phone and plan, you simply need a Flickr email address.

Uploading by Email

Every user at Flickr has a unique email address for uploading pictures. You can find out yours by looking under Your Account at the bottom of any Flickr page and clicking the appropriately titled "Upload-by-email" link. You'll see a page like the one in Figure 1-34, which lets you in on your secret address.

A Flickr email address

Figure 1-34. A Flickr email address

Notice that the email address is made up of random words and numbers before the @ symbol, followed by photos.flickr.com. Keep in mind that the domain is not simply flickr.com, because without the photos. prefix, your photos will be sent into the void.

The "Uploading by email" page also lets you specify any tags to automatically add to a photo when it's uploaded via email. Popular tags for cell phone users include cameraphone, mobile, and moblog (short for mobile blog). If you're going to be taking photos from a specific location with your mobile phone, you could include the location name as an auto-tag as well.


Every cell phone has a different way of taking pictures and entering contacts, so you might have to consult your cell phone manual for some of these procedures. The screenshots in this hack show a Sony Ericsson S710a—an excellent phone for mobile photos.

While the page is still up on your computer, grab your cell phone and start a new entry in your phone's contacts list. If you enter your private Flickr address now, you won't have to remember it while you're out and about. Figure 1-35 shows how entering the address looks on a cell phone; be sure to add it to the email field of a contact.

Entering the Flickr address into a phone

Figure 1-35. Entering the Flickr address into a phone

Give the contact a name you'll recognize, like Flickr, and you'll be all set for easy uploading from the field. Be sure to click Save on the "Uploading by email" page at Flickr to associate your Flickr email address with your account.

Sending a Photo

So, you're out about town, armed with a camera phone and a Flickr address stored as a contact. When you capture the perfect image, you'll be set for sharing it with the world.

Every cell phone has a different method of sending a photo, but generally, the rule is to push buttons until you see an option called Send (see Figure 1-36).

Choosing Send from picture options

Figure 1-36. Choosing Send from picture options

Once you select Send, you'll usually have the option to review the email before you send it. If you have great cell-phone-keypad dexterity, you can set a Subject line for your email like the one shown in Figure 1-37, and Flickr will use the subject as the title of the photo.

Editing a message subject

Figure 1-37. Editing a message subject

If you don't set a subject, most cell phones use the internal filename of the photo as the subject of the message—something along the lines of DSC00025. Of course, you can always change the title of a Flickr image once you're back at your home computer.

When the message is ready to go, click Send, and your phone will send the message through powerful cell networks directly to Flickr. Your phone might even provide a Sending Message graphic like the one shown in Figure 1-38 to let you know the message is on its way.

Sending email via a cell phone

Figure 1-38. Sending email via a cell phone

A minute or two later, your photo will appear on Flickr with your subject and preselected tags, as shown in Figure 1-39.

A cell phone picture posted via email on Flickr

Figure 1-39. A cell phone picture posted via email on Flickr

The entire process of sending a photo takes about a minute, and then you can slip the phone back into your pocket. Once you're back at your computer, you can log into Flickr and add any additional information, such as a description or more detailed tags—the hurdle of transferring the photo will be a distant memory.

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