Raspberry Pi auto-uploads camera images with PiPhoto

Picture the scene – you’ve just returned from an amazing trip armed with hundreds of photos. You don’t want to lose those memories. However, you also don’t want to spend the next three hours uploading and organising them.

An automated solution

Lou Kratz spends pretty much every weekend capturing his adventures on camera. But he couldn’t stand the digital admin, so he invented PiPhoto to automate the process.

Video from Lou’s YouTube channel

As you can see from the video, Lou has created a wonderfully simple solution. You just plug your SD card into your Raspberry Pi, and your photos automatically upload onto your computer. Game changer.

What does PiPhoto do?

  • Mount the SD card on insert
  • Start flashing the green LED
  • Execute a sync command of your choosing
  • Make the green LED solid when the command completes
  • Make the red LED flash if the sync command fails

Can I build one myself?

Yes! Lou is our most favourite kind of maker in that he has open-sourced everything on GitHub. There are also step-by-step instructions on Lou’s blog.

PiPhoto cycling through on Raspberry Pi

You can easily change the sync command to better fit your needs, and Lou has already made some improvements. Here is a guide to making your Raspberry Pi organise photos by date as they’re uploaded. You can keep up with any new additions via Lou’s GitHub.

Now we don’t have to ditch our beloved older cameras for newer models with wireless connectivity built in. Thanks Lou!

8 comments

Harry Hardjono avatar

Not spend time organizing the photos? It looks like an automated photo upload, instead of an organizing one. Presumably, that will come later. However, I’ve never found drag and drop method to be onerous. So, I’m afraid I fail to see the advantage. Organizing and Categorizing the pictures will need to be done eventually anyway, if you want the collection to be useful.

I’d probably do it the old fashioned way: special marker file on SD card. Cron, and rsync.

Anders avatar

Yes, it does seem to be adding an extra piece of hardware and code to a process that would be just as easily implemented on the main computer.

If it was a portable device that uploaded directly over broadband to a cloud service then I could see it as more useful.

But still good fun as an exercise.

Anas Ibrahim avatar

However, I’ve never found drag and drop method to be onerous. So, I’m afraid I fail to see the advantage. Organizing and Categorizing the pictures will need to be done eventually anyway, ?

Lou avatar

Hey thanks so much for the kind write-up, Ashley! I’m hoping to add some more improvements soon :D.

Amihai Glazer avatar

That is a neat solution. Another one is to install syncthing on the Pi and on an Android phone. Have the phone automatically send the photos in its camera folder to a camera folder on the Pi. And that can be done over an internet connection, with the phone and Pi in different cities.

Ian avatar

There’s also Dmitri Popov’s Little Backup Box which has been around for some years:
https://dmpop.github.io/little-backup-box/
Many options for expansion and provides an on-the-go backup solution.

BlastFX avatar

Why the WiFi dongle on a 3B?

Lou avatar

It’s a 2B, friend. I’ve since gotten a 4 :D

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