ESP32-CAM HTTP POST Photos to Local or Cloud Server using PHP and Arduino IDE

In this guide, you’ll learn how to make HTTP POST requests using the ESP32-CAM board with Arduino IDE to send photos to a server. We’ll show how to post a JPG image to a local server (Raspberry Pi LAMP server) or to a cloud server (that you can access from anywhere). To save the images in the server, we’ll use PHP.

ESP32-CAM Camera Board Send HTTP Post Request Images to Local or Cloud Server using Arduino IDE

To build this project, you need to follow the next steps. Follow the LAMP Server or the Hosting Server instructions depending if you want to access the photos locally or from anywhere.

  1. Hosting your PHP Application
    1. Raspberry Pi LAMP Server (local access)
    2. Hosting Server (access from anywhere)
  2. PHP scripts to save and display photos in the server
    1. Raspberry Pi LAMP Server (local access)
    2. Hosting Server (access from anywhere)
  3. Program the ESP32-CAM with Arduino IDE
  4. Testing and Final Demonstration

1. Hosting Your PHP Application

The goal of this project is to have a local or cloud server to store and access your ESP32-CAM photos.

1. Raspberry Pi local server:

With a Raspberry Pi LAMP server, you can access your images locally (as illustrated below).

ESP32-CAM Camera Board Send Photo Image to Raspberry Pi LAMP Server PHP Script Arduino

Setup Local RPi LAMP Server »

2. Cloud server (Bluehost hosting solution)

You also can visualize the ESP32-CAM photos from anywhere in the world by accessing your own server + domain. Here’s a high level overview on how it works:

ESP32-CAM Camera Board Send Photo Image to Cloud Server PHP Script Arduino
  • Bluehost (user-friendly with cPanel): free domain name when you sign up for the 3-year plan. I recommend choosing the unlimited websites option; Note that any hosting service that offers PHP will work with this tutorial. If you don’t have a hosting account, I recommend signing up for Bluehost.

Get Hosting and Domain Name with Bluehost »

When buying a hosting account, you’ll also have to purchase a domain name. This is what makes this project interesting: you’ll be able to go your domain name (http://example.com) and see your ESP32-CAM photos. If you like our projects, you might consider signing up to Bluehost, because you’ll be supporting our work.

2.1. Preparing Your .php File and uploads Folder (Raspberry Pi LAMP Server)

This section prepares your .php file and uploads folder for your Raspberry Pi LAMP Server. If you’re using your own server + domain name, skip to the next section.

Having a Raspberry Pi running Apache and PHP, in the Raspberry Pi board terminal window navigate to the /var/www/html/ directory:

[email protected]:~ $ cd /var/www/html/

Create a new folder called uploads:

[email protected]:/var/www/html $ mkdir uploads
[email protected]:/var/www/html $ ls
uploads

At the moment, /var/www/html is owned by root, use the next commands to change to the pi user and give it all permissions so that you can save photos using a PHP script later on.

sudo chown -R pi:pi /var/www/html
chmod -R 777 /var/www/html/

Finally, create a new upload.php file:

[email protected]:/var/www/html $ nano upload.php

This PHP script is responsible for receiving incoming images from the ESP32-CAM, rename the images with a timestamp and store them in the uploads folder. Edit the newly created file (upload.php) and copy the following snippet:

<?php
// Rui Santos
// Complete project details at https://RandomNerdTutorials.com/esp32-cam-post-image-photo-server/
// Code Based on this example: w3schools.com/php/php_file_upload.asp

$target_dir = "uploads/";
$datum = mktime(date('H')+0, date('i'), date('s'), date('m'), date('d'), date('y'));
$target_file = $target_dir . date('Y.m.d_H:i:s_', $datum) . basename($_FILES["imageFile"]["name"]);
$uploadOk = 1;
$imageFileType = strtolower(pathinfo($target_file,PATHINFO_EXTENSION));

// Check if image file is a actual image or fake image
if(isset($_POST["submit"])) {
  $check = getimagesize($_FILES["imageFile"]["tmp_name"]);
  if($check !== false) {
    echo "File is an image - " . $check["mime"] . ".";
    $uploadOk = 1;
  }
  else {
    echo "File is not an image.";
    $uploadOk = 0;
  }
}

// Check if file already exists
if (file_exists($target_file)) {
  echo "Sorry, file already exists.";
  $uploadOk = 0;
}

// Check file size
if ($_FILES["imageFile"]["size"] > 500000) {
  echo "Sorry, your file is too large.";
  $uploadOk = 0;
}

// Allow certain file formats
if($imageFileType != "jpg" && $imageFileType != "png" && $imageFileType != "jpeg"
&& $imageFileType != "gif" ) {
  echo "Sorry, only JPG, JPEG, PNG & GIF files are allowed.";
  $uploadOk = 0;
}

// Check if $uploadOk is set to 0 by an error
if ($uploadOk == 0) {
  echo "Sorry, your file was not uploaded.";
// if everything is ok, try to upload file
}
else {
  if (move_uploaded_file($_FILES["imageFile"]["tmp_name"], $target_file)) {
    echo "The file ". basename( $_FILES["imageFile"]["name"]). " has been uploaded.";
  }
  else {
    echo "Sorry, there was an error uploading your file.";
  }
}
?>

View raw code

Save your file and exit (Ctrl+X, Y, and Enter key):

2.2. Preparing Your .php Files and uploads Folder (Hosting Service)

If you prefer to run your server remotely and access the photos from anywhere, you need a hosting account. After signing up for a hosting account and setting up a domain name, you can login to your cPanel or similar dashboard. After that, open the File Manager.

Open the “Advanced” tab and select “File Manager“:

Bluehost open advanced and file manager files to create upload.php file and uploads folder

Then, select the public_html option. Press the “+ File” button to create a new upload.php file and a new gallery.php file. Then, click the “+Folder” button to create the Uploads folder.

ESP32-CAM Camera board CPanel Create New Upload PHP File Uploads Folder

With the three items created, edit the upload.php file:

new files created PHP cPanel and uploads folder

This PHP script is responsible for receiving incoming images from the ESP32-CAM, rename the images with a timestamp and store them in the uploads folder. Edit the newly created file (upload.php) and copy the snippet below. Save your file and exit.

<?php
// Rui Santos
// Complete project details at https://RandomNerdTutorials.com/esp32-cam-post-image-photo-server/
// Code Based on this example: w3schools.com/php/php_file_upload.asp

$target_dir = "uploads/";
$datum = mktime(date('H')+0, date('i'), date('s'), date('m'), date('d'), date('y'));
$target_file = $target_dir . date('Y.m.d_H:i:s_', $datum) . basename($_FILES["imageFile"]["name"]);
$uploadOk = 1;
$imageFileType = strtolower(pathinfo($target_file,PATHINFO_EXTENSION));

// Check if image file is a actual image or fake image
if(isset($_POST["submit"])) {
  $check = getimagesize($_FILES["imageFile"]["tmp_name"]);
  if($check !== false) {
    echo "File is an image - " . $check["mime"] . ".";
    $uploadOk = 1;
  }
  else {
    echo "File is not an image.";
    $uploadOk = 0;
  }
}

// Check if file already exists
if (file_exists($target_file)) {
  echo "Sorry, file already exists.";
  $uploadOk = 0;
}

// Check file size
if ($_FILES["imageFile"]["size"] > 500000) {
  echo "Sorry, your file is too large.";
  $uploadOk = 0;
}

// Allow certain file formats
if($imageFileType != "jpg" && $imageFileType != "png" && $imageFileType != "jpeg"
&& $imageFileType != "gif" ) {
  echo "Sorry, only JPG, JPEG, PNG & GIF files are allowed.";
  $uploadOk = 0;
}

// Check if $uploadOk is set to 0 by an error
if ($uploadOk == 0) {
  echo "Sorry, your file was not uploaded.";
// if everything is ok, try to upload file
}
else {
  if (move_uploaded_file($_FILES["imageFile"]["tmp_name"], $target_file)) {
    echo "The file ". basename( $_FILES["imageFile"]["name"]). " has been uploaded.";
  }
  else {
    echo "Sorry, there was an error uploading your file.";
  }
}
?>

View raw code

3. ESP32-CAM HTTP Post Images/Photos to Server

Now that you have your server ready (Raspberry Pi LAMP server or cloud server), it’s time to prepare the ESP32-CAM with the code to publish a new image to your server every 30 seconds. Before proceeding with this tutorial, make sure you complete the following prerequisites.

Parts Required

To follow this tutorial you need the following components:

You can use the preceding links or go directly to MakerAdvisor.com/tools to find all the parts for your projects at the best price!

Arduino IDE

We’ll program the ESP32-CAM using Arduino IDE, so make sure you have the ESP32 add-on installed.

Check the PHP URL

You should try to open the Raspberry Pi local IP address or your external example.com domain name, followed by /upload.php that should return:

Sorry, only JPG, JPEG, PNG & GIF files are allowed.Sorry, your file was not uploaded.
ESP32-CAM Testing the upload.php URL

If you see that message save your URL/domain name and path, your server should be ready and you can continue with this guide.

ESP32-CAM Code

The next sketch posts the image to a server using HTTP POST. Copy the code below to your Arduino IDE.

/*
  Rui Santos
  Complete project details at https://RandomNerdTutorials.com/esp32-cam-post-image-photo-server/
  
  Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
  of this software and associated documentation files.
  
  The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all
  copies or substantial portions of the Software.
*/

#include <Arduino.h>
#include <WiFi.h>
#include "soc/soc.h"
#include "soc/rtc_cntl_reg.h"
#include "esp_camera.h"

const char* ssid = "REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_SSID";
const char* password = "REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_PASSWORD";

String serverName = "192.168.1.XXX";   // REPLACE WITH YOUR Raspberry Pi IP ADDRESS
//String serverName = "example.com";   // OR REPLACE WITH YOUR DOMAIN NAME

String serverPath = "/upload.php";     // The default serverPath should be upload.php

const int serverPort = 80;

WiFiClient client;

// CAMERA_MODEL_AI_THINKER
#define PWDN_GPIO_NUM     32
#define RESET_GPIO_NUM    -1
#define XCLK_GPIO_NUM      0
#define SIOD_GPIO_NUM     26
#define SIOC_GPIO_NUM     27

#define Y9_GPIO_NUM       35
#define Y8_GPIO_NUM       34
#define Y7_GPIO_NUM       39
#define Y6_GPIO_NUM       36
#define Y5_GPIO_NUM       21
#define Y4_GPIO_NUM       19
#define Y3_GPIO_NUM       18
#define Y2_GPIO_NUM        5
#define VSYNC_GPIO_NUM    25
#define HREF_GPIO_NUM     23
#define PCLK_GPIO_NUM     22

const int timerInterval = 30000;    // time between each HTTP POST image
unsigned long previousMillis = 0;   // last time image was sent

void setup() {
  WRITE_PERI_REG(RTC_CNTL_BROWN_OUT_REG, 0); 
  Serial.begin(115200);

  WiFi.mode(WIFI_STA);
  Serial.println();
  Serial.print("Connecting to ");
  Serial.println(ssid);
  WiFi.begin(ssid, password);  
  while (WiFi.status() != WL_CONNECTED) {
    Serial.print(".");
    delay(500);
  }
  Serial.println();
  Serial.print("ESP32-CAM IP Address: ");
  Serial.println(WiFi.localIP());

  camera_config_t config;
  config.ledc_channel = LEDC_CHANNEL_0;
  config.ledc_timer = LEDC_TIMER_0;
  config.pin_d0 = Y2_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_d1 = Y3_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_d2 = Y4_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_d3 = Y5_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_d4 = Y6_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_d5 = Y7_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_d6 = Y8_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_d7 = Y9_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_xclk = XCLK_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_pclk = PCLK_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_vsync = VSYNC_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_href = HREF_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_sscb_sda = SIOD_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_sscb_scl = SIOC_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_pwdn = PWDN_GPIO_NUM;
  config.pin_reset = RESET_GPIO_NUM;
  config.xclk_freq_hz = 20000000;
  config.pixel_format = PIXFORMAT_JPEG;

  // init with high specs to pre-allocate larger buffers
  if(psramFound()){
    config.frame_size = FRAMESIZE_SVGA;
    config.jpeg_quality = 10;  //0-63 lower number means higher quality
    config.fb_count = 2;
  } else {
    config.frame_size = FRAMESIZE_CIF;
    config.jpeg_quality = 12;  //0-63 lower number means higher quality
    config.fb_count = 1;
  }
  
  // camera init
  esp_err_t err = esp_camera_init(&config);
  if (err != ESP_OK) {
    Serial.printf("Camera init failed with error 0x%x", err);
    delay(1000);
    ESP.restart();
  }

  sendPhoto(); 
}

void loop() {
  unsigned long currentMillis = millis();
  if (currentMillis - previousMillis >= timerInterval) {
    sendPhoto();
    previousMillis = currentMillis;
  }
}

String sendPhoto() {
  String getAll;
  String getBody;

  camera_fb_t * fb = NULL;
  fb = esp_camera_fb_get();
  if(!fb) {
    Serial.println("Camera capture failed");
    delay(1000);
    ESP.restart();
  }
  
  Serial.println("Connecting to server: " + serverName);

  if (client.connect(serverName.c_str(), serverPort)) {
    Serial.println("Connection successful!");    
    String head = "--RandomNerdTutorials\r\nContent-Disposition: form-data; name=\"imageFile\"; filename=\"esp32-cam.jpg\"\r\nContent-Type: image/jpeg\r\n\r\n";
    String tail = "\r\n--RandomNerdTutorials--\r\n";

    uint16_t imageLen = fb->len;
    uint16_t extraLen = head.length() + tail.length();
    uint16_t totalLen = imageLen + extraLen;
  
    client.println("POST " + serverPath + " HTTP/1.1");
    client.println("Host: " + serverName);
    client.println("Content-Length: " + String(totalLen));
    client.println("Content-Type: multipart/form-data; boundary=RandomNerdTutorials");
    client.println();
    client.print(head);
  
    uint8_t *fbBuf = fb->buf;
    size_t fbLen = fb->len;
    for (size_t n=0; n<fbLen; n=n+1024) {
      if (n+1024 < fbLen) {
        client.write(fbBuf, 1024);
        fbBuf += 1024;
      }
      else if (fbLen%1024>0) {
        size_t remainder = fbLen%1024;
        client.write(fbBuf, remainder);
      }
    }   
    client.print(tail);
    
    esp_camera_fb_return(fb);
    
    int timoutTimer = 10000;
    long startTimer = millis();
    boolean state = false;
    
    while ((startTimer + timoutTimer) > millis()) {
      Serial.print(".");
      delay(100);      
      while (client.available()) {
        char c = client.read();
        if (c == '\n') {
          if (getAll.length()==0) { state=true; }
          getAll = "";
        }
        else if (c != '\r') { getAll += String(c); }
        if (state==true) { getBody += String(c); }
        startTimer = millis();
      }
      if (getBody.length()>0) { break; }
    }
    Serial.println();
    client.stop();
    Serial.println(getBody);
  }
  else {
    getBody = "Connection to " + serverName +  " failed.";
    Serial.println(getBody);
  }
  return getBody;
}

View raw code

Before uploading the code, you need to insert your network credentials in the following variables:

const char* ssid = "REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_SSID";
const char* password = "REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_PASSWORD";

Make sure you select the right camera module. In this case, we’re using the AI-THINKER Model. If you’re using another camera model, you can read this Guide ESP32-CAM Camera Boards: Pin and GPIOs Assignment.

Add your Raspberry Pi IP address or use the server domain name:

String serverName = "192.168.1.XXX";   // REPLACE WITH YOUR Raspberry Pi IP ADDRESS
//String serverName = "example.com";   // OR REPLACE WITH YOUR DOMAIN NAME
String serverPath = "/upload.php";     // The default serverPath should be upload.php

Upload Code to ESP32-CAM

Now you can upload the code to your ESP32-CAM board. Connect the ESP32-CAM board to your computer using an FTDI programmer.

Follow the next schematic diagram:

Uploading the Code ESP32-CAM camera board new sketch upload code FTDI Programmer

Many FTDI programmers have a jumper that allows you to select 3.3V or 5V. Make sure the jumper is in the right place to select 5V.

Important: GPIO 0 needs to be connected to GND so that you’re able to upload code.

ESP32-CAMFTDI Programmer
GNDGND
5VVCC (5V)
U0RTX
U0TRX
GPIO 0GND

To upload the code, follow the next steps:

  1. Go to Tools > Board and select AI-Thinker ESP32-CAM.
  2. Go to Tools > Port and select the COM port the ESP32 is connected to.
  3. Then, click the upload button to upload the code.
  4. When you start to see these dots on the debugging window as shown below, press the ESP32-CAM on-board RST button.
ESP32-CAM camera board upload new Arduino IDE sketch press RESET button

After a few seconds, the code should be successfully uploaded to your board.

If you have troubles uploading the code, read our ESP32-CAM Troubleshooting Guide.

How the Code Works

Here’s a quick explanation on how the code works:

  • Imports all libraries;
  • Defines the needed variables;
  • Defines the camera pins;
  • In the setup() you establish a Wi-Fi connection and initialize the ESP32 camera.
  • The loop() has a timer that calls the sendPhoto() function every 30 seconds. You can change that delay time in the timerInterval variable.

The sendPhoto() function is the part that actually takes a photo and sends it to your server. You can use that function in other of your projects that require taking and publishing a photo to a server.

4. Testing and Final Demonstration

After uploading the code to your board, open the Arduino IDE Serial Monitor and you should see a similar message being printed every 30 seconds:

The file esp32-cam.jpg has been uploaded.
ESP32-CAM file esp32-cam.jpg has been uploaded Arduino IDE Serial Monitor testing project

If you go to your local server URL http://IP-Address/uploads, or to your cloud server URL http://example.com/uploads you should have a folder with all your stored photos.

ESP32-CAM Camera Board Uploads Folder Images stored server Demonstration

You can click on each link to open a new page with the full image:

ESP32-CAM Upload Photo or Image to Server PHP Arduino IDE

Wrapping Up

That’s it! Now, you can send your ESP32-CAM photos to any server using HTTP POST. Modify this project to best suit your needs, for example take a photo and send to a server when motion is detected.

Other ESP32 tutorials you might be interested in:

Learn more about the ESP32-CAM:

Thanks for reading.


Learn how to program and build projects with the ESP32 and ESP8266 using MicroPython firmware DOWNLOAD »

Learn how to program and build projects with the ESP32 and ESP8266 using MicroPython firmware DOWNLOAD »


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