Are you interested in learning more about how Lightroom Mobile can streamline your photo workflow? In this article I will explain in detail how I use Lightroom Mobile as part of my photography workflow. A phone and tablet app, Lightroom Mobile has revolutionized how I get photos from my phone onto my computer, as well as allowed me to work with my photos while on the go.
Before we get started, we need to address where the photos are going to live on the computer. Lightroom does not hold or make copies of the files, it merely references them wherever you have them on the hard drive. The hard drive file structure provides the foundation in Lightroom. My photos are maintained in date order on a dedicated hard drive within my computer, denoted as the D drive. I have a folder for each year, with subfolders by month. Each month contains three subfolders: RAW, Selected, and JPEG. You'll see how I use these folders in the coming steps. Before opening Lightroom, I import the photos directly from my camera onto the hard drive into the RAW folder for the appropriate month.
1 - Import photos to Lightroom
Depending on the source of the photos, this step will vary. Photos from my DSLR are imported from the hard drive by Adding. Since I've already imported from my camera to the hard drive, I simply need to add to Lightroom, not move or copy. On the right side, under File Handling, build previews at 1:1 and check the box for building smart previews. Having the program perform this function on import is a whole lot quicker than waiting for each photo to load once in Lightroom.
Photos from my phone are already in Lightroom because it syncs with Lightroom Mobile. Phone photos are found in a folder called "Lightroom Mobile." When setting up Lightroom Mobile, I designated where on the hard drive of the computer these photos should be placed. As you can see from the hover over, I have my mobile photos added to the D drive into a folder called Lightroom Mobile. This folder is designed to be a temporary holding place. As long as the computer is turned on and Lightroom is open, the photos will sync in real time to the computer, automatically creating a backup. At this stage I move the phone photos to the appropriate month folder, inside RAW. This also moves the photo on the hard drive. Once I know they are safe on the hard drive of the computer, I delete all photos from my phone and from the iPhone imports collection. I don't need them there because I can access them again if I want to after Step 3.
2 - Delete or remove poor quality photos
Deleting removes the photo from the hard drive. Removing keeps the photo on the hard drive, but removes it from Lightroom. This cull is only for the really bad ones. I do not review multiple photos from the same session to determine which I like better. That happens in Step 4. Whether I delete permanently or remove depends on the photo and is completely subjective with the rules changing constantly. Generally, a photo that is so blurry, eyes closed, or over/under exposed beyond repair get deleted. The rest I keep because storage is cheap.
3 - Create collection that syncs with Mobile
A collection is a grouping of selected photos. It does not create a copy. Any changes made to a photo in a collection also changes the original photo. For demonstration purposes, I created one called August to Triage. Check the box that says "sync with Lightroom Mobile". You'll know that it syncs because there will be a back and forth arrow to the left of the folder. Go back up to the navigator and select the photos you want to include in the new collection and drag them to the collection folder. You can create a collection for any photos that you want to access from your mobile device. You'll see I also have a collections for Jan - July to triage and a collection called "Portfolio". This collection contains all the photos that I've posted in the Gallery here on the website.
4 - Cull photos by setting pick flags and star ratings
Now that the photos are in Lightroom Mobile the magic begins! I can access them from my phone or tablet. Open up the app and you'll see all the collections you've set to sync. Choose a collection, then tap any photo to see it larger and perform edits.
Once a photo is selected, the navigation is accessed through the three dots on the bottom right of the screen. The choices are flag & star rate or editing with crop, presets, and a full edit panel including white balance, temperature, toning and exposure. The minimum I do here is flag. To flag a photo, swipe up. To reject, swipe down. I'll star rate the best of the best. The photo that makes me pause. Otherwise, I leave the star rating blank and revisit it when on the computer and I can see the photo better. Sometimes I'll do edits that do not include exposure or color adjustments. This is a personal preference because I don't trust my eyes evaluating the scene correctly on the backlit phone/tablet screen. I'd rather save that step for when I'm on a large calibrated monitor. I will auto straighten, especially when the horizon line is so out of wack like in these plane photos. All changes made to the photo in Lightroom Mobile sync with the original file on the desktop version. Automatically.
5 - Share photos with the world!
One of my favorite features of Lightroom Mobile is sharing. It is so easy to share your favorite photos with friends and loved ones. From within the Lightroom Mobile app you can share via email, message, and even print. Another option is to open the photo in another app such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or 500px! Simply click the up arrow in the top right corner of the screen to bring up the dialog box. I also use the share button to share to another app, Day One, for memory keeping purposes.
6 - Sort by picks and move to Selects Folder
Back on the computer, I sort the photos by picks. Giving them one last look over on the large screen, I'll refine my selection by removing photos that I thought were ok on the phone/tablet, but now on the larger screen, I don't want them. I then move the picked photos to the Selected folder. This also moves the photo on the hard drive. You can see this by looking at the number of photos in each folder in the navigation section.
7 - Edit and Tag
Working in the Selected folder, preview each photo in the Develop Module and edit as necessary. I also assign tags such as names and places or special projects.
8 - Export to JPEG Folder
We've selected all our favorite photos, and edited them. They are now ready to leave Lightroom. Export to a specific folder. Click "choose" and navigate to the JPEG folder within the appropriate month. I do not choose to rename; set the image format as JPEG with highest quality and sRGB color space; I don't resize or sharpen; and in the metadata section I remove location information for privacy.
9 - Remove RAW Folder
The RAW folder now contains only those photos that we didn't like so much. To keep things clean, at this point I remove the RAW folder from Lightroom (not delete!). This removes all the photos that I thought were sub-par from the library. If I need to go back to those photos, I can do that in Windows Explorer. I also delete the August to Triage synced catalog because I no longer need to access those photos on my mobile device. When I look through my photo library, I am seeing only those photos that are the best.
10 - Print
At this point the photos are on your hard drive in a format easily uploaded to your printer service of choice, or print at home if you have the ability.
A quick note on another way Lightroom Mobile can simplify your life and help you to back up your photos: While away on vacation I took photos with my DSLR. With a handy converter cable, I was able to upload my RAW DSLR photos from the SD card directly into my phone's photo library. Having left my computer on at home and Lightroom open, Lightroom Mobile sucked up the photos, sent them up to the adobe cloud and back down to my computer at home. Instantly backed up and safe!
I hope this article was helpful to you in setting up a photography workflow using Lightroom Mobile. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
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With gratitude, always.
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