Lightroom Mobile Import

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Today’s Question: The free Lightroom iPhone app can automatically transfer every photo you take to a folder in your desktop Lightroom. Why not use it instead of extra manual steps?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two key reasons I prefer not to use the mobile version of Lightroom to import the captures from my mobile devices. First, this process leaves the original captures on your mobile device, and as noted in my answer on Friday I prefer to treat my iPhone as a camera, deleting all photos from my iPhone as soon as they are safely downloaded. Second, using the mobile version of Lightroom in this way doesn’t enable me to employ my normal folder structure strategy, requiring some additional “cleanup” work after the import.

More Detail: The “mobile” version of Lightroom does indeed enable you to import photos from your mobile device directly into Lightroom on that device. Those photos will then be synchronized automatically to your desktop installation of Lightroom, provided you have enabled synchronization. The result is that your iPhone (or other mobile device) captures will automatically synchronize to your “real” catalog on your desktop, while still being available on your mobile device.

To be sure, this workflow can be very convenient. However, as noted above, the workflow employed does not align with my own personal workflow preferences. While I often capture photos on my iPhone, for example, I don’t those photos to permanently consume space on my iPhone. I treat my iPhone as another camera to supplement my digital SLR and other cameras, and I want to use the same workflow for all photos I capture, regardless of which device was actually used to capture the images.

For me personally, I want a solution where I can delete the photos from my camera (such as the iPhone) as soon as they have been successfully downloaded (and backed up) to my normal storage. I also want to be able to use my existing folder structure strategy for those captures.

While the use of an application other than Lightroom for downloading photos from my iPhone does add a step to my workflow, this approach also makes it easier to delete the photos from my iPhone during this process, and to maintain my existing folder structure as well.

If Lightroom included an option to delete all photos from my iPhone as soon as they have been successfully copied (and backed up) into my normal folder storage structure, I would be very happy and I would no longer need to use other software for downloading my iPhone images. Until then, the workflow noted in the Friday edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter provides a solution that works for me.