Live Photos Cause Confusion


Today’s Question: I’ve just imported some files from my iPhone 7+ into my Lightroom catalog. Two funny things show up. Most troubling is that apparently without knowing it I made short videos (maybe 3 seconds long) when I was making the photos. There is also a JPEG next to the movie. Why am I getting both a photo and a video?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The photos in question are “Live Photos”, which are really a variation on a short video clip available as a feature on the iPhone.

More Detail: The Camera app for the iPhone includes a “Live Photo” feature, which is a photo that has a degree of movement to it. The capture is a special video of about three seconds in duration, and a single frame is presented as the “photo” for this video clip. You can also apply some special effects to Live Photos using the Photos app on the iPhone or on a Macintosh computer.

Of course, other software such as Lightroom isn’t able to fully support the Live Photo format. This is one of the reasons I prefer to leave the Live Photo feature turned off, instead choosing whether I want a photo or video for each capture.

The Live Photo feature is enabled by tapping the icon that has a series of concentric circles, forming an icon that looks something like a target. When the icon is yellow the Live Photo feature is enabled. If you want to disable the Live Photo feature, simply tap the icon so it becomes white, indicating Live Photo is inactive.

In the context of Lightroom, you may want to simply delete the video component of the Live Photo captures, and only retain the JPEG images. And, perhaps more importantly, you may want to make sure to leave this feature off to avoid this issue altogether. I do recommend checking the setting periodically in the Camera app, as in my experience this is one of the most common features to get turned on by mistake on the iPhone.