The Lightroom Ecosystem


Today’s Question: You made reference to the “Lightroom ecosystem” in one of your answers, and I’ve never heard that term before. Can you please explain what this ecosystem is?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When I say “Lightroom ecosystem” I’m preferring to all the products that have access to Lightroom cloud-based storage, which includes two desktop applications (Lightroom and Lightroom Classic), the Lightroom app for mobile devices, and the ability to access Lightroom in a web browser.

More Detail: When the term “Lightroom” comes up, I imagine most photographers think of one of the two desktop applications that (confusingly) share the same basic name. Lightroom Classic is the desktop application focused on local photo storage and employing a central catalog to manage the information about your photos. Lightroom (without the Classic in the name) had previously been focused exclusively on cloud-based storage of photos, but now also supports browsing local photos as well.

Lightroom Classic can synchronize copies of photos to cloud-based storage through the use of collections that have synchronization enabled. If you add photos to Lightroom (rather than just browse them locally) the original images are moved to cloud-based storage and access via an internet connection (and local cache).

In addition, there is a Lightroom app for mobile devices, which enables you to work with the photos that have already been saved to the cloud via Lightroom or Lightroom Classic, for example, but also allows you to add photos that are already on your device or capture new photos via the camera feature from within the Lightroom mobile app.

You can also access cloud-based photos using Lightroom in a web browser ( This approach provides you with an interface that is very similar to the Lightroom desktop application, allowing you to organize and optimize photos stored in the cloud.

With all these tools in the Lightroom ecosystem, any changes you make to cloud-based images are synchronized to the cloud, and therefore updated everywhere. For example, if you convert a color image to black and white through Lightroom in a web browser, the next time you browse that photo in either Lightroom desktop application or the Lightroom mobile app you will see the updates reflected.

In general, I recommend that photographers use only one of the desktop applications, choosing either Lightroom or Lightroom Classic, as I explained in my webinar presentation yesterday on “Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, or Bridge?!”, which can be found on my “Tim Grey TV” channel on YouTube here:


In addition to one of the two desktop applications, you can then supplement your workflow with the Lightroom mobile app and with Lightroom in a web browser, to take full advantage of the Lightroom ecosystem.