You can automate moving your phone photos to Lightroom. Learn how by registering for your free photography journey here to reveal the tutorial below.

What to do with all the photos we take on our phones? Even if we have good cameras, I suspect that most of the photos we take come from our phones – they might not be quite as good as the photos from our “real cameras,” but they are close. And getting better each time we upgrade!

For a couple of years now, I’ve looked for a solid method to manage these photos.  I want:

  1. To access all of my photos via Lightroom
  2. To minimize what I store on the phone so that I don’t run out of memory

I’ve experimented with several possible solutions, but none of them worked consistently.

At first, I tried using an IFTTT recipe to put photos from my phone onto my computer. It worked – sometimes. But not for all photos. I experimented with Dropbox, but that wasn’t consistent either. Photostream and iCloud didn’t do it for me. And I used Lightroom mobile, but that duplicates images on my phone and eats up too much storage.

I’ve settled (I hope!) on Photosync. Photosync uses wifi to put my phone photos onto my computer each time I enter my house. This app (for iPhone & Android) is easy to set up. After installing the app on your phone and the companion app on your computer, everything else is automatic.

Say that I’m away from home and have taken some photos. When I walk in the door of my house (and my phone automatically reconnects to our wifi network), my phone notifies me that Photosync is sending the new images to my computer. My computer displays a similar message at the same time. Now, if I’m at home and have taken the phone photo there, the transfer does not happen until I leave the house and return. It’s the new connection to a wifi network that triggers the synchronization. I could, however, open the app and manually start the synchronization if I wanted the photo in LR immediately.

photosync computer

You can see in the screenshot below that Photosync is putting my photos in a folder specific to my phone in the Pictures folder of my internal hard drive.

finder

Ok, so that’s the first half of the process. My phone photos are now on my computer. They aren’t, however, in Lightroom yet. Lightroom’s Auto Import can take care of that.

To access Auto Import, go to the File menu and select Auto Import Settings.

lr auto import

From here, you will tell Lightroom (1) where Photosync is putting your phone photos, and (2) where you’d like for them to live.

lr auto import settings

In the Watched Folder section, you want to click the Choose button to navigate to the folder where Photosync is storing your photos. The Destination folder is where Lightroom will move these photos to – their permanent address, if you will. You can use the File Naming section to change the file names, if you’d like, and the Information section apply metadata like keywords and copyright information.

A funny thing about setting Auto Import up is that you can’t tell Lightroom to watch a folder that has anything in it – it must be empty. Because I had already imported photos from my phone to my computer using Photosync when I set up Auto Import, the folder I wanted to watch wasn’t empty. So, I had to temporarily move those photos elsewhere, then set up Auto Import, and finally move the phone photos back to the watched folder.

Photosync stores my photos on my internal hard drive and Lightroom moves them to my external, which is where all my other photos live. And all the photos from my phone are added to my Lightroom catalog without my having to lift a finger. You can see them below in Lightroom:

lr screen

The one part of this process that I have to do manually is do go back and delete photos from my phone periodically. I’m comfortable doing this, however, because I’ve checked and double checked that all of the photos are on my computer and in Lightroom’s catalog.

People have asked me…

… whether I edit all of my phone photos once they are in Lightroom. No way! I edit my phone photos on my phone and post them to social media or text them to friends or family.  I guess it’s possible that I could take such a good photo on my phone that I wanted to print a large size of it – if that were the case, I would edit it in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. However, it hasn’t happened yet.

Honestly, I haven’t even found myself going back to review or keyword these photos in Lightroom. Keeping them there is part of my archive process – I can get them when I need them, and, because they are on my computer, they are backed up along with all of my other photos. Ideally, I admit, I would go back and keyword them. Because the photos are being synchronized constantly, it’s not like importing photos from your camera card when you have a specific few minutes dedicated to importing a group of photos.

So, I hope that this is the last time I write about this subject! If the process continues to work as well as it does now, I’ll considered it a closed case. I’ll let you know otherwise, of course. And in the meantime, what solutions have you found for moving your phone photos to your computer? Are they in Lightroom?[/show-if]