One of the things I’m sure many photographers thought when they saw the iPhone for the first time is, “What a wonderful way to take my portfolio with me wherever I go!” With its brilliant screen and easy pocket-ability, it’s a natural way to take your work with you and show it to anybody you happen to meet. But what’s the easiest way to get images from Lightroom to the iPhone? After a few hours playing with all the other features of the iPhone, I took a bit of time and set out to find out for myself.
The start of our exploration is in iTunes, which controls syncing of data to and from the iPhone. In the Photos section of the iPhone sync screens, we can control where to get photos onto our iPhone from. The following screenshot is from my computer where I’ve got the options of iPhoto, Aperture, and a folder on my hard drive:
I’ve not seen the equivalent screen on Windows, but from what I understand it can pull images from Adobe Photoshop Album, Adobe Phtoshop Elements, or a folder. Unfortunately, Lightroom doesn’t show up as an optoin on this screen. But, that’s not a big deal. Since iTunes can sync against a folder of photographs, you can simply export your photographs to a folder, set up iTunes to sync against that folder, and you’re done. To show you how do do this, here’s a walkthrough.
Step 1: Pick a folder that you want to store photos going to your iPhone in. I’m using
~/Pictures/iPhone as a base.
Step 2: Pick the images that you want to export. For this example, I’m going to pick some photos that I took of the pandemonium outside the San Francisco Apple Store at 6pm when the iPhone was released:
Step 3: Export your images out to the folder you choose, and preferably put them into a subfolder so that you create a new album on the iPhone to hold the images. You can also resize them at this point to fit within the iPhone screen, which measures 320×480. Here’s what my export panel looks like:
Notice that I’ve saved these settings as an
iPhone preset so that anytime I want to push photographs into my iPhone directory, everything is set just like I want it to be. After the export, this is what my
~/Pictures/iPhoto directory looks like.
There’s my images from the Apple store as well as a couple of other directories there. Of note, the
iPod Photo Cache is created automatically by iTunes and contains generated thumbnails and the like.
Step 4: Sync using iTunes. Then enjoy. After you sync, the photos will be on your iPhone and ready for viewing.
One of the nice things about viewing photographs on the iPhone is that you can turn it on its side and use the full screen to view landscape photos. The screen on the iPhone is even the same 2:3 ratio as a standard 35mm frame which means that photos from your Digital SLR will fill the screen.
What if you don’t want to have yet another copy of your images out in the filesystem? What if you are on the Mac and want to use iPhoto, along with its managed libraries, to get photos onto your phone? Well, you can do that as well.
The iPhoto Option
The obvious way to get photos into iPhoto from Lightroom is to export them into a temporary folder and then import them into iPhoto. But then, you have to clean up the temporary folder, which is a bit of a drag. Luckily, you can leverage Automator to help smooth things out. Here’s how:
Step 1: Make an Automator workflow using the Import Photos into iPhoto action. This is the only action you need to setup. In the action, set things up the way you want and check the
Delete the Source Images After Importing Them box. Here’s an example of an action setup to import photos into a Portfolio album in iPhoto:
Step 2: Save the workflow as an Automator Application into Lightroom Export Actions folder, found at
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Export Actions. When you save it, it should look like this:
Step 3: When you export out of Lightroom, make sure to select the action to run after the export using the After Export pull down menu at the bottom of the Export Dialog. Here’s an example selecting the Automator Application created above:
Now, thanks to Automator cleaning things up after the export and import into iPhoto, you won’t have any annoying temporary files cluttering things up.
Which Method to Use?
As to which method to choose, using a folder or using iPhoto, well it really depends on your own setup. If you don’t have anything setup in iPhoto, or you’re on Windows, then you probably want to use the folder route. However, if you have a whole bunch of photos already organized in iPhoto for other purposes, such as viewing on your AppleTV, maybe you’ll want to consider using the iPhoto method along with a helpful Automator workflow as an Export Action.
In any case, there you have it. Even though there’s not an option in iTunes to directly sync your photos from Lightroom to your iPhone, its still easy and quick to set things up so that you can have your best pictures with you wherever you go.
And, if you’re wondering what it was like to be in San Francisco when the iPhone went on sale, the following four thumbnails will take you to larger images in my Flickr stream:
It was a wild sight to see geeks, passerbys, iPod lovers, Apple employees, media, and police officers all jammed together at 6pm.