One of the common complaints about Lightroom Classic is that it’s just not as fast as some photographers expect. When I get back from a session with hundreds of RAW files to process, the thought of going through each of them one-by-one is enough to give me a headache. The few seconds it takes Lightroom to load each photo for flagging or cropping can be enough to make you want to quit photography altogether! Fortunately, if you subscribe to Creative Cloud you have options. In this article, you’ll learn how to use Lightroom Mobile to dramatically increase the speed of your workflow.
One of my favorite aspects of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription is how you can take advantage of many of the features of Lightroom Mobile even if you don’t store your primary images in the cloud. You can store bite-size previews of your images from Lightroom Classic in your Creative Cloud account, which you can then load on a mobile device for editing.
After you finish editing on your mobile device, all the changes will be automatically synced back to Lightroom Classic on your computer. I use this technique all the time now, especially for culling and cropping after a long photoshoot. I think you might find it incredibly useful as well.
Sync with Lightroom
The first thing you need to do is enable syncing between Lightroom Classic and your Creative Cloud account. Click on your name in the top-left of the Lightroom Library module and choose “Start” under “Sync with Lightroom.”
This will then enable you to start syncing your edits. One thing to note is that if you have a basic 20GB Photography plan, the photos you sync will not count against your storage quota. That is only for images you upload directly to Lightroom Mobile or Lightroom CC, as well as any documents you have stored in your Creative Cloud Files.
After Sync is enabled, you can selectively sync any individual collection by clicking the arrow icon just to the left of its name.
This will start uploading previews of each image to your Creative Cloud account. While this is happening you can see the upload status by looking above your name in the top-left corner.
Completing the initial synchronization will take a few minutes or more depending on the speed of your internet connection. The individual preview files being uploaded are quite small, but if you sync an album with a few thousand images it might take longer than you expect.
One thing to note is that you can only sync collections that have been created manually by you. Smart albums, which are created dynamically according to rules you specify, are not possible to sync with Lightroom Mobile.
Edit on Lightroom Mobile
When the sync operation is complete, load Lightroom Mobile on a phone or tablet and the collections you synced will show up in your Albums list.
If you have never used Lightroom Mobile before you’re going to be amazed at how quickly you can perform operations like moving from one photo to the next, flagging/rejecting, cropping, or pretty much anything else you might do in Lightroom Classic.
Upon loading your images into Lightroom Mobile, you can quickly swipe between them to check for focus and composition. Simple gestures like swipe up on the left to assign a star rating and swipe up/down on the right to mark a picture as Pick or Rejected make the editing process much faster than Lightroom Classic. A few taps will let you quickly crop, rotate, and make basic exposure adjustments.
As far as individual features go, the two programs are almost the same. However, the mobile version has an interface designed around touch instead of a mouse/keyboard combo. This means some things don’t behave quite how you might expect, but once you get the hang of things, it’s not bad at all.
Since the images synced between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Mobile are small previews and not full-resolution originals I would recommend against using the latter to check for accurate focus or do highly detailed adjustments. I find Lightroom Mobile most useful for just the basics like flagging and cropping, but your own usage might vary.
Sync back to Lightroom Classic
The beauty of this entire process is that as soon as your edits are applied to a photo, you don’t have to manually re-sync anything. Any edits you make automatically copy back to your original Lightroom files on your desktop. All you have to do is load up that program, wait for automatic sync to finish, and your pictures are ready for further edits.
Ever since I started using this Desktop->Mobile->Desktop workflow for my initial culling and cropping, I have found myself enjoying the whole process. I’ll sit back on my sofa or relax with a drink at the kitchen table while rapidly flipping through pictures on my iPad for the first round of edits. I’ll then return to my desktop, and the rest of the editing is much less stressful.
This may seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, once you try this process, you will be surprised at how easy it is.
What about you? Do you have any other tips for speeding up your Lightroom workflow? Share them in the comments below!