3 min read

iPhone photo workflow

My beloved Jeep • Yosemite Natl. Park • May 31, 2023 • iPhone 14 Pro 6.9mm, f/1.8, 1/710s

This post by Khurt Williams reminded me that I carry a powerful and underutilized camera. This iPhone 14 Pro is always in my pocket.

I'd like to be more intentional with the iPhone camera. But how? Every now and then I have the same thought. "Let me be more intentional with the iPhone" and then nothing happens.

I cannot quite define what the challenge is. It may be twofold:

  1. I have two photo catalogs: one lives in Apple Photos in the cloud, and the other is my Lightroom catalog. These two catalogs live pretty much independently without touching each other.
  2. I have not come up with a workflow to process, catalogue, and store photos taken with the iPhone.

However, some hope has arisen due to two recent developments:

  1. The Lightroom App in the iPhone now seamlessly accesses Apple Photos' content (in the past, one had to manually import photos from the phone into the Lightroom App installed in the same phone).
  2. I have migrated my Lightroom catalog from my hard drive to the cloud. In other words, I've completely ditched Lightroom Classic in favor of Lightroom CC.

Now, my Apple Photos catalog is like an abandoned email inbox. Full of spam. Random photos sent by friends, screenshots, pictures of grocery lists, batches of what's essentially one photo (e.g., instead of taking one family selfie, I take six or seven), etc.

I have tried to combat bloat through frequent purges, but I'm accepting that draining the ocean is a futile endeavor. Therefore, I must move on and let the software handle organization, management, and curation.

how about I ditch Apple Photos?

To eliminate redundancy and bloat, I could leave Apple Photos, but a full migration to Lightroom is unrealistic. We need to take screenshots and random pics here and there. We need to share our stuff also, and the Apple ecosystem makes it extremely easy to share photos and videos from the photo app.

sketching the workflow

(Writing this post is helping me organize some concepts. Hopefully this workflow I'm sketching can be put into practice.)

Translation to plain English of the main objective:

be more intentional with the iPhone = take photos I feel proud of and want to share with friends and family

A few haphazard thoughts on this imperfect workflow:

  • Take "good photos" in ProRAW or utilizing Lightroom's camera app
  • Open Lightroom and apply a quick edit so that the photos are copied to the Adobe cloud
  • Discard bad photos by deleting them in Lightroom AND in Apple Photos
  • Process the good photos in Lightroom
  • Export processed photos to Apple Photos (in JPEG, and include location and other metadata)
  • Delete the remaining ProRAW pictures from Apple Photos (to fight the principled but unwinnable fight against photo hoarding)
  • Organize Lightroom photos in albums

The sequence above doesn't have to take place at once, but all steps are necessary.

Taking "good photos" includes processing the photo. Processing the photo requires that the photo file has sufficient information to be processed. This means shooting in ProRAW (but setting the default to ProRAW would quickly create a storage problem).

Once the photo is fully processed in Lightroom, it needs to go back to Apple Photos so it can be shared with friends and family, and can also be picked up by the algorithm that creates stories in Photos.

dealing with open items

There will be a number of open items and loose ends. I can think of a few:

  • Should the two catalogs be joined together (i.e., replicated)? There's a bunch of nice non-RAW photos in Apple Photos. I wonder if these should be copied over to Lightroom. The reverse is also true.
  • There will be a significant amount of duplication but I think I can live with it.
  • Of a set of "good photos", the Lightroom catalog will contain the entire set, while Apple Photos will only include the ones that have been processed.

This sketch workflow is imperfect by design. It has to be practical, not perfect.