How My Photos Go From Lightroom to Instagram

From Lightroom to Instagram

Lightroom has become one of the new standards for a photographers portfolio. It’s a great way to connect with other photographers and explore your style through a tiny little square. Instagram has had an interesting evolution over time. The overly-filtered film-stripped 1:1 photo is a thing of the past. The future holds a thoughtful grid of your favorite photos.

You’ve taken some amazing photos. You want to share them with the world. How do you get your photos from Lightroom onto Instagram?

First let’s take a step back. The largest aspect ratio that Instagram let’s you use is the 4:5 aspect ratio. This takes up the most amount of real estate when you’re scrolling through a feed. This is the aspect ratio that I started using and it lets me display more interesting shots by cropping in on my subjects or landscapes.

How to crop to 4:5

In Lightroom, Select the Develop Module > Select the crop tool > Select 4 x 5

Having a queue of photos

I pick some of my favorites, put them in a catalog and make my crops. Before any cropping, I create a virtual copy of the image and use that copy to populate my collection. The virtual copy is important in keeping your original photo as-is in your catalog and in other collections. Lately, I’ll take a vertical and horizontal photo of the same scene if I think the photo is worth sharing on Instagram.

Now, let’s talk about how to transfer your files from Lightroom into Instagram.

You have many different options, but I’ll focus on two that have worked for me.

Sync a collection with Lightroom Mobile

  • Download the Lightroom app for your Phone
  • Select “Sync with Lightroom Mobile” by right clicking your collection on Lightroom (Desktop)
  • From within Lightroom (Mobile), you can share a photo directly to Instagram
    • Click the export button in the top corner
    • Click “Share”
    • Choose “Maximum available”
    • Select “Import with Instagram”

Use an Instagram post manager

This is a bit more involved but relatively straight forward. Services like Buffer and Later offer the ability to upload many different Instagram posts in a queue.

Process for using an Instagram post manager

  • Export the files onto your computer
  • Login to your favorite service (Buffer, Later, etc…)
  • Upload your photo
  • Create a caption and add your hashtags
  • Add to your queue!

After your queue is fully stocked, visit your corresponding app, with the service you picked, from your phone. Each post manager has lots of amazing features, like choosing a posting schedule and other optimizations and analytics.

Now, you can be more conscious about the types of photos you’re sharing with Instagram. Have a different workflow to post your Instagram photos? Let me know and send me a message on my Instagram.


One comment

  1. Couple of questions / comments…

    I’m curious — you mention the 4×5 aspect ratio — is that for both portrait AND landscape photos? Instagram was recently reportedly changing the largest sizes for several situations, which is why I ask:

    * Panoramas and larger photos would be supported; dunno if this has rolled out or not; haven’t tried it yet

    * Multi-photo posts would allow custom sizes vs. forcing the 1×1 aspect ratio; I have yet to see this; maybe it hasn’t rolled out to all users (or requires logging out and back in)

    Regarding Buffer (or any social media manager) — they will typically prepare your post and have them queued up, but they will require you to bounce OUT of the Buffer (or other) app and send you to Instagram. Buffer will remind you when to post (if you schedule it), copy your post text to the clipboard, and then port you over to a new post in the Instagram app. Your photos will be in your mobile device’s photo library, and you will have to manually select them (esp. if multi-photo post) before the whole post you THOUGHT you prepared in one app is ready for posting to Instagram.

    Is it an ideal workflow? No — but Instagram doesn’t have an iPad native app NOR does it allow web posts from a desktop browser. They have remained very pure in this regard — posting from the native app VIA your smartphone ONLY. Buffer and others (e.g. Hootsuite) have done a good job of finding ways around it, but be prepared to deal with this if you’re new to the process or using one of these 3rd party social media apps.

    Final comment / question — you mention making virtual copies for all social media sharing cases to preserve the original. Do you recommend this for edits in general? I have sub-collections for each collection in Lightroom — Full, Picks, Edits — with Edits being where I want to customize a photo for printing or some other use. One thing I’ve found — if I add some metadata to the original later, the virtual copies do NOT pick it up, which, for social media posting can be important, i.e. GPS coordinates that were added to the original later with a GPS tracklog. Thoughts?

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