Photostream and Lightroom

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Recently, I had a need to convert my photo library to Lightroom 6 from Aperture. The why and how is a another rabbit hole (and subsequent post). And for those who are wondering, I found out you can still buy a copy of Lightroom 6 (downloadable or disk) instead of the expensive monthly subscription. Here’s where you can buy your own copy.

After converting, I found that getting photos off my iPhone and into Lightroom presented yet another rabbit hole, not quite an ankle breaker like putting my photos onto my Synology NAS, but annoying just the same. The problem? After importing the photos, it occurred to me that the next time I went to import photos that all of the old photos would still be on  my camera roll, too. Deleting them from the iPhone would also mean deleting them from Photostream.

A little digging turned up an idea. Since I’m a Dropbox user, why not turn on the Dropbox Photo solution to copy my photos from Photostream to Dropbox? And then why not just import the new photos from Dropbox, where I could simply delete the photos after I was sure they imported into Lightroom?

This post comes with a caveat: If you have the basic Dropbox account and LOTS of photos on your iPhone’s Camera Roll, you’ll run out of space. Do this when you don’t have that many photos in your camera roll.

If it sounds complicated, don’t worry. You’ve got this. This is something that Dean can do without the help of Sam.


We’ll start from the point that Lightroom is already installed and your library is set up.

You’ll need a Dropbox account (use my link if you don’t already have an account and you’ll get 250GB of free space) . You’ll also need to install the Dropbox phone app if you haven’t already done so.

1. Open the Dropbox app on your phone.

2. Tap the Photos icon located on the bottom, center.

3. Enable Camera Upload.

4. Tap Settings. Be sure that Use Cellular Data is OFF. No explanation necessary, right? Be sure it’s OFF.


Photos on your iPhone’s Camera Roll are copied into Dropbox in a folder aptly named Camera Uploads.

Next, let’s get them into Lightroom. I haven’t tried LR6’s auto import yet (yes, it’s possible!), so here’s the manual method:

1. Open Lightroom.

2. Click on Import (lower left).

3. Click on Source, then choose Other Source.

4. Navigate to the Camera Uploads folder.

5. Click Choose (Mac – no idea what it is on a PC).

6. From the right panel, navigate to the location you want to store your photos.

All that’s left is to delete the one’s you’ve imported from your Dropbox folder once you’re certain they’ve been copied into Lightroom. Your camera roll and Photostream photos remain intact.

I have ideas on tricking this out further using Lightroom’s auto import feature as well as Hazel to keep things tidy. I’ve also found a way to utilize my Synology NAS with Lightroom. But first, a little more testing. Stay tuned.

Did you find this article helpful? Please do me a solid and check out my books. No purchase is necessary, but I hope that you’ll at least read the description (and maybe download the free sample). And who knows? If you like what you read, for the cost of a cup of coffee you will have found a book to read and made your photo workflow a little easier.
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