Thoughts On Integrating A Mobile Device In To An Adobe Lightroom Workflow
May 1, 2013
1 comment

As many on-the-go photographers know, being tied to a desktop or lugging around a laptop isn’t always practical. And while so many of us have extremely powerful mobile devices and tablets, it’s difficult to integrate these devices in to our production workflows. More often, we will edit images on the mobile device to preview or show the client what the final image will look like, but then edit them all over again in our normal workflow when we get back to home base.

In a mobile and cloud-connected world, we need a solution that allows us to have full access, to view and to edit, our images wherever we are on whatever device we happen to have handy.

Adobe Lightroom Touch

Not a real product. (Yet)

Today on The Grid, Scott Kelby (@ScottKelby) and Matt Kloskowski (@MattKloskowski) welcomed Lightroom product manager Tom Hogarty (@LR_Tom). Among other topics, Tom offered a proof of concept demonstration of incorporating a mobile device in to your Lightroom workflow.

Based on the demo and on my experience with the Lightroom 5 Beta, I think the building blocks for making the proof of concept a reality are starting to come in to place. Smart Previews in the beta, for example, provide the foundation for editing a representative image without needing to have the original image locally. While this feature is being promoted as a way to work disconnected or remotely when your images are stored on a network drive, the underlying idea is that the catalog will have a locally stored version of the images that can be manipulated while disconnected, and the changes you made being applied against the original image when you connect back to the network. That locally stored version of the image, the Smart Preview, is a smaller, compressed version of the image that would be ideal for a mobile device that would have a smaller screen, so resolution and pixel count can be reduced. This, in turn, would allow a faster experience editing the image on the mobile device that likely has less memory and processing power than your desktop.

Certainly some of the work being done with Photoshop Touch could be leveraged for Lightroom Touch, much light the desktop versions of both applications. The catalog and meta management provided by Lightroom could also be integrated with the cloud-based services already offered by Adobe. So, in theory, the road to a mobile version of Lightroom is already paved.

That’s not to say there aren’t technical challenges that need to be solved. Because of the processor and memory limitations on the mobile devices and the sandboxes that applications must run in, mass edits and long, complicated workflows could bog down the application maintaining history or multiple virtual copies, or simply just rendering a the catalog itself. But there are many creative solutions to those problems that have already been solved by other mobile applications.

It’s an exciting possibility in the (near) future to be able to participate in my workflow from my iPad. If Adobe does it right, it will be a game-changer for photographers, and will solidify Lightroom’s position as the dominant image management and editing tool for professionals.

At the end of the session, the team solicited feedback from the community for ideas about Lightroom and the other Adobe products. Here are a few on my mind:

  • The next logical step to adding a mobile device in to my photographic workflow is to subtract the need for a traditional computer. If the initial stages of the mobile workflow involve syncing edits back to the primary machine in my workflow, why can’t the same happen with the Adobe systems in the cloud if it has my catalog, presets, and original images?
  • Relative Smart Previews – If my disconnected device is an iPad versus a 17in Macbook Pro, do I get the same preview? That might either be overkill for the iPad or underkill on the laptop. Maybe targeted smart previews based on device types?
  • The entry point for my workflow should be any device; I don’t want to have to import to my main system before I am able to edit on my iPad.


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There is 1 comment

  • […] The technology behind Smart Previews lends itself to also extending my workflow to a mobile device, primarily because of the smaller image sizes and the ability to work disconnected. While this won’t work on an iPad yet, based on the demo from Tom Hogarty (@LR_Tom) yesterday on The Grid, I suspect we’ll see something on mobile devices soon. For more on the demo and my thoughts on what it means, check out Thoughts On Integrating A Mobile Device In To An Adobe Lightroom Workflow. […]