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Lightroom Just Got Better at Slurping in Your Phone Photos


One of the hassles of using Lightroom, Adobe’s software for editing and cataloging your photos, is getting them into the app’s catalog. On Tuesday, Adobe made that process a step easier, and more steps are coming.

Previously, to edit photos in Lightroom, you first had to import them from your phone’s camera roll. It’s not exactly hard, but it’s a barrier that stands in the way of trying out the software. Now the Lightroom app for Android and iOS has a “device” tab on the lower left that shows your familiar camera roll. Tap an image, and Lightroom will let you start editing it even as it’s imported into its catalog.

“This is the beginning of our journey to make the mobile app more friendly for folks that aren’t power users,” Maria Yap, Adobe’s vice president of digital imaging, said in an exclusive interview ahead of the launch.

Another change, still in the works, will elevate editing presets that you can apply to your photos, she said. Presets previously made it easier to apply styles to photos, like warm color tones or an artsy black-and-white look, but they’re getting more powerful with artificial intelligence technology Adobe has begun building into Photoshop, Lightroom and other apps.

Phones come with built-in tools like Apple Photos and Google Photos to manage your shots, but Lightroom is a top contender for those who want to venture further. It’s got powerful editing tools, including new AI-powered abilities to select faces, skies and other specific parts of an image. It’s free, though paying $10 per month unlocks premium features and gets you the ability to synchronize photos across multiple devices, including personal computers whose big screens and computing horsepower are good for photo editing.

Another feature arriving in Lightroom on Tuesday, edit replay, lets you create a quick video that animates the steps from original photo to finished version, letting you share how you edited a shot.

Adobe gears Lightroom toward anybody who wants to take even one step beyond the original photo, like cropping to frame the subject better. The company isn’t neglecting the enthusiasts, pros and power users, though Yap said.

“For us, it’s always been about people that genuinely have a passion and interest for photography,” Yap said. “We also understand that we’re bringing in a lot of more casual users, and so we want to make sure that they get the benefit of the product really quickly and easily.”

And phones are no longer a photography joke.

Companies like Apple, Samsung and Google now spotlight camera upgrades as the top new feature on the latest flagship phone. Better low-light performance, higher resolution sensors and ever-wider zoom range means smartphones are ever more capable. 

“We really want to empower every photographer, whether you shoot on mobile to big cameras with long telephoto lenses,” Yap said. Even if you have serious equipment, your smartphone might be the only device you have at some moment. “So that becomes your best camera,” Yap said.


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