Post to Instagram from Lightroom via Dropbox (and some other methods)
Instagram is one of the more popular social networks and more and more photographers are sharing images there. This is causing some degree of controversy, as for some, Instagram should only be used for images taken on a smart phone. However, I think that the network has moved on. In my feed, I’d say 50% of photos were taken with a smart phone, and the rest are images from other cameras share via the users phones. It doesn’t bother me really, and to be honest, I’m doing it to, and since I’ve started I’ve noticed much greater engagement on my Instagram account. In my opinion Instagram is now as important a social network as twitter and Facebook, and the app as much about that network as it is about sharing photos.
The question then becomes, how do you actually post images taken with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera to Instagram, as Instagram doesn’t let you post to the network from a normal computer. If you normally sync your images to your smart phone anyway (for example, to an iPhone via iPhoto) then you’re already doing what you need to do. If not, well, there are lots of different approaches. If you have a newer camera with wifi, you can probably send images from your camera direct to your smart phone via your cameras companion app (here are apps for most major wifi equipped cameras). Alternatively you could use something like an eyefi card, although in my experience that’s pretty slow.
If you are using Lightroom and you want to post from Lightroom to Instagram, there are a couple of ways to do it. If you’re using Lightroom mobile, you can sync your images to that, and then from within Lightroom mobile on your iPhone, you need to save the image to your camera roll. To do this in Lightroom Mobile, select your image and click on the share icon, then tap “share” and then “save image”. From there you can open them in Instagram.
If you’re not using Lightroom Mobile, or if you have it synced to a different Library, an alternative is to use drop box. This is the method I use the most, as I think that it’s the quickest if you want to just post a single image. Also, I sometimes am using Lightroom on my Laptop, and Lightroom Mobile is synced to my Mac Pro, so again, It’s a bit awkward as Lightroom mobile currently only syncs to the one library.
In Lightroom, I’ve set up an export preset to export my images to a special folder within the photos folder on my Dropbox. It’s important to keep this folder within dropbox’s photos folder in order to make things a bit easier on the mobile side. You could pre-crop the images to a square format in Lightroom before exporting, but there’s no real need to do this, as you can do it in the app anyway.
I’m sure things work a bit differently on different phones, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to be talking about how to do it on an iPhone as that’s what I’m using. I’m sure the process is pretty similar on Android phones too.
Once you’ve exported your images, and they’ve synced to dropbox you need to go to dropbox on your phone and save the image. On the iPhone dropbox app, go to the “photos” icon of the bottom of the interface, and there your photos should show up after the app has updated from dropbox’s servers. Select the image you want and using the share button, save it to your camera roll by tapping on “Save Image”. 
Now just launch Instagram, and when the camera window opens tap on the little icon beside the shutter button which should take you to your camera roll. There you can select the image you want, re-position it, and then do all the other things that you would normally do in Instagram.
There are other methods too. There are some Applications which will sync jpegs of the images in your Lightroom Library to your mobile device, and one of these could work well too, but personally I haven’t tried any. Of course the other alternative is to simply email the images to yourself, but that’s just going to clog up your email.
You can check out my Instagram feed on my Instagram page.
- I completely respect people’s opinions if they are opposed to seeing non-camera phone images on Instagram. I personally respectfully disagree, but that’s just my opinion. ↩
- Hopefully when iOS 8 rolls out, Dropbox will be able to post directly to Instagram from the App. It’s possible that this is already the case on Android? If you have an Android device, let me know if it works this way in the comments below. ↩