Sharing Photos on Instagram from Lightroom Classic

Japanese Garden
Washington Park Arboretum
Seattle, Washington

Instagram may be the most popular site for sharing pictures taken with your cell phone camera. But how can you easily get copies of your best photos taken with a DSLR or mirrorless camera from your Adobe Lightroom Classic catalog uploaded to Instagram? The solution is using a collection synched to Lightroom Mobile on your smartphone or tablet and sharing from there. In this post I outline the basic steps to share your pictures from Lightroom Classic to Instagram.

What You Need

In order to share your pictures to Instagram, you need the following:
  • A good internet connection for uploading photos
  • A subscription to the Adobe Photography Plan
  • Adobe Lightroom Classic installed on a desktop or laptop computer
  • Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor app (also referred to as Lightroom for Mobile) installed on a cell phone or tablet 
  • An Instagram account

Armed with these devices and applications, the process of sharing from Lightroom Classic looks like this: Photos in a Lightroom Classic collection are uploaded (synched) to Adobe cloud services. Then the photos are automatically downloaded to Lightroom for Mobile on your phone. From there you can select images to share on Instagram.

Gather Images in a Collection

First, complete any edits to the photos you want to share before starting this process. Instagram now lets you share a horizontal image (not just a square). And if you want to share a vertical image, Instagram crops your photo to a 4:5 aspect ratio. So you may want to create a virtual copy of a vertical (portrait) image in Lightroom Classic and crop the virtual copy of the picture to this proportion before continuing.

Then in Lightroom Classic in the Library module, click on the Cloud icon and start synching. Only one catalog can be synched to the cloud.

Lightroom Classic with the Cloud icon (upper right)
and a synched Collection (left) highlighted

In the Collections panel, click the plus (+) to create a regular collection (not a collection set or a smart collection) for the photos you want to share. Give it a meaningful name such as "Instagram Photos". Check the boxes for "Set as target collection" and "Synch with Lightroom". Then click Create.

Creating a target collection synched
to Adobe cloud services

Add photos to the collection by dragging selected pictures to the collection. Or select the photos you want to share and press the B key to add them to this target collection.

Lightroom Classic creates a smart preview copy of the images in a synched collection. These are 2560 pixels on the long side and either raw or JPEG as the original was. The copy also includes any edits you made to the image, including cropping and keywords. 

During the synching process, Lightroom Classic uploads these smart preview copies to Adobe's cloud services, which are Adobe's computers. The speed of the upload depends on your internet connection; click the cloud icon to check the progress.

Install Lightroom for Mobile on Your Device

While your photos are being uploaded from Lightroom Classic, download and install the Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor app from the Apple Store or Google Play on your mobile device. The app is included free with your Adobe Photography Plan subscription. Sign in with your Adobe ID and answer the questions about permissions.

Lightroom for Mobile app
Google Play Store


Open Lightroom on your mobile device and tap the cloud icon to turn on synching. The images that were uploaded to the cloud from Lightroom Classic are now downloaded to your mobile device.

Cloud synching icon
Android phone

NOTE: Icons and button locations look different on different devices, but all the options necessary to share a photo from your mobile device to Instagram are available.

In Lightroom on your device, the synched collection you created in Lightroom Classic appears as an album with the same name. In the Library section, scroll down in the Albums section to find the collection containing the photos you want to share. Tap to open the album and tap on the photo you want to share.

Instagram Photos album

Instagram Photos album contents

Tap the share icon in the upper right. Then tap Share To in the menu. Choose Instagram from the list. You can opt to share Direct, to your Feed, or to a Story. In Instagram you can adjust the crop, exposure or color and add a caption or hashtags before posting the photo.

Selected photo with
Share icon highlighted (Android)

Share to... menu option

Instagram and other apps
to share with

In addition to apps like Instagram, you can also choose to share a photo via text message or email. Simply select the option you want and follow the instructions on screen. 

For a more in-depth presentation on using Lightroom Mobile with Lightroom Classic, see Julieanne Kost's video Adding Lightroom Mobile to your Lightroom Classic Workflow. Note that she is demonstrating the process using an iPhone. If you have an Android phone or are using a tablet, the icons are all there but may be in a different location.