Updated: May 31, 2020
This article explains how to sort through thousands of photos and videos using Dropbox while syncing them with my Lightroom catalogue. There are many creative ways to store images. However, there is no right or wrong way to sort your photos, and this may not be the best method for organising your photos. It's merely down to personal preference.
Using Dropbox As A Photographer?
Let me start with why I prefer to use dropbox as my cloud hosting, instead of Adobe Creative Cloud and other cloud-based platforms. For as long as I can remember, I've used Dropbox as my preferred cloud-based platform to organise my photos and other media. As I'd already invested time into backing up my life on Dropbox, it would take me a long time to download, organise and re-upload my files to a different provider.
Most importantly, I have no reason to swap. Dropbox's cloud-based software has served me entirely well over the years, at an affordable price. I love their minimalist interface, making it very user friendly, which helps me keep my files organised. There's also a desktop app you can download for Mac and PC, plus a mobile app on Andriod and App Store. The multiplatform is a huge benefit to me as I use a 2017 Macbook Pro 15in laptop and the Samsung Galaxy S10+ on Android.
Being a photographer, I travel around a lot, and I'm often out of the UK for weeks or months at a time. Therefore, having the ability to backup and download my files anywhere in the world is crucial. I could buy a NAS server, however, if anything was to happen while I was away such as a burglary, powercut, fire etc. I'd lose the connection to my server, or worse, my files could be gone forever! If you want to view some affordable NAS servers, head over to c|net. While we are on the subject of protection and backups, Dropbox encrypts your data, plus they have multiple servers where your files are stored safely numerous times. Therefore, I have full confidence in knowing my data is safe and secure.
My Dropbox Is Full?
If you're wondering what will happen when I reach my limit, I can do 1 of 2 things. Option 1 - increase my plan. Option 2 - Sort through my archive and remove any unused RAW images, large video files and documents. You'd be surprised at how quickly it can build up. It's taken many years of practice, but I've figured a system that works for me. Every year, I do a 'clean up' operation and sort through my files.
Should you need to increase your plan, If you're a self-employed photographer or own a business, you'll be able to offset this outgoing as a business expense on your tax return. Even if you don't, ask yourself 'is it worth the investment to ensure my files are safely secured'.
Using Dropbox As A Photographer?
Now that we've cleared up my reasons for using Dropbox to organise my photos, videos and documents, let's move on to how I use it.
To begin with, you'll need a personal or business Dropbox account, depending on your need. I have a personal 2TB Dropbox account as I have a huge archive of images and videos. However, they do offer a variety of options available, including a free basic version. Head over now to their website.
It gets better. You can earn space every time you get a friend to signup to Dropbox and they also have a partnership where you can earn storage by owning a Samsung mobile. I have a total of 5TB as I've earned 3TB, but I'm only paying for 2TB. If you're thinking of joining, use this link.
If you haven't already, download the Dropbox desktop app for Mac or PC which is free. Once you've logged in, you'll be able to see your folders, which at the time of installation will collectively be online. They should appear similar to the way they do in your web browser.
You can see that your images are online as they will display a 'cloud' on the bottom right of the folder thumbnail.
To download an image, right-click on the file or folder that you want to download locally to your Mac or PC, scroll down to 'Smart Sync' and then select 'Local'.
Dropbox will then download the media to your device which you can access as a typical file in your documents.
What you may notice is that some downloaded files have a 'green tick' with a white background and a 'white tick' with a green background. All this means is that you've either downloaded selected data within the folder (green tick, white background) or an entire folder (white tick, green background).
Once you've downloaded the images, you want to edit, open up Lightroom and choose the new folder you want to add.
And that's it. Your files are now imported into Lightroom for you to be able to edit.
How To Remove Files From Dropbox Desktop App
Once you've finished editing your collection of images, you can return to the Dropbox app, right-click on the image, scroll down to 'Smart Sync' and select 'Online Only'.
What About My Lightroom Folder?
When Lightroom can't find the files, it will notify you that they're missing. DON'T panic. Adobe Lightroom is a brilliant piece of software. It saves your edits as a 'Smart Preview' which means that you can make adjustments to the image without the file being connected to Lightroom. Therefore, if you want to go back to edit any photos you've previously edited, all you need to do is head back to the Dropbox app and download the file locally again. Lightroom should automatically detect the file path and register that the files are available to edit. If you want to read more on this, visit the Adobe website.
As you've discovered, I can access my files anywhere at any time from multiple devices. Plus I can edit my photos on demand while keeping them organised.
I'd love to hear your feedback and comments on this post. Do you have a different way of storing your photos?
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