Clear Out Your iPhone Camera Roll

Since getting my iPhone earlier this year, I’d kept all of of the photos I’d taken in the iPhone’s camera roll. I’d accumulated over 1200 of them. It was handy to have a bunch of photos with me, but there was a cost on several fronts: storage and speed.

This past week I’ve completely revamped how I store images on the iPhone. The new workflow is:

  1. Photos are imported to my Mac (stored in Lightroom, backed up to multiple locations).
  2. Photos are deleted from camera roll.
  3. Photos are exported from Lightroom into a year-dated folder.
  4. Photos are sync’ed from that folder back my iPhone.

There are several significant benefits of this process:

  • The photos take up way less space! Your iPhone screen is small. You don’t need to be toting around 5 megapixel images (or 8, in the case of the iPhone 4S) with you for viewing on the small screen.
  • Since they are smaller, you can fit more photos on your phone. I am now carrying around 6500+ digital photos, dating back to 2005 (I’ll add in 1999-2004 sometime soon).
  • The processed images can contain your keyword tags, which can be useful for finding them on your phone (3rd party app, for now).
  • The images are sharpened a little on export, so they look better.
  • The camera roll, and camera app are more snappy.
  • I can easily sync these images to my iPad as well, which is fantastic for sharing photos.

Before: 1200+ photos using 4+ GB of space
After: 6500+ photos using 1.5 GB of space

No brainer.

I know the timing is interesting here since iOS 5 just introduced iCloud photo syncing features, including the photo roll. Those features will work great for most people, however it doesn’t look like Lightroom is ready/able to participate in that particular reindeer game (I wonder what this means for Adobe Carousel), and that’s my photo library of choice. WiFi sync between the Mac and iDevices should be good enough for now, though I can’t pull the images from the iPhone into Lightroom unless it’s plugged in.