Geotagging Photos in Lightroom in 4 Easy Steps

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For travel photography, geotagging your photos has become fundamental. By geotagging your images, you’ll not only be able to remember the locations once you are back home, but also it will help on searches. If you intend to sell your photos at any time, adding the metadata pertaining to the location into the file is going to improve searches and make your photograph easier to find on the web.

Geotagging is a rather simple process and there are a couple different ways to do it. At the simplest level, you simply attach a GPS data-logger to your camera and the location will be recorded into the EXIF of the photo at the time you take it. That’s it. Now if you own multiple bodies, then you’ll need a different GPS device for each of them.

Bad_ElF_Geo_Tracker

The other option you have is to get an independent GPS tracker to record the data and then pair it with the photos. As I always carry at least two camera bodies, this is option I utilize. I have tried a couple of loggers and ended up with the Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro. It is small, convenient and pro-rated, and it can be paired with up to five devices at the same time via Bluetooth. Of course there are other options on the market; all you need is to be sure that you’ll be able to obtain and export the recorded tracks from the device.

Working with Lightroom

Something that’s important before you start: to avoid headaches, is to always wise to check your camera clock. It should be set to the actual local time zone in which you are shooting, as once you import the data, Lightroom will try to synchronize the time of the EXIF data from the camera with the time of the recorded data from the GPS logger. If you forget to do this, there is a way to correct it later, but it will be much more seamless if you do it beforehand.

Once you do that, the process is fairly simple and can be done with the following steps.

1) Obtain your GPS file

Export the GPS data from your logger in the format .gpx. This is the standard for these type of files; save them as they can be useful for other applications as well in the future. As an example, in this recent post I have included a detailed map of my trek to illustrate a day in the field.

2) Import your files into Lightroom

Import your files into Lightroom as you normally do and then go to the Map Module.

Import_Photos

Go_to_Map_Module

3) Load your tracklog file

Select all the photos you want to add the GPS information to. This one is a bit tricky – you need to click on a menu down at the bottom close to the icon with the lock. From there, select “Load Tracklog” and navigate to the menu where you saved the file previously.

Load_Tracklog

Select_your_Track

4) Tag the photos with the GPS information

As soon as you import the file, you’ll see the track loaded into the map. Go to the same menu and select “Auto-Tag XXX Selected Photos.” That’s it – that should do it, and now you’ll also see a bubble over the track that indicates where the photos were taken. At this point the GPS coordinates have already been recorded in Lightroom.

Track_Loaded

Auto_Tag_Photos

GPS_Icon_Added

If for any reason you forgot to put the correct time on the camera, you can now adjust it by going to  “Set Time Zone Offset” from the same menu you were working.

Set_Time_Offset

You can take a look at the photos’ meta data and you’ll find the exact GPS coordinates along with location information. As you can see, this process takes only a minute or two to complete and it is fairly easy.

GPS_Data_LR

If you are not already tagging your photos, I hope you can incorporate the process into your workflow soon. I believe it will be important in the long run and you’ll never forget again where that photo was taken, especially in unfamiliar places.

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Daniel Korzeniewski is a Miami-based, travel photographer. His work has appeared in several publications and he contributes to various stock photography outlets. You can find out more about his work, travel adventures, or join him on one of his upcoming photography tours (to Morocco, India, or Myanmar). You can also follow him on Instagram.

  • donjerue

    Another, albeit imperfect solution, is the find the location in Google Maps or Google earth, then copy and paste the location into the metadata. It works

  • Do I have to purchase another device? I always have my phone with me, and I always have the GPS turned on. Always. So can I export the .gpx file from my phone and avoid carrying an extra device that I have to remember to charge and turn on?

  • Travis Royboy Scanlan

    I just take a photo with my iphone at the same location and use Lightroom Mobile to add it to the collection. Then I just sync the location data :).

  • David you don’t really need another device if your phone is capable of export the .gpx. The only concern with me is traveling abroad or to remote locations. When you go overseas the phone solution is not always possible unless you use a local sim card or by paying international data roaming to your service provider, in most cases this is really expensive. With the external device you don’t have to worry about that, and you always record your location regardless of service being available or not. Of course everybody is different, that works for me, but using the phone is also a possibility. Thanks for commenting,

  • Great news! Google has been tracking my every move since November 2012. AND you can export the location history (it exports as a KML file, but I found a KML to GPX converter on the Internet).

    For you or anyone else … you can see your own location history by clicking here:

    https://maps.google.com/locationhistory

    So I can easily go back and tag any of my shoots since November 2012. I’m super glad I found your article. It made me realize that I don’t have to have the GPS built into the camera in order to geotag images (that had been my assumption all along, your article shone light on the real possibilities). So thanks! 🙂

  • There is no reason to use mobile data when tracking gps coords with your phone. GPS really has nothing to do with service being available or not. With the exception of using assisted GPS (a-GPS or aGPS) to speed up the process of getting a lock on location.

    Another concern is battery life, but for most uses it shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t always geotag my photos, but when I do, I use my phone.

  • Choo Chiaw Ting

    lol, put on Eyefi and with your phone Brandband, let us know what, where, how, why, who, when, you are doing now.. then auto sharing in facebook, and everyone share and view..

  • Actually, I’ve been using Eye-fi for every shoot (every wedding, every family portrait session, etc) for several years now. And I already know that the Eye-fi records the GPS location inside the jpeg. And I have used that information on a few rare occasions by viewing the EXIF data from the jpegs. But what it doesn’t do is imbed the GPS location inside of the RAW files. And my ASSUMPTION all along was that in order to geotag my images in any kind of “automated” fashion, I had to have the GPS location in my raw files (loading them into Lightroom I expected the locations to be loaded with the raw files). The location history link in my comment above is far far better than Eye-fi, because my cell phone has been recording my location since November 2012. Google has all of my locations. From every shoot. And the track data from Google is easily accessible using the link I posted above.

  • Aankhen

    I use My Tracks by Google to record GPS data when I shoot. That obviates the need to use another device, at least (and I prefer to turn off the GPS when I don’t need it, so the selective recording works well for me).

    Shout out to Jeffrey’s “Geoencoding Support” Plugin for Lightroom, BTW. Much better than the builtin support.

  • donna31

    Hey thanks for your article. I have been looking into geotagging and have been trying to figure out what equipment I need and some tips about the process. Thanks for the reminder to set the camera time to match the time zone, I don’t know if I would have even thought about that. And thanks for the tip on the gps data logger.
    I found this article useful as a newbie geotagger: http://www.paintshoppro.com/en/landing/geotag-photos/. It has some good advice about equipment and a tutorial as well.
    thanks again.

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