How to Geotag Your Photos Using Lightroom and a Smartphone App

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As a landscape and travel photographer, it is important to be able to track where you traveled and note exactly where a specific picture was taken. Sound complicated and expensive? It’s not if you have a smartphone and a geotag app that will track your GPS location. In this article, I’ll show you how to use Lightroom and the Geotag Photos Pro app to mark your photos locations.

Geotag Your Photos Easily in Adobe’s Lightroom with the help of Geotag Photos Pro App

How to Use Lightroom’s Map Module and the Geotag Photos Pro App

Geotagging is the process of pinpointing the location you took your picture with the aid of a GPS unit. There are a few ways to collect GPS information from a camera. A GPS unit can be built-in to your camera, an accessory to your camera, or a smartphone app like Geotag Photos Pro.

All of these GPS accessories will add EXIF data to your photo files. This data usually consists of the file name, folder location, city, GPS coordinates, as well as the date and time the image was captured. This feature can be very useful if you are a travel or landscape photographer who would like a record of your travels and photo shoot locations.

How does it work?

Your camera records the picture information each time you take a shot, including the time each photo was captured. All the while, you will have the Geotag Photos Pro app running on your phone to record your exact position at the time the photo is taken. It’s all tracked based on the time the image was shot. The fun comes later when you merge all of the data in Lightroom.

Geotag Photos Pro app

Using GPS attachments on an SLR can be expensive and cumbersome. The Geotag Photos Pro app might be a good solution for you. It will work with whatever capture device you prefer to use, a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, a compact point and shoot, or a mobile phone.

Available in both IOS and Android versions, the app records your position while you are taking photos. It then creates a “.gpx” file that you export to Geotag Photos Pro desktop app or other apps and services like Lightroom, Flickr, and Apple Photos.

It’s all tracked by synchronizing the clock on the app with the clock on your camera. It will create a track log with custom interval settings that you set up. The best part is you can bring it into the Lightroom mapping module and it will create a map of your shoot with thumbnail images along the route.

Setting up the app

Before you start your photo walk, make sure that your camera and your cell phone are synced at the same time. There is no need to have internet access to use the app, it works through a GPS signal which is available anywhere for free. First, start the Geotag Photo Pro App.

How to Use Lightroom’s Map Module and the Geotag Photos Pro App
In the settings, set the desired time for Geotag Photos Pro for your logging interval – 2 minutes is the optimal time interval. That way you can create a balance between the battery life of your cell phone and the accuracy of the app without using up all of your power. If you’d like it to track at faster intervals, you can set it up that way or manually set a point on your track.

You don’t need to hold on to the phone or watch the app once you have initiated your photo walk and you are happy with the interval settings. It will create a map similar to the one below when you are done. Your map may create an odd route as if you were walking in the ocean like this one, but there is actually a pier which doesn’t show up on this map.

How to Use Lightroom’s Map Module and the Geotag Photos Pro App

After your walk

When you have finished your walk, Complete the track on the app and share the track log to your Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive account and download the track to your computer.

Once you have downloaded the .gpx file track log, import your images into Lightroom and select the images in the filmstrip that you would like to geotag. Then open the map module of Lightroom.

How to Use Lightroom’s Map Module and the Geotag Photos Pro App

Just below the map window but above the filmstrip, there is a squiggly line that is the track log menu (circled in red above). Hover over it, navigate to your saved .gpx file and load into Lightroom. Once you open the file, you will see the track start to load on your map.

How to Use Lightroom’s Map Module and the Geotag Photos Pro App

Once you see a map similar to this (below), it is time to geotag your images.

How to Use Lightroom’s Map Module and the Geotag Photos Pro App

Geotagging your images

Look at your filmstrip and navigate to the images you would like to include in the track log. Click on the first image and shift-click the last image in the sequence to select them all. Then click on “load track logs” and select “Auto Tag the select photos”.

Now the photos and location will load to the track. If the track doesn’t look 100% correct, you can move the location of the track to put the images in the right place.

How to Use Lightroom’s Map Module and the Geotag Photos Pro App

Now you will have a track log of the images you took located on the map. Hover over the picture icons, and your images will pop up in the location where they were photographed. How cool is that?!

How to Use Lightroom’s Map Module and the Geotag Photos Pro App

In conclusion

What a great tool for you as a landscape and travel photographer! As GPS gets more advanced, it will be included in more cameras and make this process a little easier. But for now, an app like this is fun and easy to use and adds another handy element to your photo toolbox.

Give it a try on your next trip!

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Holly Higbee-Jansen is photographer, trainer, blogger, and workshop leader who enjoys teaching and the creative process. Her passions include teaching photography workshops in beautiful locations in California, Iceland, Costa Rica and the American West with her husband Mark. Holly also teaches online classes on Lightroom, Photoshop and photographic technique. Get Holly's Free E-Book on "Landscape Photography and the Light" and find out about her newest workshops at Jansen Photo Expeditions.com.

  • MGVH

    Thanks! Another way to get the GPX file is to use a smartwatch w/ GPS tracking. On my Garmin one, I set it to Hiking or Walking, sync the watch with my Garmin app when I’m done, and then grab the GPX file to use in Lightroom as you describe.

  • Arthur_P_Dent

    There are also a couple free apps that will do it just as well, My Tracks and PhotoTracker, for example.

  • Arthur_P_Dent
  • Nizmo

    Good morning. Olympus iShare app allows to do geotagging on Olympus cameras nice and easy long time ago.

  • Thanks for sharing! If you don’t have wifi on your camera, this app works great!

  • Thanks for sharing.

  • Great information. Thanks!

  • PDL

    When not using a GPS enabled camera (Pentax k-3II) I use either ExifToolGui or GeoSetter. Using any method to manually set GPS information in your images is just a general pain. I am still trying to put GPS information into my 2006-07 vacation images to New Zealand.

    The easiest way to setup GPS is to use a camera with GPS built in. My last vacation (2017) resulted in 6K images of which about 30 were unable to be updated. (Central European train cars are pretty good GPS signal blockers as are Cathedral crypts)

  • Thanks for the feedback!

  • BlackEternity

    Thanks for the article about that.
    I’m about to go on a cruise in my vacation and just thought of the opportunity to properly geotag my photos so I know where I took them.
    Sadly, you forgot to mention that the app costs 11 EUR if you want to have more than one route.

    Do you have any experience on how long a route can be (time wise)?
    I would need to track basically 10 days so I’m not sure if the app is capable of that.

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