How to Publish Images Directly to Instagram From Lightroom

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The Lightroom Library module offers more than just the option to organize your images. With its Publish Services, it allows uploading content to online services from within its interface. The best known Publish Services might be connections to Facebook or Flickr built into the software by Adobe. Since the summer of 2016, you can add Instagram to this list. The LR/Instagram plugin allows publishing on the popular sharing platform through a direct connection from the Library module.

From Lightroom to Instagram

This comes in pretty handy since Instagram does not allow uploads from desktop computers directly. Until now you had to find ways to export images from Lightroom and transfer them to your smartphone before being able to publish them on Instagram.

Installation of the LR/Instagram plugin

The plugin is free to download and try, and there is no time or volume limit to the usage. The publisher, however, asks for a $10 payment if you like it. The payment can be done through the plugin manager in Lightroom with a PayPal transaction.

Please also note that this plugin is programmed by a third party, neither Adobe nor Instagram can offer any support, and the plugin may fail at times when either Lightroom or Instagram change their code. So keep yourself updated through the author’s website.

The LR/Instagram plugin acts as a publishing service within the Lightroom Library module. To install the plugin, you first need to download a ZIP file from the website and unpack that to your hard drive.

Lightroom Module folder

While Lightroom allows you to install the plugin from that location, I recommend first moving it from your download folder or desktop to a more permanent location. I use the “Modules” subfolder in the Application Library structure on my hard drive to store my LR plugins. But as your system may vary, make sure it is located in a folder that is related to your Lightroom installation.

Now in Lightroom, open the Plug-In Manager through the File menu structure. Below the list of existing plugins you can find an “Add” button. Point Lightroom to the location of the plugin and tell it to “Add Plug-In”.

Add LR/Instagram Plug-In

How to set up your Instagram Publish Service in Lightroom

Once it is installed, you have to set up a Publish Service using that plugin. For this, press the Plus button on top of the Publish Services section in Lightroom’s Library module. The Publishing Manager will show up and offer LR/Instagram as an additional service. You can name the new service and enter your Instagram username and password.

Please note that the plugin does not work with a Facebook connection login, you need to have a password directly on the Instagram site.

Setting up the LR/Instagram Plug-In

If you now press the Login button, the plugin will show your Instagram profile picture if successful.

Configure settings

In the Preference section, you can limit the number of images published at once. As Instagram and its users might react negatively to one user filling up pages of images at once, it is recommended to set this to a value of around five.

Since Instagram changed their platform to also allow non-square images, you could upload portrait or landscape oriented images to the platform. Still, some users prefer to make their images all appear in the commonly known square format. For this, you can have the plugin add a white or black padding border for images that are not natively in square format.

However, I prefer to crop my images to square format before uploading them to Instagram. For this, I usually create a Virtual Copy of my image in Lightroom before making the Instagram crop. I might upload the original format to other platforms like Facebook and want to avoid going back and forth between different formats.

As Instagram widely relies on #hashtags for users to find content outside of their followings, the LR/Instagram plugin offers a separate metadata field with the option to add these hashtags within the Lightroom interface. You can find the hashtag field in the Metadata section through the drop down menu selecting the LR/Instagram section.

LR/Instagram Preferences

In the preferences area of the Publishing Manager, you can choose to “Caption #Hashtag” as an option to publish the image on Instagram using your caption and add the hashtags from that separate field. If preferred, you can also just publish the image using Title or Caption from your metadata as you also could enter hashtags in a second stage on the Instagram platform directly.

Publishing images to Instagram from Lightroom

Once set up, the new Publish Service will appear in your Library module. You can now simply drag the image you want to publish to the “Instagram photos” collection. This serves as a collection like all others in Lightroom. If you prefer, you can also set this as your Target Collection which allows you to use the B shortcut to directly add images from anywhere in your library into it.

Drag and drop images in Lightroom

When you are finished adding images, you can now tell Lightroom to publish those images. Personally, I try to limit myself to one new image each time. But if preferred, the plugin will now publish as many images as you have recently added to its collection or the limit you have set in the Preferences as explained above. The Publish Service will now run in the background and use Instagram’s API to publish your image.

Publishing from Lightroom to Instagram

Instagram Stream with photo from Lightroom

If you ever want to change the settings you have originally entered, just press the Plus button on the Publish Services section in the Library module and open the Publishing Manager again.

You can also set up multiple different publishing streams, either with different settings or even for a separate Instagram account.

Multiple Publishing Streams for second account

Give it a go

So if you’re on Instagram you might want to have a look this the LR/Instagram plugin. If you’ve used it tell us about your experience. Please share your profile so others can see your work, and follow dPS on Instagram as well.

Read this on how to get more Instagram followers too.

Read more from our Post Production category

Michael Zwahlen (going by “Michael Jay” or “Michael J Berlin”) is a commercial and stock photographer based in Berlin, Germany. He loves traveling cities, and taking photos of architecture, as can be seen on his Instagram stream and his Facebook page. As a reviewer for a photo community, he also gets to see thousands of submitted images each week. Make his work more enjoyable by learning to create better images.

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  • Don Smith

    Do note that the plugin has been broken for months now. It will still upload but photos uploaded do not show in hashtag searches.

    From their site: “Service Note: Instagram has updated their protocol once again. Photos uploaded by the plugin currently do not show up in hashtag search so their exposure is limited.

    We are investigating the issue and the plugin will be updated when a fix is available.”

  • Thanks for the feedback.

    I found the error description is either not to up to date or it only doesn’t work in certain instances.

    For me it works, including the hashtag search in Instagram. At least the way I use it, with the Hashtag field in LR/Instagram’s own Metadata section (see screen shot):
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cf8ec7c1c5a2510a3fb6ed71d66050162e8bcfa6d32aef224356e76328a79da5.png

    And even when it didn’t work, I still found the plug-in usable since

    A) it’s far superior over the way I used before (export JPG from Lightroom -> move it to Dropbox -> Open Dropbox on the phone -> post to Instagram from the phone)

    B) I prefer to post (most of) my hashtags on Instagram in a separate comment rather than the photo description; that way the image/description looks “cleaner” when seen in the stream.

  • Don Smith

    Yes, it is way better than any other way! Hmmm so I do not know what the problem is. I have not fully tested it out despite having it installed for months now.

    I thought it was worth mentioning since the warning shows up in the red box when you go to download the plugin.

  • Sandra

    I am trying to republish a photo in LR/Instagram. I did a practice run and then deleted from Instagram. Now I have “marked to republish” within the plugin; but it doesn’t show up in Instagram. Any ideas?

  • Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything there in downloaded file. May be, they are going to update their Plugin right now!

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  • Don Smith

    They did not then, but i has been updated now!

  • Don Smith

    They have updated the plugin.

  • I work with lightroom. It will save my time. Thanks Michael for sharing this helpful post.

  • Thanks, that was helpful

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