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When Adobe announced that they were transitioning their apps to a subscription model of the Adobe Creative Cloud in 2013, I almost fell out of my chair while clutching the cardboard box for my copy of Lightroom 4. It seemed absolutely crazy to me that Adobe would ask photographers and other creative professionals to spend money every month subscribing for software that they could simply buy once and use forever.
In the years that followed I resisted moving to Creative Cloud and continued to buy new versions of Lightroom one by one until a few months ago when I finally bit the bullet and subscribed. I was one of Adobe’s harshest critics in those intervening years and staunchly refused to buy into Creative Cloud for several reasons until I realized five important things that finally got me to switch over.
Much of my hesitation to switch was due to the fact that I didn’t really understand the service Adobe was offering with their Creative Cloud Photography plan. That’s the one that lets you have Lightroom and Photoshop for $10/month.
What I failed to recognize was that Lightroom and Photoshop are just the tips of the iceberg, and there’s a whole slew of additional Adobe services that users have access to with a CC subscription. None of these by themselves are worth the price but when you examine all the ancillary benefits you get alongside great software it makes the idea of renting the software I used to own a lot more palatable.
When you subscribe to the Photography plan you get two versions of Lightroom, each with unique features and benefits designed to cater to specific types of photography workflows.
Lightroom Classic CC is the name of the traditional desktop app that has been around since 2007, now available only through a Creative Cloud subscription. This is for desktop-centric workflows where all your photos reside on a single computer.
Lightroom CC is a new different version of Lightroom designed for a cloud-centric workflow where all your photos reside in the cloud and can be edited anywhere – in a browser, on a tablet, on a phone, or even using Lightroom CC on a desktop computer.
What you might not realize is that you can use both of these programs together, with the key difference being the location where your original pictures actually reside. If you are accustomed to a traditional desktop-centric workflow you can use Lightroom Classic CC to sync specific albums in the Cloud.
This basically uploads low-resolution preview files of your photos to your Creative Cloud account. These previews, then, can be edited anywhere using Lightroom CC and the next time you load Lightroom Classic CC on your desktop all your edits are automatically synced to your original photos and catalog file.
The key difference between both types of workflows is that when using albums published to the cloud from Lightroom Classic CC, your originals remain on your desktop which means you can’t export high-resolution images from Lightroom CC. However, for photographers who want to edit their pictures on the go and then return to their desktop for any final tweaking and exporting, this is an outstanding solution and one that could make the difference to those on the fence about subscribing.
One final note about this: The $9.99 Photography Plan includes 20GB of cloud storage, but the albums that you publish to the cloud from Lightroom Classic do not count against that 20GB. This is because they use low-resolution previews instead of your actual images which is fine for flagging, cropping, keywording, color correcting, and most of the other adjustments you would want to make on a mobile device.
I’ll be the first to admit that even though I call myself a photographer I rarely use Adobe Photoshop and instead do most of my post-processing in Lightroom. I do, however, have an old copy of Photoshop CS5 that I bought about eight years ago which I use when I really need to do some heavy processing.
But it’s slow, lacks a lot of modern features, and has an interface and layout that is confusing, to say the least. It also crashes on me a lot which doesn’t exactly help matters whenever I do need to use it.
Despite these issues, the fact that Photoshop is included did not do much to initially sway my barometer when it came to shelling out $9.99 each month for the Creative Cloud Photography plan. I forced myself to get by with what I had even though it was not really suiting my needs anymore.
But the more I thought about subscribing to Creative Cloud the more I realized how nice it would be to have the full version of Photoshop ready when I needed it.
No need to think about buying, upgrading, or figuring out whether the version I had would really be current with the latest online tutorials. It just started to make sense for a small-time photographer like me to pay what really is a modest monthly fee to have the latest and greatest tools at my disposal for when I needed them.
Since I don’t use Photoshop all that often it would not be worth the price of a Creative Cloud plan by itself, but combined with everything else it sure did make a lot of sense.
I take a lot of photos of family, friends, and events just for personal use and like most people, I enjoy sharing these images with others. Until subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud my workflow for this type of sharing was somewhat convoluted and involved exporting small-sized images from Lightroom, saving them to a Dropbox shared folder, generating a public link, and sending that out to others.
I couldn’t do much in the way of limiting access privileges either, and meanwhile, the images were taking up space in my Dropbox account that is perpetually near its limit anyway.
Now my process is much simpler, a lot more efficient, and results in a greater degree of control over what I can actually let other people do with my images. After publishing an album to the cloud from Lightroom Classic CC you can log in to Lightroom on the web, on mobile, or just load up Lightroom CC and generate a public link for any synced album.
Moreover, you can get an embed code, choose to allow downloads and show metadata, and even let people filter the photos according to Flag status.
While the images that are publicly viewable using this method are the low-resolution previews and not full-size images for printing, they are more than enough for most people.
The tradeoff in terms of overall simplicity and ease of use is more than worth it for me, and I’m not taking up valuable space in my Dropbox account or other file-sharing services.
This might not be useful for some photographers but I have found Adobe Portfolio to be an incredible asset as a Creative Cloud subscriber and it really was one of the primary reasons I eventually chose to upgrade. Previously I was paying a service nearly $100/year for my photography website. But when I realized that Adobe Portfolio could do everything I need and was included with a Creative Cloud subscription I canceled my other hosting service and moved everything over to Adobe.
All Creative Cloud subscribers have access to Adobe Portfolio which, though not as full-featured as some of the other hosting providers, is more than enough for my needs and possibly yours as well. As an added bonus it syncs with Lightroom so I can create albums on my computer and have them synced automatically with my website. Something that was not possible at all with my previous hosting company.
If you are at all interested in Creative Cloud but unsure about the $9.99 monthly fee, I recommend looking at your current website hosting solution and comparing it to Adobe Portfolio. It is quite likely that the latter could suit your needs just fine and end up only costing you a bit more than what you are already paying for a website.
As I looked at all the features offered by Adobe Creative Cloud I kept on coming back to the monthly fee, and for years I just couldn’t reconcile the idea of being locked into a perpetual contract just to use software that I could go out and buy once but use forever. However, I kept coming back to other software I had purchased like Aperture, Final Cut Express, and even other Adobe apps like Fireworks that simply wouldn’t run on my computer anymore.
Sure I had bought these apps but as time went on the only way to use them was to purchase new versions anyway. In the meantime by not upgrading I was losing out on the bug fixes, added features, and overall speed improvements offered by their newer counterparts. In some cases, like Final Cut Express, apps were simply deprecated by their developers leaving me with no choice but to upgrade anyway.
I still don’t like the idea of being locked into a monthly fee for software but when I considered all the benefits that came with what really was a modest price (only about $30 more than I was paying just for my website) the choice became clear. I’m not saying that Creative Cloud is right for everybody but it was definitely the right choice for me and, depending on your needs, it could be right for you too.