Pivot on Lightroom

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Today’s Question: I am curious what you think of the new direction Adobe is taking with Lightroom direction. Are they aiming at the pure amateur market?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To me the new direction for Lightroom is not so much about amateur versus professional photographer, but rather about workflow. The new Lightroom CC is aimed at photographers who want to leverage cloud-based storage, while Lightroom Classic is aimed at photographers (like me) who very much want to primarily use local storage to manage their photos.

More Detail: I completely understand the concern many photographers (including myself) have as it relates to the changes Adobe has made to their photography software solutions. Perhaps most obviously, many photographers are frustrated about only having a subscription option for Lightroom and Photoshop, instead of being able to pay once and use the software (at least theoretically) forever.

The launch of the new Lightroom CC (and re-branding of the existing Lightroom application as Lightroom Classic CC) has only exacerbated this issue. Many photographers are concerned that Lightroom Classic will eventually be discontinued in favor of the new Lightroom CC. I’m sure that is a possibility at some point down the road, but that won’t be realistic until cloud-based storage provides a solution that is just as reliable and fast as local storage. I expect that to not be possible for many years, so I suspect Lightroom will continue to be available as a desktop-centric solution for many years to come. But of course I have not insights into what Adobe might be thinking along these lines.

My personal approach is to define a workflow that makes the most of the software that works for me (which at the moment is Lightroom Classic CC), without becoming dependent on the software. In other words, I always want to have an exit strategy.

For example, many photographers who adopted Apple Aperture as the foundation of their workflow faced considerable pain when Apple discontinued Aperture and they had to find a new workflow solution.

I don’t really have any fear of this type of situation. To begin with, I really do believe that Adobe is committed to providing excellent workflow solutions for photographers. Obviously Adobe is a for-profit company, and as such wants to find ways to maximize the revenue they can earn from photographers. But I don’t believe there is any risk of Adobe abandoning the photography community.

I think it is sensible for photographers to make sure they aren’t getting “locked in” to a particular software solution. This is why, as just one small example, I don’t use Pick and Reject flags in Lightroom. These flags are not part of any established metadata standard. Therefore, I use star ratings instead, with the confidence that any other image-management software will support this feature since it is part of an established metadata standard.

I do understand the anxiety some photographers are feeling about the recent changes from Adobe. Personally, while I don’t feel Lightroom CC (as opposed to Lightroom Classic) is likely to meet my needs anytime soon, I’m not worried about the changes involved.

I’ll continue to use Lightroom Classic for as long as that makes sense in my workflow. If at any point I decide Lightroom Classic is no longer a good fit for me, I’ll adopt a new solution. In the meantime, I make a point of employing a workflow that provides the greatest utility without making me dependent on specific software. In other words, I want to keep my options open, but make the most of my workflow in the meantime.