As a photographer who deals with digital images, the two most important pieces of software I use are Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. From now on, I’ll just call them Lightroom and Photoshop. I spend most of my computer time using Lightroom while only jumping over to Photoshop when I really need to edit an image on a pixel level. I  also use Photo Mechanic to import the images from the memory cards to the computer as it is much faster than Lightroom.

My workflow is really simple, I import the images from the memory cards into the computer using Photo Mechanic. I then do a quick sort in Photo Mechanic to weed out the bad shots, then I import the others into Lightroom. Then I sort, edit and output the files for the clients right from LR. If I need to edit something that can only be done in Photoshop I send the file from Lightroom to Photoshop, edit it, then close the file and go back to working in Lightroom. I tell you all this so the rest of this post makes sense. I don’t see the value in the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

The Adobe Creative Cloud subscription is a new way to rent software instead of buying it. It works like this.

  • You pay a monthly fee.
  • You can download the Adobe software onto 2 different computers. (They don’t run in the cloud, they are on your computer)
  • The Software checks back with the Adobe mothership every month.
  • As long as you keep paying the software keeps working.
  •  You get access to all the titles in the Creative Suite 6 (but not the Adobe InDesign Server CS6 and InCopy CS6)

Sounds good, right? So what’s the downside? To start with, the service is priced at $49.99 a month, or $599.88 (lets call it $600) which is a bargain compared to the cost of the Adobe Photoshop CS6 software which is $1000.00, or the full Creative Suite CS6 Master Collection which costs $2,600. The issue is that after being a cloud member for 2 year and having spent $1,200 for access to the Master Suite, I don’t actually own anything. You pay to use the software, never actually owning it.

It gets a little more complicated. There is a plan where instead of $49.99 a month for access to the entire suite but instead you can pay just $19.99 for access to a single application. (Let say Photoshop) So for $480 for two years you can have access to Photoshop. The problem is that if you own an older version of Photoshop you can upgrade for way less. Then there is Lightroom. As I said earlier, I use Lightroom more than any other program. Lightroom costs $199.00 (or less depending on where you buy it and the specials involved) but is only part of the Complete Creative Cloud Suite so if you only use Lightroom, it doesn’t pay at all.

Oh, did I mention that the prices are much higher if you don’t commit to a year of the Creative cloud service? That’s right the $49.99 jumps to $74.99 a month.

All the pricing info is here: Adobe Pricing


There is one more thing…. Adobe states that the users who use the Creative Suite Subscription will get updates to the software while those that buy the software will have to wait. To me this is totally unacceptable. What they are saying is that they can update the versions that are seeded through the cloud but can’t do the same thing to those who want to own the software? Seriously, that is totally unacceptable in this day and age. Now, I’m not talking about a full version upgrade from CS6 to CS7, but the small upgrades… those .1 upgrades. Why can’t Adobe update the software like any other software manufacturer? I own Photo Mechanic. They update the application all the time and when I launch it, it goes and checks, then tells me a new version is available. Seems pretty easy.

So this is the way that I see the Creative Cloud right now. It’s a fantastic deal for those who use more than 1 application. So if you want to edit movies and images then the access to Premiere and After Effects and Photoshop for a monthly fee makes sense. But as a photographer who just uses Lightroom and Photoshop, I am seriously considering just buying the two applications and dumping the cloud. It turns out that I just don’t use the other applications like I thought I would.

So I was very interested to see what Tom Hogarty had to say about the Adobe Cloud for photographers on the Kelby Media webcast, The Grid Live on Wednesday, April 20. (You can watch the show here: The Grid Live The episode with Tom should be up soon) Tom showed off some very cool stuff. Basically looked like Lightroom for the tablet using the smart preview technology that is part of the new Lightroom 5. this would allow photographers to sit and use a tablet to keyword, edit, sort and basically deal with the images on the tablet. Very cool stuff Tom…. But I have a few questions.

  • How am I going to get my images onto the tablet? I shoot about a 1000 images per event and about 2-3 events a week (on average for the year)
  • Is this only going to be available for those who subscribe to the cloud?
  • How much space are you going to give photographers to make this work since the only way to seamlessly deal with the transfer of information is to use the cloud storage, and when not on a network it could really impact a data plan.

I do want to say that I couldn’t do what I do without Lightroom and I look forward to Lightroom 5. I have downloaded the public beta and think it’s a step forward. Maybe not a huge step forward, but enough to make it a good upgrade. (The radial tool alone is worth the upgrade.

So what would I like in the future? No point in going through all this without  offering a solution. The simple one for me is to change the price of the Creative Cloud service. Just make it $29.99 for everyone, all the time. That’s the price for teachers and students and was the price for the first year for NAPP members. Just make it the same plan for everyone. Makes life a lot less complicated. If Adobe decides to then increase the price, offer the members the ability to buy the current version for the upgrade price as long as they have been a member for at least 18 months and pro rate it for those who haven’t been there that long. That way it doesn’t seem like we are just giving adobe money to rent software until the price increases to a point where it is not financially feasible.

Again, this is just my opinion. I don’t work for Adobe or have any input into anything they do.

Would love to get your feedback….