This week Adobe announced a major change—a fork, you might say—in their Lightroom product line.
They have announced a new, simplified, cloud/mobile version of Lightroom which stores your photos online and allows you to edit them on any mobile device. This new version will be separate from the desktop Lightroom we all currently use, and which my Lightroom Made Easy course teaches.
Our familiar desktop version will now be renamed "Lightroom Classic" and the new, simplified cloud/mobile version will assume the name "Lightroom CC." (I call them, "Lightroom for Real Photographers" and "Lightroom for Mobile Phone Shooters" respectively.)
I'm not sure yet whether I will even test the new cloud-based system, and at present I have no plans to provide training for it. Because, honestly, I have no plans to use it.
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I actually prefer keeping my photos on my own computer rather than putting them all in a cloud server belonging to Adobe.
After all, have we not seen, again and again, data breaches and security hacks penetrating the systems of even the largest companies in the world (including the scandalous leaks of celebrities' personal photos from Apple's iCloud system)? Frankly, I just don't trust the ability of any company to keep my photos 100% safe or private.
And honestly, I don't feel the need to do extensive editing of my photos on my mobile phone or iPad. I prefer editing on the large screen of my home computer, or in a pinch on my laptop.
Of course, the members of the younger generation that Adobe is pursuing with this strategy often do not even have a desktop computer, and frequently do all of their photography on a mobile phone. So it makes sense for Adobe to create a product for them.
But it's frustrating to me that Adobe has transferred the Lightroom CC brand name to this new phone-shooter product (which could have been called "Lightroom Elements" or "Lightroom Mobile" instead), and left us real photographers with "Lightroom Classic" which sounds like something on its way to obsolescence.
(It reminds me of the debacle faced by the Coca Cola company when they launched "New Coke" only to quickly backpedal and re-introduce the original as "Coca Cola Classic" when the new product flopped.)
Simultaneous with this rebranding of Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic, Adobe has also announced that they will stop updating the older standalone (non-subscription) version of Lightroom 6 at the end of 2017. This effectively means no new RAW format updates for newer cameras after that time in Lightroom 6. Users of the standalone version will still be able to use the software as before, but those who buy new cameras in 2018 or later, and who want to shoot RAW, may need to upgrade to the $9.99/month Adobe Photography Plan with Lightroom Classic CC to get support for newer cameras. I upgraded to this plan last year when it became clear that Adobe would eventually stop supporting the non-subscription LR6, and while I was reluctant to switch to the subscription model, I do think it's a good value, getting both Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop for $9.99 per month.
What Does the Future Hold?
As for the future, Adobe has promised to keep supporting and investing in "Lightroom Classic CC" for their serious photographer customers. Let's hope they do. If not, there are several competing companies that would be happy to welcome former Lightroom users.
But for now, I intend to give Adobe the benefit of the doubt, continue using my "Lightroom Classic," and wait and watch to see how this all unfolds.