There’s obviously lots of feedback, buzz, interest, and excitement, from Adobe’s announcement yesterday. If you missed it, in a nutshell, Photoshop as we know it is going totally subscription based. So basically, you can’t buy a stand alone boxed or download copy of it anymore. You have to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud to get Photoshop CC (CC means Creative Cloud). However, for now you’ll still be able to buy Lightroom standalone without subscribing (even though it’s also included in the CC).

By the way, if you hadn’t noticed Photoshop CS is no longer – it’s called Photoshop CC now

Subscription Vs. Owning
I don’t want to get too much into whether the CC is a good deal or not. There’s a ton of blogs and articles doing that today already. Make sure you stop over to Scott’s blog because he’s got a great Q&A writeup on this announcement. I also don’t want to talk subscription vs. ownership of software. I know a lot of people have feelings on this, but to me, the subscription model doesn’t bother me – I just want good software. Adobe delivers, and I’m willing to pay monthly, yearly or however to get it. I will say this… For anyone but photographers, it’s a total no-brainer and the industry is eating it up. But for photographers (hobbyists, enthusiasts, prosumers and those that don’t necessary run a business or make money from photography) it can be a big change, and one that isn’t so easy to swallow if you just use Lightroom and Photoshop.

Here’s one way to make it simple though. If you use Photoshop, Lightroom and just one more Adobe product (InDesign, Illustrator, Premier), then it’s a great deal. Sign up right now because it’s the best deal out there.

If you use Lightroom, and sometimes Photoshop, and no other Adobe products then you have a decision to make and that’s who this post is for. I’d like to help you make that decision on what this means for you as a Lightroom user.

How Lightroom Fits In To The Creative Cloud
First off, Lightroom is the place for photographers. Come to grips with it. If you’re a photographer then you need Lightroom. The solution is not Bridge, it’s not Camera Raw or some combination of the two. Lightroom is it. Stop debating, stop thinking that you’re situation is different and that you actually like using the Bridge and Camera Raw combo more. You don’t :) Trust me. So if you haven’t hopped on the Lightroom wagon yet, do it. You eventually will, so you might as well do it now (again, this applies to photographers, not designers). I know I sound very cut-n-dry here by saying it that way, but this whole “I Like Bridge/ACR” and “I like Lightroom!” crap doesn’t help anyone. If you’re a photographer then use the program that was built for you (end rant) ;)

Next…The most common question I’m getting (as a Lightroom guy) is do I subscribe or not to get Lightroom. See, if you subscribe to the CC, then you get Lightroom (because it’s part of CC), Photoshop and every other Adobe program there is for your subscription price. If you don’t subscribe and you’re a Lightroom user, nothing really changes. Lightroom 4 is still available to purchase outside of the CC and Adobe plans the same for Lightroom 5. So you will indeed be able to upgrade to Lightroom 5 without subscribing to the Creative Cloud.

Knowing that Lightroom is the place for photographers, your decision actually becomes easier. Why? Because you basically have many of the features that are new in Photoshop CC in Lightroom 5 already. Really? Yep, let’s run through the list:
1) Radial Gradient Filter (we got it in Lightroom 5 last month)
2) Upright Lens Correction Adjustments (yep, Lightroom 5 last month)
3) Non-destructive Cloning and Healing Brush (you guessed it, Lightroom 5 last month)

Not to mention, as a Bridge/Camera Raw user, you don’t get Smart Previews where you can work on a smaller “preview” version of your photos while your main photo drive is offline. So if you’re a Bridge user, forget about unplugging your photo hard drive and doing anything with your photos.

NOTE: I know Lightroom 5 isn’t out of beta yet, but right now it’s free to use. It’s perfectly stable and I’ve switched all of my editing and catalogs over to it. So for all intents and purposes, Lightroom 5 is out and for now, it’s free.

Now, what didn’t you get in Lightroom 5 that Photoshop CS6/Elements don’t have (but Photoshop CC does have)?
1) Camera Raw as a filter in Photoshop – I have to admit it, this one is huge to me. I often work on my photos in Photoshop and wish I had access to the raw adjustments that I have in the Develop module. Camera Raw is identical to the Develop module in Lightroom and having it as a filter is a nice thing to have. There’s workarounds with Smart Objects but let’s face it – smart object workflow is clunky at best. So for me, this one is a must-have.

2) Camera Shake Reduction – Another cool feature. I’m usually pretty good about having my camera on a tripod so it’s not one I use a lot, but in those times you need it I’m sure it’ll come in handy.

3) Remember a while back Adobe released a bunch of cloud updates for Photoshop like conditional actions and more support for filters and smart object layers. So if either of those are part of your workflow then the CC is where you’ll need to go to get them.

So do you really need Photoshop? I know we’ve been conditioned to think that Photoshop is the place for photographers, but Adobe has built one totally kick-ass program with Lightroom. So much so, that I think Lightroom has become the place where photographers spend most of their time (and rightly so). Photoshop was built for EVERYONE where Lightroom was built just for photographers. And when you factor that Lightroom 5 just took away the #1 reason most photographers leave Lightroom (cloning and healing), you should be pretty darn happy as a Lightroom user.

Getting Back On Topic
To bring this all around to the topic of this article, what does all of this mean for Lightroom users? If those two features that I mentioned above are absolute must-haves, you do need Photoshop CC. Also, if you don’t already own a version of Photoshop or Elements and you need selections, layers, panoramas, blend modes, filters, actions, professional level retouching (beyond whitening eyes/teeth and smoothing skin because Lightroom does that), then Photoshop CC will be essential.

But if you have a previous version of Photoshop (or Elements), and don’t need the two features I mentioned above, then nothing really changes for you. You still have the same exact software you paid for a year or so ago and nothing was taken away from you. Your workflow doesn’t change, where you store your photos doesn’t change and your Lightroom/Photoshop interaction doesn’t change. You’ll still be able to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of Lightroom. So if the features of the Creative Cloud don’t interest you at this point then, as a Lightroom user, skip it for now. I’m willing to bet that Adobe has things in the works and they’ll hope to change your mind. Remember, this stuff is in it’s infancy stages right now. But in the meantime, your photo workflow and the software you use can remain exactly as it was before yesterday. You can still buy Lightroom 4 standalone today, and you’ll still be able to buy Lightroom 5 standalone (or upgrade) when it officially comes out.

One Final Thought
One last thing. Adobe is offering a single app membership program for $9.99/month for one year. That’s cheaper than any other upgrade version of Photoshop you’ve ever paid for before. Consider this. Tom Hogarty (Adobe Group Product Manager) sneaked a Lightroom-like tablet feature on our talk show The Grid, last week. And while he didn’t go into specifics about other “cloud” like features, it stands to reason that Adobe must be working on adding more features that will make the CC more and more compelling for you as a Lightroom/Photoshop user. They’re not just going to leave us out. So, will the price go up from $9.99 after the first year? Maybe. But for $10/month now (Skip a Starbucks trip for a couple days a month and you’ll pay for it), it’s easy to swallow and it gives you 1 year of the newest, latest, greatest features. You can wait and see if the features that do get added to the CC become worth it to you to continue.

And if they don’t, well then cancel your subscription after the first year and spend $59 on Photoshop Elements if you really need Photoshop :-)

Thanks for stopping by today. I’m always interested in your comments so feel free to leave ‘em here. Have a good one!