I’m totally writing this against my better judgement. Seriously, I know the whole Creative Cloud fury has died down and I must be dumb for even bringing this up. But I’m truly curious to see your thoughts and I’m hoping/trusting that you can keep it from turning into another bash-fest against the Creative Cloud. So…here’s an interesting thought, question, topic, whatever you want to call it. I had a discussion with some one the other day and they asked if I was going to start teaching more on Photoshop Elements. Don’t get me wrong. I love Elements and recommend it daily to people. But I asked why. They said that it seemed natural because so many people are upset about this whole Adobe Creative Cloud subscription thing – and that Elements seemed like the program they would migrate to. It got me thinking about the future of post-processing and where some of the hangups now are.

1) Many people don’t like Adobe’s Subscription model for Photoshop and have said they will NEVER “rent” or subscribe to get their software.

2) Many people (many of the same people from #1 above) have said that they’ll find a Photoshop alternative (like maybe Elements or one of the 3rd party plug-ins). In other words, they’ll stop using Photoshop and start using another program that does something similar.

So here’s what got me thinking. For starters, I have to tell you a story about AT&T and something that happened to me 10+ years ago. See, I moved and had an AT&T contract for my phone. Well, where I moved had horrible cell reception. I called AT&T and because of the distance of the closest tower and what they considered to be “acceptable” reception, they wouldn’t do anything. Wouldn’t even let me out of my 2 year contract. So if I wanted to be able to use my phone at my house, I was given no choice but to cancel my contract and pay the contract cancellation fee. They offered me nothing else. I was pissed! Livid! I swore I’d “NEVER EVER… EVER” use AT&T again.

Fast forward to about 5-6 years ago when the iPhone came out. I wanted one. And you know the only place I could go to get it? Yup. AT&T. So my “never ever ever” turned in to “I’ll never use AT&T… EVER…until they have something I really want”. I signed back up with them and have been a happy customer ever since.

So I wonder if this dislike (okay, hatred) for the Creative Cloud subscription will ever be like that for some people? I mean, it’s easy to say I’ll NEVER subscribe. But what happens when some killer feature comes out in Photoshop (or some other Adobe app or even a whole new app). Does it change anything? I know that some people will hold their ground on principle alone. But I have to believe that some people will eventually subscribe.

Here’s something else to think about. In all markets (not just photography), the so-called “Pros” tend to lead the trends right? It happens in golf, tennis, football, heck even in popular cooking shows on tv. We see some big-name golfer using a certain set of golf clubs and we go out and buy those clubs (or golf balls, or gloves, or tennis racquets, or pots and pans from your favorite cooking show… you get the idea). So is the photography/post-processing market any different? What’s going to happen when the latest version of Photoshop CC starts to outgrow previous versions (CS6 or CS5) and there’s a bigger gap? It’s not a huge deal right now if I teach with Photoshop CC and you still have CS6 because the features are nearly identical. But what happens in two or three years when more and more features get added to Photoshop CC? Should I do every tutorial with “Here’s how to do it in Photoshop CC… and here’s how to do it in CS6… and here’s how to do it in CS5″? I mean, would you expect Joe McNally to show everything he does with a Nikon D3 and then show it with a Nikon D4? No, of course not. Could Joe take a great photo with the D3? Yup. Just like the golf pro can shoot under par with clubs he had 15 years ago. But they’ve upgraded to the newer stuff because, as a pro, it made sense for them. We, as people who follow them, want to see how they do it now and what tools they use. Not how they would do it if they were using older tools. Photoshop is a pro’s tool. The pro’s will continue to use the newest version. What’s this mean for people who want to follow and learn what they do?

Okay, so you can say that some one else will come up with a Photoshop competitor/alternative. I’d say they already exist (onOne, Nik?). And I bet more will come. I’d bet more companies are now working on that as their mission, than there were 3 months ago. But this stuff takes time. First, they have to develop the software. Then, as I mentioned above, they have to get the pros on board and get them to drop Photoshop. But we already talked about this… the pros don’t have a reason to drop Photoshop CC because the cloud makes sense for them. See the cycle here? Plus, this all takes time. And I have no idea if it will all really happen. But I can tell you that we’d have to be years away from it.

Anyway, it’s just something to think about. Does Never Really Mean Never? And please don’t leave your thoughts on subscription models here. We already know that nobody likes it. I know many of you reading this say you’ll never ever “rent” your software. Is your “never ever” a guaranteed lock and you won’t budge no matter what? Or is your “never ever” like my sworn enemy of AT&T? :) I mean, once things simmer down and the dust settles. You have to imagine that Adobe is working on a good (and affordable) subscription model for photographers. Once that happens (and the right price makes sense for you), does all of this anger subside, or are you going to be a GIMP user for life ;)
(FYI… GIMP is a freely distributed image editing program that’s been around for many years)

NOTE: Folks, peeps, my homies… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t turn this in to another comment stream on how you hate cloud subscription services. I know. I get it. I’ve heard it. That’s not the point here and we all already know how it turns out. This is more of a story of something that happened to me and something I’ve been thinking about. If you leave a comment then try to keep it geared to the questions/thoughts posed at the end of the post. Thanks :)