Yesterday marked the 10-year anniversary of Lightroom – version 1. Yep, it was February 19th, 2007 when Adobe first released Lightroom. It’s hard to believe it was 10 years ago, but it’s even weirder (more weird… weirdlyer?) to think of a time where I edited photos without Lightroom. I know it’s not a big deal in the scheme of happenings in the world right now, but it is a bit of a nostalgic time for me. See… my career is built, in part, from Lightroom. Sure, I was a “Photoshop Guy” up until that point, and that’s pretty much what I taught all the time. But Lightroom was a whole new world to jump in to.
Anyway, I thought I’d write a quick story about how I remember starting with Lightroom. Also, to help celebrate, here’s a few links to some free Lightroom tips and tutorials you may like:
• An Awesome Lightroom Sky Tip for Landscape Photographers (click here)
• Free Lightroom Mobile Course (click here)
• Photo Makeover with Lightroom and Photoshop (click here)
Lightroom… 11 Years Ago…?
So where did it really start? For me, I can still remember coming back from Christmas break in early January of 2006, while I was working at Kelby Media. We jumped on a conference call first thing in the morning with Adobe, and they said “Hey, we’re releasing a public beta of Lightroom in a week. We’ll send you guys an early copy”. I’d heard of, and even taken part in a few conversations about this upcoming program, but I really didn’t know what to expect.
So we all scattered after the meeting to download the beta and start playing with it. The Photoshop association (NAPP) at the time, was really on the forefront of post-processing, so it was our job to get some early education out to people as they downloaded the public beta. Especially because Lightroom was technically going to be called “Photoshop Lightroom”.
I still remember feeling like I was in a foreign world at first. Like having a photo browser and editor all in the same place? Organizing photos… what was that!? Collections… huh? I’d become so used to the fragmented workflows that we dealt with before then, that I almost didn’t know what to do at first.
Fast forward to a year later, on February 19th, 2007, Adobe released the “official” version 1 of Lightroom (at a whopping $299!). By that point, I felt right at home with it. I knew this was the program that was going to change the way photographers edited their photos – and it did just that.
It Didn’t Happen All At Once Though
Over the years, I would often get the question: “Matt, how much of your photo editing is done in Lightroom?”. At first I used to say probably around 50-60%. Remember, we didn’t have the brushes and graduated filters we have today. Vignettes were kinda lame. Noise reduction and lens corrections left a lot to be desired. There was no real cloning and healing. And… it was new, so a lot of us were just more comfortable jumping to Photoshop for things that maybe we should have done in LR at the time.
(Lightroom’s Old Basic Panel – Ah… the good ole Recovery slider 😉 )
A few years later, that percentage jumped to 60-70%. And then even 80% and more. Today, it just varies. Sometimes I can get all I want to do on a photo done in Lightroom, so it’s 100%. Other times, I have some severe distractions, selections, filtering, sky replacement or whatever that I just need to do in Photoshop. Or I want to jump in to another app for some finishing style that I can’t get in LR.
Anyone remember when Folders used to be called “Shoots“?
But one thing is for sure. Lightroom has become the hub of my photography, and I can’t imagine not having it.
Why Was It So Successful?
I think Lightroom really hit at the right time. Photographers were still coming to grips with digital. Sure, you had film photographers moving to digital and they needed to edit photos. But more importantly, digital opened up photography to a whole new world. Film photography was a very technical art, and it kept a lot of people away. Especially many more “creative” people that didn’t necessarily think technical, but knew a good image when they saw it. But once digital hit, people realized that anyone could make a great photo. And that the trial and error process of learning wasn’t so expensive and punishing, as it was with film. I mean, after all, you could see your mistakes immediately – learn from them – and try again right away.
So then you had this whole new crop of photographers out there that needed to edit images on the computer (before then, it was mostly designers). But Photoshop was daunting to a newcomer. It had a pretty steep learning curve, and there were lots of places to get lost. Also, photographers didn’t have a program just for them. Photoshop served many masters: designers, illustrators, graphic artists, web designers, etc… oh… and photographers too.
Enter Lightroom. An app built for photographers, and photographers only. I don’t even know that we all knew we needed a new app at the time. But we did.
Anyway… enough with my nostalgia for the day. I’ll get back to work 🙂 I just wanted to take a moment and say thanks to the folks at Adobe for making an awesome piece of software. I’ve met many wonderful people from the Lightroom team over the years. And I personally know there’s a ton of effort and talent that goes in to creating it.
And Finally, a big thanks to everyone reading this. Again, today may not mean a lot to you. I get it. Lightroom probably isn’t a big part of your life. But to me, it’s my livelihood. Everyone who has come to my seminars, watched my courses, and downloaded my presets and training has contributed to where I am today. It’s the comments, questions, and success that I see from you, that’s helped me build my Lightroom training, and gives me the chance to really help people with their photography.
Thank you! – Matt