A couple of weeks ago, Brian Matiash and I recorded a podcast where we talked about the future of Lightroom Classic. In that podcast, Brian said he thought it would go away within 5 years. I said, I thought we’d be fine for at least another 7-10 years. Brian is a good friend of mine and I have no problem saying I think he’s wrong. I don’t see Lightroom Classic going away within 5 years. Mind you, neither of us have ANY official info on this and our thoughts are 100% educated guesses.
SIDE NOTE: As you read this, I know I mentioned a mini course that I’m working on for this new workflow. Stay tuned. It’ll be a really short, really affordable and simple course that should be out in the next couple of weeks.
Please… Take a Breath and Pause for a Minute
Since that podcast, I’ve gotten A TON of personal messages. For some reason, people totally missed the “7-10 years” phrase I mentioned and already stressed about Lightroom Classic going away. Then some one else reads it, out of context, and spreads the “Lightroom Classic is going away” rumor to some one else, and some one else, and you see how misinformation spreads 🙂
Please, please please… take a breath on this one. Lightroom Classic is not going away. Adobe isn’t trying to force you and your terabytes of photos in to the cloud, so they can steal hundreds of dollars from you each month. Stop with the conspiracy theories. Stop with the paranoia. And MOST OF ALL… keep an open mind to what may be an emerging workflow that could really simplify your photography life. Keep an open mind to it that some one is just trying to show you something useful, and there’s no sinister plan to extort money from you behind it.
There is a new feature that I’ll talk more about, that was meant for you. It wasn’t meant for the cell phone photographer who wants everything in the cloud. It was 100% meant for you – the photographer that uses big megapixel cameras and stores photos on regular hard drives. Again, keep an open mind as we start to talk about this in future weeks.
Some Thoughts on Lightroom Classic and Lightroom
I think Adobe has proven that they are actively developing features for Lightroom Classic. We got some great features in the past year in Lightroom Classic. And they’re not just adding features, they even rearranged a bit of the interface to clean things up, so it shows they actually do care about this app.
However, you have to realize that Lightroom Classic was really created for professional photographers that need features that hobbyists don’t. I hate to say it, but that pro market has slimmed down quite, and the vast majority of people that use LR Classic are hobbyist/enthusiasts. Now, that doesn’t mean that group doesn’t treat their photos like professionals do.
As an analogy… I’m an avid golfer with absolutely no business treating my game like a pro. Yet I take it seriously at times with gear, lessons, etc… Photographers are much the same. We may not be pros, but a lot of people take it very seriously – in some ways more seriously and meticulously than a pro, because a pro doesn’t have time for all the stuff a hobbyist has time for (they’re out running a business).
So why this this becoming a discussion right now?
This is bubbling to the top right now because a new feature was added to Lightroom (NOT LR Classic) that makes it simple to just browse and edit photos on your computer and hard drives, no matter where they are. No Import… no catalog… no disconnected photos or corruption because you moved something. So it doesn’t matter what computer it is, or what hard drive, or if you’ve moved a photo from one place to another. Just point it at ANY folder, and you’re in business.
Just to clarify again… This feature IS NOT in Lightroom Classic (and honestly I don’t think it ever will be).
As a Side note that relates to this… I’ve been talking about using Adobe Bridge for a while now. And before I talked about it last year, Bridge has been a large part of my photography workflow for years. When I get back from a shoot, I want one thing… to look at my photos quickly. Edit a few of the good ones, save ’em as a JPG and be done. I don’t want to organize, I don’t want to go through the whole shoot, I don’t want to keyword or do anything with metadata. I only want the fun part. I want to look at pretty pictures as fast as possible, and edit them.
And you know the funny thing about that? As soon as I shared that tutorial, I had hundreds of people message me telling me they love this workflow. But for some reason, even though this workflow is exactly the same – yet infinitely better – I mention the dreaded “Lightroom” word (without Classic on the end), and everyone knee jerk reacts about how bad it is.
Lightroom and the Past
For years, I organized my photos on a hard drive in descriptively named folders which is all I needed. I don’t care about renaming, or organizing by date, etc… I just put things in a folder name that makes sense to me. Then I imported them in to LR Classic. Why? Only to just look at the SAME EXACT Folder organization I just did on my hard drive – but yet I had to go through the Import and the Catalog. For what?… It didn’t offer me any benefit. I don’t Keyword / Use Metadata – I don’t use Maps, or Slideshows. The few books I make I usually do through Apple Books – and for years I’ve thought that Epson Print Layout or Canon Print Studio (the software that comes with your printer) was a better way to print than the Print module.
So why go through all that trouble using a program with all of that bloat, that didn’t let me easily move photos, travel with my library, or use a laptop desktop combo, and phone/tablet when I wanted? Why?…. Because it was the best program available. It wasn’t made for me, but it was the closest thing possible for what I (and most other hobbyist/enthusiast photographers) wanted. In short, Lightroom Classic was better (and in most cases cheaper) than any alternative we had.
For me, I want the fastest way possible to look at photos and the fastest way to get them to a “wow” point. That is all I care about. If you care about something different, then the workflow I’ll talk about may not be for you. And that’s okay… not everything I teach is for everyone. There are far more serious photographers that follow me, than I am.
Anyway, judging from the strongly worded comments I’ve already seen, some people will resist this, and that’s fine. It’s partly because of the word Lightroom “cloud” – when in fact, this version of Lightroom hasn’t been named “cloud” in years. We educators call it “cloud” but it’s named changed years ago. And my workflow has nothing to do with anything cloud-based – though there is a small feature I do like but it’s not required.
It’s also because people don’t like change, and I get it. You finally got used to LR Classic and you feel that your photography is locked in there. But after months of using this workflow, I haven’t looked back. In fact, I’m actually excited about it and how easy it is. I haven’t been this excited about a feature since Masking got an overhaul in Lightroom 3 years ago. And I’ve noticed that when I’m excited about something, most of you end up being excited as well.
I now get back from a photo shoot and I now have a crazy fast way to browse through the photos (and rate or flag or keyword them too) as soon as I put them on a hard drive. Bridge always did a good job of that in recent years, but the editing experience in Bridge was clunky. You had to leave Bridge and open an editor (Camera Raw). Then close the editor and go back to viewing photos and back and forth. Not ideal.
This is the Lightroom We’ve Always Wanted
For 20 years all I’ve heard from people who start using Lightroom Classic is why they can’t just open a folder of photos and edit them. But with the new “Local” tab in Lightroom, we have exactly that. This is the Lightroom that I have always wanted, and the majority of you reading this have always asked for.
In short, I’ve been teaching this stuff for over 20 years. I know what pain points people have and quickly looking through photos… and making them look amazing, is by far the largest pain point I’ve heard. This workflow helps that.
It doesn’t mess with your existing photos in Lightroom Classic in any way. It doesn’t require you to use the cloud or pay more money. It doesn’t ruin your photos. And it doesn’t lock you in to anything – and nothing you do will be permanent if you try it, and decide you’d rather use Lightroom Classic. In fact, as you’ll see when I share my workflow, it’s more of a hybrid and I’m going to suggest you leave everything you did in LR Classic there, and just open it up when you need to access those older photos.
Put simply… you won’t have to do anything to old stuff. You’ll just move forward with a faster and simpler workflow. Remember, Lightroom Classic isn’t going away any time soon, or ever, for all we know.
I’m Not Leaving You
I’ve already received several messages of people sad they won’t be able to follow me anymore. Folks… this is one tiny step of workflow in how you look at your photos. You know me. I don’t teach organization and library management (except in one LR course). I can’t stand that stuff and spend my time telling people to concentrate on the important stuff of editing – not organizing.
So how does this affect you if I teach it and use it? It doesn’t? My tutorials will still concentrate on editing and I’ll probably still teach most of those in LR Classic, even though the edit settings are exactly the same in Lightroom (not classic) and Camera Raw.
And as much as I already see the resistance from the few catalog / keyword /metadata lovers, I think you know I want the best for the people that follow my tutorials. And I’m certain this is it. It may not be the answer for everyone (mostly the vocal minority). And I’m going to ask the majority of you to ignore naysayers that will list all of the features you’re giving up. Ignore that guy in your camera club that tells you how important DAM, keywords, and metadata are. They may be right for them, but I promise you they are not representative of what most of you want 🙂
Generally, I’ve found when I’m excited about something, most of you are too.
And you know the best part… it’s free to try and it won’t mess up anything about existing workflows. And if you’re afraid I’m going to go down a teaching path that won’t help you in the future, please don’t be. I don’t teach photo organization, management, keywords, or any of that stuff. I teach how to edit a photo and make it look great. And the settings in Lightroom Classic, Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw are identical for that.
Anyway, stay tuned. I’m finishing up a VERY short and VERY affordable mini course that will walk you through this. It’ll be out in the next couple of weeks. Thanks! 🙂