Scott's Photography
Adobe's Photoshop Photography Program

November 3, 2013
By Scott Lewis

I am on the fence.

Adobe is offering existing Photoshop owners (CS3+) a chance to get a special rate of $9.99/month for a subscription to Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) and Lightroom 5 with their Photoshop Photography Program.

I have Photoshop CS5 & Lightroom 4. I have not seen anything compelling in CS6 & LR5 to get me to spend the money for those upgrades. However, now that Adobe is going to the subscription model with their Creative Cloud offering, it is time to consider it.

Photoshop CC is $19.99/month ($240/year). That is pricey, especially if it is only a hobby.

Adobe, after some back and forth with users complaints, has created the Photoshop Photography Program. This is an introductory offer to get existing Photoshop users (of CS3+) to go to Photoshop CC & Lightroom 5 for $9.99/month. It is a limited time offer, and will expire at the end of Dec. 2013.

This program looks like it is worth it. Some people are concerned with the price increasing in the future. I am not. Sure it will, but Adobe seems to be showing good faith that it will not start gouging users. I am content there.

It is clear that Adobe is going to Creative Cloud (subscription model) for these professional applications, and they will never go back to perpetual licenses. I recently heard they went over 1 million subscribers. That a LOT of monthly cash flow.

Where my concern comes is if money gets tight, and I had to stop the subscription for a period of time. If you are making a living using this software (a paid professional photographer) then it is a no-brainer. It is the cost of doing business. However, as a hobbyist it seems like an issue for a subscription.

Money is tight, and I really can't afford an extra $10 a month right now. If I do tighten the belt to squeeze this into my budget... and my finances take a turn for the worse, requiring me to stop... then I am out of luck. I have to buy back in at $20/month for Photoshop alone when I want to start using the software again. That sucks, and so far is the reason I have not already joined CC.

Granted... I can always go back to using my existing Photoshop CS5. Any features of Photoshop CC I use would be lost, but my files would still be there. And lost is vague. If I were to use a new way of doing a special treatment to a photo, once the treatment is applied (filter, effect, whatever) it would be in the photo and saved with the file. I would still have it. I just would not be able to do it again. Of course, if I used some kind of Smart Filter where it gets applied dynamically, and so is saved in the file as such, I would lose that trying to open the file in an earlier version of Photoshop.

On a side note for those that don't want to spend a lot of money... there is always Photoshop Elements, which is less than $100 and is not on a subscription. It is a very viable alternative to paying a month fee if you don't already qualify for this program.

Lightroom is a much larger issue. Since Lightroom is a catalog system that applies non-destructive edits, you may not be able to go back to LR4 after upgrading to LR5. Since all those non-destructive edits are stored in the catalog, you can't go backwards. Is it possible after a year or so of edits in Lightroom 5 to go back and export all those edits to sidecar files? And even if you did that, if the changes in those sidecar files are not compatible with LR4 will all the edits be lost?

It is very likely that once you upgrade to Lightroom 5 (and future versions) there may never be a way to go back. You will have your original RAW images, but possibly nothing more.

And this is the main reason I have not signed on to Creative Cloud yet.

I want to join CC, and feel $10/month is a fair price. But I worry about having to pay... forever. I can also see staying with LR4 & CS5 for a long time, too.