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Lightroom Classic For The Win. Finally.

In each issue of Lightroom Magazine, at the front of the mag, I write a note to our readers called, “A Note From Scott.” Rather than just telling readers what’s in the issue of the mag they’re already reading, I use it as a place to talk frankly to the Lightroom community at KelbyOne. Today I’m sharing my “Note from Scott” from the current issue (March 2020), because it discusses some of the worries of Lightroom Classic users, and I dive a bit into the black hole that is Lightroom’s very name itself. Here’s a slightly modified (to better suit this online version) of my note:

A Note From Scott, March 2020 Issue, Lightroom Magazine

By now, you’ve heard Adobe has released another update to all the different versions of Lightroom (Classic, Cloud and Mobile), and if you haven’t…we covered it right here. Some bigger things, some little things, but there was something that I wanted to point out to all you folks who are still worried that Lightroom Classic is going away. The updates were heavy on the Classic side and much lighter on the “Cloud” and “Mobile” side. In fact, many of the updates that Lightroom “Cloud” (as I call it; not it’s official name) got in this update were features that Classic has already had for many years, so they were essentially “catch up” features. 

I know there’s a lot of angst out there about Classic going away, and part of the reason is simply that it’s named “Classic.” I like it about as much as you do (meaning, not at all). I think (this is just me theorizing, not based on any inside info) Adobe initially thought everybody was going to go wild for the cloud version, and they’d all be jumping ship from Classic left and right — that everybody would see the advantages of a cloud version and “Classic” would soon be an orphan with no measurable user base, so they could just wind it down. Obviously, that was not the case.

There are a lot of working pros, and serious users who don’t want a cloud-based system, and want to stick with the full-featured Lightroom they’ve been using for years. I think another thing that kept everybody from getting too excited about the cloud version is the fact that it’s missing so many features. Adobe is slowly adding them to the “cloud” version but it’s still a long way away (i.e., you still can’t even print at this point). This October will be three years since they launched the Cloud version of Lightroom, and they aren’t even close to feature parity, and it doesn’t seem to be “just around the corner.” 

If and when they do reach feature parity sometime in the future, you’ll still have a lot of folks who don’t want, like, or can’t afford the storage fees Adobe is charging, so I imagine Lightroom Classic will still be around for the foreseeable future. In fact, Adobe says that exact thing on their site — that both versions will be around for the “foreseeable future.” 

Now, if that’s the case, and we’re going to have these two versions of Lightroom co-existing, and if I had a say in the naming (BTW: I don’t), I would rename Lightroom Classic something more like “Lightroom Desktop” or better yet “Lightroom Pro” (since it has all the high-end features, and is aimed at a more serious type of user). Then I would rename “Lightroom” (cloud version) to either “Lightroom Managed” (since Adobe manages your storage and backup), or just simply “Lightroom Cloud,” but then I would be concerned that new users would assume it’s cloud-based (not just could storage) and so they’d be running Lightroom in a browser (there’s already some folks who think that is already the case), but it’s a good descriptive name otherwise. Lastly, I would change Lightroom on your mobile device back to its original name, the very descriptive — “Lightroom Mobile.”

At the end of the day, they are all just names, but they matter. I would choose a name like Lightroom Pro (to replace the name Lightroom Classic) not only to help separate and identify the different versions but also to honor the users who have stuck with Lightroom from the very beginning and changed their entire workflow to be Lightroom based. There may be a day when the cloud version becomes so compelling that we all decide on our own to switch (I know — you’re shaking your head), but until that time comes, I would surely vote to fix the naming merry-go-round of confusion that we have today and replace it with:

(a) something that better describes each product, and

(b) makes the people who have invested in it proud of the name and to be using it, instead of being in a constant state of “Is it going away? Is it going away?” 

In this recent February update, I think Adobe took some nice steps in showing how much it still cares about Classic and its users. Even their blog post about it was Classic heavy. But if it wants us all to sleep better at night, why not give it a name that shows it?

Just my two cents.