The Psychological Impact of Last Week’s Import Workflow Changes

Back to basics paper speech bubbles and some paper person under them.

Hi Gang: Greetings from Washington DC — I’m up here for my sold out seminar today, and I hope to meet a bunch of you here in person and get to shake your hand. OK, on to Lightroom stuff. 🙂

To wrap this “Week of Lightroom Suffering” up, I’m just going to share a comment I received over on my Facebook page about this whole import workflow change situation.

It’s a comment from one of my readers, Brian Clary, who wrote the comment below and he looks at this evolution from a very different perspective. It’s wonderfully articulated and he makes some really great points. Here’s his comment:

“Adobe is missing the PSYCHOLOGICAL ramifications of what they did.
Sure there are some technical issues and missing functionality or impaired functionality with the new Import. But you know what? Most of the criticism (including my own) really has a different core issue, a psychological issue. For me and probably many others, the core issue is Adobe ‘dumbing down’ the software and insulting their fans and biggest supporters.

Photographers work hard to learn new software, and are proud of what they accomplish. A product with no learning curve to be accessible to everyone in the world is frankly insulting.

Photographers love to learn.
Photographers love challenges.
Photographers love configurations and options.
Photographers appreciate control. Look at how many settings our cameras have, allowing us to create in infinite ways.

This UI change is an affront to all of those.

Barring hearing from Adobe, we can only assume Adobe is not satisfied with having only serious photographers as their customers. They want to expand and make ‘Lightroom’ as well known to the general public as the word ‘Photoshop.’ This move by Adobe insinuates that more UI simplifications are coming. And while they can argue that higher sales of Lightroom are good for all its users, it’s only good if the core product is still something the veterans want to use. Honestly, I don’t want one of my core software pieces of my business (along with Photoshop) to be the same one taught to 3rd graders in school (if that’s the end-game for Adobe here). 

Most photographers suffer, and we sacrifice. We get beat up constantly, by people outside of our industry, industry insiders, peers, clients and ourselves. But we don’t expect to be beat up by Adobe. Adobe, please support us the way we support you. We simply want you to keep making great software that reflects WHO WE ARE…intelligent, resourceful and above all, creative. Don’t dumb us down – let us think, learn and create, while being treated as serious photographers.” — Brian Clary
My thanks to Brian for taking the time to share this view, and to have done so, so eloquently.

I’m hoping for better news next week from Adobe. I know they’re listening. I know they know the community is upset. They know we’re not happy, and I know they’re not happy about it. These things usually have a way of straightening themselves out, and I’m going to hope for the best. If I hear anything new on this topic, I’ll be sure to share it here.

Hope you all have a less stressful weekend. 🙂






  1. OLNEY – Photographe de Sherbrooke – De Lightroom à Capture One Pro 5 November, 2015 at 21:00 Reply

    […] Tout d’abord Lightroom. Ouf… Nombreux sont les photographes qui sont montés aux barricades cette semaine en raison de la mise à jour de LR et qui se sont rebellés contre les améliorations -disons changements, plutôt – que cette mise à jour apportait. C’est que ces changements ont en même temps introduit un paquets de bugs et, surtout, retiré des fonctionnalités essentielles aux photographes; l’éjection automatique de la carte mémoire, la capacité de déplacer les fichiers vers un sous-dossiers, par exemple. La majorité des critiques s’est concentré sur les changements apportés au dialogue d’importation de photos. Deux articles de Scott Kelby résument assez bien les sentiments des utilisateurs de LR. Vous pouvez les lire ici et ici. […]

    • Vipin 18 October, 2015 at 12:03 Reply

      Jeff, we should be careful of what we are asking…. Adobe will craete a Lightroom Elements package and sell it for the $9.99 per month Photography package, obviously increasing the cost of the usual Lightroom package which we were using. I fear so…

  2. BobMc 17 October, 2015 at 21:15 Reply

    Decision making in large corporations can be a bit of a mystery. From the beginning, the LR upgrades to the Develop module were done very carefully. The implementation of “Process Version” allowed continued improvements without disruption of existing work while giving the customer full control, allowing selective use of the new PV on older images. This reflected both an understanding of the customer work flow and an intentional avoiding of any disruption. A trust had been built up over 8 years, while Adobe has penetrated heavily both the pro and amateur photography market.
    This trust is why the errors in the 6.2 were a shock and the heavy penetration of the pro and amateur community and daily dependence on the product were why the reaction was so immediate and loud. I am not sure if Adobe was aware that LR like PS and CS has a large group of customers deeply dependent on the product in their daily lives. If they were not, they are now. I both, hope and expect that the rollout of new features, the simplification of the interface to make it easier for new customers, quality control and release schedule will reflect this new learning.
    Adobe, Lightroom is a wonderful product, and I thank you for the care you have shown in the regular and thoughtful enhancements and contribution to the photographic community, and over time, this too will pass. I still follow Rule 5.

  3. Dyslexic999 17 October, 2015 at 12:10 Reply

    In other news Windows 8 did away with Solitaire. They put it back in Windows 10. Public outcry does move mountains.

    • Canyon Mike 17 October, 2015 at 12:58 Reply

      As a long time tech industry member, the thing Adobe did here that NOBODY should do is take features out of an upgrade. Add stuff…sure. Improve stuff…sure. But NEVER take stuff away. Ok. As for the buggy release, I doubt Adobe’s QA team got lazy overnight. I’d bet my next fee this was a marketing driven schedule, and the developers and QA guys are pretty steamed about being forced to let the release escape just to hit a marketing deadline. Most of us couldn’t have cared less if it had been released a month later. Hope the folks in the Adobe C-suite get the message.

  4. Steve Peacock 17 October, 2015 at 06:17 Reply

    Brilliant article, Brian Clary says it all. I would like to add that Adobe’s comments about making it easier for new users does not hold water on two accounts. First I tried it on some new users and they were really confused and made a right pigs ear of importing images. (good job I used a new catalogue). Then I showed them the old version, it did confuse them at first and they were a bit overawed, however their import attempt was a more successful. Second if you want to make it easier why remove examples of results of your setting? Basic educational teaching method – this is what to do, this is what a good one looks like.

    Plus a simple question what did it cost adobe to leave them in? Nothing, to remove them many man hours I would expect (well it should have done if they tested it correctly).

    Is this the downward spiral of a big company, lots of new little tools (mobile apps), lots of extra wiz bangs (Creative Cloud), handcuff you to their product( subscription) and finally weak and faulty core products.

    Little story – we once had a cat that chased a bird up a tree it went so fast without thought straight out of the top of the tree. Missed the bird and came crashing down to the ground hard. Should I rename that cat Adobe?

  5. notyle 17 October, 2015 at 05:46 Reply

    And since all this furor broke – Adobe have reversed themselves and the next major dot release will have the old import back.

  6. Martin 16 October, 2015 at 18:09 Reply

    “Trust” is indeed the keyword here. Scott, in your most recent episode of “The Grid” you scolded a contributor because he accepted the update on the eve of a major job the next day. You were right, of course.

    But why did he accept the update? Because he thought he could trust Adobe not to mess up his machine. He didn’t feel like he was taking a risk.

    The loss is not his, but Adobe’s. The contributer will get over his problematic day, but Adobe will not get a friendly thought from him in a long time.

  7. AJM 16 October, 2015 at 18:09 Reply

    Configuration is not the problem. Ease of use is not the problem.
    The problem is removing features for no apparent reason. Features a VERY loyal user base has made part of their financial workflow.
    The problem is removing features that now cause you to potentially lose you data!
    The latest is absolutely inexcusable!

    The features could have been hidden. There could have been an “expert” mode.
    At the very least existing installations could have been given notice and a choice about the changes!

    This update design was done without consideration to how the software has been used nor with the environment under which it may be used.
    Instead the design was to pretty it up to appeal to user base that likely has no use for 90% of what the product does.

    The psychological impact is that Adobe has effectively spit in the face of their current users.
    I will be rolling back the update.
    It will take a lot to trust Adobe with any update in the future.

    • ClintEastwood 17 October, 2015 at 08:01 Reply

      It will take a lot to trust Adobe with any update in the future… but you’ll continue to pay a monthly price not to update. This has been my beef all along. They have you hooked on a monthly price and can now put out a shoddy product and you’ll pay or else.

  8. Jim 16 October, 2015 at 17:29 Reply

    Sorry to say but if Adobe and Kelby had released as post like this and said “This upgrade comes with a new import process, please read and watch the video on the attached link. Only after doing so will you be able to decide if this upgrade is right for you”.

    Laura does a great job of highlighting how the new import process works. She also highlights what functionality has been removed.

    This is an example of the type of communication that should be coming from Adobe…. They could learn a lot about “change management” from this.


    • jim 16 October, 2015 at 20:35 Reply

      It pains me to add this comment to my previous one…. but:
      Laura was a full week ahead of you in guiding users regarding this upgrade….. You may want to ask how this was so and what Kelby One is going to do differently in the future. For now I know that I will be watching her website for primary guidance vs. Kelby One.

    • Oslo 17 October, 2015 at 12:47 Reply

      We will all have to seek advice from others on future Adobe releases. Nobody wants to be burned twice by buggy software or deleted features.

      I agree that Laura and others did LR users a big service with their ‘breaking news’ response, urging not to update. I have subscribed to her blog as a result.

      But Lightroom Killer Tips should not be relied on for this type of journalism. Why? Well…RC said it all in his snarky, accusatory, and insulting post. He was one of the few to claim he liked the new Import and criticized pros who had, in his words, a “Get off My Lawn” mentality, wishing new users to just go away, that most all pros “would love Adobe to just sell it once to the small percentage of pros”.

      So in RC’s world, he personally didn’t have any problems with the update, so if you’ve got problems, then deal with it.

      As RC says, readers are confusing Lightroom Killer Tips with the New York Times, and he believes of this site “we owe you nothing but to get you a cool tip here every now and again”.

      Strangely, if you want to keep up with LR update news, he recommends you turn to the Adobe website. Earth to RC: How did that work out?

  9. Bob Zolto 16 October, 2015 at 16:31 Reply

    I don’t remember seeing anything quite so arrogant as many of these comments. “How dare Adobe make something easier! We ‘professionals’ now have to share our software with ‘amateurs’!” Give me a break. It takes a few minutes to understand the changes, and maybe a few more seconds to import. LR works for the vast majority of users — so-called professionals included. If these changes have a psychological impact, I’d hate to see what happens if something really goes wrong in a person’s life.

    • John 16 October, 2015 at 17:13 Reply

      Whoa there, Bob. Back up the vitriol truck. Nobody complains that Adobe made something easier, quite the opposite. Tough to edit when the app keeps crashing.

      You’re right that it took me only minutes to understand the changes, and less time to see that they worsen the usability of the product. Also, LR has the slowest importing in the industry, hardly making me “a few more seconds” complacent.

      Challenge for you: Try scanning the thousands of comments from users. You might come away informed.

  10. Megan 16 October, 2015 at 14:03 Reply

    Thanks for covering this the way you have, Scott.

    As if professional creatives didn’t already have enough to worry about, we now apparently have to consider dwindling choice in professional-grade tools.

    I hope the folks at Capture One are ready to catch the massive softball Adobe seems to be lobbing their way. “So you want the professional photography market? Here ya go!”

    Ever considered diversifying your course offerings to cover Capture One?

  11. Oslo 16 October, 2015 at 13:29 Reply

    Looks like the Photoshop team has solved this menu configurability issue:


    Will the LR team adopt?

    (Notice the same design elements in PS as the new Import in LR. These teams are co-designing.)

    PS: I believe that the LR management team needs all-new faces. And not because of the Import fiasco, but because they signed off on releasing with known critical bugs… then tried to patch it with a still-buggy, hurry-up release. This violates one of the prime principles of software development. When your top objective isn’t customer satisfaction, you lose.

  12. Walter Gajewski 16 October, 2015 at 13:16 Reply

    I like Brian Clary’s commentary. What he describes is not only my approach to Lightroom but also my approach to my camera — always going back to the manual to explore some new aspect that will allow me to “get under the hood” and make my hardware/software system work in a way that is unique to me.

  13. Blindspot 16 October, 2015 at 12:09 Reply

    I don’t get the fuss either…you see that auto button right? It’s been on the dev mod since day one. What’s more dumbed down that? Look if Adobe wants to simplify their software they sould as long as they don’t remove the ability for the more apt photographers to customize the software to their workflow. If they do, do what we all do – find something that works.
    Sometimes developers hit it out of the park and sometimes it’s a big whiff. It all boils down to the most important necessity is that it performs consistently and process files faster and faster.

  14. James 16 October, 2015 at 09:58 Reply

    Right on! Cmon Adobe – you should be making your software HARDER to use not EASIER! I want to keep my title as “smartest guy in the room” and there’s no way I can do that if THIRD GRADERS can use your software. Nobody will respect me anymore…

    • Serge Beaudoin 16 October, 2015 at 14:50 Reply

      Absolutely right. Photographers should spend more time at their computers figuring out complex UI instead of being behind the camera taking pictures. Focus on the big picture Adobe.

  15. Phil 16 October, 2015 at 09:48 Reply

    I think that in general, if software is made easier to use than it was before it’s a good thing. Yet when features get dropped I can sympathise

  16. Matt S 16 October, 2015 at 08:50 Reply

    We’ve all made mistakes in our personal lives and usually have learned from them, although for some of us it takes multiple attempts 🙂 When a business makes a mistake, it’s what happens next that can determine their long term fate. Adobe’s import faux pas I would classify as being in this category. No question for a new user the import function could stand some improvement/simplification. New users are tomorrow’s loyal customers but only if the company continues to prosper. Alienating a large existing user community and then attempting to further justify the action is a classic example of a company that has become out of touch with its customers. The stage is set, and the spot light is bright. Your turn is now Adobe…. suggestion: do what is obviously the right thing! ..in case we are still in denial: obvious = bring back the import take aways

  17. Joerg Witzsch 16 October, 2015 at 08:36 Reply

    Thanks for posting that interesting perspective! I’d like to add another point of view:

    How would you feel, if you were a subscriber of National Geographic and they delivered their July 2015-issue to your door month by month from now on and not send you their newest issue? Wouldn’t you cancel the subscription?
    That’s how I feel about Adobe right now. I decided to become a CC-subscriber, when I updated LR5 to LR6. In the beginning, I got new and valuable updates right away, like the great dehaze function.
    But with the new update, I doubt, that decision was a good one.
    It was the first time ever, that I rolled back a software to a previous version. The reasons are explained in abundance by others, already.
    Now, where does that leave me as a CC customer? If Adobe decides, to not re-introduce the old import dialogue (in whatever form, as default or as an “advanced option”), I will have to stay with version 6.1.1.
    In consequence, that means, that I will not be able to use any other upcoming updates – be it new tools, new functionality, new lens profiles, speed or stability improvements. I will be stuck with 6.1.1. Do I really want to pay Adobe a monthly fee for being forced to stay with the “July 2015 issue”?

    I’d also like to add another thought to Brian Clary’s “psychological post”: TRUST is one of the most valuable values for a customer-company relationship. With Adobe’s current behaviour, I lost the trust, that Adobe’s perspective on what ist best for their customers is the right one. They need to regain that trust, and if they don’t do that by providing, what we need, but instead focus on imho wrong goals, they won’t regain that trust. And: won’t there always be a shadow of a doubt, whether in the future, they again will come up with updates, that do not respect my needs as a CC customer?

  18. Thomas Blasche 16 October, 2015 at 07:50 Reply

    “Photographers love configurations and options.” that’s the point. As photograpers we don’t want the next program for taking pictures of sunsets or cakes or whatever. We want to do all manually. We are looking for high ISO, a lot of pixel and so on.
    I think Adobe never lost more customer as in this week. I’m using Lightroom since 4.0 but now it’s time to say goodbye. First the constraint to take the subscription version and the two-tier Society (only subscribers got new functions) and now the way into beginners Software. I’m a professional and I need some functions which are gone with the new import dialog (full size view before Import, filename under the picture, sample name if renaming while Import (for Controlling), card eject and more).
    Perhaps, Adobe will bring next week some functions back. But the statement from Adobe on the Adobe forum clarified what’s the target-group for Adobe – the beginners and not the pros

  19. Jordan 16 October, 2015 at 07:06 Reply

    I know this isn’t going to be a popular comment here, but I’m going with it anyway. I’ve been using Lightroom since the version 2 beta, and I love it. It was my gateway to using full Photoshop for my photography hobby. Yes, hobby; I’m not a professional.

    I respect and appreciate photographers of all level immensely. I love talking to and learning from more advanced photographers. And that’s why this comment bothers me. It bothers me because it suggests that photographers are small and petty, which I know to not be the case.

    “Honestly, I don’t want one of my core software pieces of my business … to be the same one taught to 3rd graders in school.” Really? Why not? Why wouldn’t you want kids in school to be fluent in such a great application? Does the fact that you’re not in an elite group anymore really hurt your ego that much?

    I haven’t upgraded Lightroom on my computer yet because of the blow-back. However, I just watched a video reviewing the changes, and I’m not even sure what the outrage is about. Yes, the default configuration makes is simpler. But if you turn off the Add Photos screen and pop out the right side and the left side, you’re basically back to where you were. Things might have moved around a little, bit it looks like everything is still there.

    Look, it’s change, and I understand we don’t like change. As I’m sure many actual photographers do (I’m not one of them, obviously), I find the new accessibility of photography granted by cell phones to be pretty annoying. Every underexposed, blurry photo I see on Facebook makes me cringe (just a little). But do I feel insulted that a new group of people can easily take photos? No, of course not, because I know I can take better ones and others appreciate my photos. Similarly, why be insulted that new people will be able to use Lightroom. They’re not going to use it to the same degree that you do. They’ll likely just use the catalog and click the Auto Tone button.

    Like I said, I’m a pretend photographer who has been using Lightroom almost since the beginning. The other people using the software shouldn’t bother you. Photographers are better than that.

    • Jordan 16 October, 2015 at 08:59 Reply

      Alright, I’ve gone back and read more of the feedback. I totally understand the frustration of the new dialog box and the missing features. Auto-eject is a big one that I use every time, for example.

      But I still stand behind my criticism of this notion there’s a psychological aspect. Adobe very easily could have, and probably will, made the import process simpler while maintaining all of the advanced features experienced users like us use. They messed that up, but making Lightroom more accessible should not be a reason to be upset. Had they left the features there while moving things around a bit, I doubt you’d really have a problem with a 10-year-old being able to use Lightroom.

      • Jordan 16 October, 2015 at 11:15 Reply

        I understand the use of “3rd graders” as a metaphor, but your point about the “dumbing down” is totally fair, and I tried to clarify that in my second post.

        IF they modify the software and take features out (as they did), I understand the outrage. But that’s not a psychological issue; that’s a product issue. You’re upset that the features you use have been removed, and I get it.

        My disagreement is with the suggesting that professional photographers are hurt by the expanded audience Adobe seems to be going after. Yes, you guys (I’m not good enough to be included in the “professional” group) need advanced software. But amateurs (or less) using similar technology, or a subset of the technology you use, shouldn’t be taken as an affront against you.

        By the way, are you suggesting Target photo prints don’t quite meet the quality of something from even Adorama? (I’m just messing around)

        • Jordan 16 October, 2015 at 11:29 Reply

          Okay, okay. Features were taken out, suggesting a move toward a simplified Lightroom that doesn’t suit the needs of professionals. The “psychological” impact comes from the fact that professionals are feeling dismissed by Adobe.

          Fine, I can understand being upset by that. I feel similarly disappointed as a car enthusiast when a manufacturer makes a new performance car with an automatic transmission instead of a manual transmission. So I it.

          Then again, like Porsche or BMW, I understand that Adobe is committed first to its shareholders, not directly its customers (yes, you have to commit to customers to keep sales up and satisfy the shareholders; but shareholder needs come first). Presumably they’ve done the math and figured that leaving behind some professionals for a much larger audience is in its best interest. It sucks, and I understand loyal customers being upset. But it’s business, too.

          However, there is certainly a way to make the product suitable for all. A little “Advanced options” checkbox in Preferences can go a long way.

      • Craig 16 October, 2015 at 11:40 Reply

        Ok, I’m really having a hard time with this issue. First, i wholeheartedly agree that loss of functionality in the import dialog is a problem. I really can’t understand why Adobe would remove features that they had to know that people use. I’ve developed software and designed interfaces for a number of years. My goal was always to provide the greatest functionality with the simplest possible interface.

        Frankly, though, I’ve never once had a customer or client ask me what software I used to finish an image, or what mode my camera was set on when I took the shot. It’s the image that counted. To be honest, if I could get the organization and quality I needed using Photos or some other simple software, I’d be doing it in an instant. I can’t, so I choose to use a more complex tool, like Lightroom. Yes, I could understand and use the previous import interface, but I actually kind of like the new layout. If that makes me less “professional” in someone else’s eyes, so be it. I kind of liked that new dehaze slider that made finishing even easier too. I don’t care for the “Add Photos” screen at all, but Adobe gave me a way to get it out of my way. I would really like Adobe to find a way, within reason, to allow me to select the level of complexity in the interface that meets my needs.

        I do suspect that Adobe will make a course correction here, but I do hope they don’t maintain complexity just because that’s the way we’ve always done it, or to make us feel more professional.

        • kinglerxt 16 October, 2015 at 18:11 Reply

          Craig, the problem seemed to have stemmed from Adobe getting their “features usage” data from the Programs opt in/opt out data. The stuff that all pros/intheknow folks turn OFF asap as they run it the first time. So the features they said were “low usage” and not needed by the pros was because everyone had turned off the data collection (spyware) checkbox and so Adobe’s data was skewed to be from only the clueless and new users!!! And not the core group of users. DOH. sad sad

    • John Newton 16 October, 2015 at 12:07 Reply

      My real problem is making changes just for changes sake. In my opinion, return to the old method, that most of us are familiar with, then add the new method as an option. To just drop a change and then make us dig around to find out how we can get the familiar method back is a waste of our time and creates an interruption of my workflow.

      How does the old lime go – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      • Stephen Cupp 16 October, 2015 at 12:34 Reply

        In their tests they concluded that new users didn’t understand the import box. Trying to fix that isn’t change for change sake. It means it is broken. Especially in todays world where no one wants to read an instruction manual. That’s what most the uproar was about with Windows 8. If you actually took the time to understand Windows 8 it wasn’t any harder to use then Windows 7.

        • kinglerxt 16 October, 2015 at 18:16 Reply

          It (import) wasn’t broken;they just needed to do a better job at training the user with built in videos by Laura Shoe or julianne kost.
          what good company blames /fires the employee if they don’t get out right on their first day on the job? It’s called a training program people. The Adobe site has plenty of good training videos for LR. don’t know why they couldn’t link them in the software to help new users understand how LR features like import works so they don’t get frustrated. A knowledgeable and confident user is a repeat user/customer.

    • Dennis Zito 16 October, 2015 at 07:42 Reply

      “We need it to WORK!” Great comment Roger!! I agree! I’ve been trying to get LR to Work Right since Version 4! I use a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet and ever since Version 4 of LR, the sliders are way to sensitive, I can’t move shadows, darks, highlights, white in the navigator window, the TAT is useless and on and on. In ACR, everything works fine! I’ve worked with Wacom and Adobe to no avail. So, I just don’t use LR anymore. I keep updating hoping these will get corrected, but they never do. I know I can’t be the only one out there that has these problems. I use a iMac 27inch with 2.9 Ghz, 32GB Ram, 1TB 7200rpm HD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M 512 MB, and Yosemite OS.


      • Roger Walton 17 October, 2015 at 05:37 Reply

        Sorry to hear you have these problems Dennis. LRCC is a bit iffy on my PC but works fine on my Macbook pro and I use an Intuous with both systems without problem.

        I’ve never heard about the problems you described from any of my many clients who use LR.

        I hope you find a solution soon – I couldn’t function (very well) without LR as I’ve used it from before square one!

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