Synced workflow

Integrating Lightroom CC with Classic

Adobe is a company that people love to hate. When they opted for a subscription model for their software, Adobe pissed off a lot of people. And they generated tonnes more revenue. For photographers, having multiple versions of Lightroom has been, at best, confusing and, at worst, well, very confusing. By developing two versions of Lightroom simultaneously, Adobe is trying to appeal to two distinct customer groups, professional/serious photographers in the case of Lightroom Classic and everyone else in the case of Lightroom CC.

Aside from using Lightroom Mobile on my phone and iPad, I haven’t had much use for Lightroom CC, Adobe’s cloud-based software. Lightroom CC includes the mobile apps, the browser-based application, as well as the desktop application that accesses files on the Creative Cloud but not on a local hard drive. The pared-down interface of Lightroom CC will appeal to digital natives, but the lack of file management and other key features found in Classic makes it less appealing for a serious photographic practice. With that said, Lightroom CC can be useful in a professional workflow. More on that below…

Lightroom Classic Library Module.
Lightroom Classic Develop Module.

Lightroom Classic is the only option if you want to work from files stored on local hard drives. And it remains the most feature-rich version of the application. For most photographers, I believe that Classic is the best and most powerful choice to catalog and process your files. However, it does have a steeper learning curve than the CC version.

Slowly, Adobe has been integrating more editing features into Lightroom CC. There are still some key features missing, such as editing multiple files simultaneously, plus so many others, such as printing, file management, and creating slideshows and books, to name a few. However, the changes that Adobe has made to Lightroom CC has meant that I have started using it on a more frequent basis, as part of my normal Classic workflow.

Since my Lightroom Classic catalog lives on a desktop computer and my photo files live on various hard drives connected to the desktop computer, that is where all of my file management and printing happens, and where most of my processing takes place.

Lightroom CC Grid View.
Lightroom CC Edit View.

Lightroom CC fits into my workflow as a secondary ingesting and processing option for a limited number of images. For instance, when I am on a shoot and only have my laptop available. On the laptop, I make the selection of images that I would like to import from the shoot and drag those files into the open Lightroom CC window. Lightroom CC adds and uploads the files to my Creative Cloud Lightroom storage, which is synced across the mobile apps, as well as with my desktop Classic catalog.

Once those files are synced, I can continue to process them in Lightroom CC on my laptop or a mobile app. When I return to my desktop Classic catalog, I will move the newly synced files into an appropriate folder and/or collection in my LR catalog. Importantly, I will also remove any extra files from All Synced Photos, so that they aren’t taking up valuable, and limited, cloud storage.*

Lightroom Mobile Grid View.
Lightroom Mobile Edit View.

I do keep a small selection of files synced for a variety of reasons, such as client delivery or review, or that I may want to work on away from the desktop computer. Any photos that are synced are available to me in the mobile app or in Lightroom CC, where I can continue to process and export them.

One new editing feature that has reached parity between Classic and CC are the masking tools. They are truly great. They offer a level of processing control that was only previously available in Photoshop. While the new masking tools are extraordinary, you still can’t substitute a tropical sunset for the sky in your urban photo. For that you (and you know who you are!) will still need to use Photoshop.

An obvious question might be, will I ever switch entirely to Lightroom CC and abandon Classic? I seriously doubt it. Although CC now has near processing parity with Classic, it is still missing so many other key features and it alone can not handle my workflow. I will take Adobe at their word that they will continue to develop the two applications simultaneously and I will stick to Classic with occasional help from CC, thank you.

*In the subscription model that includes Lightroom Classic, cloud storage is limited to 20 GB. Therefore, I manage the number of synced photos to stay below this limit and to ensure that I always have enough space for any shoots that I might want to import using Lightroom CC.

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