Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan is available for $9.99 a month. But as a MakeUseOf reader, you’re eligible for a 20% discount on your first year, reducing the price to just $7.99 a month. It’s the cheapest way to get access to two of Adobe’s best apps: Lightroom and Photoshop.
For your ten dollars, however, you also get a lot more — including Adobe’s suite of mobile apps, the web apps, and some other services. There’s a lot in the package, so let’s explore it all.
At the end of this walkthrough, we’ll be offering 3 complimentary one-year Adobe Creative Cloud Photography accounts. Join our giveaway to be in the running to win one!
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is the most important app in any photographer’s workflow. It’s the hub from where everything else happens.
Once you’re home from shooting, the first thing you should do is import the RAW files (you are using RAW, aren’t you?) into Lightroom. It’s the start of any good workflow. In Lightroom, you can automatically backup your images, sort through and pull out the great shots, add tags and other metadata, correct for any camera or lens issues, and start the development process.
Although Lightroom’s editing tools are a little simpler than Photoshop’s — which we’ll come to in a minute — it’s still a professional editing app. If you only want to make adjustments to tone and contrast, without dramatically altering the data in the image, it’s the best app to use. With the latest updates to the Creative Cloud, Lightroom can even merge panoramas and HDR photos.
Even if you’re actually doing most of the editing in another app, Lightroom’s role doesn’t stop once your photos are imported and sorted. Once you’re finished making changes to your images in Photoshop or one of the many Lightroom plugins available, they’ll be sent back to your Lightroom catalog. This means all the original files and edits are stored together. You can see exactly what changes you’ve made to each file and, as long as you’ve stuck to non-destructive editing, go in and modify anything you’ve done.
Lightroom’s powerful export engine makes it the best way to save out your photos. Whether you’re looking to send a CMYK TIFF file to a professional printer, run off a few images on your home printer, or just save out a low-res JPEG for Facebook, Lightroom has the tools to do it right. And as with everything in Lightroom, it does it without affecting the original files.
Adobe Lightroom for Mobile
Lightroom is no longer just available on PCs and Macs. Adobe Lightroom for Mobile is a companion app for iOS and Android devices. You can sync photos between the desktop and mobile apps. Any changes you make on one will be synced to the other. If you’ve just shot a few thousand photos, syncing them to an iPad and sorting them while you fly home is a dream.
Lightroom for Mobile isn’t just a photo viewer — most of the desktop’s editing features are available. If you want to brighten up a photo, convert it to black and white, add some split toning, or even perform some simple local adjustments, you can do it on the go. And again, all the changes are synced back to your main catalog so they’re there waiting for you when you get home.
Photoshop is Adobe’s defining product. It’s so popular that its name is now a byword for image editing. It’s the app that many people are signing up to the Creative Cloud just to get. There’s a lot you can do with Photoshop but its main purpose is editing images and it gives you all the tools you need to do just that.
Almost every image you see on a billboard, in a magazine, on a major website, or out and about in the world has passed through Photoshop at some point. It’s hard to overemphasize how universally it’s used by professional image editors. It’s the gold standard.
If you’re a photographer, Photoshop picks up where Lightroom leaves off. It’s the app you use if you want to do major pixel pushing.
If you’re looking to restore an old photo or create a spooky composite it’s the best choice by far. Every photographer, whether they shoot landscapes, portraits, or anything else, can find a use for Photoshop in their workflow. Landscape photographers can blend multiple exposures to create the perfect scene while portrait photographers can remove blemishes, smooth skin, and enhance the beauty of their models. It’s the Swiss Army knife of editing apps.
Adobe Photoshop Fix and Mix
Just like with Lightroom, Adobe hasn’t ignored mobile. Photoshop Fix and Photoshop Mix brings some of Photoshop’s powerful tools to iOS devices.
Photoshop Fix is designed for fixing images. It has tools to remove spots, dodge and burn, adjust color and contrast, and liquefy your photos. It’s perfect for retouching any portraits you shoot with your iPhone.
Photoshop Mix is the best way to create composites on your iPhone. It has a load of great Photoshop features like layers, masks, blend modes, and opacity so you can combine different elements into one great, final image.
Any work you do on your iPhone isn’t stuck there. You can export the images as JPEGs or, with Creative Cloud Sync, send them back to your desktop so you can continue to work on them.
Adobe Portfolio and Behance
There’s no point having a load of great photos if you never share them with anyone. As part of the Creative Cloud, you get your own hosted portfolio website.
Adobe Portfolio provides everything you need in a portfolio website. You start with one of six great layouts and customize things from there. You can sort images into projects, add other pages, and even use your own domain name. If you want a simple way to get a photography website off the ground, Portfolio is a great way to do it.
Even better, Portfolio also automatically syncs all your work to Behance, which is described as “the world’s largest platform to showcase and discover creative work”. Creative directors regularly comb Behance for ideas when they’re looking for new talent to work with. If you want to get your work somewhere people can find it, Behance is the place.
Adobe Spark is a new service for creating content for social media. It’s a simple way to turn your images into social graphics, web stories, or animated videos. It’s split into three different iOS and web apps.
Spark Post is for creating social graphics. You can take a photo, add text and great looking filters, and even animate it to create a shareable image. If you’ve ever wanted to create your own motivational post for social media, it’s the way to do it.
Spark Page is for longer stories; the sort of thing that doesn’t fit in just one post. Let’s say you’re just home from a trip and want to share all the wonderful photos you took with your friends and family. With Spark Page, you can create a beautiful magazine style web story with all the images and enough text to give them context. They won’t have to click through Facebook’s badly designed albums again.
Sometimes a post or a web page isn’t enough. When you want more, you can use Spark Video. With Spark Video, you combine all the great features of Post and Page with the ability to add voice-overs, cinematic motion, and professional quality soundtracks. It’s the easiest way I’ve found to create beautiful short videos.
Adobe Premiere Clip
Adobe Premiere Pro is Adobe’s commercial video editing application. Although it’s not included in the Creative Cloud Photography package, the mobile version, Adobe Premiere Clip, is.
Like Photoshop Fix and Mix, Premiere Clip brings some of the best features of the main app to smartphones. It’s an easy way to quickly edit clips together, add titles, a soundtrack, transitions, effects, and adjustments. If you’ve shot a time-lapse and want to add some music or a fade-in at the start, it’s the perfect solution.
Unlike some of the apps Adobe have released, Premiere Clip is available on both iOS and Android devices.
Creative Cloud Features
While the apps grab most of the attention, Adobe’s Creative Cloud has some great back-end features you won’t know how you lived without.
Sync keeps your settings, actions, and projects the same across all your different devices. If you edit an image in Lightroom Mobile, it’s what syncs everything back to your main catalog.
Libraries are another recent addition to the Creative Cloud and a great way to make sure your commonly used assets are available everywhere. If you have a collection of photos, fonts, or anything else you regularly use, you should save them to a library.
With the Creative Cloud you also get access to TypeKit and Adobe Stock where you can buy professional fonts and stock images respectively. Although more aimed for designers, if you’re working on a composite or poster, having direct access from Photoshop to Adobe’s huge catalog of resources can speed up your work.
For photographers, Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography package should be a no brainer. For $9.99 a month you not only get Lightroom and Photoshop but a whole host of extra features; Adobe Portfolio is a particularly sweet addition.
Even better, we’re giving away one year of access to the Creative Cloud Photography plan to three lucky MakeUseOf readers.