What is Lightroom Creative Cloud (CC) and do you need it?

LR CC Blog post

What is Lightroom Creative Cloud (CC) and do you need it?

Buying the Lightroom program used to be easy-peasy. All you had to do was buy the latest full version of the software and installed it on your computer and upgrade (if you wished) every time a new version came out.

Now Adobe has the Creative Cloud subscription service, and photographers have been faced with two choices. You can still go for the standalone version, or you can buy Lightroom as part of a Creative Cloud monthly membership.

Choices, choices! Which to choose. Let me help.

Option 1 – Lightroom Creative Cloud

The Creative Cloud subscription gets you the latest version of Lightroom and Photoshop. You also get access to Lightroom mobile, 2GB of online storage space, access to Lightroom web galleries and the ability to use Photoshop and Lightroom on multiple devices (although not a the same time).

Adobe has a nice visual chart of what you get with the Creative Cloud including a comparison of Lightroom 5 and Lightroom 6 – which was just released in 2015.

A subscription to the Creative Cloud (which includes both Lightroom and Photoshop) is $9.99 US per month (or $119.88 US per year). If you stop paying for the subscription Photoshop will stop working and Lightroom will be extremely limited.

Option 2 – Lightroom Standalone (one time purchase)

With a standalone version of Lightroom, you get free upgrades until a full new version comes out. For example, if you have Lightroom 5, you can upgrade to 5.7 however, when a new version comes out you have the option of upgrading for a cost (such as the case of Lightroom 6 which was released March 2015 which cost $78 US to upgrade). With this option, there’s no requirement to upgrade your software version and you can continue using your earlier version as long as you’d like.

Currently, a standalone version of Lightroom 6 is $149 US. Adobe tends up upgrade versions every 18 months which means Lightroom 7 should arrive in late 2016. That being said, often changes between versions are minimal (with the exception Lightroom 3 to Lightroom 4 which had significant changes). I will cover the improvements made with the introduction of Lightroom 6 in a later blog post.


Simply put, if you don’t require the latest version of Photoshop or Lightroom mobile, then buying the less expensive standalone version of Lightroom is the best way to go.

NOTE: Adobe doesn’t make buying the standalone version easy (nice try Adobe) but you can find it by going to the home page, selecting the Menu option at the top, click the All Products button at the bottom of the pop-up. Find the Lightroom logo and click on “buy”. If you want the upgrade option, you’ll need to select this from the drop-down menu. You may also find the full version for slightly cheaper at Amazon.

 Phew…. I need some chocolate, that was hard work.

Fellow TPE Instructor (and Photoshop extraordinaire) Amber Fife uses the Creative Cloud and has this to say about her experience:

amber fife“I’ve worked with Photoshop for years before it became a creative suite. I ended up purchasing Photoshop CS and then upgraded to CS3. Upon discovering Lightroom (which I have gone through each version), I put Photoshop on the backburner. CS3 worked for head swaps and card design, but I could basically do everything else much faster in Lightroom. When they announced Creative Cloud for photographers, I tentatively stepped on board amid hearing everyone complaining about not “owning” their software. It was the best decision I ever made. Not only do I have access to new useful tools that I didn’t have access to before, but as they make new tools and improvements, I will ALWAYS have access to them. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit though, is the integration between Lightroom and Photoshop. What if the top of a newborn crochet hat is uneven? I can right click an image in LR, and edit in photoshop. Quick liquify and I’m done. Once i hit save to my changes, it returns back to lightroom, as a separate copy. I can easily export that image with the rest of the images, keeping the flow of my editing. 
Seamless workflow, endless possibilities. I would never try to be a photographer without Lightroom, and I love having the ease of Photoshop as it’s companion when needed. 
Happy editing! Amber”


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Kristy Chapman


This lover of photo editing is primarily a Lightroom user dedicated to sharing her knowledge with others. She will tell anyone who will listen about the amazing power of Lightroom and how it can be your ultimate editing tool.

Her super-friendly attitude and obvious love-affair with Lightroom makes her easy to approach with those editing questions you have. She’s your girl. She’s got your back. She’s also happy to chat about shoe sales and Etsy finds, so don’t hesitate to contact her. When she’s not chasing around her toddler son or watching Netflix marathons with her husband (Have you seen Orange is the New Black?), she can be found behind a camera capturing life’s moments.