I told you I took a lot of pictures with my telephone.
Last week, Adobe held their MAX event to announce some cool new creative tools. At the keynote, they put me up on the big screen as an example of how Lightroom's cloud syncing legitimizes mobile photography. Wanna see? It's right at the head of the section on mobile apps.
My Photos Truly Belong Among the Clouds
Lightroom mobile is great, but it can do your head in a bit. On one hand, it makes perfect sense to sync your traditional photos—the ones made with "cameras"—to your mobile device, for a hand-held way of sorting and lightly pre-editing them.
On the other hand, with the ever-increasing quality of mobile phone cameras, you're just as likely to push photos from the phone up to the cloud. As I've mentioned, the race is on to dominate this blatantly obvious workflow.
But if you upload photos from Lightroom mobile to Creative Cloud, you're limited in resolution. If you push photos from Lightroom desktop to mobile, you're limited in features. The workflow is powerful, but incomplete. I've tasted enough of it to be impatient for Adobe to fill in the gaps—which I hope means going "cloud canonical" with my Lightroom library—i.e. all of my full-res photos live on the cloud, and I can access them from any device. The originals on my Drobo become a local backup instead of the "master" copies, as far as Lightroom is concerned.
Lightroom Mobile 1.2
Adobe is clearly working hard on this stuff. They even fixed my "Achilles heel" bug with Lightroom mobile. Version 1.2, released last Monday, gives you the option (that it's still an option shows that Adobe is not fully conversant in mobile just yet) to include location metadata on export.
You can now more easily switch between flagging and rating photos, or even opt to do both at once, with a long press on the buttons at the bottom left. Why do I feel compelled to explain how this feature works? Because it requires explanation. That's not a compliment.
Lightroom mobile 1.2 also introduces some, and this is going to start sounding familiar, powerful-but-incomplete features for sharing and getting feedback on your photos. You can sync a Collection to Creative Cloud from desktop or mobile, then share it from Lightroom web. This generates a public-but-private web gallery, where visitors can now "Like" and comment on your photos. You can then get notifications on your mobile device—but nowhere else just yet—when new comments and Likes come in. Adobe's Julieanne Kost blogged that "this feedback will flow back into Lightroom desktop in an upcoming release".
If you want to try it out, here's a Collection I've shared. It's nice to be able to share a gallery of images without the encumbrance or misaligned incentives of a social network. By sharing that link here I've effectively made that gallery "public," but it's just as easy to make a gallery as private as you like, by sharing it with only your client, or your friends, or your family. It's a cool feature that could become a powerful tool—again, once the gaps in the workflow are filled in.
Creative Cloud Finally Earns its Name
In the MAX video, you'll hear me say that when I sync an iPhone shot to Creative Cloud, "it allows that photo to transcend mobile photography, and become true photography." I do believe that.
But... I'm a little crazy. I don't want mobile photography to mean a compromise in quality. Or, to put it another way, I want the convenience of mobile access and sharing, but for all my photography. Often when I show people photos on my iPhone screen, they ask, incredulously, "you took these with your phone?" The answer is usually no, but that cultural assumption that a photo on your phone was made with your phone is a bias that is unfortunately shared by many developers.
This is why it took me a moment to understand the importance of this announcement from Storehouse, the lovely photo/story sharing service. It allows you to easily create media-rich stories from your iOS device, which is great, but limits you to photos and video on that device.
But not anymore. Storehouse now integrates with Creative Cloud. Just connect your Adobe account in the Storehouse app, and you have instant access to your synced Lightroom Collections. Here's a quick example I whipped up to try this out.
How You Pay
After the launch of Creative Cloud, a valid concern expressed by many users was that Adobe adopted a software-as-a-service pay structure for what was still very much software-as-a-product software. By my measure, Adobe is now well on the other side of their aggressive efforts to correct that situation. The name Creative Cloud finally makes sense.
Most, if not all, the mobile apps that Adobe showed off at MAX are free. The obvious catch is that they're useless without a Creative Cloud subscription. That's $49.99 per month, or $9.99 per month for just Lightroom and Photoshop. For more on what this means to users and to Adobe, check out this Forbes article.
What interests me far more than their bottom line is Adobe making good on their promise that an exclusive subscription model frees them to focus on incremental, useful updates, rather than needing to pack annual releases with exciting, but maybe not as utility-oriented "wow" features designed to incentivize paid upgrades. The CC 2014 release of Premiere Pro is a great example of this.
I'm also finding it easier to share projects with other artists, as the chances are now far greater that they're using the latest version.
Adobe's subscription model is priced fairly, and makes life better for people who rely on their tools for their creative work. I'm a fan.
Unrelated to Photography, But Super Cool
In an awkward, jargon-soaked, Microsoft-heavy segment of the MAX keynote called, terrifyingly, The Future, Adobe snuck in a quick demo of an in-development app, code-named Animal, that performs realtime face capture, using nothing more than your computer's built-in camera, to automatically animate an on-screen character.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force will never be the same.
"The Future" notwithstanding, what I saw this year from MAX (far from all of it) was an Adobe getting better and better at making tools for artists instead of "solutions" for "ideators." I still find the ubiquitous on-stage heckler approach uncomfortable to watch, and Adobe management still vomits up Onion-article-grade jargon without a second thought to how its customers might see themselves more as "people" than a "market segment"—but overall, I felt much more of a connection to what Adobe is up to this year than ever before.
It's also worth noting that, in these shockingly troubled times for women in tech, Adobe effortlessly put numerous smart, creative, strong women on stage to show off both their tools and the work than can be done with them. Hell yeah.
Keep up the good work Adobe.