When it comes to the discussion of Adobe’s new Photoshop CC w/Lightroom for $9.99 offer providing you own a licensed copy off Photoshop CS from CS3-recent   $9.99 sounds cheap.  Is it?   Something I haven't heard discussed.. but should be is  "will the lack of used versions on the market hurt Adobe long term?”

 

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I teach workshops and not all of my students are retired and buying luxury grade equipment and software because they think it's a fun hobby.  Some do, but not all.  A not insignificant number take my workshops because they want to learn the skills necessary to become a professional photographer of one type or the other.  And by "professional" I mean they plan to derive a significant if not entire living from their photography.  These people are just as much after the business aspects of professional photography as they are the technical. 

Something I've long pushed and written about many times is the value of used equipment.  And you guessed it, used software.   As a pro you're interested primarily in return on investment (ROI)..  If the ROI isn't there, you don't get it.  You don't buy the latest camera or the latest computer or software.. because it's cool.  You buy it because it allows more work to be completed in a given amount of time.  Some models of professional photography benefit from time savings, others not as much.  Some benefit from more pixels, mosr not as much.

I'll often approach investment in a new computer system from the 'savings of time' model.  A new system becomes worth the cost when it saves you more hours per month than the machine cost you..   Simplistic, but it allows you to see the point.

 

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Software isn't any different.  Will it change your work flow, or speed of work flow enough to the positive end.. to pay for the cost of the new software.  It's all about time.  You can draw a photo from scratch these days but it's hardly cost/time effective to do so.  Maybe some day there will be software that reads yours style and outputs images in your view, as Naturally Speaking does for text recognition.    Until that happens we'll need to operate the software.  So either this new software does something new we can charge more for, or it allows our work flow to be produced faster allowing up to make more money.. up to the number of free hours per month we have.

When I look at new software I ask if it does something more I can sell, or saves me hours back I can turn around and charge for.  That's it.  So does Photoshop CC allow me more in those areas than CS6?  No, not really.  Will Photoshop CC2?  I dunno.   Maybe.

But here's the problem.  I've always recommended used gear and used software.  Now used software might not only be unavailable, but what's available might cost more as people see the real value in a perpetual license.

What if.. camera companies no longer wanted to sell you a camera.  Nope, not for sale.  But I'll tell you what I'll do says Mr. Nikon with his shiny green suit and huge out of proportion smile:  I'll rent it to you and you won't even need to worry about new models or the cost of upgrades.. because as they become available I'll ship them to you.  All for one super low monthly fee..   This is going to change your life for the better I tell you.

 

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And no worries mate, when you no longer want to pay that rent we'll come collect it.  No more camera retirement shelf where you get to show, feel, and touch your old friends.  No more making a few extra bucks on the used market.  And no more inexpensive back up cameras.  Wait, hold the phone.. no more used camera market?  What is the newcomer to our profession supposed to do, borrow their rich uncles gear to get started?   Is there a new requirement you need to be rich to be a photographer?

What will become of professional photography when we retire (for lack of a better word) the ability of the not so independently wealthy newcomer to tighten his/her belt, cut a few corners, buy a few pieces of used gear, and get into the business?  What then?  As the guys who can afford subscriptions retire who will be left?   Betcha didn't think of that Mr. I Want A Steady Income Stream so badly I didn't even see that coming.. 

 

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Betcha never saw it coming because your eyes were only looking ahead to your next annual investors report, and not 5-10-20 years out when our current crop of professionals move on and/or retire and their potential replacements are sitting in a small business course learning about things such as ROI and low overhead.. 

Is their need to put their hand in your pocket that overwhelming? 

I’ve heard many people say “think of your alternatives” as they snicker thinking they got me with this quaint thought.  THERE WILL ALWAYS BE AN ALTERNATIVE.   Just because there isn’t one now doesn’t mean there won’t ever be.  Especially with a company as big as Adobe driving the need.  All by themselves Adobe has almost ensured the need.

The band bus is outside folks, it’s driving down your street at 5mph with the loudspeaker blaring and waving $9.99 subscription vouchers and dreaming of that steady income stream.  It’s slowing down outside your home or place of business and you can hear the air lock release as the big doors slide open.  The bus driver is looking at you.  He beckons, smile on his face (but he’s really thinking of the upcoming annual investment report), and waits patiently.   Will you be boarding the bus?

I want to say I won’t be.  But I truly don’t know.  There’s the exit strategy issue.  When you  stop paying the subscription you lose the ability to manipulate the Adobe Only proprietary features on your entire archive of images.  The perpetual licenses we’re used to allows us to use this software for our lifetimes to open, edit, and save our files.  How can I possibly justify putting myself in the position of not being able to edit my images?  Oh ya, it’s the guy waving $9.99 vouchers and for some reason you can’t get the five dollar foot ling jingle out of your mind..

 

For now I have to say, when I get off that bus I want to take my luggage with me.  AND be able to open it.  How about you?

 

Until next time..