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Which Adobe Lightroom set-up is best for you?

There’s an old joke about a tourist in Ireland who asks for directions, and after much rambling, the chap he’s talking to says ‘Well, if I wanted to get where you’re going, I wouldn’t start from here’! This is such a great analogy for learning Lightroom. I’ve been teaching it for around four years now, and one of the key things I’ve discovered is that everyone’s start-point is different.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Whether you’re just trying to decide which version is right for you, or you’ve downloaded it and had a look around but ended up confused, or you’ve used it for a while and now your images are in chaos - whatever your situation, you need advice and support that’s based on your specific situation. Something which can rarely be got from books, YouTube, or other online resources - which are written in more general terms, for the widest possible audience.

So anyway, I thought it might help to explain some of the basics initially, starting with how to avoid being pushed down a specific route by Adobe, which is almost always not the best solution. The reality is that Adobe wants to tie you to its storage offer, so you have all your images in their cloud - but this is not ideal for two key reasons. Firstly, when you run out of the storage space you started with, which happens surprisingly fast, they will charge you for more - and secondly, most people find they don’t even know where their images are actually stored locally once imported into LR, which makes managing them (and backing them up!) far harder.

The key question then is, how do you avoid getting into this situation in the first place? It’s actually pretty straightforward once you know how, but not at all obvious if you have no experience of Lightroom. The first thing to understand is that there are two different Lightroom options - one just called Lightroom (which used to be called Lightroom CC) and one called 'Classic'. Lightroom is the one that makes you upload your images in the Adobe cloud, and is also a 'cut down' version with less features (though catching up quite fast) - while Lightroom Classic allows you to store your images locally if you want to, and has the full suite of editing and management tools.

Step One is to choose the right Lightroom Plan - and for almost all the photographers I’ve worked with over the years, that is the ‘Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan’ - which includes both versions (LR and LR Classic), plus Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop and 20Gb of cloud storage.

However, most people make the mistake of choosing the ‘Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Plan’ as it’s the same price (£9.99 a month) and comes with 1Tb of storage, which seems better on the face of it. But you don’t get Photoshop (which does have its uses) and more importantly you don’t get Lightroom Classic either!

Step Two is to download and install a 7 day free trial of the Photography Plan so you can check out