We’ve teamed up with Adobe to bring you a series of tutorials. In this video, we’ll be focusing on the similarities and differences between Adobe Lightroom vs Lightroom Classic and the new workflow possibilities that the cloud-based ecosystem opens up.  You can download Adobe Lightroom here.

Video: Adobe Lightroom vs Lightroom Classic Fundamentals

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between Adobe Lightroom vs Lightroom Classic, then this video is for you. They each serve a different purpose and I’ll take you into my workflow to demonstrate how I like to use both of these apps and show just how versatile and powerful they are.

Lightroom Classic

If you’re an enthusiast or a pro, Lightroom Classic is the version you’re likely most familiar with. For those that are new, Lightroom Classic is a catalog-based system that’s stored locally. This means that the images in your catalog are on your local hard drive or computer.

Lightroom Classic references images located on your computer or drive.

My ongoing “Perpetual” Lightroom Catalog holds all of my best images since I started shooting. I keep the catalog and all the images on an external USB-C SSD drive because it’s fast and portable. This way, I can take my catalog with me wherever I go.

adobe lightroom vs lightroom classic file

Upon first opening Lightroom Classic, you’ll see the previews of Lightroom “referencing” all the images I’ve imported. It’s important to note that the images are not stored within the catalog. The catalog is simply referencing the image from its original location on your computer or hard drive.

Rewind: Mobile Portraits from Capture to Edit Using Adobe Lightroom Mobile

adobe lightroom vs lightroom classic develop panel

At the top, we can see the different modules. The Library is where we organize and cull our images. Develop is where we’ll likely spend most of our time and edit our images. I spend most of my time in these two modules. When it comes to organizing and editing, Lightroom and Lightroom Classic are virtually identical.

adobe lightroom vs lightroom classic volume editing
Lightroom Classic’s batch editing allows for high-volume processing.

Lightroom Classic is designed for a high-volume workflow. For example, I’m a wedding and portrait photographer. This means that on any given client session, I’m capturing hundreds or thousands of images. As a result, it makes sense to keep those files local rather than try and upload them to a cloud.



Upon opening Lightroom, you’ll see the main library of images. Here, we can organize our images and rate them or flag them as we would in Lightroom Classic. However, Lightroom is a cloud-based system. That means that all the images you see are stored on Adobe’s cloud through your Adobe-ID. This way, you can access the same images on your phone or tablet.

adobe lightroom vs lightroom classic lightroom develop
Lightroom’s editing tools are very similar to Lightroom Classic.

The edit panel in Lightroom features essentially the same tools as Lightroom Classic. Lightroom will even sync your presets from Lightroom Classic so you can have all of your tools wherever you are. However, one misconception is that Lightroom Classic is a desktop application and Lightroom is for mobile which is not the case. The primary difference is where the software sources the original images from.

adobe lightroom vs lightroom classic learn

Other great features on Lightroom are Learn and Discover. Under Learn, you’ll find other creatives and adobe partners like myself who have created full interactive tutorials inside Lightroom.

adobe lightroom vs lightroom classic discover

Under Discover, you’ll find complete edits submitted by the community. These edits show all the settings used to get the image to the final product and you can even download the settings as your own presets. Lightroom is not only an amazing editor, but it has also become a powerful learning tool.

My Personal Workflow

I’ll walk you through my high-volume workflow. These are images I’ve taken at weddings, events, family portraits, and engagements. You can imagine the number of photos captured on any of these types of photo sessions will be in the hundreds-thousands.

1. Loading Through Lightroom Classic

I first load my images through Lightroom Classic. There, I’ll cull through and select my keepers and edit using the batch editing tools.

2. Sync Selects to Lightroom

adobe lightroom vs lightroom classic sync with lightroom

I’ll select my top images for my ongoing portfolio. I create a new collection in Lightroom Classic and select “Sync with Lightroom.” Once it’s synced with Lightroom, I can access the images from anywhere. This is perfect for marketing from social media to sharing teasers with clients.

3. Editing in Lightroom

After the images are synced with Lightroom, I’ll begin editing my selects. Note that on Lightroom, I won’t be editing high-volume projects. These edits also synchronize between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic so any changes will be automatically updated and accessible from either platform.


I hope you enjoyed this video/article on the differences between Adobe Lightroom vs Lightroom Classic and how you can use both to maximize your workflow. They’re both equally powerful and versatile editing tools for any level photographer. Be sure to give them both a try and learn how you can integrate both platforms to make the most of your own workflow!