Times were that if you wanted to be a creative professional, you were most likely going to need Adobe’s suite of applications (either purchased or often pirated). Adobe had established themselves as the standard for so many industries with so many of us building careers off of their great software.
In recent years, Adobe has made many controversial business decisions that ended up being great for them, but sometimes hostile towards users, and with this growing resentment from customers (myself included), and a precieved stagnation and bloat in many of their core apps, alternatives started emerging that offered an alternative to the software giant.
I love learning new software and would regularly get my hands on any piece of software that could potentially ween me off of Adobe. After several years of growing pains and increasing frustration with the Creative Cloud, I have finally achieved an Adobe-free workflow for every area of my creative business, one that is more intuitive and far more affordable than what I had before.
The apps listed below are available for both Mac & Windows (the exception being Apple’s Final Cut Pro x and Logic Pro X being Mac only), and each piece of software is a one-time fee that is often a fraction of what Adobe would charge for just a single year’s license.
I’ve always preferred Final Cut Pro X’s intuitive design and blazing fast performance over Adobe’s Premiere Pro, but it couldn’t compare to Premiere’s toolset, and that is where DaVinci Resolve comes in. Blackmagic Design has created what I consider to be the most robust NLE on the market, and what’s more amazing is that it’s completely FREE! More advanced features can be purchased with an upgrade, but really there is no need, the standard version has more than everything you’ll need (save for advanced noise reduction).
Since Apple discontinued their brilliant photo editing and management software Aperture, photographers have only had one option (Lightroom) to manage a large photo library and have the tools to organize and do basic editing, until this year. Skylum’s Luminar 3 is a fantastic and polished app that I find gives more a more intuitive and advanced set of features compared to Adobe Lightroom. This was always the last holdout for me and why I needed to still use the Creative Cloud, but not anymore!
Over 2 years ago I’ve made the switch from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to Affinity Designer and Photo and I feel like it’s been one of the best decisions ever. These pieces of software are so fast, powerful, and intuitive, and as a bonus, they can open and export PSD files! Affinity Publisher is the new kid on the block in open beta, but is poised to take down Adobe InDesign next.
Audacity has always been a favourite amongst audiophiles, it’s also FREE, so you can’t argue with that! Logic Pro X fills in the gap for my podcast and general audio recording, and if I need to capture recordings or editing audio for my films, that can be done at a very high level within DaVinci Resolve’s Fairlight editor.
Adobe has some created some amazing software over the years and has been instrumental in the development of many industries and creative careers, but with their growth, and the growing frustration from users, the demand for alternatives has been addressed. Even though not everything is perfect just yet, and I am so happy that there are finally real alternatives that I can use, saving me money and even improve my creative workflows in many ways. I know that I didn’t mention all of the alternatives, but these are the ones that I use day-to-day and plan to continue using.