I was never able to afford the $6000 or whatever for a real licence before, so I ended up just buying the CS5 master collection from the Molino in Cusco, Perú. $4. I didn't feel so bad since I had paid someone for the programs, whether it was Adobe or not.
But as soon as they came out with the creative cloud thing, it's been awesome. $50/month or whatever (though they are open to a good barter if you call them, my assistant photographer is only paying $25/month) and you get every program, always up to date, anything new is yours immediately. By the time I've paid enough to match the previous cost of one of their programs, I'll already be using the next version. I haven't even paid as much as I would have had to for Lightroom 4 alone, and now I've got Lightroom 5 already. No extra charge.
In my opinion, this creative cloud stuff was an awesome call on Adobe's part — for people in my position. They basically f'd all the hobbyists.
$6000 in what currency? It's like $2600 (max) for CS master collection in the US... and who needs a license to master collection anyway?? I never understood that.... If you do work that requires professional software for editing like... every art form... $2500 should be chump change for anyone that talented...
At the time, running a magazine, working as a freelance journalist, graphic/web designer, photographer and magazine/newspaper redesigner, I used several of the programs very frequently. You've gotta be diverse if you want to make any money as a freelancer in Canada, being that the wages haven't increased or even adjusted for inflation since the early 70s. Basically the place fresh magazine ideas go to die, too. Thanks for killing media, Harper. Now running a photography studio and doing all the design, websites, ads, layout, video, etc. in house, I still use a good four or five programs regularly, though now I'm finding I use Capture One for more of the actual digital darkroom process than anything else.