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As a photographer, whether it be professional or hobbyist, you have several skill sets to juggle and many hats to wear; you’ll need to be an artist when composing your photo’s scene, technically proficient with your camera and settings, and in the case of professionals, an adept businessperson who can maintain a business and satisfy clients consistently.
One of the most important roles you play as a photo enthusiast is that of image editor. Rarely do our images come straight out of the camera exactly as we had envisioned, so before release we are required to put our shots through the post-processing phase; this is where our raw photos are enhanced, adjusted, toned, and sharpened to give us the final image we want to deliver.
Although we have many tools at our disposal these days to help us through this phase of processing, the industry juggernaut has undoubtedly been Adobe Photoshop since its first version’s release in 1990. The software has been used by amateurs and professionals alike year after year, and is considered an essential part of most photographer’s toolboxes.
Through the following years, and the popularity surge of digital photography, Adobe realized the need for a tool more targeted for photographers, and in 2007, released Lightroom. This workflow-centric and management software has become incredibly popular in its own right, and maintains a massive following in today’s industry.
So the obvious question is, as a photographer, which software package do you need? Both titles are excellent and carry their own strengths and weaknesses, so let’s drill down and examine them in a bit more detail to discover which one is right for you!
Rarely do we get a perfect result in camera that allows us to bypass the post-processing workflow, and even then, some editing is almost always required to prepare the photo for different mediums.
Generally, photos will need to be altered in size, adjusted for exposure and contrast, edited for blemishes or other imperfections, and possibly toned or have their appearance altered through filters, presets or other means. The file then needs to be exported in its final format, ready for the client, printing, or for web use.
Up until fairly recently, Photoshop would have had one additional disadvantage compared to Lightroom, and that would be price. In the past, purchasing Photoshop could set you back $400 to $900, depending on the version and any discounts you could use. Comparatively, Lightroom could be had for less than $100. The huge up front cost made buying Photoshop outright a financial strain for budding photographers on a slim budget.
Those days are gone, thanks to Adobe’s awesome cloud and subscription program. As of the last release, all of Adobe’s main products have been converted to cloud-based programs and are all rooted in the new Creative Cloud subscription model. Generally, $20 per month will give you unlimited access to one Adobe title, such as Photoshop or Lightroom, and ample cloud storage, enabling you access to your files regardless of where you were. $50 per month will give you access to Adobe’s entire Creative Cloud suite, which is quite a deal.
This year, however, Adobe unveiled their Photography Program, and if you haven’t already gotten involved, you might want to take a look. For less than $10 per month, Adobe gives you Photoshop CC AND Lightroom CC, along with the aforementioned cloud storage. It’s an unbeatable deal, and eliminates the need to pick and choose which image program to use.
Since pricing is no longer an issue, the choice as to which program to use for your photography work comes down to what is most important to you.
You value a smooth clean workflow more than infinite control over the editing of your images. Having said that, Lightroom is no slouch when it comes to processing photos, and you can recreate almost any look using the controls available to you in this software.
The presets provide an endless array of styles, and thousands more are available on the internet. Lightroom’s clean, efficient interface will allow you to process those multiple wedding or portrait shots quickly and consistently, and make managing all of those photos simpler than you could have imagined.
You need more control over your images. Photoshop can do it all, but of course the cost of that is a higher learning curve. Quick presets are not what the program does best; instead, it offers complete image editing with masks, layers, and a multitude of other tools, giving you all of the options you could ever need.
BOTH titles can be an integral part of the post-processing workflow. Like anything else they both have strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, with Adobe’s wonderful new Creative Cloud subscription model, you can enjoy both programs, and employ the advantages of each within your workflow, without breaking your bank.