Photography Blog

Lightroom vs. Photoshop

Photo editing or post production of your photos is so important. This is where you can fix the little or big things to make your photos look how you saw them in your head. Sometimes what you wanted the photo to look like just doesn’t happen in the camera. OK, that happens more than sometimes, which is why we edit our photos.

Photo Being Edited on Computer
Photo via Craftsy class Shoot It! A Product Photography Primer


It’s not over-editing, like the magazines. I don’t take 20 pounds off, but I can lessen wrinkles and removes blemishes. When you are just starting off in photography and start asking for advice, you will see and hear all sorts of different things. Really, you want to find what works for you.

Adobe Photoshop vs. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Split Image of Couple Forming Heart with Their Hands

Photoshop has been a staple of digital photo editing before digital cameras. The Adobe program came out in the 90s and has grown into a mega program that is used for Web design, 3-D animation and architecture. It can be a little overwhelming, so there are other programs out there, like Lightroom.

Here’s a look at some of the differences to help you choose which editing program will work for you.

Adobe Photoshop

I use Photoshop for all of my photos. Usually, I won’t even post a photo to Facebook without editing it in Photoshop first. In this program you can use “levels” or “curves” to adjust the brightness and contrast, exposure and color of any photo. If you are shooting in RAW you can also use the Photoshop camera RAW to further edit your photos before you even bring them into Photoshop. In the RAW wind, you can pretty much fix any exposure issue you may have with a photo. As long as its in focus, it can be saved.

Then, when you open it in Photoshop, the opportunities are endless. You can remove people from the photos, make them all different colors, put the heads on different bodies, and even give them giant eyes. In most cases you will never do this, but you can. Photoshop also has automated actions that allow you to “batch edit” or create “high dynamic range” photos. And you can fix blemishes and take off a few years. Photoshop has a lot of tools you might use on a daily basis, like rubber stamp and history brush. Photoshop has so many filters, actions and menus, so it can be very overwhelming when all you want to do it make an image a little brighter and saturate the colors. That’s why there is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Lightroom is Photoshop light. It was created to help manage and edit photos in a more efficient way. It’s super easy to use, All you have to do it import the files you want and start editing away. You can do all of the same functions as camera RAW does, as well as crop, red-eye correcting, certain filters, vibrance and levels. This program also has a lot of black and white filters, which allow creating a duo-toned or sepia-toned photo much easier.

Image of Lightroom and Photoshop Control Panels

In Lightroom, you can’t use layers or bring in pieces of other photos or text on to your photo, but it does batch export. Both programs can handle RAW file formats and work well together since they are both Adobe. One big plus Lightroom has over Photoshop is the price. Lightroom is less expensive and easier to use. Photoshop is known to be a very expensive and large program, when in reality, photographers use maybe 15 percent of its capabilities on a regular basis. Adobe is making it easier to have access to all of their programs by offering an online membership. You pay about $50 a month to have access to every program Adobe makes, and believe me it’s a lot.

I use the Production Creative Suite, which has video editing and DVD creating programs. They also have Web and graphic design programs. Adobe also offers discounts to students and teachers. By going to, you can begin to learn about the specifics. I don’t mean to give a lot of free advertising to Adobe, but they really are one of the leaders in digital editing software. Using these programs will allow you to gain a more professional look, which in return, will bring in more clients.

Interested in learning how to digitally edit without the expensive software? Enroll in Shoot It! A Product Photography Primer to learn the basics. Tomorrow on the Craftsy Blog, we’ll be sharing 6 tips for photographing mountains. See you then!

What photo editing software do you find easy to use?



Great post… may I add a thought? I think it’s worth mentioning here that Adobe also makes “Elements” which is a very powerful digital file editing program for right around 100 bucks. The “15%” that Photoshop offers photographers is pretty well covered in Elements. The learning curve is simpler than Lightroom and the terminology is geared towards the average user. I teach a weekly Adobe course and the majority of the adult students (beginner to intermediate) prefer Elements to start with. Once they get more experience, most will move to LR or Photoshop.

Brooke McNeely Galligan

That’s a great thought! Elements completely slipped my mind.


Well done on a great post.
I agree with Dan – the point about Elements is a good one since it’s in the same price bracket as Lightroom and really contains the photographic essentials found in the full blown PS.
It’s pretty frustrating that Lightroom and Elements haven’t been combined yet since the former has so many pre-sets and popular “slider” controls, yet the latter really sets the standard for editing image content.
Some differences are quite odd. Take noise reduction for example, which is far superior in Lightroom and the brushes are easier to use too. But for layering photos, Elements wins all day long.
I ended up buying both (LR 5 and PSE 10) and given the price of the Cloud options from Adobe, I think I’ll be using them for quite some time.


How do I add music (MP3) to my photo slideshow on a disc (CD or DVD)?


Tell me this. I use Elements, but still struggle to “get” all of the layers, masking, etc. Wondering what is in LightRoom that isn’t available in Elements. Can you compare those, please?

Brooke McNeely Galligan

Let me do some research, since I’m not really sure right now. Then I can do a post about it soon.

Deny Kris

I really like both of them.. I was make money from Photoshop and Lightroom. Now, I use Lightroom 5 to do my works.
Photoshop for design, such as banner ads for web, web designs, etc
Lightroom for photo editing, the best software I ever seen.. 😀


This is the ultimate self-esteem corrector. Thank you for your post; it is a very important distinction 

Jessica Lillis

I have deep passion Photoshop. I like to do Clipping Masking Across Multiple Objects. This article will definitely help me and I want to learn more. Please send me related article link if you have. Thanks in advance.


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