Should I Buy Photoshop? It’s A Question I Get Asked A Lot.
People that are new to photography, or even those that have been taking pictures for years, often ask me if they should buy Photoshop to start manipulating their images. The answer is NO!
Don’t get me wrong. In my opinion Photoshop is the greatest program ever written. It’s just not for most people. Photoshop is a large application that can do more things than you can imagine. It can do things that seem like magic. It is, however, a complex thing to learn. You can’t just jump into Photoshop and expect it to be easy to use. Being really good at Photoshop takes years and requires you to climb a pretty steep learning curve. Take it on if you want to, but there is an easier (and cheaper) way for most people to access and manipulate their images.
I’m not talking about the cheaper, stripped-down version of PS called Photoshop Elements. No, that has most of the same issues that the new/amateur photographer has to climb with the full version of Photoshop. That is, to get the most out of PS you need to use layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, etc. If climbing that learning curve over the next few years doesn’t interest you, then let me introduce you to Adobe Lightroom.
Lightroom is made by the same company that makes Photoshop (ie. Adobe). Lightroom has much of the same functionality of PS, but doesn’t have the really advanced stuff listed above (layers, etc). However, it has a lot of components that PS simply doesn’t have. For example:
- LR is fantastic at storing and cataloguing your images. PS doesn’t do that. LR makes it easy to import your images into the program and then store them in easy-to-use catalogues (think folders). I have my images catalogued by year, and then within each year there are folders for each photo shoot I’ve done. Within each photo shoot folder is a folder for the raw images from the shoot and a folder for the finished/processed images from the shoot.
- LR can tag your images with a flag, various colours, or stars. This makes organizing your images a breeze. For example, the first thing I do after I’ve loaded the raw images from a shoot into LR and put them into a catalog is to go through them at hi-res and select the “good ones”. I simply press the letter “P” to add a flag to any image I like. Once this is done for the entire folder, I can simply tell LR to show me only the flagged images (hiding the non-flagged ones). Now I can start to work on the good images only.
- LR can do really excellent slide shows.
- LR has many, many print templates so you can easily print you images in all kinds of sizes and combinations.
- LR can export your images to a web gallery. It has many built-in flash and html templates that make building a web gallery incredibly simple.
There is much more, but I’ll leave it at that for now. The two final things I’ll say is that learning LR takes a fraction of the time it takes to learn PS (you can learn LR in a day or two), and LR is about one-third the price of the full version of PS!
I’ll be posting some training videos for LR in the future, and will likely be offering some training classes for those that buy LR and want to know how to get the most out of it.
What are your thoughts?