Does every photographer need to use Photoshop? Whether you need it or not may depend upon which genre of photography you enjoy. We discuss some alternatives and reasons why Photoshop may be right for your needs.
Let's get into it.
Does Every Photographer Need to Use Photoshop?
I'll be honest, I use Photoshop and truly enjoy it. However, I don't always feel the need to use Photoshop to process every image. In some cases, and often most cases, I don't need it. Using Adobe Lightroom and perhaps some 3rd party tools (mentioned below) does a great job to help me finish my photos.
Why Use Post Processing Tools?
Photoshop is an extremely powerful tool for manipulating photos, graphics and text. By the name, you'd think it was designed for photographers, but it's really a tool to help graphic designers. Photographers can definitely benefit from using Photoshop to enhance and finish our photos.
As much as some folks like to brag about their shots coming “straight out of the camera”, the truth is that all photos need some processing. JPEGS coming out of a camera get processed in-camera according to your profile.
Ever shot something on Vivid mode? That's one of the settings on some cameras that process your photos after the shot to give it a particular look.
RAW photos don't get this processing, and that's a good thing. Instead, you get a rather flat looking image to use as a basis to start your post processing.
We have plenty of choices for RAW processors these days:
- Adobe Lightroom
- Adobe Camera RAW
- Luminar 2018
- ON1 Photo RAW
There are too many to mention, and most do the same thing as far as basic RAW processing. They're all very good. These RAW processing engines allow you to create your own personal style for each photo. Many will let you save those styles as presets to use on other photos, or you can even buy presets developed by other photographers.
The Photoshop Difference
Adobe Camera RAW is part of Adobe Photoshop, but things change once you get inside Photoshop.
Now you have a lot of power and control to manipulate images. Not just by changing color profiles, but by actually warping the pixels to change their shape, remove elements you don't want and add text & graphics.
If you look closely at cover photos of models on magazines, you're looking at an image that went through Photoshop. It's amazing how much gets processed.
- Skin smoothing and blemish removal
- Eyes enhanced, whitened, sharpened and even enlarged
- Hair plumped up
- Thighs and arms slimmed down
- Hips and breasts plumped up
- Lips reshaped
- Eyelashes and eyebrows added
- Colors changed from boring to exciting
The list can go on, but you get the idea. Photoshop lets you do almost anything you can imagine to a photograph. It enables your creativity.
The Problem with Photoshop
With all of that power comes a rather steep learning curve. Once you learn the basics, you may find that it's still rather time consuming to do things in Photoshop that are faster, easier, and sometimes less expensive in other tools.
Canva makes it easy to create graphics for social media and products. 3rd party plugins for Photoshop are now morphing into stand-alone tools that can do a great job of enhancing photos, and they do it very quickly.
I think Photoshop is an essential tool for portrait retouching, compositing and some very fine detail work. However, it may be overkill for many photographers.
We discussed a number of alternatives on this episode, and you can find links to those products and some trial or demo versions to use for a period of time.
Does every photographer need to use Photoshop?
Honestly, I don't think so. There are many genres that I think can do excellent work with Lightroom, Luminar and other products. However, I'm glad that I took the time to learn how to use Photoshop. It gives me an opportunity to do what I want if needed, and sometimes that can be the difference between finishing a photo and creating your vision.
Products Mentioned in This Podcast Episode
I mentioned a number of products in this episode. To be open and honest, I am an affiliate for many of these products. That means there is no extra charge to you – in fact, some of these offer a discount – but I will earn a small commission if you buy using my affiliate link or code.
Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are standards in the photography and design industries. I use both programs, but there are plenty of folks who use the Creative Cloud Photography Plan just for Lightroom. If you ever decide you want to use Photoshop, it's already there as part of your plan.
If you're planning on working with Portraiture, Compositing, or anything that requires greater control and attention to detail, Photoshop is definitely something I recommend.
Skylum Luminar 2018
I mentioned at the start of the show that you can save 10% (or $10) on Skylum software using my coupon code. This is my affiliate code, which means that I make a small commission if you purchase from me, but it also means that you save money.
The new version of Luminar 2018 brings the same features to Windows as the Mac version. Take advantage of the free trial to see for yourself. When you're ready to buy, my Luminar coupon code will save you money.
For Skylum products like Luminar and Aurora HDR, you save $10.
For other Skylum products, like the Creative Kit, you save 10%.
Just visit: https://williambeem.com/skylum
When you check out, use my Skylum coupon code: BEEM
ON1 Photo RAW
ON1 Photo RAW does many things, but it's one of the few tools that can help you with portrait retouching. You can get a free trial, and then save 15% using my ON1 coupon code: WBEEM20.
There are plenty of advanced method to smooth skin inside of Photoshop. You can definitely be very specific and correct a lot of problems that way. On the other hand, you can do what I do 9 out of 10 times and use Portraiture. It's fast and delivers great results.
Like many of the other products here, Imagenomic offers a free trial so you can test it out before you buy.
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