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Last Updated on 02/03/2023 by Mark Beckenbach
Most photographers use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. And if you’re like us and want better colors, you’re probably using Capture One. Lightroom users are probably using either Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Lightroom Classic. Believe it or not, most photographers don’t need Adobe Photoshop. The majority of what we’d want and need to do is easily available in other software. So then, what’s the point of owning Photoshop?
In 2023, Adobe Photoshop is really just a leftover from its original days of being a photo manipulation tool for photographers. It still surely can be that, but it’s also way more than that. For professional photographers working on sets with really big clients, it’s the default tool to use. Taking away liquify and other tools will make lots of photographers really angry. So if you plan on doing a lot of photo manipulation to the image that will make it look far different, then consider Adobe Photoshop.
However, most of us don’t need it. If you’re looking to do things like dodge and burn, that can be done easily in Lightroom (both types). If you’re also doing light retouching, work like that can be done in Lightroom too. For example, standard headshots and portraits can be done in Lightroom. But if you’re doing anything more than that, I’d step into Adobe Photoshop.
If you’re trying to get more details from a blown-out sky, Lightroom will do a fantastic job. So with that said, here’s a list of situations where Adobe Photoshop is more useful:
Some photographers need to use things like Adobe Photoshop for retouching their subjects. But most of the time, Lightroom does more than a good enough job.
Photojournalists never use Photoshop partially because of how it can violate ethics. But basic adjustments are often just fine and allowed.
Landscape photographers often like working in it because of the extra work they can do to perfect their photos.
Wildlife photographers may use Adobe Photoshop if working in layers on a specific image is easier to manage. But working in layers in Lightroom is possible. The same goes for Capture One.
Food photographers may totally use Adobe Photoshop for retouching the final products. Of course, even that’s a bit suspect. Journalistic food photographers abide by photojournalism rules. Advertising and creative editorial is more flexible.
Product photography totally uses Photoshop unless the photographer is super meticulous and careful in-camera. Dust and stuff like that can happen and sometimes Adobe Photoshop is just better at eliminating it.
Lots of conceptual photographers use Adobe Photoshop to execute their final ideas. We’ve featured a lot of them on this website, but we’ve also featured a lot who do stuff like set design in order to not use Photoshop. Sometimes that’s more fun, and it brings an authenticity to an image that can’t be had otherwise.
Truly, most photographers these days don’t need Adobe Photoshop. Some like to pick and choose images in Adobe Bridge and then edit in Photoshop. But Lightroom can do that for you very easily. In the end, you should just use whatever works for you. Our staff uses Capture One partially because the manufacturers work directly with the company to get better colors than Adobe Lightroom can deliver without extra work. But even I’ll admit that I sometimes like what Lightroom can do despite its archaic design.