Adobe Lightroom vs Adobe Photoshop

At 25 years of age Adobe Photoshop is rightfully seen as the granddaddy of photo manipulation software. It has been an established ‘go to’ package for longer than its younger sibling, Adobe Lightroom has been alive. Lightroom is barely 10 years old and still learning. Nevertheless it is a vital application in any photographers armoury.

I am often asked to help people with training on Adobe Photoshop. Which is fine and I’m happy to help but, there is a general assumption that Photoshop is the defacto piece of editing software on the market. This means obviously that it is the go to application when you want to edit your photos. This could be true however, many people I speak to aren’t wanting to edit portraits and product photography for print, for web or other commercial reasons. In the main they have thousands of personal photographs (often over the course of many years) that they want to organise and maybe make basic edits on.

Screenshot 2016-04-11 11.10.09

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

Photoshop is a pure photo manipulating piece of software. It is a big Adobe behemoth and takes many years to learn and use to its potential. Most of us simply don’t have the time or inclination (or need) to spend time learning this. It is a creative tool for photographers and designers using layers, brushes and filters to create and manipulate images. It’s tricky to just pick up from cold and can be very frustrating to the uninitiated. Workflow for Photoshop is basically one photo at a time (yes, you can apply editing effects to various images in your workflow but it’s quite a task for the uninitiated).

Lightroom is, on the other hand, an organiser and editor. It is the place to come when you want to sort through the thousands of images in your ‘library’ and then select the ones you want to adjust by means of the ‘develop’ module. It is also a piece of software that you can learn, very quickly, to get you sorting through photographs very  productively. In the last few years it has grown up quickly adding much more power to its ‘develop’ module (the image manipulation module). I know find myself doing upwards of 90% of my editing in Lightroom, from import to export.

Screenshot 2016-04-11 11.07.07

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

These two pieces of software are therefore, not in competition with each other. Aside from the fact that they can both manipulate images, they are as different as chalk and cheese. Adobe market them together and in the Creative Cloud option, package them together. One interacts with the other and back again seamlessly when editing.

So really, when you decide that you want to further your photography by adding an editing package to your workflow, the question you need to ask yourself is ‘what do I want to do’. If you want to organise and perform some basic (and even heavy) editing, then Lightroom is the way to go. If on the other hand, you want to heavily manipulate one photo at a time, giving it all your attention, then Photoshop is the one for you.

Of course once you understand what merits each hold on their own then you will appreciate that they are not independent of each other but very much interactive with each other.

Free trials of both programs are available to download for a 30 day trial so check them out at your leisure.

If you decide you’d like to learn more, take a look at Noodle Photography’s course information for some help to get started or drop me a line on

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