Best Photo Editing Software For Photographers

Photography Goals is reader supported. When you buy products through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.

You can’t create world class images without the right editing software.

Depending on the type of images you want to create, you may be able to get the job done with the basics like Lightroom or you may need a more specialized piece of software.

Here are some of our top choices…

The Industry Standard

Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop ($9.99/month)

There are a lot of very good competitors to Adobe’s Photography Plan but none of them can give you the complete photo editing experience of this combination of Lightroom and Photoshop.

he Adobe Photography Plan includes both Lightroom and Photoshop in a monthly subscription. There’s very little you can’t do as far as photo editing with these two programs combined.

Photography Goals is reader-supported. When you buy products through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a RAW image processor and organizer. This is the program that you would use to import your photos from the camera or memory card onto your computer.

Lightroom is a mature program

Photoshop

Photoshop has become such a standard of photo editing that even non-photographers will say “Photoshop that image” rather than “edit that image.” This reputation has come from decades of development and evolution in the world of digital image manipulation. The original version of Photoshop came out in 1987 when I was still playing Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo as a kid.

It has evolved to a behemoth of software that spans across the photography, illustration, and graphic design industries.

There is a learning curve to be sure. But there isn’t much you can’t do in Photoshop if you take the time to learn.

Useful Add-ons

Lumenzia (Photoshop Plugin) ($39.99)

Luminosity masks allow you to create gorgeous and realistic edits in Photoshop. Lumenzia allows you to use use them quickly and easily. Its advanced JavaScript engine handles all the luminosity masking complexity for you in the background, so all you need to think about is making beautiful images.

Photography Goals is reader-supported. When you buy products through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Lumenzia is the plugin that takes all the power of Photoshop and makes it easily accessible in a visually simple interface.

If you have ever heard of things like luminosity masking, color masking, blend if layers, and wondered how the heck to use them effectively…then you need to check out this plugin by photographer Greg Benz.

Lightroom presets ($27-$107)

Lightroom presets are a great way to jump-start your creativity or shortcut your editing workflow to save you time.

A well-designed Lightroom preset is a lot more valuable than just using it to change an image and be done with it. By trying various types of presets, you can learn how to accomplish certain things in Lightroom and even develop your own style.

Timelapse Post-Processing

LRTimelapse (99 Euros)

LRTimelapse 5 is the most comprehensive software for time-lapse editing, keyframing, grading, and rendering. This is easily the gold standard when it comes to preparing time-lapse videos.

Photography Goals is reader-supported. When you buy products through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.

If you enjoy shooting timelapse photography and aren’t using LRTimelapse then you’re really missing out.

There is a little bit of a steep learning curve, but there are plenty of tutorials available and once you get the hang of it, this program will become an invaluable part of your timelapse workflow.

The way it works is by utilizing the RAW editing power of Lightroom to let you edit just a few images in your sequence and then let LRTimelapse calculate the adjustment values for the in-between images and import those settings into Lightroom. The result is a seamless and smooth transition throughout your timelapse sequence, even when shooting drastically changing scenes such as a sunrise.

Davinci Resolve 15 (FREE)

Timelapse is a combination of photography and video, so if you want flexibility and control when putting together your timelapse sequences, then you’ll need a quality video editor. Despite the fact that Resolve is a high-end video editing software solution often used by feature film editors…Blackmagic (the company that makes it) actually gives it away as a free download.

In recent years they’ve added Fusion (a special effects editor comparable to After Effects) right into the Resolve workflow (also as part of the free program).

This may seem too good to be true, so here are the downsides…

You need a good graphics card in your computer in order to run the software at all. Also, there is less educational material out there for Resolve than there is for other more popular editors such as Premiere Pro.

Good Alternatives

If you don’t like Adobe or just want to give something else a try, you do have options. Here are some of the the better ones…

Skylum Luminar 4

Luminar 4’s revolutionary tools and AI technologies give superpowers for creative photo editing.It’s the perfect companion to your primary editing software or can be used as a standalone.

Photography Goals is reader-supported. When you buy products through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.

This relative newcomer to the world of photo post-processing is making a big splash in 2020.

It does all the basic things as far as image adjustment goes (brightness, color, sharpening, etc) but it’s the use of Skylum’s artificial intelligence engine that really sets it apart.

In just a few clicks, it does all the cool stuff that we used to take forever to do in Photoshop. Features such as sky replacements, portrait retouching, and adding effects like sunrays to your images are all just a few clicks away with Luminar 4.

I’m not quite sold on Luminar being a complete replacement for the Lightroom/Photoshop combo, but it works great as a plugin for both so you can add it to the toolkit rather than having to choose.

Pete LaGregor

Pete LaGregor

Pete is a photographer in New Jersey and specializes in portraits and commercial photography, but loves shooting landscapes and video for fun. You can check out his work on his website.
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
    shares

    FREE Video Training...

    3 Secrets To Mastering Adobe Lightroom

    1051px-Adobe_Photoshop_Lightroom_Classic_CC_icon.svg