Lightroom versus Photoshop, and why I use both


For photographers starting out, it’s a common question to ask “should invest in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom?” The short answer? You should invest in both. But at the absolutely minimum? You could get away with only Photoshop.

“So… then why would you get both, Breanna?” 

Personally, I’m a Lightroom fan girl, but it wasn’t always that way. I used Photoshop with Camera Raw for a year or two when I first started out, and grew to like it. But more and more I read how Lightroom was the tool of photographers, and how great it was. When I finally forced myself to make the switch, I had such a hard time with it but it wasn’t because Lightroom was hard to figure out, I had just developed a rhythm with how I used Photoshop and it was hard to break it. But I stuck to it and within a month or so I was absolutely hooked on Lightroom. Lightroom has made my process quicker, easier and more streamlined.

Below is to give you a quick reference on when and why I use it using this photo I took of Luna who was available for adoption at the Sheboygan County Humane Society.

First, I import all photos onto my computer using Lightroom.

I go through and sort/cull the images. This is the advantages of using the Lightroom + Photoshop combo over just Photoshop! Photoshop allows you to edit photos within their program or using Camera Raw, but there is no organizational feature of it. Lightroom is the “digital darkroom” of modern photographers. Lightroom makes organizing, labeling and sorting your photos is easy. You can batch rename files, easily add keywords, give star ratings, color label images, flag and unflag photos, and so much more. Then the batch exporting and endless number of presents you can make for exporting is also a huge bonus! I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.
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Second, I apply basic adjustment edits.

Straight out of camera (SOOC) this shot isn’t too bad. But it could really use a bit of brightening up and other minor adjustments.

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After I apply those adjustments, I can then batch apply those same adjustments to several images fairly easily. I believe this CAN be done in Photoshop but Lightroom makes it easy to flip from one photo to the next. And, in Photoshop, every time you want to make a minor edit you have to re-open the image. In Lightroom, you can tweak edits as you sort through photos and easily apply saved presents, save “snapshots” of edits (to revert back or change how it looks) etc.

My third step is then to open in Photoshop and remove the surrounding space that wasn’t covered in the teal paper.

This could be done in Lightroom using the Spot Removal Tool, but it will be much easier and quicker in Photoshop. In Lightroom this is NOT an easy edit. You can do some minor editing with Lightroom’s Spot Removal Tool and it works great; but this is just a bit much for it to handle.

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Lastly, I bring that image back into Lightroom and apply any last adjustments I may want to do.

In this case I had no other adjustments I wanted to do, I just exported it as a JPEG (but I always keep the original RAW and TIFF files).

In short: Lightroom is for minor adjustments and Photoshop is for major adjustments and manipulations, when you combine them together.

You can do the basic adjustments in Photoshop but I personally don’t find it as seamless as Lightroom, AND you cannot organize your photos which I feel is a big benefit. Lightroom you cannot easily use to edit out large areas like this. Even leash removal can get a little difficult in Lightroom and is better done in Photoshop. Hence why the combo of these two is beautiful.

Photoshop + Lightroom is like macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or chips and salsa; they can work by themselves but are so much better together (I’m hungry, if you can’t tell).

And really, for the price of the combo through Adobe’s Creative Cloud, it really just makes sense to invest in both.

*I am in no way paid or endorsed by Adobe to make this post. This is my personal experience and love for their product.

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