There is no shame in editing and adjusting your photographs after you’ve taken them, in fact, it has become a completely normal and expected step in the modern photography process. There are lots of pieces of photo editing software out there to help you out as you adjust and perfect your shots – but which of these photo editors are the best?
I’m here as always to try and answer that question, so let’s get to it!
Photoshop has been the standard for image manipulation for a long time now, even sneaking its way into becoming a verb for image manipulation itself (despite Adobe’s insistence that people shouldn’t use their brand name this way). It is undeniable that Photoshop is a very robust piece of software that can handle an absolutely massive range of tasks and uses, but for some the very thing that makes it such a powerful tool can also make it too complex for day to day use. Photoshop is more suited for use on single images that require a lot of precise and detailed work, rather than making small adjustments to a large number of images.
Adobe Lightroom Classic
Lightroom Classic is one of the pieces of software that Adobe includes in their Photography Plan subscription package alongside Photoshop and Lightroom CC, and it’ll probably be the one that you’ll be using the most on a day to day basis. This software lets you organise and enhance your images without getting too bogged down in the nitty-gritty of Photoshop. If you have an Adobe CC subscription already then it is a no-brainer, but it might be hard to justify the subscription cost if you only plan on using Lightroom.
Serif Affinity Photo
Sitting directly opposite Adobe Photoshop is Serif Affinity Photo, boasting much of the same capabilities but without the need for an Adobe subscription. If you’re looking to do some in-depth photo manipulation and editing then this software is a great choice, but it shares the same issues as Photoshop in terms of complexity. In fact, it is lacking some of the automatic abilities of photoshop making it even more of a manual process. If a high degree of control is something that you value, then Serif Affinity Photo could still be a good pick for you.
So far, this list has covered software that is available for purchase or as part of a subscription model, but I’d be remiss if I failed to give due credit to the free software out there. GIMP has an unintuitive UI and slimline features for some tasks, but most importantly it doesn’t cost anything. While you might have to spend a little time getting used to using GIMP, it will serve you well for amateur photo editing and manipulation, so there isn’t much to fault it for as freeware.