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Once upon a time...
I never edited my photos. I just accepted them for the way they were. not because I loved the unpolished look, but because I had no experience with photo editing software. I tried so many different photo editing platforms until I finally settled on one that I believe is relatively easy to learn.
The first editor I ever used was an online editor called PicMonkey. This was a fantastic find as someone who had no clue what the definition of exposure was. The UI was incredibly simple and edits were mostly controlled by slider bars. You could whiten teeth, brush your skin smooth, and pretty much do anything that Facetune could accomplish today. With absolutely no editing experience, it was easy to overdo it.
Later, I tried my hand at Photoshop and was quickly overwhelmed. The concept of layers went completely over my head. With so many tools and buttons, it felt impossible to learn anything in a timely manner that would boost my workflow. Photoshop did prove itself useful for making graphics, but it wasn't what I needed for photos.
Learning the jargon has always been the first hurdle to clear when I've tried something new. It didn't feel like I was making much progress with photo editing. I knew I could only do a few basic things with photoshop unless I wanted to immerse myself in hundreds of hours of Youtube videos. I began to wonder what kind of software was out there for beginner editors like me.
PicMonkey was no longer an option. The process was too tedious. Uploading each individual photo, making the edits, and then saving it to PC was a huge pain. What I really wanted was to be able to apply the same edits to multiple photos in batches. A quick Google search led me to Lightroom.
At first, Lightroom was just as intimidating as Photoshop. I knew I didn't want to spend a lot of time learning the software, but that's exactly what I did. I watched countless Youtube videos to figure out how to do everything I wanted to do in Lightroom. It was frustrating, but worth it in the end.
Lightroom is a very powerful editor. There are standard slider bars for just about everything you can think of. You can change exposure, contrast, shadows, highlights, etc. If you want to fine-tune details or make beauty edits there are a number of different brushes you can choose from. If those don't meet your needs you can custom create brushes or find downloadable brushes online made by other editors.
Customizing brush settings will allow you to smooth skin, whiten teeth, blur the background, brighten eyes, etc. You won't be able to apply these specific edits to multiple photos and that can make the process tedious, especially if you are working with a lot of files. You can also create your own custom LUTS. LUT stands for Lookup Table and I have no idea what that means, but it's basically just like a filter. If you're feeling less creative you can search for downloadable LUTs made by other creators online.
Another advantage to using Lightroom is being able to watermark your photos on export. You can upload your own custom watermark or use simple text. On export, Lightroom will apply the watermark in the exact same spot on every photo.
Other features I love would be, the ability to keep collections of photos organized, return to photos later and make different edits, and multiple monitor editing. When you import photos you can organize them by collection so you don't intermix all of your photos. You can always return to a photo, reset the image, and start all over with edits.
Pro Tip: If you are editing with multiple monitors you will most likely notice that each monitor is calibrated differently. I've learned to accept these slight differences, but if it drives you mad you can get a monitor calibration tool such as a SpyderX. Although you should keep in mind that your photos will look different on everyone else's monitors no matter what you do.
Lightroom costs $119.88 per year or $9.99 per month and Adobe does offer bundle deals if you need other Adobe software. Personally, I would recommend getting Creative Cloud access for $29.99 per month which includes "20+ Creative Cloud apps for photography, design, video, web, UX, and social media."
Pro Tip: Don't forget! The software you use for your business is a tax deduction. Keep track of your business spending so you can write it off at the end of the year.