There’s more to being a photographer than snapping photos.
A great photographer is just as talented at editing as they are at taking pictures. They can take an ordinary photograph and make it extraordinary with editing. If you’ve recently started learning photography, you should start learning to edit, too.
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Here’s some of the best photo editing software for beginners
Adobe Lightroom is one of the most simple yet intuitive photo editors out there.
With Lightroom, you don’t have to worry about editing your photo too much. Lightroom keeps the original photo intact throughout the editing process. With just the click of a button, you can see a comparison of the original photo and your edited photo.
Lightroom lets you edit every aspect of your photos. From lighting to contrast to tints and filtering, Lightroom’s got you covered. You can even isolate specific parts of a photo and edit the values in just those areas.
Beginners might be interested in Lightroom’s presets feature. When you find a certain combination of values you like, you can set these in a preset. Then you can use this preset on other photographs, applying the same values.
Click here to learn how to add presets to lightroom.
You can make substantive edits with Lightroom, or just change a photo to black and white. It’s all up to you, and it’s all made easy with slider-based controls. Lightroom is constantly updated with new tools, meaning there will always be a new tool to play with.
GIMP is the closest thing you’ll get to a free version of Photoshop.
It’s a full-fledged photo editor that can do just about everything Photoshop does. You can edit color and contrast values, reduce grain, and color correct photos with ease. You can even perform substantive retoolings and create collages.
GIMP gives you access to layers and tons of brushes for adding color and smoothing surfaces. The program is also highly customizable. Users are always creating new tools that can be installed straight to the program.
GIMP isn’t as simple to use as a program like Lightroom, but it is more expansive. There are tons of tutorials that cover everything from basic photo editing to full-on Photoshopping. If you’re the kind of person who likes to really tweak intimate details of a photo, GIMP is for you.
Pixlr is a browser-based photo editor, but don’t let that turn you away.
Pixlr is a great program to learn on. It takes a little of Lightroom and a little of GIMP and puts them together.
Pixlr lets you edit a photo in all the expected ways and beyond. You can change contrast and brightness, play around with color, and alter the focus. You can smooth, blend, and make substantive touchups to every aspect of your photo.
Beginners can also get a taste of layers and masking options. The only downside is that Pixlr doesn’t accept RAW format photographs. You’ll have to convert them before loading them into the software.
You can use Pixlr for free if you’re willing to put up with ads, or you can pay $5 a month. For such a small price, Pixlr really is one of the best options for beginners.
Luminar is a Lightroom inspired photo editor with an interesting twist.
What sets Luminar 4 apart from the competition is its AI-powered tools. With these, you can let Luminar do all the heavy lifting. The software will look at a photo and automatically make edits as it sees fit.
Luminar is a non-destructive editor, so if you don’t like the AI edits you’ll still have your original. You can also ignore the AI tools entirely and use Luminar 4 just like any other editing program. Without AI it’s comparable to Lightroom, letting you do a deep edit into every little piece of a photo.
You can even use Luminar 4 as a plugin for Lightroom or Photoshop. This gives you access to the AI tools right inside of the other programs. If you like what the AI does but not the software, give it a try.
If you like HDR photos, you’re going to live Aurora HDR.
Aurora HDR comes in both a standalone form and as a Lightroom plugin. Aurora’s software specializes in making great HDR photos. It’ll merge multiple exposures into one photo, giving you a crisp, beautiful image.
After Aurora has edited your photo, you can use its built-in toolset to further tweak the image. If it’s too crisp, you can lower that. Too much light or contrast, you can edit that, too.
Aurora HDR won a ‘Best Software’ award from Outdoor Photographer magazine back in 2017. It’s only gotten better since then. 2019 saw Aurora HDR take home three awards at the Digital Camera Grand Prix!
People have a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to HDR photography. But if you’re into it, Aurora is the way to go.
If you’re a mobile photographer, try a great mobile editing app.
Photoshop Express is entirely free and available on both iOS and Android. It gives you the expected exposure sliders and some great filters. You can crop your photo into a variety of sizes, including Instagram size.
Photoshop Express lets you easily make collages, and gives you access to a great healing tool. This lets you remove blemishes like acne from a portrait. You can also create presets much like in Lightroom.
There are tons of add-ons for Photoshop Express, too. If you want a customizable and easy editor on your phone, go with Photoshop.
Learn to Edit With the Best Photo Editing Software for Beginners
If you’re looking for the best photo editing software for beginners, try one of the programs above.
Each piece of software offers different tools for you to play with in different ways. If one doesn’t quite work for you, keep looking! There are so many photo editing programs out there, you’re bound to find something you love.
For more tech topics like this, check out the rest of our blog.