Do I REALLY need Photoshop?

While on the road, I’m often asked how people can use Finao and not purchase Photoshop.  It seems everyone has Lightroom these days but newer photographers are often faced with a tough choice on where to spend their software dollars.  Lighroom is the correct choice to start out, however it’s only a start.  Photoshop is a big investment, but it really is a necessary component to any working photographer’s toolbox.  I run a full time studio and to be honest I haven’t ever used Photoshop Elements or other non-Adobe programs other than Aperture (which was like Lightroom).  Adobe stuff is pretty much the industry standard and not having it will limit a studio’s ability to use many of the great products from marketing and template vendors.   You can however find temporary options which will work until you can afford to make the investment.  Here is a look at some of your options.

Lightroom is a great program and although you can do a ton of things in Lightroom these days, it’s just not a fully functional imaging editing and manipulation program.   Lightroom is used just for sorting, processing and basic color manipulation.  To do anything advanced with an image once you have exported it from Lightroom, you really do need an image editing program such as Photoshop.

Aperture is a decent program but has two drawbacks.  The major drawback is that it’s an Apple only platform so for those PC users who have yet to drink the Apple Kool-Aid, you are out of luck.  I joined the Apple cult years ago, but I still do not use Aperture, it’s just too limited.  You can design books in Aperture, however the program only makes PDF files of your layouts which limit’s your ability to order from most of us making hand-made albums.  Plus you can’t easily edit a flattened PDF.

Photoshop is the best all around choice for doing page layout, photo manipulation, and image creation.  You can pretty much do anything you need in Photoshop. It has the ability to process images (not a fast as Lightroom), manipulate images, create new images such as logos and multi-image composites.   The big advantage of Photoshop is the ability to buy third party plugins, filters and actions such as those from Totally Rad Actions, Nik Software, On One Software, Fundy SOS and many more.  You can also purchase templates from places such as Design Aglow and Sandy Puc’s Ukandu to make marketing materials.  These templates get modified in Photoshop with your logo, information and color choices.  Photoshop really is a must have!

InDesign which is for page layout only and has a steep learning curve.  I don’t recommend InDesign for beginners since I haven’t even mastered it yet.  Lightroom may one day contain more options like Photoshop, but I don’t ever see Adobe making it too useful since they want to be able to sell all of us a copy of Photoshop and a copy of Lightroom.

So what do you do if you are on a budget?  You can do a month to month or annual subscription on Adobe products which may be easier on your wallet.

With all of this said, our templates are just templates for checking the safety margin and center of the page spreads.  So if you follow a few design tips in our Style Guide, then you can really use any program to make your page layouts as long as the final images you submit to us are actual size of the page spread (so a 10×10 book would have a 10×20 files size) and are at 300 dpi in sRGB format.
I hope this helps make things simple and explain your options.   You can always hire a designer to do your album design which I will cover in a future blog post.

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