Concept photo of Adobe Photoshop workspace

Most photographers who are beginners usually work with Adobe Lightroom. It’s low cost and does basic photo editing. However, it’s very limited in what it can do, so the logical next step is to graduate to Photoshop. That brings up the question of whether Photoshop Elements is preferred, or the complete and robust full version of Photoshop should be purchased.

If you’re a photographer who has reached the point where they need to go beyond Adobe Lightroom then the next step would be to obtain Photoshop Elements. Even the more simpler Elements package can be daunting with a huge learning curve. There are thousands and thousands of free online tutorials to help you with specific tasks so you’re not on your own when it comes to learning the software.

Before we discuss the differences between Elements and Photoshop, we should mention that learning either package is something that you need to devote time for. You’re not going to learn all the tools quickly and it can be frustrating trying to find the best way to perform an edit. A good way to start learning is to focus on a specific topic and master the technique. For example, suppose you would like to convert an image to a sepia style. Search the internet for sepia tutorials and work your way through the steps.

dreamstime 2

Learning Adobe products in steps will allow you to accomplish various techniques. This approach will enable you to make progress and have something to show for your efforts and help avoid the frustration of trying to learn everything all at once. Many beginners wonder where to start and there really is no road path for learning Concept A then B, etc. Decide what you want to do with a particular photograph and start from there.

In addition to the online resources, you can always try searching sites such as Amazon and purchasing used books at a low cost if you’re a person who prefers to learn by following printed instructions. Online tutorials are free and easy to find and while the presenters may be advanced Photoshop users, they are not always good teachers. Books printed by Adobe may prove to be a preferable route for learning.

One last thing to note: Even for the most advanced users out there using photo editing software, Adobe products are so robust that there is really no one out there who is a complete expert. Photo editing, regardless of whatever software you use, will be a lifelong endeavor for learning. So again, focus on what you want to accomplish.

Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop

Using Content-Aware Fill in Adobe Photoshop to remove unwanted objects from images. Silky sharks swimming through the electric blue waters of La Jardin de la Reina, Cuba.

When it comes to deciding whether to get Elements or the full version of Photoshop, it really depends on where you’re at in your career. We could discuss many of the technical details and features missing in Elements, but if you’re just starting out and want to perform higher level image corrections that you can’t do with Lightroom, then all you really need is Elements. You can do web searches and find checklists of what Elements can do and what is missing when compared to the full version of Photoshop, so why read this blog when the technical details is already available?

Just think of Elements as an easier way to learn Photoshop and is available at a lower cost. A part time hobbyist trying to get more serious with their photography is not going to find any advantages with the higher end software.

If you’re a hobbyist who is starting to earn income on the side with photography and digital art, then you may want to start taking advantage of the advanced features not offered in Elements. Also, when you’re generating a side income from photography, then the cost of a subscription for Photoshop CC is tax deductible, at least in the United States. Even with Photoshop CC, virtually all the editing you do will be available in Elements but if you’re someone who has started making money from their hobby, you can utilize the tax breaks and be able to lower your costs while having the professional version of the software.

Therefore, the real difference between the two versions of Photoshop is how much you will be able to utilize it and how much time you have to learn and use it. Photoshop Elements is good the beginner and hobbyist and a way to get started learning photo editing techniques. If you reach a point where you can “graduate” to a professional level where you’re generating income and/or need to use features that available in Elements, then the software will be available to purchase.