Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom?

Question: What’s the difference between Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom? Is one better than the other, or should I have both for different reasons?

Asking because I get Adobe Creative Cloud for free from my school, and I’m not sure which one (or both) I should install. Photoshop is obviously the one I’ve heard of more, but Lightroom appears to have very similar functionality from what I can see.


Photoshop is more like editing objects.
Lightroom is more editing photos straight out of camera.
LR is bassicly recoloring photos.


Thanks! I’ll watch that video once I get home from work today. But based on your TL;DR, it looks like photoshop is more for adding, moving, or manipulating things that are in a photo, while Lightroom would be more for taking a photo from my camera or phone and using filters/enhancements to make it look better?


Firstly, you want Lightroom Classic, not the other Lightroom.

You would use this for managing the photos you import and it’s where you’d do most of the editing. This would include color grading, lighting, etc… I wouldn’t say it was anywhere near “basically recoloring photos.” Both programs are essential to my workflow. I prefer the fine-grained retouching you can do is PS to the rather primitive “spot removal” tool LR has.


Lightroom was designed around a RAW workflow. RAW photos are much like a flat audio signal that you’d then EQ to your taste/style. Where with a JPG, it is compressed and a lot of decisions are made for you by the camera and excess info removed for space savings.


Okay, that makes a lot more sense. So Lightroom is for taking a photo straight from your camera and messing with lighting and color tone to get it to where it looks nice, and then you would move over to photoshop to do the more nitpicky spot removal and retouching.


Exactly, I can’t think cause I just got up.


Yes. Which is oversimplifying both programs drastically.
Each is ridiculously powerful in its own right.

You want to do as much as you can in LR, then go to PS when needed.
LR edits are non-destructive, where PS edits are destructive to the original file.
Using LR, then exporting to PS allows you to work on a copy of the file that it then pulls back into LR so that even when doing destructive edits, you are not altering your source file.

The editing is nice, but LR has a WIDE set of features that should be taken advantage of.
Cataloging being one of the top things. Tagging, geotagging, and metadata management are awesome and often required to keep track of shoots.


You also have the ability to create photo books, slideshows, order prints, and even develop static sites. Not to mention a powerful API that made possible. The contents of the site are entirely populated by LR. The albums, tags, titles, captions, and descriptions are all generated by Lightroom, then synchronized w/ the content management system. I literally push 1 button, and boom. Complete site.

You also have the ability to shoot tethered directly into Lightroom. A feature you won’t use now, but sure might if you develop it into a career as a studio photographer.

So yeah. It’s a liiiiiiiiiitle more than what most novices use it for, which is unfortunately because some people use a whole bunch of different programs never knowing LR can do everything they needed and more.