My Top 3 Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

My Top 3 Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

Setting up an editing workflow is crucial for photographers, and the programs you choose play a massive role! Today, I’m sharing my top 3 photo editing programs I swear by in my own editing workflow. Whether you’re a newer photographer just starting your business or an active photo hobbyist hoping to speed up your workflow, these picks are solid. It’s very possible that I might add programs in the future to make it even faster, especially with the array of AI programs out there. But for now, I prefer to have total control over everything, and this is what I recommend when you’re just starting out!

So, let’s dive into my top 3 photo editing programs for beginners (that I still personally use!):

Photo Mechanic:

Now, technically , this one isn’t for editing photos per se – rather, it’s for culling your photos. If you don’t know what “culling” is, it’s basically the process of narrowing down your photos to the absolute best shots for editing and sharing with clients. Personally, I’m all about Photo Mechanic for this process. It’s lightning-fast, user-friendly, and puts me squarely in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing which images make the cut! While I’ve tried using Imagen and Aftershoot’s AI culling tools, I keep coming back to Photo Mechanic because, well, it just clicks for me.

Lightroom Classic:

Lightroom Classic is basically the desktop version of Lightroom. It offers more features and should be your go-to if you’re doing most of your editing on a computer. I’ve been a loyal user for years, and Adobe keeps rolling out updates to make it even better. I’d suggest watching a few YouTube tutorials to get the hang of it, then dive in and experiment! I’m constantly discovering new tricks in there and seriously, I can’t sing its praises enough. Check out Adobe’s plans and pricing to see what works for you. Personally, I use the all in on the Photography (20GB) plan for $9.99 a month!


Having Photoshop in your toolkit is a game-changer for those moments when Lightroom just won’t cut it. Sure, you can 100% get away with using Lightroom alone, but I like having Photoshop on hand for those trickier edits – think skin retouching, removing distracting background items, or fixing a wonky horizon that can’t be fixed with a simple crop. Oh, and don’t forget head swapping! I use Photoshop for basic head swaps, usually for those big family portraits at weddings. Opting for the  Photography (20GB) plan bundles both Lightroom and Photoshop together, which is a win-win in my book.

Now, keep in mind, there are tons of different editing and culling programs out there, so I always recommend test-driving them with a free trial before committing. These are simply my ride-or-die favorites that I use day in and day out!

I hope you found this rundown helpful! Got any questions? Drop ‘em in the comments section below. 🙂

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