I’ve had a lot of people asking me whether I use Photoshop or Lightroom the most as a photographer, and I thought I’d write a piece on my workflow in relation to these two programs. But first a quick disclaimer; this is just my workflow, and doesn’t necessarily represent all working photographers - feel free to leave a comment if your workflow is similar, or wildly different!

I personally see Lightroom as a much more photography oriented tool, and Photoshop as more of a design/creative tool to complement and augment your images with other elements.


Lightroom is where I do the majority of my photo culling and editing, due to the speed and ease of use. My process is to copy all the photos from a given job into a folder on my hard drive then using Lightroom, mark photos worth importing using P and X on the keyboard.

An example of a photo edited just in Lightroom:

An example of a photo edited just in Lightroom:

Then once these photos are imported, I’ll usually edit one of them with basic adjustments - for example a little bit of noise reduction if it’s a darker event, and perhaps lens profile corrections or a preset. I’ll then select all the photos and sync them. This makes editing much quicker if I know I was going to do that adjustment to all the photos anyway.

Once that is done, then I’ll go through each photo and do all my minor adjustments such as white balance, exposure correction and perhaps cropping. This is where Photoshop then comes in:


If something more intensive needs to be done to a photo such as spot removal, cloning or more dramatic editing, I will often click Cmd + E which opens the photo I have selected into Photoshop (Ctrl + E on Windows).

For most of my event work I won’t ever enter Photoshop, however in a food shoot if there is a little bit of dust on the table that I want to tidy up or if there’s a tiny bit of soup spilling down the side of a bowl I might clean that up in Photoshop. I also use Photoshop much more if I’m doing a commercial shoot where the backgrounds need to be perfectly white.

Lamp photo for Zamm Lights

Lamp photo for Zamm Lights

An example is recently when I was photographing these lamps for Zamm Lights, and I had to make a composite of the lamps looking like they were turned on while still being lit by my lights:

If I’m working on something more creative such as an album cover/music shoot or a portait shoot, sometimes I’ll take that into photoshop to get more control over the colours of the image, or if I’m going to do something like a Brenzier Method panorama (Comment if you’d like me to do a blog post on this later on!).

I will also often use Photoshop for creating posters/design images, as it is a great program to work with text and colours in.

I hope you have found this helpful in understanding the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom, please feel free to leave a comment on your own workflow!

Ben Stewart is a Wellington based photographer specialising in events, food and portrait photography. You can check out his previous work here, and book him here!