Photo Editing for Beginners

Photo Editing for Beginners

Here’s a quick look at what is photo editing for beginners and how to edit photos like a pro without watching thousands of Photoshop photo editing tutorials. You can choose a convenient photo editing software for beginners, select the most popular photo editing style/s, learn about trending things in digital photo editing industry or just outsource your photo editing. If you are just starting your journey into photo editing, these tips are what you need.

Photo Editing Software for Beginners

If you want to edit photos like professional photographers and you feel that you can spend some money on the paid photo editing programs for beginners, here are the best softwares to download and use right now.

1. Adobe Photoshop - Price: $20.99 per Month

photo editing software for beginners

  • Many available Photoshop actions / overlays / textures / brushes
  • You can do any photo manipulation
  • Impressive face and geo-tagging features
  • Quick and accurate search option
  • Detailed Photoshop editing tutorials
  • There are plenty of design tools to use
  • The interface can be very overwhelming to new users of the program
  • Not every update is completely polished before its release

Download Adobe Photoshop

Most of the professional photo editing tips are aimed at PS. You are free to create absolutely new worlds in Adobe Photoshop by means of its tools. No matter you want to correct white balance or you need to merge several photos, there is absolutely no limit to what you are able to do.


The program is mainly created for the photographers and digital artists. In case you are interested in editing pictures, Photoshop CC will be the best variant.

2. Adobe Lightroom - $9.99 per Month

photo editing programs for beginners

  • Elaborate control and operating system
  • Lens-based and camera improvements
  • Gradient adjustments and luminance & color masking
  • Tagging and face detection
  • Connection via mobile apps
  • Low-speed import
  • Raw conversion requires improvements.

Download Adobe Lightroom

What is the best photo editing software for beginners in wedding and event photography? Adobe Lightroom strives to become one. It is sometimes used as a substitution of the full-fledged Photoshop (learn more how to get Lightroom for free). If you are just beginning your photo editing way, use this photo editing software for photo correction, namely download several Lightroom presets, experiment, and make beautiful outcomes.


3. Corel PaintShop Pro - $79.99 per Year

photo editing programs for beginners

  • Resembles Photoshop, but is cheaper
  • Powerful tools and features
  • Face recognition
  • Variety of vector drawing tools
  • Some effects are applied slowly
  • Cluttered interface
  • Weak chromatic aberration elimination.

Download Corel PaintShop Pro

If you aren’t satisfied with the basic editing in Photoshop or are just looking for the alternative to the Adobe products, check Corel Paint Shop Pro. In fact, it is very close in progress to PS Elements. The functions are similar to Photoshop ones, but you won’t find the sharp learning curve. As in the case with Adobe packages, you may benefit from the trial version of this program.

4. ON1 Photo RAW - $79.99 per Year

best photo editing for beginners

  • Budgetary variant, one-time payment
  • Test version every month (no registration)
  • Easy to use as LR and has different functions as Capture One
  • Convenient photo preview on a computer
  • You can install ON1Photo Raw to work with raw files and plugins for LR and PS
  • Complete interface with .psd files
  • Despite diverse features, it can’t fully substitute Photoshop
  • Few presets
  • Slow background export mode

To turn photo editing for beginners into a pleasant work, I suggest finding a simple and effective software. ON1Photo Raw is believed to be a quality tool and, generally, the most serious LR competitor. So, why most users return to well-known Lightroom and refuse to study ON1Photo Raw? It is all about the interface, which looks rather complicated to the inexperienced photographers, so they decide to learn photo editing online in Lightroom. You can use ON1Photo Raw to create astonishing HDR pictures. Due to the special algorithms, the process takes several minutes.

5. Phase One Capture One - $299.00 per Year

photo editing for beginners

  • Users friendly interface
  • Best detail in initial raw file conversion
  • Prompt import
  • Effective toolbar
  • Tagging tool by keyword
  • Some lags
  • You can share photos on the web
  • No face recognition.

Download Phase One Capture One

If you searched how to edit photos to look professionally using Photoshop or other programs, you have probably come across Phase One Capture One, which is the basis for the improved version known as Capture One Pro 11. In this software you’ll find lots of useful features:

  • Digital tools to import images;
  • Picture adjustment;
  • Live monitor view;
  • Conversion of raw files;
  • Focus and masking tools;
  • Layer support;
  • Organizational options.

This program was developed to satisfy the need of the Phase One shooters, so you won’t find any tools to work with design. Still, it can be a serious opponent to Adobe packages.

If you spend some time and look for more paid and free photo editing and creating software, you may find Ulead PhotoImpact and Microsoft Digital Image Suite. They are great for the standard photo manipulations but lack some tools and options if you are interested in more advanced photo editing techniques.

capture one


Free Photo Editors for Beginners

You may feel confused at the beginning of your photography career, as there are more questions than the answers. Still, if you know the basics of the photography, you understand that a quality photo editing software for beginners is very important.

There are lots of variants on the market, so choosing the best photo editing programs for beginners may be a tricky task. There are free software (I’ll show those), as well as paid ones, so judging by your budget you can choose something suitable. Let’s start with the best free photo editor and some basic photo editing tips for working with them.


free photo editing software for beginners

  • Free
  • Ability to change functionality
  • Packed with features and tools
  • Works with different file types
  • Developer support
  • User-friendly interface
  • No ads
  • Open Source Code
  • Functional packed to a minimum

Some users claim it to be the main competitor of Photoshop. This photo editor was developed and is being modified by the group of skillful volunteers. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, and MacOS, and is the best photo editing software for beginners, who don’t want or simply can’t spend money on Adobe products.

The beginners really like GIMP as it has a very understandable interface. The photo is shown in one window, while all the tools and features are placed in another one. The workplace is rather big, so you can conveniently work with the photo. You will find the Brush and Lasso tools and diverse effects. If you are accustomed to working in PS, it will take some time until you get used to GIMP, though they are very similar. But, you’ll be able to save a significant sum.


best free photo editing software for beginners

  • Absolutely FREE
  • Easy and convenient to use
  • Many useful functions and effects
  • Many plug-ins
  • Clear and well-ordered user interface
  • Online consulting and “how-to” tutorials
  • Different formats for saving images after image editing
  • Limited brush work
  • No Burn and Dodge
  • No text correction after applying other effects

Sometimes a standard college project may become a great development. This is the case with Paint. NET. It was initially created as a more powerful replacement of the standard Microsoft Paint, but eventually surpassed its predecessor and became a popular free photo editing and creating program. Together with the standard tools and options, Paint.NET pleases the users with more advanced features and effects.

8. Photo Pos Pro

best photo editing for beginners

  • User-friendly interface
  • Several modes according to the user experience
  • Limited file export resolution
  • Monthly Subscription

Though this free photo editing software for beginners isn’t as well-known as the previous ones, it is still very effective with a large selection of tools. Primarily, the interface looks more accessible with the toolbar logically designed. Somehow, it resembles Fotor, but Photo Pos Pro offers unique “novice” layout approach.

There is also the “expert” layout, which was created for more experienced users, who would like to manually adjust layers, masks, curves etc. Though there are some basic options for editing pictures, the main accent is on the fine editing. The program will surely satisfy photographers, who have to improve a large number of shots. Using a Clone Brush, you’ll be able to remove unwanted elements in several clicks.

Photo Pos Pro offers diverse photo editing tools free but it has a significant flaw – the max resolution of the saved files is 1,024x2,014 pixels. So, they won’t look professional in a printed form. Still, there is a paid Premium version for £24.50/US$24.90/AU$41.89 without such a limitation.

9. PhotoScape

photo editor

  • Convert Raw files
  • Lots of filters
  • Uncustomary interface

At first you may treat PhotoScape as a simple, standard photo editing software, but, in fact, it has lots of valuable options to impress you:

  • Raw files conversion;
  • Picture splitting and merging;
  • Creation of the animated GIF etc.

In fact, picture editing for beginners will be incomplete without this program. The main function of this editor is, of course, pictures improvement. However, the interface looks very unusual, or even strange. The toolbar is oddly arranged and some options resemble Ps very much.

Though it is believed to be the best photo editing software for beginners, experienced shooters and retouchers can use it to get wonderful results. The program offers diverse filters to quickly enhance the quality of your image.

10. Fotor

best photo editing for beginners

  • Top-quality filters
  • Possibility to edit a large number of photos
  • A convenient collage maker
  • A RAW file converter
  • Doesn’t support plugins
  • Lots of ads in the mobile and web apps
  • Very few possibilities for a deep image retouching

If you are searching for the best online editing for photos, Fotor isn’t a full-fledged image editing program. Still, you will get a chance to perform some simple and standard photo manipulations. The biggest advantage is an elaborately organized tool-board. If you aren’t satisfied with the auto settings, you can adjust some parameters, for example, the levels or curves, manually.

Most users really admire Fotor’s batch image editing option, which is very convenient if you are wedding or product photographer. Just in several minutes, you will get your photos edited well, while you may do some other tasks.


photo editing for beginners

  • Works on Android and iOS
  • Simple to use
  • Supports layers and masks
  • No offline versions
  • Requires Flash

You may learn photo editing for free, using Pixlr. In fact, there are several types of this app:

  • Advanced (the Editor);
  • Efficient (Pixlr Express).

If you are used to mobile image editing, the developer created a special program kit for tablets and iPhones. All the programs are completely free. At first glance, Pixlr resembles PS. You will find the familiar tools to perform traditional picture manipulations. Still, there are some uncommon, advanced options that you will typically find in Pixlr Express. Mainly, you’ll get a chance to enhance your shots, playing with overlays. The result will surely surprise you.

Photo editing for beginners sometimes seems a daunting task, but with the quality software, everything becomes less complicated and frightening. Pixlr developers tried to set the line between mobile and desktop image editor versions. Mostly, people opt for the mobile app, which is simple to use in the browser. Note: Check if your Adobe Flash Player works properly, as you will need it to run Pixlr.

Outsource Your Photo Editing

However, if you do not have time to study the basics of photo editing, you can address online portrait photo retouching services like FixThePhoto. For only $5 per photo, you will receive a professional level of photo editing with color correction, skin retouching and getting rid of all imperfections. This is the fastest way to edit photos like a pro.

How Do Photographers Edit Photos?

Simple color adjustments are the basic changes. While looking through the menu, you can find options such as “shadows/highlights", “brightness / contrast”, “curves”, and “hue / saturation” and they can enhance your pictures. All this can be found in any photo editing programs for beginners.

STEP 1 - Setting and Improving Colors

Brightness / Contrast

learn photo editing tutorials

Among the easiest actions of photo editing for beginners are changing the level of light and shadow, reducing or increasing the contrast. Quite often, it will be enough for you to make small changes in the contrast and brightness settings and your dull and inexpressive photos will turn into breathtaking images. Learn photo editing tutorials to do it fast and skillful.

Auto Color / Auto Levels

professional photo editing tips

Best online editing for photos will let you fix some color imperfections and make your photographs look more natural. If the pictures were taken under the artificial lights, the colors may seem strange but a few simple clicks can improve everything.

Curves / Levels / Saturation / Hue

editing pictures

Changing the Auto Color and Auto Levels refers to manual color adjustment methods. Working with the settings of hues you can improve the color and playing with saturation, you will make the image more vivid. The higher the saturation is, the brighter your photo will be. So be careful not to spoil photos by going too far. Working with levels you can change the three basic colors separately. Curves are used to affect highlights and shadows. Photo editing for beginners doesn’t seem to be a very simple task. So, begin adjusting these settings only if you are sure how to do it properly. When you become a more confident user, take some advantage of these precise and flexible adjustments.

Shadows / Highlights

photo editing tips for beginners

These options will be useful if you need to darken too bright areas in the photo or vice versa - to make brighter the dark places. Your actions must be accurate and careful so as not to spoil anything. In addition, you must correctly combine the highlight/shadow settings with contrast and brightness.


basic editing in photoshop

If you wish to enhance the composition, cropping can be a very useful feature. Sometimes, cutting off only a small part of the picture, you will get an incredible transformation. Quite often it happens that after deleting about half of the image you get a new, completely amazing picture. Photoshop photo editing tutorials advise applying rotation if you need to align different lines with the edges of the photo.

Toning and Desaturating

photo editing for beginners

Among the most important options, I can name the possibility to discolor a photo, in other words, turn it into black and white. According to the photo editing tips for beginners, you can do this in several ways. Some programs allow you to perform this operation using the desaturation function. At the same time, if this option is not available, you need to reduce the saturation using the hue/saturation menu. Some software allows you to get a grayscale by changing the color mode of the photo or you can just use Lightroom presets or Photoshop actions for this purpose.

STEP 2 – Face/Body Retouching

Frequency Separation

If you have problems matching the skin tones, you can correct this by the dint of the frequency separation. Watch the tutorial and learn some professional photo editing tips about this photo manipulation.

Brighten Eyes

Dodge & Burn

These two tools are among the most important for your photo editing workflow. My recommendation is to set the new layer to soft light and fill it with gray for 50%. The brush must be set to 5% opacity value. You should use the white brush for dodging and the black one for burning. This kind of photography editing techniques is described in Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it book by Scott Kelbey.


Speaking about toning, it can’t greatly improve the perception of the image. Therefore, if you need to significantly improve the picture, toning is unlikely to help and your skills here are not to blame. Toning only brings a small touch to the already high-quality photo. Remember that using this option you must know exactly what to do. It shouldn’t resemble your attempts to guess which of the hundreds of filters will suit best. It is important for you to have sufficient knowledge of complimentary colors and learn photo editing techniques.

Teeth Whitening

Experiment with Different Photo Editing Styles

Developing your image editing style is another essential step for any beginner photographer. What style of images attracts you most? What pictures inspire you to create incredible photos? As for me, personally and emotionally filled images attract my attention. It is important to see what story the photographer is trying to convey with the help of the picture.

The further step is to select the photo editing software for beginners and the effects you wish to add - lightness or gloomy and darkness. I prefer light and airy images with slight dark shades. The warm B&W and sepia shades are not among my favorites. However, this is just my opinion. If this is what you need, use the full power of these effects.

Study More Styles that Inspire You

Matte Finish

photo editing styles

© Amanda Basteen

This filter gives the impression of a slight haze that appears when applying it to the image. Matte presets are among the best free photo editing downloads. It includes blacks which make the image look as if it was printed on the matte paper.


Desaturated Look

photo editing styles

© Tim Millen

The sense of this approach is to make the colors of the photo a bit muted. This style is especially popular for editing photos with greenery. The colors in the images of this type look a bit muffled because of the original vibration. The intensity of green, red, and blue is reduced.



photo editing styles

© Jimmy McIntyre

According to the tutorials on photo editing for beginners, HDR allows you to get a greater range of brightness than a normal digital image provides. City night shots processed with this effect look amazing, but you can also use it in other cases. If you wish to add color to your image, HDR is the perfect solution. In fact, this effect is the opposite of the desaturation.



photo editing styles

© Fer Juaristi

Using the effect of one color can look quite impressive after performing photo editing for free.

Find Some Skillful Artists and Follow Them

You can easily discover several masters, who specialize in one or several photo editing styles. Studying their work, analyzing the techniques that they use you will be able to learn photo editing for free. Gradually, you will discover the pattern of photographing and image editing which you will follow and master.

Take Photos of a Definite Style

This tip is closely related to the previous two. After you determine what type of image you would like to receive, you should start adjusting the settings necessary to achieve your goal. You must select the appropriate structures, tones, and lighting. This is an important part of photo editing for beginners. For instance, if I need to get dark and moody photos, I should not take pictures in an overly lighted room.

Photo editing is a kind of art that can create real wonders. Using photo editing software for beginners and professionals you are able to improve almost every picture. Changing and improving your photographs, step by step, you will develop your own style of shooting and image editing.

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