Laura Shoe's Lightroom Training, Tutorials and News

Empowering photographers since 2006

Laura Shoe's Lightroom Blog

/, Photoshop and Camera Raw/10+ Reasons Lightroom Users May Want to Subscribe to Photoshop CC

10+ Reasons Lightroom Users May Want to Subscribe to Photoshop CC

Photoshop CC Black Friday Deal

Update April 2014: $9.99 has become the “going rate” for the “Creative Cloud Photoshop Photography program”, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom. A Creative Cloud subscription also now gives you unlimited syncing from your desktop catalog to Lightroom mobile for the iPad. This new app and Lightroom may be justification enough for you for the $9.99/month price tag. If not, read on to see if you might get value out of receiving Photoshop CC as well.

Written 11/20/2013: With Adobe’s Current Black Friday sale on Photoshop CC + Lightroom,  I anticipate that a lot of photographers not currently using Photoshop are wondering if they should consider it. I am assuming for the sake of this article that you are already using Lightroom. The question here is, do you need Photoshop too?

There is certainly much that you can do in Photoshop that you can’t do in Lightroom. The key questions are, do you need or want to do enough of those things to justify the $19.99/month $9.99/month Photoshop CC price tag, and are you willing and able to invest the time and money to learn this complicated program?

I generally recommend that photographers learn Lightroom’s Develop tools well first, so that you appreciate fully what you can already do with Lightroom. Many people who have used Lightroom for years still haven’t explored or mastered all of its tools. (Of course an excellent way to learn them is with my Lightroom Fundamentals & Beyond video series.)

Amongst serious amateurs and pro’s, usage of Photoshop for photography purposes runs the full spectrum — some are completely satisfied with just using Lightroom (more and more with each new Lightroom release!), some take some percentage to Photoshop to do more complicated work, and others take all their photos to Photoshop to do more complicated work or to use actions they have built or purchased. I personally take about 5% of my straight photographs to Photoshop to do work I can’t do in Lightroom. I also use Photoshop for creative compositing. Let me be clear that if you decide not to add Photoshop to your toolkit, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t serious about your photography — Lightroom is very powerful by itself.

Here are My Top 11 Reasons Why You May Want or Need Photoshop

1. Complicated Object Removal & Movement

Lightroom’s spot removal tool is more powerful than a lot of people think (the second video on this page will teach you how to use it), particularly with the addition in Lightroom 5 of the click-and-drag brush capability, but it still has significant limitations — to cover something up, you have to have a clean source in your image to draw from. Photoshop has “content aware” functionality — it can analyze the area around what you’re removing, and intelligently make up new information to fill the fix area in.

Removing this telephone pole took less than a minute:


You also have more tools available to help you with object removal — the patch tool, for example. Finally, you can copy in elements from another photo to cover up problems — watch my video on swapping eyes and heads to see how.

2. Sophisticated Retouching

The Liquify tool in Photoshop is very popular in retouching, for the big tasks of making people or parts of them thinner or more defined, but also for more subtle work, such as enhancing cheek bones and eyes. Photoshop also allows you to very quickly and more precisely select and make changes to faces and skin, and has many other tools that professional retouchers use as well. (We have all seen the fashion magazine examples — you can go all the way towards this, or make more subtle changes.)

That said, if all you need to do is get rid of some zits, brighten and whiten teeth and the whites of eyes, make the eyes pop with come saturation and clarity, saturate lips, soften skin, and/or reduce the appearance of circles under eyes and wrinkles, all of this can be done in Lightroom, with the spot removal tool and adjustment brush. (Here’s a video tutorial on the adjustment brush.)

Here’s an example of basic retouching with just Lightroom (a bit overdone — retouching oneself can get addicting!):


I would put photo restoration under this category as well — you can do some basic cleanup and color work with Lightroom, but when the going gets tough, you will need a more powerful tool.

3. Complicated Selections

I use Lightroom’s adjustment brush all the time to make local changes to photos, and when I need to affect something up against an edge, I turn on its auto-mask functionality, which protects me from spilling over the edge. This tool therefore allows me to make some pretty complicated selections. However, auto mask’s edge is very abrupt (there is no feathering control), so if I am making a dramatic change, the result is sometimes too obviously fake. In addition, auto mask does not work well next to fine detail, such as hair. Here’s an example of where I used auto mask to affect the background around my head. I can get away with it if I darken the background, but not if I brighten it up more than subtly:

Lightroom Adjustment Brush Limitations

Limitations of Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush Auto Mask Feature

Photoshop, on the other hand, has very powerful tools to make complicated selections, with a lot of control over edges. It takes time to build the skills to make selections such as this, but it is doable.

4. Merging Multiple Exposures with HDR

When I am photographing a scene with a lot of contrast — very bright areas and very dark areas, I will often bracket my exposures and merge them automatically with Photoshop’s HDR Pro feature. This is not possible in Lightroom. (You could instead by Photomatix or another HDR plug-in.)


Three Bracketed Exposures and the Final Merged Photo (Right)

5. Merging Photos into a Panorama

If you have a very wide scene that you can’t capture in one photo, or want to make a very high-resolution photo by stitching together several of pieces of your scene, you will need Photoshop or another program to merge them.



6. Photoshop CC’s New Camera Shake-Reduction Filter

This new filter sharpens photos that are blurry due to camera movement during the exposure. It is on its first iteration and has its limitations, but it gives us some hope of saving blurry photos, for at least low-resolution usage (photo courtesy of

Photoshop CC Camera Shake Reduction Filter


7. Wide Angle Perspective Correction

I debated whether to put this new feature in the list, as whether this one matters to you will depend on what kind of shooting you do. Shooting with a wide angle lens can really distort the size and shape of objects up close. If it is important to you to correct this, it cannot be done in Lightroom. Here’s an example – notice in the before shot how wide the side table next to the sofa is, how distorted the vase is, and how long the TV and stand appear, compared to the after.


Before and After Adaptive Wide Angle Lens Correction

8. Creative Compositing

Whether you wish to simply put one photo on top of another and blend them, or take an object out of one photo and put it in another, this is a task for Photoshop.

Photoshop Compositing

9. Applying Artistic Filters

The closest thing Lightroom has to artistic filters is negative clarity, which can smooth out skin and also create a glowing effect, and simple blurring (in the adjustment brush). From Lighting Effects to Oil Painting to sophisticated new Blur filters, there are dozens of artistic filters in Photoshop. Here’s the new Oil Painting filter:


10. Designing Brochures, Business Cards, Posters, and Other Graphics

We can do more and more in Lightroom to combine text and photos, with the Print module’s Custom Package functionality, added in Lightroom 3, and  the Book Module, new in Lightroom 4. Both allow you to output your designs as JPEGs. However, they both still have many limitations in layout and text; just as quick examples, you can’t tilt photos, apply drop shadows or other styles to text, or add other graphic elements, such as lines and shapes. If you find yourself unable to achieve a layout you have in mind, it may be time to turn to Photoshop. (Yes, you can achieve even more with InDesign, but for those like me who don’t want to also purchase a professional design program, and who already are purchasing Photoshop for other reasons, I find it to be quite powerful.)

11. Video Editing Capabilities

A lot of photographers are now shooting video with their DSLR’s as well. While Lightroom 4 added basic video editing capabilities — the ability to trim off the ends of a video and do basic Development work — it is very limited. Photoshop has much more extensive video editing capabilities. You can combine multiple videos, edit as needed, apply adjustment layers and filters to all or parts of your videos, etc.  (You may also want to consider Adobe’s Premier Elements or Premiere Pro for even more video editing capabilities.)

These are the top reasons that come to mind for me to continue to invest in Photoshop. If you have Photoshop, what are yours? Leave a comment below.

UPDATES: While there is no guarantee that the Photoshop CC subscription price won’t go up after your one-year subscription is up, Adobe has been signalling that they plan to keep it relatively stable. (Scott Kelby has claimed that $9.99 is the price for life, but Adobe has not confirmed this.) For those who are not interested in the subscription model, you still have the option to purchase the last version, Photoshop CS6. The only feature among those listed above that you won’t have access to is the Camera Shake-Reduction Filter.


Related Post: Adobe’s (2013) Black Friday Sale: Photoshop CC + Lightroom for $9.99/month!

2017-06-28T18:47:27-07:00 November 20th, 2013|30 Comments


  1. Pat Paul November 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura,

    I started using Photoshop long before I started using Lightroom and I definitely appreciate the advantages of using both programs, but here is my reason for not subscribing to Photoshop CC. While the subscription costs $9.99 per month, it is almost a no-brainer, but not knowing what the price will eventually be, is keeping me from subscribing. I don’t want to get used to it and then not be able to afford to keep it up when I retire in a few years. I’m sticking wih CS-6.


    • Nicole November 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      It’s not an introductory price. That is the price, forever. The only thing they said that might make it increase in possible inflation and it that case it may go to $10.99 or something or the sorts. That’s the reason they didn’t guarantee a set $9.99 for life. I read it on another site though. I’ll try to find the link.

  2. Nicole November 21, 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Here’s what I found on adobe’s website:
    Jeffrey Tranberry says:

    $9.99 is *the ongoing price* (It’s not a first year only promo offer), We can’t say it won’t ever go up (e.g. inflation, etc)

  3. Jay November 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm - Reply


    Can you confirm whether the following still applies to the Adobe Photography Program :

    “Upon the expiration of this limited offer, the Photoshop Photography Program will continue to be available for $9.99/month to those photography customers who own a previous version of Photoshop Photoshop Extended, or Creative Suite, version CS3 or later (CS3.x, CS4, CS5.x, or CS6).”

    So if you do not have a copy of Photoshop CS3 or later you will get one year at $9.99/month and then what ?


    • Laura Shoe November 27, 2013 at 10:25 am - Reply

      Jay, Adobe has stated that for those that sign up during this deal, “$9.99 is the ongoing price. The price may go up some time in the future to account for things like inflation.”

  4. Dewayne Simpson November 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    I use LR 5 for my editing and I have become pretty proficient thanks to your video series. I like to do collages for my grandchildren’s sports teams and mainly use Shutterfly, but I am limited on what I can do. Now that I have an Epson 3880 printer would like to print my own collages. The blending that can be done intrigues me. My concern is the learning curve. Do you offer training for Photoshop?

    • Laura Shoe November 27, 2013 at 10:25 am - Reply

      Thanks for your interest, Dewayne. I want to offer training in Photoshop, but haven’t been able to get to it yet. In the meantime, I recommend

  5. Jim Allen November 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    I have CC6 and Lightroom 5. The 9.99 sounds good, but should I get it

  6. Darci November 24, 2013 at 5:09 am - Reply

    I am unable to use this service even though at a great price. I have satelite internet and we are limited with our downloads and uploads and that means being connected when doing editing, I would never be able to do anything…..if this is not true please help

    • Laura Shoe November 27, 2013 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Darci, you do not need to be connected to the internet while editing – the software resides on your computer once you download it.

  7. Vicki November 25, 2013 at 11:23 am - Reply

    What I don’t like about the $9.99 monthly RENTAL is that, when you stop RENTING, you no longer have access to ANY of the items in the programs. You still have your pictures, but can no longer use either LR or PS, they are simply turned off and no longer available.

    If you already have PS or LR (or buy LR), these are versions you OWN and do not RENT, you can continue to use these programs, regardless of whether you choose to upgrade. If you rent the $9.99 (you are required to sign up for a full year), and then decide for whatever reason to cancel (after the year), then you lose all access to these programs and have essentially thrown away a minimum of $120.

    • Khürt Williams December 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm - Reply

      I purchased the $9.95 Creative Cloud Photoshop For Photographers Deal because I thought it was a good deal for Lightroom and the 20GB of storage. I don’t use Photoshop and don’t plan to. I just don’t need it. However, it seems the 20GB of storage only applies to WIndows users. My OS X 10.9 version simp,ey says Coming Soon.

    • Mary Anne December 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      Excellent point!

  8. inca November 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Laura, if we sign up for this promotional price, and if LR 6 comes out next year, will we have free upgrade access to it, as long as our membership is still valid? Or will we need to re-sing up and pay again?

    • Laura Shoe November 27, 2013 at 10:20 am - Reply

      Yes, inca, it is a subscription to the latest Lightroom.

  9. Ron Warren November 27, 2013 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Very helpful commentary, enabling an informed decision. Thanks

  10. Mike M December 2, 2013 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Do you know what would happen if one signs up now & decides to end the subscription after several years
    regarding the Lightroom catalog? If LR is up to version 8 or 9 would our catalog be useless after ending subscription?(I currently own LR 4) Thanks for any info!

    • Terry December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      I’m not Laura and don’t have the same connections she has, however what I have read in other forums is that if you own LR4 and end your subscription in a couple years – you will be left with whatever version you originally had before you started your subscription. As for me, I currently own LR4 and CS6. If I were to subscribe to this deal for say three years, then cancel, I would be left with LR4 and CS6. Even if Lightroom is up to version 8 and Photoshop had upgraded to CS9. Hope this helps 🙂

    • Laura Shoe December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      Your catalog will not be backward compatible, Mike. You could export DNG files, and Bridge and PS would recognize your work. You could also export TIFFs, with your Lightroom Develop work baked in. Or you could just purchase the latest stand-alone version of Lightroom at that point.

  11. Terry December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    I really want to jump on this deal but I cannot find anyplace to just outright pay for a year, rather than pay monthly. I just want to pay one lump sum. Why doesn’t Adobe offer this way of payment?

  12. Mary Anne December 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    At the present time, I don’t feel I’m far enough along in my mastery of either the basics of photography or of LR to justify getting PS and potentially not getting around to using it for months, years, or perhaps ever. But should I decide in the future that it would be a good idea to have PS as well as regular upgrades for LR, do I understand that the subscription pricing will be something different than the $9.99 a month?

    • Laura Shoe December 13, 2013 at 9:55 am - Reply

      It very well could be, Mary Anne, though Adobe keeps extending the deadline for the “limited time offer”.

      • Mary Anne December 13, 2013 at 1:08 pm - Reply

        Thank you.

  13. Tony naumovski July 17, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Hi Laura, I have LR5 and thinking of getting CC. What happens to my existing LR5? When I download CC

    • Laura Shoe August 1, 2014 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      You won’t have to reinstall, Tony.

  14. Jacquie August 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    What if don’t own either, is it still 9.99 a month? Can you also have filter i.e. photo tools, nik etc? I personally not concerned about the storage but would like access to the software and paying monthly sounds promising.

    • Laura Shoe August 25, 2014 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Yes, now it is $9.99/month for everyone, Jacquie.

  15. Charlene November 2, 2015 at 8:11 am - Reply

    I’m sorry, but I still find all these comments confusing. Could you please just tell me whether I should rent or buy these programs? I know the price is $9.99/month to rent, and I saw LR6+PS on Amazon, to buy, for $142, no shipping costs. It seems like it would be wiser to purchase rather than rent. I am an amateur photographer, and I’m sure it’s going to take me months to learn the basics of these programs. So, it seems — for me — it would be better to buy. Could you please make up a list, like you did in this article, of Renting vs Buying LR6+PS? Thanks, Charlene

    • Laura Shoe November 5, 2015 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Charlene,

      $142 to purchase Lightroom and Photoshop seems very suspect to me. In any case, any bundle for purchase, rather than for rent, would have Photoshop CS6, which is at least a few years old at this point.

      I would suggest reading my article, “Which Should I Buy, Lightroom CC or 6?”

      • Charlene November 5, 2015 at 4:52 pm - Reply

        Thanks, Laura, for personally replying to my comment here. I did read the article you suggested, and what you said makes sense. I didn’t realize that I could have a free trial of Lightroom for 30 days — can I just find out about that online? I’m leaning towards purchasing a program instead of paying for it each month.


Leave A Comment

Sign Up Today!
  • FREE Limited Time Only: Learn How to Clean Up Your Lightroom Mess in my 80 minute video!
  • Receive my Lightroom newsletter with news and tutorials
  • Receive PDFs of my favorite Lightroom shortcuts

Your trusted source for all things Lightroom!
I will not share your email. Unsubscribe anytime.