Lightroom vs. Photoshop Elements.  I am asked a lot which one to buy – this is a tough question!

Personally, I couldn’t live without either.  And I would rather have LR+PSE any day over full Photoshop by itself.

So here is how I answer that question when I’m asked:

  • If you are professional photographer or considering going that way, you need Lightroom.
  • If you are a scrapbooker, you need Elements.
  • The more photos you take, the more you need Lightroom.
  • The more PERFECT a photographer you are, the less you need Elements.
  • If you ever want graphics or captions on your photos, you most likely need Elements.

I’m not sure if I’m helping at all here, so let me just tell you what I do in each software.  Refer back to how to open photos from LR into Elements if you need to.

This is what I do in Lightroom:

  • Import photos from my memory card
  • Organize them into folders and by name
  • Keyword the photos for easier searchability
  • Sort, rank and cull photos.  Choose the photos that will be edited/printed/given to clients.  Delete bad pix.
  • Assign camera calibration to Raw photos
  • Crop (LR cropping doesn’t actually get rid of your pixels, so you can always uncrop.)
  • Adjust white balance
  • Adjust exposure, tone, contrast
  • Remove minor blemishes/spots
  • Minor color adjustments
  • Some color pops
  • Remove noise
  • Some eye and skin adjustments
  • Correct lens distortion
  • Basic watermarking
  • If I have no reason to go to PSE, I sharpen in LR

This is what I do in PSE:

  • Detailed layer masking
  • Detailed eye and skin work
  • Major or detailed color pops
  • Major color corrections

  • Add textures or overlays
  • Run specific actions
  • Vignettes
  • Add text, captions or graphics
  • Watermarking with more control
  • Sharpen (if I bring an image into Elements, I don’t sharpen in LR)

In summary, most of my Elements work is driven by the need for high control over selective editing or the addition of graphics or text.  I use Lightroom for just about everything else.