7 reasons every photographer should use Lightroom

I could easily list more than seven reasons to use Lightroom. Every photo ever taken needs some level of developing. With film photography photos are developed in the dark room. For digital photography that process has shifted to the computer and the best photo processing system around is Lightroom Classic.

It’s not the only way to develop digital photos, but Lightroom certainly is the most popular, and in my opinion, the best.

But before I get into why I use Lightroom in my photography workflow, here are some answers to frequently asked Lightroom questions.

Why do photographers use Lightroom?

Lightroom is more than a photo editing program, it’s also a powerful photo management system.

These two essential elements of digital photography, plus the non-destructive nature of Lightroom editing (more on that in a moment) make Lightroom the most popular choice with photographers.

7 Reasons photographers use Lightroom Classic

Do I really need Lightroom?

No, you don’t necessarily need Lightroom. There are many other systems for editing photos, some of which are free.

However, if you have the budget for it, I do think that Lightroom is the best option. Plus, you get more than one version of Lightroom to use on desktop and mobile devices included in your monthly subscription.

Also, Photoshop is included with your Lightroom subscription!

Is Lightroom good for beginners?

It’s perfect for all levels of photography, starting with beginners. Lightroom is especially essential if you shoot in RAW, a far better file format to use than JPEG, as more detail is captured. RAW photos need to be processed, which means you have to learn how to use one of the software options available.

If you don’t have any editing software, don’t shoot in RAW. You need some sort of processing software to view RAW photos.

Do professional photographers use Lightroom?

The vast majority of professional photographers use Lightroom Classic.

It’s a great way of managing and editing photos and is part of the Adobe Photography Package, which also includes Photoshop and Lightroom CC (for mobile) as part of the subscription.

Is Lightroom difficult to learn?

Although I don’t think Lightroom is difficult to learn, because it can do so much, there’s a lot to learn.

However, you don’t need to know everything to produce good quality photos in Lightroom. You can grow into it and learn the more advanced Lightroom functions after you’re comfortable with the basic editing functions.

If you use it often enough you’ll find that you very quickly learn Lightroom keyboard shortcuts, which makes processing images even faster.


Online Lightroom workshop for professional photo editing



1. Photo management

What’s the worst thing that could happen to your photos? You lose them. For good. The second worst thing would be temporarily losing them and wasting a huge amount of time searching for them.

a) Storing photos with Lightroom

It’s not a pleasant feeling when you think you that your work and your memories have vanished.

Of all my possessions, my photos are the most precious. I’d be devastated if I lost photos of my mom who passed away nearly 5 years ago. So, for me, having a well organized photo filing system with quick and easy backup facilities is absolutely essential.

Four years ago I experienced just how devastated I would be. I thought I’d lost the photos of our last family holiday together. I hadn’t. It was before I developed a rock solid system with double backups…and it’s exactly why I took the time to make sure I never went through that stress again.

b) Finding photos in Lightroom

Drama aside, searching for photos is a waste of time and who has time to waste?

So, I love Lightroom’s easy search tools – keywords and filters. Within seconds and just a couple of clicks I can find any photo from any shoot within a Lightroom catalog.

Good folder hierarchy also makes finding photos the traditional way super easy. For this you have both collections and folders. Lightroom collections are magic for gathering and working on photos from different shoots in one place.

With this level of photo filing geekiness I feel I should have a pocket protector or something.

You’d think I love spending time on the computer, but I don’t. I really don’t. I’d much rather be out there with my camera.

Speed up Lightroom Classic workflow with presets


2. Spend less time at the computer

Speedy photo processing is my goal. I want finely edited images with colors that pop and beautiful skin tones. I want to:

  • Remove distractions from the background (those bright exit signs and no smoking signs all over wedding venues used to drive me nuts)
  • Disappear blemishes from teen faces, scrapes and bruises from little Johnny’s shins
  • Maybe soften laughter lines on older faces

Sometimes I want to turn an ordinary scene into the end of the perfect summer day, with golden hues, sun flares and the scent of freshly cut grass.

But I don’t want to spend hours doing it while I miss out on the potential of today’s light.

So my Lightroom workflow is driven by:

Plus my trusty catalog and photo backups ensure that I don’t ever have to redo any work I’ve already done.

3. No photos were harmed in the process of this edit

The massive, massive advantage of Lightroom is that the catalog of edits is separate from the actual photos. In Lightroom, unlike Photoshop, you never actually alter the photos themselves – it’s non-destructive editing.

So, on the days that I get the Lightroom editing bug and go a little nuts, maybe a little too far on the editing, it’s fine. Lightroom records the editing history so I can easily go back to any point in the edit and start over. Or I could just hit reset and start from scratch again.

Speaking of which, have you ever gone too far on an edit? We all do it at some point.

View original vs edited photos side by side

That’s where Lightroom’s before and after feature saves me from myself. With one quick click I can flick back to before I started editing. Then click again to see the image after all my editing wizardry/madness. It keeps me in check, because I can see just how far I’ve taken the image. Sometimes it’s just too far.

Try different editing styles

If I get a bee in my bonnet and want to try different editing styles on an image, or even just a different crop. No problem.

I create a virtual copy, make the alternative adjustment/s, and just like that I can compare versions. Then I delete the version I don’t want. Or keep it. Virtual copies don’t weigh down the system, because it’s a virtual copy (clue is in the name), so it’s tiny in memory.

Edit photos in Lightroom Classic
I’m sure no explanation is required, but…before editing in Lightroom on the left and after on the right.

Correct exposure mistakes in Lightroom

I’m human, so I mess up sometimes.

Because I shoot in RAW and process in Lightroom Classic, when I mess up my exposure, I can recover blown out highlights or blocked shadows. Or if the scene’s dynamic range is at the edge of my camera’s abilities.

Obviously, if my brain has a meltdown and I completely overexpose or underexpose a photo, it’s not worth trying to rescue it. Lightroom is amazing, but it’s not a miracle worker. Well, maybe mini-miracles.

4. Lightroom as a quality protection tool on social media

Have you ever felt the need to explain that Facebook messed up your photo and that it actually looks a lot better than the version you posted?

Social media platforms crunch the photos we post if they are too large in memory. After all that time spent capturing images and lovingly editing them, it’s heartbreaking (am I being dramatic?) to see their quality reduced by social media. Lightroom exporting to the rescue!

I’ve created export presets to size my photos perfectly for the different social media platforms. So the quality is much better than if I’d left it to Facebook to condense them.

Plus, like any preset, export presets speed up my workflow, because I don’t have to re-enter the settings every time I export a photo.

5. Use Lightroom for professional looking photos

You have a choice. Which would you rather have?

  • JPEG photos with missing data processed roughly by your camera
  • Unprocessed, dull RAW photos
  • Well balanced tones, popping colors, sharp, professional looking photos
Process RAW images in Lightroom Classic

Above is the RAW photo straight out of camera. I adjusted white and blacks, added contrast, brought out the warmer tones in the image. Then I removed blemishes on the model and the wooden shed at the left edge of frame. I used the brush tool to even out shadows on her face, increased saturation on her hair, softened her skin, sharpened and exported.

7 Reasons photographers use Lightroom Classic

We know that Lightroom helps to create professional looking photos, but there’s another side to using Lightroom that you might not know about…

6. Make money from photography with Lightroom

Did you know that, if you’re a professional photographer, Lightroom can help you make money too? Actually, you don’t need to be a professional – any photographer can do it.

Here are three ways Lightroom can help you make money from photography:

a) Sell your photos online in Adobe Stock

You can publish directly to Adobe Stock from within Lightroom, complete with keywords already embedded. Once you’ve set up your Adobe Stock account of course. Another time saver.

b) In person sales

As a portrait photographer, Lightroom has been an integral part of my in person sales process for the last 13 years. Clients are always impressed by it and the system I’ve developed helps them select photos for their walls and albums with minimal fuss and stress.

I can’t imagine running a photography business without Lightroom.

Besides, for just $10 a month the photography plan gets you:

  • Lightroom Classic
  • Lightroom (there’s a difference)
  • and Photoshop

What more could you possibly want?

c) Design a photobook in Lightroom

You can design a whole photo book in Lightroom and export directly to Blurb Books, or export your design as a pdf to print elsewhere. It’s quick and easy, but to speed up the process even more, Lightroom also has page templates that you can use.

7. More time for photography

No explanation needed.

Online Lightroom workshop for professional photo editing


Bonus reason to use Lightroom – tethered capture

This one is for the more advanced photographers, specifically studio photographers.

Tethering in Lightroom is a great way to capture photos directly to a laptop, which allows you and others involved in the shoot to see images real time on a large screen.

Leave a comment

If you have any questions about using Lightroom Classic, let us know in the comments.

Also, I love good news, so if my Lightroom Classic tips have helped you to understand how to use Lightroom in your digital workflow, share that too.

7 thoughts on “7 reasons every photographer should use Lightroom”

  1. Hello Jane, I didn’t know anything about “Sell your photos online in Adobe Stock” so, first of all, thank you for that, and also one question.

    do you know which app is better for mobile photo editing? Lightroom or snapseed.

    I’m using both, thank you have a good day.

  2. Thank you for explaining benefit of RAW so simply .
    I have many thousands of photos ( Nikon DSLR and i phone) stored in Apple Photos (and annoyingly iPhoto before apple forced change with no cross transfer !) and have “Albums” and “keynote tags”but often clumsy overlaps and gaps are very annoying . I find Mac photos ok for editing (but admit I don’t properly understand RGB light levels and white balance).
    I am considering Adobe Lightroom to rationalise ( including weed out) and organise my photos and would like to know how easy it would be to transfer only selected ones from Apple Photos to lightroom — As I will select in groups I am not worried about losing Apple tags ( in fact I should be quite happy !)

    • Hi Colin
      Despite the fact that Lightroom is brilliant for editing, the massive benefit of it is actually that it’s a superb database.
      Importing photos into Lightroom is very easy, but I strongly recommend you decide on how to structure your catalog – ie how you plan on filing your photos – before you get started with Lightroom. This article will help you think through photo organization (the Lightroom info starts half way down). https://thelenslounge.com/best-way-to-organize-photos/
      Our Lightroom Express course is aimed at beginners and will help you get up and running quickly, and avoid the overwhelm that many photographers experience when first using Lightroom (https://thelenslounge.com/lightroom-express/).


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