12 Photo Editing Software To Consider (With Features)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Photographers, graphic designers, web designers and other creative professionals who work with photographs often edit them to make them visually appealing. These professionals use photo editing software to edit images and enhance their appearance. Knowing more about photo editing tools can help you progress in your career and create high-quality images. In this article, we discuss what photo editing tools are and explore various tools along with their features and benefits.

What Is Photo Editing Software?

Photo editing software is a digital tool that allows you to manipulate and enhance digital images to improve their quality. These editing tools can take scanned images of old photos and convert them to digital images, enhance contrast and remove blemishes. Before the existence of these tools, photographers edited images in the darkroom. The modern era tools replicate the same technique used to enhance the appearance and quality. Using editing software, photographers can edit a photo in the following ways:

  • Cropping: This helps change the photo's dimensions, reposition the subject and distract unwanted elements from the photo.

  • White balance: This refers to the colour level and not the exposure level. Photographers and designers can adjust the white balance on photos with an overall colour tone.

  • Exposure and contrast: This can the photo as dark or as bright as the photographer wants.

  • Colour vibrancy and saturation: After adjusting the white balance, the photographer can further refine the colours in a photo. Adjusting vibrancy and saturation helps in increasing colour intensity in neutral colours and maintaining colour intensity in the brightest colours.

  • Sharpness: Higher sharpness gives a photo a cleaner and crisper look.

  • Burning: This manages the contrast between lightness and darkness.

Advanced editing software allows a photographer to perform more complex operations, such as layering one image on top of another, cloning images, removing the background, adjusting texture and making brush strokes on a photo.

Related: How To Become A Photo Editor: A Comprehensive Guide

12 Photo Editing Software Options

Here are some photo editing tools to consider:

1. Adobe Photoshop

One tool for photographers, artists and editors is Adobe Photoshop. This offers a range of tools, including layering, cloning, retouching, non-destructive editing and masking tools. You can use this software to combine graphics, edit and render text and vector graphics and create 3D graphics and videos. Some other features offered by Adobe Photoshop include multi-layer editing, pro-editing tools, advanced colour editing, 3D design functionality and various brushes and filters. It provides tools and features that you are less likely to find in any other editing software.

Related: How To Take A Professional Photo: A Complete Guide

2. DxO PhotoLab

DxO PhotoLab is a dynamic photo editing tool that converts RAW to JPG quickly. This tool also has customisable interface options, multiple export formats, colour protection and presets so that artists and illustrators can complete their tasks in one place. One unique value proposition of this tool is its suite that offers correction and processing tools. PhotoLab automatically applies lens correction based on its inbuilt profiles when editing any image. Though it is a complex tool, it provides impeccable results in photo editing.

3. Fotor

Fotor is a powerful and free photo editing and graphic designing tool, focusing on amateur photographers and design enthusiasts. One unique value proposition of the tool is its ability to open RAW files and combine images in layers. The software controls various in-built tools, including straightening images, rotating, cropping and resizing. It also offers background remover and retouching tools such as wrinkle and red-eye removal to make the photo visually appealing. For illustrators and artists who want to turn simple images into a dramatic form, Fotor provides an HDR image creator and tilt-shift editor.

Related: How To Become A Graphic Designer: A Complete Guide

4. Capture One

Capture One is another powerful tool offering raw processing, non-destructive workflow, preset effects, manual image enhancement and various cataloguing tools. Users can revisit their adjustments at any time. Some noteworthy features of Capture One include making adjustment layers and customisable interfaces. It works with images of all sizes. When processing large files, Capture One operates at a higher performance level than other contenders in this space.

5. Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a powerful photo editor offering various tools and features for photo editing. From HDR tone mapping and digital painting to panorama stitching and focus stacking, the tool has every feature a professional requires for editing photos and images. The tool's adjustment options include vibrance, contrast, shadow, exposure, white balance, highlights and recolour. A vector-based design and editing application offer a pixel art hybrid and a vector-based environment.

6. GIMP

Unlike many image editing software that charges a considerable amount, GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a free yet professional image editor. From picture enhancement to retouching photos and photo composition, GIMP helps in improving the appearance of images. It offers various tools, including cloning, selection, colour correction and enhancements. Using GIMP, users can work with popular file formats without issues. It is a great entry-level option for Photoshop. It allows users to create image authority with GIMP, and the software allows a user to edit photos of all formats.

Related: What Is Creative Design? Skills And Popular Careers

7. Pixlr

For illustrators and photographers looking for free and lightweight image editing software, Pixlr is an excellent option to choose. The tool is ideal for beginners and experienced editors who require a quick solution for basic edits. Due to the tool's minimalistic tool size and streamlined layout, beginners may find Pixlr easy to use. This software supports masks and layers and provides editing tools such as visual effects, skin retouch tools and customisable brushes. Since the tool is web-based, users can access it from anywhere on any device.

8. PhotoDirector

PhotoDirector is a great tool for professionals starting a career in photography. Due to its approachable and user-friendly interface, the tool can be easy to learn. It is good for completing basic editing activities like flipping, rotating, cropping and adding text. The tool has a face recognition tool that users can use while editing photos. Guided modules lower the learning curve that helps users create high-quality effects in a few clicks. Some common photo editing features of PhotoDirector include transforming photos into panorama shots, adjusting alignment, applying masks and experimenting with blur effects.

9. Luminar AI

Lumiar AI fills the gap between basic image editors like Pixlr and advanced ones like Photoshop. The tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make photo edits. When users cannot understand the colour correction from the curves, the tool automatically fixes the colour correction. The AI editor offers different unique photo effects and editing features. With a single click of a button, users can change the retouched portrait, enhance the landscape and remove unwanted documents or details.

One unique value proposition of Luminar AI is that it allows users to create a single style image and apply the same style throughout the photos.

10. Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom is a user-friendly tool part of the Adobe Creative Suite. Apart from offering a range of editing tools, Lightroom is popular for its image organising abilities. Lightroom takes care of non-destructive editing, raw processing and preset effects. Lightroom offers a clean and slick interface despite its reputation for providing tools with a higher learning curve. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom provides cloud-based storage.

11. PicMonkey

Professionals who want to improve their design and image editing skills can use PicMonkey. It is a basic program offering cropping, touchup, background remover and collage tools. Before moving to the paid version, users can explore the functionality using its free version. The collage layout and photo editing effects that PicMonkey offers help enhance the visual appearance of photos. Using PicMoneky's edge sketch tool, users can apply photo effects like film, pixelate or black and white.

12. Snappa

One tool for social media and marketing professionals is Snappa. It is a cloud-based image editing software that creates visually appealing images and designs. Photographers and illustrators can use Snappa to edit images and convert them into online graphics. Using Snappa, users repurpose and filter their photos. Also, with a single click, users can remove the image background and resize the image in a flash. Other features include image blurring, cropping, flipping, rotating and resizing.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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