Whatever you’re doing these days, it seems like every concept is defined through refined imagery. Scrolling through Instagram – and you’ll wonder how those influencers’ photos look so great. Working in a business – how do those rival advertisements present so well? The truth of the matter is beautiful images are becoming more and more essential. How is that achieved? Photo editing software.
The increased demand for superior imagery leads people to learn how to edit photos to a professional level. While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of available photo editors on the market – not all of them are good to learn with. I was once an initiate as well. And I’m keen to help those find the best photo editing software for beginners!
List of Easiest Photo Editing Software for Beginners
Photo editors are everywhere these days. You’ll even find them integrated into website editors and mobile apps – but most of these don’t deliver the levels of quality and professionalism beginners crave. Most want to learn image editing to deliver breathtaking content to grab attention. So I’ve searched the high heavens and found what I believe is the best photo editing software for beginners – and the most rewarding. Without further ado – here is my top 10:
The photo editing software is so widely known that it even has a verb – ‘to photoshop.’ Speaking the words Adobe Photoshop to anybody even slightly inclined with digital media will understand what this application is all about. The platform is the industry standard for almost everything image-based. Though it’s used by professionals, it’s not to say that Photoshop is not good photo editing software for beginners.
Adobe has become a lot more beginner-friendly over the years – especially with its changes to CC. The vast spectrum of its photo editing tool becomes easier to manage with the ‘Learn Photoshop’ panels. It introduces you to features such as its hue sliders, layering, and touch-up tools. It’s still not the most newbie-adept platform – but it is the one you will need to learn.
- The industry-revered photo editing app features a near-limitless set of photo editing tools on the market
- Intelligent AI editing feature that can automatically touch-up your photos
- Continually updated with an Adobe CC subscription
There is the idea that you will eventually need to learn Photoshop – but as a beginner, you don’t need to jump into it straight away. Once you’ve honed your photo editing skills, Adobe Photoshop has more potential and power than any other platform. It still lacks that initial intuition for the pretty high subscription price you’ll have to pay.
GIMP has had a lot of internet reverence. It is celebrated as one of the more viable alternatives to Photoshop – mainly because it has similar tools – and the application is free. The most admirable trait about GIMP is it is one of the best photo editing software for beginners. The toolsets feel very accessible when making edits to your images.
GIMP doesn’t have as much functionality as Photoshop – but the tutorials are embedded in the program, facilitating the learning process. The platform is an excellent introduction to the world of digital imagery – shedding light on how to use brushes, retouching, and corrective tools, and resizing.
- Free photo editing software that runs very smoothly, welcoming beginners into the fray
- Customizable batch editing interface to work with multiple images as you like
- Frequently updated – with a market for additional plugins and scripts
Yes, GIMP is not Photoshop – but it is a darn good alternative. I’d even go as far as to say that GIMP would be the best photo editing software for beginners. It’s a completely free photo editor, accommodating to learners – and will get users in tune with all the image editing processes of other applications. It is slow and lacks some 16-bit color support – but that can be overlooked in place of its accessibility.
There’s always one tool in the industry that has an incredibly gorgeous interface. Within the bounds of image editing software – that would be SkylumLuminar 4. The benefit of a well-designed UI for beginners that it’s not hard to get going at all. This image editing platform will get you working with your images proficiently in no time.
The features and tools are pretty easy to get your head around using AI to process your photos. Images from the same shoot can be fixed up in a couple clicks of a button applying the same filters, presets, and adjustments. The tool encourages experimentation by presenting well-rounded dodge and burn tools – and an incredible sky removal feature.
- One of the most intuitive interfaces on the market
- Powerful engine for batch processing and sky removal
- Also works as a plugin for Adobe and Apple products
Beginners will feel accomplished in SkylumLuminar 4 – the interface doesn’t make anybody feel like an outsider in photo editing. The number of features is brilliant for starters and intermediate photo editors – and has a rewarding functionality for the $69.99 one-payment price tag. Once you start to seek advanced features, though – Luminar can be a bit lacking. Repair tools and geometric adjustments are painfully absent.
There’s an ongoing debate about which tool is better – Adobe or Capture One. Both boast similar features and functionality spanning a plethora of meticulous coloring and adjustment tools – and perfect layering. What isn’t mentioned between the two is which is the best photo editing software for beginners.
Being a lesser-known photos app – it seems that there is a conscious effort to bring elementary photo editors on board. The introductory toolset of image uploaders, file converters, and simple editing tools looks tailormade for beginners. It’s safe to say that initiates won’t have too much problem getting used to Capture One.
- Excellent all-in-one tool addressing all skill levels
- Serves as a sustainable rival to Adobe Photoshop with similar correctional and color tools
- Faster import and export of files for those with the need for speed
The price of Capture One is immediately worth mentioning because this tool is expensive. Beginners may not be willing to shell out $350 when they are trying to learn the trade. It is very welcoming to all skills and one of the most functional photo editing software on the market. But you better be committed to it if you’re going to pay that much.
Photopea has got a pretty cute name that would seemingly make the tool attractive enough – but there’s more! This is another free photo editorsoftware that serves as a web-based alternative to those applications that bog down your hard drive. That feat also means it’s accessible from anywhere – if you’re on the go, you’ll be able to edit raw image snaps and memories from any computer.
The features available in Photopea rank among the basic with some refine edge and healing tools – all the ones that are customary in Photoshop. The number of tutorials entices beginners into using the online photo editor. But when you are going to start layering and masking, you’ll need to move on. Think of it as the alleyway to the final destination.
- A free photo editing software using a web-based platform with cloud storage
- Very beginner-friendly with a lot of room to experiment with
- Introductory set of tools to help graduate to a more advanced user interface for graphic design
If you consider Photopea a stepping stone on a path to a photo editing career – there’s not much wrong with it. But, if you plan to use the platform for all your editing needs, you’ll tend to struggle. However, beginners can revel in the fact that this photo editor does all the basics very well – it will encourage development with regularly stunning outcomes.
Paint Net offers a unique take on photo editing software. It removes the fuss and chaos of detailed tools and advanced features in favor of channeling a core focus on a platform that delivers high performance on the significant aspects of image editing. It’s an easy-to-use editor that dedicates only to photo retouching – nothing more, nothing less.
The way that Paint Net presents itself is ideal for beginners. There’s no extensive functionality that would confuse or overwhelm users – and the interface is very familiar. It looks like a photo editing tool integrated into a Microsoft Paint shell – almost comical in stature but surprisingly comforting!
- A focused photo editor that offers all the elementary retouching functions
- Users will feel refreshed learning in a familiar environment
- Many features, effects, and plugins to enhance the experience
Paint Net is not the latest and greatest in photo editing tech – but it works very well as a simple retoucher. I wouldn’t actually recommend this as a rounded platform even for those tasks – but it can’t be denied that it’s fantastic to learn with. Paint Net is free and a great place to get started – but nothing more than that.
You’d refer to Tony the Tiger if you wanted an explanation into how Pixlr looks and feels – “great!” It’s an in-browser photo editor that is so clean and refreshing, highly-functional – and arguably the best photo editing software for beginners free. The application resembles that of Adobe Photoshop Elements, with almost no difference in functionality.
There are two preset options for Pixlr that are geared towards user skillsets. There is Pixlr X which is the light version of the application. It highlights masking, layering, and touch-up features. Then there is the paid Pixlr E – an advanced version using increased file support, optimization tools, and more. As you can imagine, the free Pixlr X is ideal for beginners.
- Browser-based with mobile apps to make the photo editor accessible anywhere
- A sublime set of embedded tools that cover your touch-up and editing needs
- A free version for beginners, with a paid option when you advance skills
For a browser-based photo editor – there is not a lot wrong with Pixlr. The levels of adaptability and the fussless methods to execute tasks make for a refreshing experience. For beginners, it’s yet another ideal entry-level photo editor. I will mention one frustration, though – the free version has far too many ads in it.
With all the talk about how intuitive and beautiful the interfaces of photo editing software for beginners are – I need to mention one with the power. DxOPhotoLab is full of dynamism and performance that makes photos look stunning. The platform wields a high-working engine to deliver maximum impact on images with only a few clicks of buttons.
The auto color correction and noise reduction functionality will take care of business for you – and an advanced feature like de-mosaicing deliver superior imagery. Basic photo editing is transcended to new plains with DxOPhotolab making it the most powerful application for beginners. But when it comes to advanced functions for a graphic designer, it still doesn’t match the prowess of Photoshop.
- Powerful AI that automatically completes photo correction and touch-up tasks
- Excellently constructed interface to complete tasks
- Easy export tools to quickly share on social platforms
I maintain the firm belief that DxOPhotoLab provides the most powerful and rewarding experiences for beginners. It’s worth the investment if you want your photos looking magnificent for minimal effort. With great power comes great expense, however. The platform will cost you at least $129 to obtain – something you might want to spend on an application with more specialized features.
Aurora HDR presents itself as more of a side-tool than an actually dedicated photo editor – but it does work very well in photo retouching. It’s a little less intuitive being software that was developed around photographers’ needs, but they don’t forget their beginners. There are comprehensive user guides that will get you using Aurora in no time.
The benefits of Aurora HDR are one of its disadvantages – the fact it feels like a plugin. It’s fully adaptable to existing software like Photoshop – when you’ve learned its tools, knowledge can easily translate to advanced skills. That means it is also limited in features, though. Still – lots of presets, masking, filters, and mapping capabilities are nothing to sneeze at!
- An essential sidekick for budding photographers, providing a universal avenue to get the best from images
- Full-window views to enhance every detail of your images
- Works in conjunction with industry-standard software like Photoshop
It may feel like beginning your photo editing adventures with a plugin-type tool is not ideal. But because of its application to bigger and better platforms, it’s worth the time investment. It’s a little bit pricey – but a widely used plugin in professional-level photo editing software and works absolutely fine as a standalone app.
And for my final trick – back to humble roots. Adobe Lightroom is another photo editor of the OG brand – but this time, they really think of the beginner. Lightroom can be considered a stripped-down version of Photoshop. It offers the essential tools of the trade without the complicated advanced features. It provides the opportunity to learn before taking steps into the lucrative world of Photoshop.
It’s got that idea behind it that offers all a non-tech savvy person would want from a photo editor. Lightroom presets include multi-image uploads, quick filters, fast adjustments, export – and go. Do beginners wish for anything more than that to kickstart their adventures in photo editing? Perhaps with professional reverence – Lightroom may be the best photo editing software for beginners after-all.
- A beginner-friendly toolset that completes photo-editing tasks with ease
- Import large quantities of photos and folders to work with simultaneously
- Excellent photo management capabilities to get jobs done quickly
Obviously, Adobe Lightroom isn’t going to have the functionality of Photoshop for a good reason – it’s meant to be a lighter version. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is the best photo editing software for beginners – mainly because of its limitations. Other platforms would have a better and more intuitive toolset to learn with.
How To Choose the Best Photo Editing Software For You
Finding the right photo editing software as a beginner photographer or professional photographer can feel a bit challenging. Many platforms are vying for your attention, boasting what kind of high-level tools and features they have and why they are unique. It’s important to remember that you are working with the tool to master making your images look phenomenal – not the tool itself.
You’ll want professional photo editing software that feels right when trying to accomplish that goal. If having the more advanced tools at your disposal works better for learning – nothing wrong with that. If you’d rather have an image editor present a few buttons to automatically retouch your raw file – no quarrel about it. Channel your search, and make sure the professional photo editor works for you to achieve those gorgeous-looking photos!
Finding the best photo editing software for beginners is by no means an easy task. I wouldn’t get frustrated if you download one and can’t get your head around it. There will be one for you – so why not give everyone on this list a try. Most have free trials and worth giving a whirl to see if they fit into your learning style.
So glad to see you’ve started your photo editing adventure, though. Can’t wait to see your work!
Related keywords: Adobe Photoshop Element, Adobe Lightroom CC, Paintshop Pro, Affinity Photo