Leveling up your company's marketing materials begins with choosing the right photo editing software. Below, we share some of the best photo editing software options for everyone from beginners to experts.
Whether you want to improve your product photos, touch up team photos or headshots, or create eye-catching graphics, these tools can help your photos shine.
Best photo editing software
Without question, Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard for photo editing software. Part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, Photoshop has everything you need to masterfully edit your photos. However, because of its breadth of capabilities, Photoshop has a steep learning curve.
The latest version of Adobe Photoshop includes the release of Neural Filters powered by artificial intelligence (AI). These new filters automate retouching processes and offer improvement suggestions as you hover over sections.
Photoshop’s latest update also improved cross-compatibility with its Creative Cloud counterpart, Illustrator, to make importing vector graphics seamless. Additionally, the new version offers enhanced management of color and HDR and new gradient tool interpolation options.
While Adobe Photoshop is complicated software, Adobe continues to develop filters and functions that make the image-editing process faster and easier. Each new photo editing shortcut saves time for graphic designers, photographers, and visual artists.
Best for: Professionals, anyone interested in using the industry-standard
- Most complete range of image editing features and functions on the market (layers, gradients, overlay, filters, automated editing, etc.)
- AI support and editing shortcut options
- Popular and frequently updated with new features (like skin smoothing, superzoom, and neural filters)
- Multilayer editing
- Ample tutorials available
Pricing: Seven-day free trial, then $20.99 per month (Adobe Creative Cloud packages available that include Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, and other add-ons)
Also part of Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Lightroom is a photo organizing and image editing tool. Lightroom is a companion program to Photoshop, but it has its own strengths that make it a good option as an image editor.
Adobe Lightroom shines with its workflow solutions that allow users to organize and batch-edit large numbers of photos easily. Adobe Lightroom also has file export options that make it a useful tool for professional photographers who share a lot of images with clients. Avid mobile photographers can also enjoy the automatic uploading of photos into the Adobe Lightroom environment for easy editing and sharing.
Adobe Lightroom is also subscription-based software, so choosing it will mean a long-term investment to keep all its benefits.
- Batch processing and catalog editing
- RAW file conversion support
- Output options
- Color correction presets
- iPad compatibility
Pricing: Seven-day free trial, then $9.99 per month
Best for: Professionals interested in photo management
Corel PaintShop Pro is photo editing software for Windows that combines a simple user interface and some nice advanced editing features. The software now comes with a Photography Workspace that helps professional photographers streamline simple editing processes.
Like Adobe Photoshop, PaintShopPro supports layers. It also allows users to edit both raster and vector file formats. Corel continues to support and update PaintShop Pro, adding new features. Its one-time price offering makes this an appealing option for anyone tired of paying for subscription services.
- Affordable (one-time payment, not a subscription model)
- Beginner-friendly interface and templates
- AI-enhanced presets
- Tutorials and help available
Pricing: 30-day free trial; one-time payment of $99.99 for full software
Best for: Beginners looking for an affordable alternative to Photoshop
Other photo editing software to consider
Canva is a wonderful tool for marketers and graphic artists looking for some unique options for sharing visual content. Canva’s free version is generous in its own right, but the Pro version includes a number of presized and designed templates, photo collages, graphic elements, and fonts.
There are also numerous preset image filters and photo effects that can spice up your photos. Canva can export multiple file types (JPG, PNG, PDF, GIF, MP4, etc.) and can be used to order all kinds of products (for example, a printed postcard, business card, print, etc.) directly from the interface.
Canva is an excellent choice for anyone who can benefit from pre-made templates for creating social media posts, website designs, PowerPoint presentations, and more. Users can also create a brand profile where they can keep a logo or watermark for photos and layouts.
Canva also offers cloud storage for edited photos, and graphic design projects can be shared and stored in the ecosystem.
- Thousands of templates with expanded options for Pro users
- Multiple photo editing tools (like background remover, cropping, straightening, and more)
- Add-on preset filters and effects (blur, black and white, background remover)
- Completely free
Pricing: Free for base plan; $119.99 per year for up to five people for Pro plan (with 30-day free trial), or $30 per month per person for Enterprise plan
Best for: Professionals and businesses wanting to design things quickly
Skylum Luminar AI leverages the power of AI to make the process of editing fast and easy. Luminar AI analyzes images and makes suggestions that can be applied quickly for improving individual photos based on their content.
These slick presets make easy work of retouching processes that probably took even the most experienced photo editors a long time to master. Presets can be used to improve portraits (skin, eyes, blemishes, faces), sky backgrounds, structures, and much more.
Skylum Luminar AI also features a user-friendly “before and after” slider tool that’s helpful for clearly seeing the effects as they’re applied.
Skylum Luminar AI can be used as a plug-in with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom Classic or as a standalone image editor. It’s a great tool for a novice photo retoucher who wants to quickly make their photos look slicker and more professional.
- AI-powered suggestions for filters and effects
- Convenient “before and after” view slider tool
- Easy to apply technical-looking effects
- Exclusive AI filters (like Sky Replacement, Skin AI, Portrait Mode, etc.)
- Good for beginning photo editors or as a plug-in addition for Photoshop or Lightroom users
Pricing: One-time payment of $62, $82, or $118 depending on bundle
Best for: Those interested in retouching photos fast
Exposure X7 was born out of popular plug-in creator Exposure Software. Exposure X7 is now standalone software that offers a complete workflow and image editing tool that helps users organize, edit, and share their photos.
Exposure X7 supports layers, blur, overlays, and other functions you’d expect in a robust photo editing tool. Numerous preset effects can also be easily applied.
Like Adobe Lightroom, Exposure X7 offers photo organization tools that help manage larger photo libraries. Exposure 7 is a good option for users who prefer a single payment over a monthly subscription.
- Flexible masking and layers support
- Preset templates, filters, and effects
- Fast and efficient to use
- Standalone or plug-in with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
Pricing: 30-day free trial, then one-time payment of $129 or $149 depending on bundle
Best for: Beginners and enthusiast who want plenty of presets
CyberLink PhotoDirector is both a workflow and a photo editing program. The program includes a healthy number of advanced tweaks, like split layers, glitch effects, blends, and compositions.
Photo touchup tools include AI-powered sky replacement, de-blur, defog, de-fringe, object removal, and chromatic aberration removal. And for touching up portraits, there are settings for body shaping, face shaping, blemish removal, etc.
CyberLink PhotoDirector gives users the option to choose a lifetime license or an annual or monthly subscription. The subscription versions give users access to stock photography from Shutterstock and Getty Images.
- User-friendly interface
- Cross-platform support (Windows and Mac)
- 1,900+ effects and templates
- Layering support
- Raw file conversion
- Retouching tools for body-shaping, blemish removal, etc.
Pricing: $74.99 or $169.99 for lifetime license and $40.99 or $89.99 for a subscription, depending on bundle
Best for: Professionals and hobbyists who are still learning how to edit photos
PicMonkey is a great option for businesses that want to quickly and easily create branded images for social media, blogs, or websites.
Created by Shutterstock, PicMonkey is a subscription-based service that offers users a wide array of professionally developed templates that can be used to create social media posts, flyers, logos, tradeshow banners, and such. It also offers access to stock photography, stock video footage, customizable graphic elements, vector graphics, and a large serif and sans-serif font library to help you create unique digital design projects.
- Developed for users with limited design experience
- Social media templates provided are sized to current best practices
- Includes mobile app for Apple iPhone and Android
- Upload your company “brand kit” complete with logos, custom fonts, and colors
Pricing: Seven-day free trial, then $7.99 per month for Basic plan, $12.99 for Pro plan, or $23 for Business plan
Best for: Beginners who want want mobile app access
DxO PhotoLab is a powerful image editor with impressive raw processing power. This software is designed for skilled professionals and isn’t a great choice for novices.
DxO PhotoLab has all the critical capabilities you would expect in a high-end photo editing software tool, including lens correction, comprehensive local adjustment tool, automatic image repair, ClearView Plus for defogging and demisting, tone balancing, extensive color adjustments, and more.
The DxO PhotoLab Elite version also features the highly regarded DeepPRIME denoising and demosaicing tool.
- Modern, clear interface
- Industry-leading demosaicing and denoising
- Powerful local adjustment capability
- Cutting-edge lens correction
Pricing: 30-day free trial, then one-time payment of $219
Best for: Professionals with experience using editing software
Pixlr is a widely used free photo editor (and photo editing app) that offers a generous number of photo effects and editing capabilities. Pixlr supports layers and offers visual effects, overlays, color replacement, crop, resize, and preset filters that can improve the look of your images or help you create inspiring graphic designs.
Pixlr allows you to open Adobe Photoshop PSD files and export them as JPG or PNG files. That’s helpful if you’re looking to re-edit a photo or project that a graphic designer edited in Photoshop.
Pixlr can also be connected to social media accounts for publishing. Pixlr is a powerful tool for beginners since the basic version is free and includes some quintessential design features.
- Supports layers
- Can open Adobe Photoshop files
- Free photo editor
Pricing: Free plan or $4.90 to $14.99 per month for premium depending on bundle (30-day free trial)
Best for: Those looking for a free photo editor
An independent photo editor can be a lifesaver
More photo editing software options are on the market today than ever before. If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to get professional photos out of a user-friendly photo editing software, you’re not alone.
When the photo editing learning curve is too steep and you need high-quality work completed quickly, consider hiring an independent professional photo editor using Upwork.
Simply search our network for the service you need—like graphic designers or photo editors—and find independent professionals’ profiles at your fingertips. You choose the person that best fits your needs and budget.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.
Prices are current at the time of writing and may change over time based on each service’s offerings.
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