Lightroom OnlyLightroom Tips

I’m Giving Up Photoshop For the Month of January

To celebrate the 8-year (WOW! 8 years already!) anniversary of the first beta version of Lightroom, I’ve decided I’m going Lightroom Only for the month of January.

The first Lightroom beta was announced on January 9th 2006 and I can still remember wondering whether this program was for me or not. Eight years later, I couldn’t live without it. So much so, that I’ve decided to really dig in and tackle the one question I get asked the most: How much of my photo editing do I really get done in Lightroom?

It is, by far, the most popular question I hear. And my answer is always, “Well, most of it”. But what’s that really mean? You have to remember that I’m a Photoshop Guy. Sure, Lightroom is technically called “Photoshop Lightroom”, but let’s be honest – everyone really knows Lightroom as it’s own product? But for me, I started with Photoshop. I’ve always been really comfortable in Photoshop. So even as Lightroom has developed over time, I always know I have Photoshop to fall back on when I need it.

Like What?
A great example is the Adjustment Brush. I always do my dodging/burning in Photoshop because I’m comfortable there. Layers, brushes, blend modes, opacity, etc… But Lightroom has the Adjustment brush right? And that’s one of the main reasons it’s there for. Is it as good at dodging/burning in Photoshop? Well, I’m about to find out 🙂

Here’s What’ll Happen In January
Every day (mostly business days), I’m going to edit a photo. It could be a portfolio photo that I’m re-editing, or just a photo that I think is worth showing off. Then I’ll post about my experiences here. What I did. How it worked. Did I have all the tools I needed or did I feel like I was missing something.

But here’s the catch. I’m just going to use Lightroom. No Photoshop, no nuttin’. What about plug-ins you ask? Nope. Remember, this is more about me trying to see just how much of my editing I do with just Lightroom – not about finding a Photoshop replacement. I like Photoshop and I’m not looking for a replacement. I just want to know how much I really use it for my photos and hopefully share that info with everyone else. In the end it’ll give me a good place to point people to, who ask me the same question.

I know from my seminars and this blog, there are an increasing number of people only using Lightroom. My goal is to really get a feel for what it’s like when LR is the only tool I have, and hopefully be able to better understand the people I’m in front of.

Early Prediction
So my early prediction is that I’m probably being a bit dramatic here. I don’t think it’s going to be a huge change for me. Lightroom can do a lot! I do think I’ll miss some cloning and healing and I do blend 2 layers of the same photo fairly often. I’ve come to love onOne’s Perfect Effects 8 lately so I’m sure that one will hurt too. Other than that, I think I’ll live 😉

So that’s it. Tune in on Monday to see the recap of the first photo. Here’s to a Lightroom-filled January! 😉




  1. Malcolm Duffy 23 January, 2014 at 13:55 Reply

    I look forward to learning about your experience of using Lightroom exclusively; how accurate your predictions will be. I am inclined to agree with you: There want be any dramatic change; actually, a change could do you good.

  2. Nathan Moeder 21 January, 2014 at 14:37 Reply

    Matt – what’s going on with the RSS feed? I don’t receive those any more and it looks like the link on your website is invalid? Please advise……

  3. David Kelly 7 January, 2014 at 09:38 Reply

    Wow, has it been that long already that I’ve been using Lightroom?
    I remember purchasing Pixmantec RawShooter Premium all those years ago and then shortly thereafter being gutted when they announced the product was being discontinued following Adobes acquisition of their tech assets. Thankfully Adobe done the right thing of giving Pixamentec users a free ‘upgrade’ to LR 1.0.

  4. Dennis Zito 3 January, 2014 at 13:22 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I’m really looking forward to this set of blogs! In my workflow, there are several things I use PS for. I like the Shadow/Highlights under Image>Adjustments. I like to double process and use masks a lot! So, this is going to be very interesting for me!

    By the way Happy New Year! Hope you had a Great Christmas also!


  5. Anthony Tassarotti 3 January, 2014 at 12:44 Reply

    I’m hoping that you do at least some B&W work during this test. I would like to see if you can get the same B&W results in LR that you get with the plugins. I’ve always wondered if those plugins are just a faster way to achieve the same results or do they actually provide results beyond what the base product can deliver?

  6. Christine 3 January, 2014 at 10:54 Reply

    Good luck and have fun. I used LR exclusively for 2 1/2 years until PS announced the photography deal for anyone, so I’m just now getting started with LR and learning what to use and how things work (Thank you to Scott Kelby and his new book). Kind of the opposite deal from you.

    I opted to give PS a try because I knew there were some things I just can’t do as well in LR … like removing objects and then there’s the need for head-swapping. Haven’t learned how to do it yet, but I’m sure when I get it figured out I’ll love the option.

  7. Alan 3 January, 2014 at 05:56 Reply

    LR is still far from PS for healing purposes, no way to remove a wire that goes across a landscape, removing a quidam and his shadow is also very difficult. Aside from that LR 5 does the job very well.

  8. bill bane 3 January, 2014 at 01:08 Reply

    In the scheme of “great sacrifices,” this is not a biggie.
    Lightroom can do most everything. The last !% counts, but not for most…
    No sighs here,

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