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What Is the Best Photo Editor for a Beginning Real Estate Photographer?

Published: 11/07/2017

Paul asks:

I'm an amateur photographer and retired real estate agent. I am thinking of starting a real estate photography business. Can you tell me what is a good starter editing software, but not a monthly subscription? Cyberlink Photodirector and Lightroom were recommended.

I think Lightroom is the best way to edit for any real estate photographer. You can still get a non-subscription version of Lightroom 6.

The reason that Lightroom is better for real estate photographers than the huge number of other options out there is Lightroom's superior lens correction features. Lightroom has lens profiles for most lenses that real estate photographers use and can remove vignetting, barrel distortion, and chromatic aberrations as well as straighten verticals quickly and easily. All these fixes are a big part of what real estate photographers do in post-processing. Many of the other photo editors don't do lens correction or don't have lens profiles (like Photodirector) for all lenses.

Another big reason to use Lightroom is the huge amount of online training both on YouTube and training that you pay for at places like

For those ideologically opposed to subscription software, Luminar can be used as a Lightroom plugin to do layer blending and quick adjustments.

I like to end with an argument for the $9.99/mo Creative Cloud Photography plan. I've been a Photoshop user since the 90's and I'm totally convinced that both Lightroom and Photoshop are is the best you can get for professional photo editing. So if you are going to be a professional real estate photographer, you are eventually going to want to use both Lightroom and Photoshop. There are tons of other alternatives these days but they don't come close to Lightroom and Photoshop!

Larry Lohrman

18 comments on “What Is the Best Photo Editor for a Beginning Real Estate Photographer?”

  1. My favorite software for photos:

    1. Lightroom (easy for simple things)
    2. Photoshop (hard for hard things)
    3. Nik filters. (Free!)
    4. Quicken (for keeping track of all the money you are (or are not) making)

  2. The Lightroom and Photoshop CC deal for 9.99 a month is the best deal going. I use both of them for everything I shoot, not just real estate. The workflow is natural and tools easy.

    I recommend to every new serious photographer I meet to get LR & PS CC because they aren't serious until they can use them to make their photos look the best they can look.

    I recommend PFRE and the five e-books to all new aspiring real estate photographers on top of Creative Cloud. They are not serious about it until they are trying to master the tools and processes outlined in those books and watching what other people are doing on this website.

    I have been doing this for about 6 years and am still trying to master those processes! But I am making a good living while doing it. It's possible for anyone to do so with these tools.

  3. Many pieces of software are going to subscription and there are even rumors that the Windows OS will be going to subscription and forced updates. At $120/year for both Lightroom and Photoshop, it's a pretty easy argument to advocate going that route. Since both work on MacOS and Windows, it no problem to switch operating systems if you would like and instructions/tutorials are almost entirely the same for the Adobe Photography using either OS.

    Larry points out something very important and that's the PFRE user base is using Lightroom and Photoshop and there are tons of training resources for Interior/Architecture/RealEstate photographers. There are far fewer tutorials online for alternative image editing packages and even fewer tutorials, if any, for real estate photographers using those applications. In addition, there is a vast array of plugins, actions and presets for Adobe products. If you decide to offer flyers, Adobe InDesign or Illustrator interfaces are going to be much more familiar to somebody already used to Photoshop. If you need to reach out for help overcoming a problem or want some one on one coaching or attend a workshop, all of those will center on post production using Adobe software.

  4. One good reason for getting Adobe software is because of all the support you can get from other photographers who use it. Get on a real estate photography social media page and Adobe techniques will frequently be discussed. Chime in with a question or comment on some obscure software and you'll hear crickets. What's going to happen is you're going to order the Adobe software anyhow to be in the loop. You'll then be spending more money than you would have if you bought the Adobe software to start with.
    By the way, purchasing the Adobe software outright was a major expense. I can't remember how much it was but for someone just starting out, it was an unbelievable expense. Then there were upgrades to purchase every year or two. They were about the cost of the annual subscription, maybe more. The subscription requires no huge initial purchase and the updates are continuous. It's easier to buy and probably cheaper in the long run.

  5. Capture One is becoming very popular amount pro's, as is Affinity Photo. Affinity Photo also offers an iPad version that is fantastic if you ever need a really good mobil app. They offer an Illustrator alternative and are working on an InDesign type program as well.

    You can download trials of the software to test it out to see how it works for you. Youtube had a ton of great tutorials for these as well.

    Nik is dead and is no longer being supported by Google. If you're on a Mac, it won't work with Sierra. Luminar takes it's place quite nicely though and has a great interface. Although I really like Luminar, it doesn't offer lens correction - yet. I use it as a plug-in for Photoshop.

  6. Prior to shooting professionally I was an avid user of one of the original 'must have' shareware products Paintshop and through it's various upgrades and name change to Paintshop Pro when owned by JASC and now Corel. As solid as it is and arguably it's strength forced Adobe's hand to create Photoshop Elements with far from basic features to compete in the $99 market, Corel's Aftermarket - while soled separately, typically thrown in for free with Paintshop - is no match for Lightroom's lens profile strength required in real estate photography. While it is a great produce and would recommend for general photography today, when I went pro was the realization that "I better know Photoshop." If you want to purchase outright with no subscription, consider Lightroom combined with Photoshop Elements.

    While I am going through the "get rid of subscription" argument now as I subscribe to the $49/mo Adobe Cloud, I would still keep Photoshop/Lightroom subscription. $9.99 isn't bad, but if you catch it, B&H will occasionally have the subscription on a time limited (2 days) sale for $79. Buy a couple and they are additive to your Adobe account. The good news is, it looks like I may be able to drop the $49/mo as InDesign was the big hold-up as I could cover Premiere Pro with Final Cut Pro X, light web design Adobe Muse with Sparkle or online vendors. For InDesign, just notices where a historical and expensive desktop publishing heavyweight competitor, QuarkExpress, has a competitive upgrade dropping the price by over 50% and am seriously considering it.

  7. Larry Gray - thank you for posting about Quark. I started with it years ago and eventually switched to InDesign. I think I may go back as my version 6 of InDesign will eventually be obsolete. I do one big project with it each year so $49/month for the whole cloud doesn't make sense. Quark's offer is a good one. I remember buying it back in 2001 for over $800.

  8. Thanks Carolyn - A lot of changes since v6, and before making the choice went through course to make sure. I have some ideas for desktop publishing of other types of photography (travel, wildlife, etc) so the ability to support ebook file structure is critical. While Affinity's two programs, Draw and Photo, you mentioned are great I gave up on their perpetually rumored and continually pushed out release date since 2016, now estimating 2018 Publisher program. One thing I should have mentioned is that I am a mixes PC/Apple user so it is not that critical on which machine - and something I forget. Corel's Paintshop Pro is PC only and, of course, FCPX is Mac only. Longer term, hopefully I will transition fully to Mac, thus the preference for programs that support the Mac environment.

  9. I just recently updated my computer to Windows 10. It was a comfort to me that installing the Lightroom and Photoshop software was simple with the subscription plan.

  10. Paul,
    I started my business 2 years ago. I went with Capture One Pro for Sony. I got a free version with the A 6000 I purchased and then stepped up to the pro version for only $50.00. I have never looked back.
    I have had too many agents tell me that the images look like they are supposed to look.
    The work flow from Cap One is fast. I can do most shots in about 2 minutes. The best advise I can give you is to google Capture One VS Lightroom. Cap One Pro is about $300.00 but you own it. Major update are about $50.00. I don't like subscription services although I do subscribe to Microsoft Office.
    There is no question that Adobe is the King in this arena. You have to ask yourself if you will use all that it provides and if it's worth it. Keep in mind that with Adobes subscription service, you are getting far more than you may need at this time in your business.
    That's my two cents worth.

  11. Without repeating what others have said, I'm in complete agreement regarding using the Adobe subscription. If your business depends on producing professional and great photo you have to be prepared to make the investment. I initially resisted the subscription route, I was wrong.

    Perhaps another thing to consider is as I'm sure we would all agree getting it right or as close as you want an image is doing it in the camera. You should perhaps think about investing in a tilt lens for building exterior shots. Not cheap but will save hours of work in post-processing since it will have get all the perspectives correctly, that is no buildings leaning bsck and depending on your choice of lens less barrel type distortions. Really comes back to the correct tools for the job. If you have lots of exteriors or large interiors you will save many hours of computer time, time you can convert to $$$ by taking more images.

  12. Well the GIMP is free, it looks and feels very much like Photoshop and can do at least 90% of what PS can do in a very similar way.

    However old timers like me are used to budgeting a couple of grand a year for software updates not that long ago (not to mention the initial outlay of several grand), so for me the subscription packages now for Adobe software is a bargain

  13. I agree, Lightroom is the best way to get started, I started with Apple Aperture, I never felt comfortable with it, then some guy told me to give LR a try, I'm still learning it, probably always will. It all started falling into place when I switched over, it doesn't always work perfect but for me it gets the job done.

  14. Everyone above has expressed opinions on editors (LR and PS for me) but Lee Miller also mentioned the use of Quicken. While not as flashy as photo editors, good bookkeeping software is essential to running a business. I have stopped using accounting software on my computer in favor of WAVE which is a web based service. It is free at it's most basic level (all I need) and paid if you need more extensive services. The interface is intuitive and it has many automated and semi-automated functions that save lots time. My clients are e-mailed invoices, statements, receipts, and reminders (when needed) that are very professional and require very little from me. I have resisted web-based software but WAVE is worthwhile.

  15. Peter Ferst, when using film the approach was "get it right on film". For me today, my focus has changed to "get back to my office with as much clean, unaltered, useful image data as possible". My raw image files file often don't look as good as my negatives used to, but they are MUCH more useful. Now I will admit to enjoying PP (it seems that many do not), but the idea of getting good data and assembling good images from it is more attractive to me than trying to force feed it into a single image on site.

  16. I got an account at Wave too. Thanks to someone's recommendation here. It's great! But it still will not replace Quicken, IMHO. So I will use both.

    Quicken will make electronic payments via BillPay which is a huge convenience. Quicken will generate reports much faster than Wave, and Quicken reports are easier to use and prepare for my accountant. Quicken will do a universal search for a payee in all registers. Wave has fairly weak search capability. Quicken is SO much faster as it is a computer based app, versus web based. And Quicken will auto-download all your transactions.

    Wave does have free credit card processing with no monthly fee (but you do have to pay the 3% though). I think Wave is great, but it is so much slower than Quicken for entry, reports, category management, search, etc, that I determined I could us both. Quicken for management, and Wave for on-line viewing and credit cards.

    I also use Paytrust for electronic billing presentment. Vendors mail their bills to Paytrust and then Paytrust posts them on line. You can also pay ANY vendor directly from Paytrust. Wave can not pay anybody, which is a drag. But free credit card processing is not a drag!!!

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