Using Adobe Lightroom to Edit Photos for Students

Photography is an excellent hobby that can be carried from childhood into later life. Techniques change and technology keeps advancing making photography a continual area of growth.

Other people prefer to take their photography further than just a hobby and choose to study it seriously. When you consider what education you need to become a photographer you not only need a Bachelor’s degree or specialized training you also have to understand an array of software.

It would be easy to think that photography is all about the camera, the lighting, and the composition but these days photography students need to know much more about post-processing and complex software.

Lightroom is one product that helps photographers, students, and hobbyists alike with their post-production work. Here is some information on how Lightroom can help you to edit and manage your photos and when they should and shouldn’t be used. 

What is Adobe Lightroom?

It would be simple to say that Lightroom is a photo editor similar to Photoshop but it is actually very different. It can certainly handle most of the image manipulation and editing that you might need but it will help you manage your images in a way that other software cannot.

Lightroom has been around for nearly 15 years and through that time it has been enhanced, improved, had bugs fixed, and is now available in 3 different versions: Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, and Lightroom Mobile.

Lightroom CC and Classic are essentially the same but with one major difference. Lightroom was designed so that all your photos are stored on the cloud allowing you to switch between desktop, laptop, and mobile devices seamlessly. Students can edit their work in college and then continue at home without the need to carry work on external hard drives or flash drives.

Lightroom Classic however is for users who are either uncomfortable storing their work on the cloud, prefer to have copies saved locally, or do not have the need to switch between locations to continue their work.

While on the subject of saving work, this is something that Lightroom does differently to other photo editors too.

Where is the save button on Lightroom?

Lightroom CC doesn’t have a save button. Unlike other photo editors, Lightroom is non-destructive meaning that all your edits are stored in your library. Your work is automatically backed up too so there is no need to worry about saving in case your PC crashes. If you use Lightroom Classic then you will need to manually back up your work, however.

How much does Lightroom cost?

Like many Adobe products Lightroom can be purchased separately or as part of the Creative Cloud plans. The Creative Cloud Photography bundle works out at around $9.99 a month with the total fee charged yearly up-front. Searching the internet or visiting this site will bring a special discount for students wishing to purchase Lightroom. As a serious photographer, it should be part of the equipment used along with your camera, lenses, and other accessories. 

Why not use Photoshop?

There is nothing wrong with using Photoshop and indeed, if you require pixel-perfect editing then this is the program you should use. The difference between Photoshop is that you would generally use it to edit a small number of photographs whereas Lightroom can manage and store your entire library. Below you can see the features that Lightroom has and as a photography student, you will see how important they are. 

What are the features of Lightroom that students can use?

Here are some ways that students can edit photos in Lightroom and the features it has: 

  • RAW editor
  • Creative adjustment tools
  • Non-destructive editing
  • Copy adjustment settings to various images
  • Batch processing
  • Create presets
  • Quick develop
  • Cropping and straightening
  • Improved workflow

 These are just a few features to help in editing and below you can read more about how they will affect you and your work. 

RAW editing in Lightroom

As a photography student, you will no doubt be shooting your images in RAW format, and if you aren’t then you should be questioning yourself why not? RAW is generally the highest quality file that you can record with a DSLR and Adobe realized this was something they needed to make accessible in Lightroom.

Lightroom is ahead of most of its competitors simply by allowing RAW files to be opened, edited, and saved. When you edit any image it will lose some quality and this is true of RAW too. However, editing JPEGs will result in a much bigger loss in quality than RAW will, making Lightroom perfect for editing this format. 

Creative adjustment tools

Three tools that you may find yourself using a lot are the gradient filter, adjustment brush, and the post-crop vignette tool.

If you have used Photoshop or Illustrator then you will be familiar with the gradient filter and its usage. This filter helps to create natural-looking gradients that can lighten or darken areas of the image or even add fantastical color effects to your image.

The adjustment brush lets you change small areas of your image such as errors in brightness or contrast or sharpen and soften a particular object.

Post-crop vignette lets you add vignettes to draw your audience towards the center of the image. Lightroom can also help to remove any unwanted vignettes. 

Non-destructive editing

One of the most popular aspects of Lightroom is that it is a non-destructive editor. If you have used Photoshop and made many adjustments and edits to a photo and regretted them then you will understand how great this is.

Lightroom works by letting you make changes to a version of your original image so that you can see how it will look after you make your adjustments. Once you are finished this new version will be saved leaving the original untouched.  

Time-saving features of Lightroom

One of the best things about Lightroom is the time it will save you in editing projects. When you have a deadline to turn in your work at college you need to make the most of the tools available and Lightroom will help.

Pre-sets are ideal for saving adjustments that you have made and liked and want to use again. You can use the quick develop panel with your presets to batch process a whole group of photos at once. You can also transfer the adjustment settings that you used on a previous photo to the next one you are working on. 


Lightroom isn’t just for post-processing and editing it will help with your workflow immensely. You can add keywords to your images, make slideshows, and create your own collections. The presets mentioned above are similar to Actions in Photoshop but Lightroom’s ability to add them to many photos at once will increase your workflow. 


By using Lightroom to edit photos at college you will remove many of the time-consuming aspects of your studies and pretty soon you might be thinking of your future salary expectations as a professional photographer.

Lightroom for students means being able to edit photos, adjust color and contrast, highlight areas, and touch up photos just like other photo editing software. The differences are that Lightroom can help a photography student manage all their work, locate photos easily, batch process, and create collections with ease and in a way that even Photoshop cannot.