Updated: Apr 27, 2019
Easy to use software that gives great results. That's the holy grail for new photographers. And after years of being asked by photographers just starting out what software they should use, I finally have a valid answer to "what's the best program to edit photos?"... and it's not what you might think!
Taking photos is fun. But it's only half of the picture. You need to caress your images with some digital T.L.C. to really help them shine - or in some cases - just not look bad!
Here's a video tutorial where I look at the power of Luminar 3 and why it's a great option for first time photo editors
Simple Software for Editing Photos
I've spent nearly 25 years learning Adobe Photoshop (yes, it's been around that long), and the past decade using Lightroom on just about a daily basis. So would I recommend them as tools for the newb photographer? No. They are fantastic software, adorned with a plethora of useful tools to bring out the best in your photography and image making, but unfortunately the learning curve is pretty steep.
So what is this simple photo editing program?
So what's the alternative? Well, for a long time I didn't really feel there was one, and my advice would have been to dive in and start wading into the complexities of Lightroom and Photoshop. But now, hallelujah, there is a powerful photo editing software that's conveniently simple to learn. And that's Luminar!
So what is Luminar and why do I like it?
Luminar is a powerful, slider based, photo editor that gives excellent value for money. It combines elements of Lightroom in the form of a slider based photo editor with a layered approach similar to that of Photoshop in a simple to use interface. On top of that it provides some unique filters and LUTs that make it easy for any new photographer to make stunning images right out of the gate! And one filter stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of helping a starting photographer make the most of their photos.
One Filter to Crush all Filters
For me the BIG REASON for a new photographer to pick up Luminar is their trademarked Accent AI Filter. It is a beast! With one slide to the right you can take your dull, lackluster image and have Luminar infuse it with life. Well, not literally, but it's pretty astonishing what it does! Luminar's artificial intelligence analyses your picture and intuitively knows what adjustments should be made and then makes them. I was seriously skeptical prior to using it, and although the results often look best when not used at 100% intensity I reckon this slider alone is enough of a reason for a beginner to start using this software.
Top reasons this software is perfect for new photographers
1. Powerful RAW editing
In addition to the other benefits, Luminar also has a powerful RAW editing engine which shares similarities to that of Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW which grants you an insane level of image control. Because the backbone of the RAW editing is the same as Adobe's flagship products, the transition over, should you ever wish to make it, would be a smooth one. Nice.
2. Quality filters built right in
To achieve certain looks in Photoshop can require a fair bit of knowledge of the program and often these looks are not even possible in Lightroom. This is where Luminar stands out again for the amateur photographer. Many of these high end looks, such as the orton effect and realistic sun-flares (great for landscape photography), soft glow and many more, are built right into Luminar and are super easy to apply.
3. Different Interface Layouts for beginners through to professional users
Depending on your level you can select an interface that suits you. That's right. If you're just getting started and want to tip toe your way in, no problem. Start out with the basic workspace, which Luminar aptly titles the "quick and awesome" workspace. I like the addition of "awesome", because to be fair, the few sliders that this set up makes available really do enhance your photos with minimum fuss from the user.
4. The Artificial Intelligence filter
I mentioned it before, but due to just how good this one filter is for a new photographer who doesn't yet know their way around photo editing software, I thought I'd best mention it again. Powerful results from moving one slider. Luminar couldn't make getting your photos looking great any more quick and simple.
You could spend A LOT of time playing around with your photo in another photo editing app and still not get it looking as good. As a photography tutor this ability is mind blowing - and also slightly disconcerting!
5. The ability to real it in...
The tools in Luminar are very powerful. This isn't always a good thing as it's very easy to get carried away playing with the sliders, adding filters and honing the look of your would-be masterpiece, and you can end up overcooking it. I've been guilty of this myself before and no doubt will be again. Thankfully Luminar has a unique solution that the coders at Adobe needs to wake up and listen to. So what is it?
If you've gone through, made a whole heap of photo enhancements, before you publish that shot or upload it to your social media platform it's recomended that you step away from the monitor. Go make a drink and come back with fresh eyes. If you're left staring at the monitor thinking, holy crap, what the flip was I thinking? Then, it's probably a good thing that you caught your over zealous processing prowess before you set your abomination free to assualt the eyes of your friends, family and followers. In anycase, it's not a problem. The software has you covered. Simply, go down to the last slider of all. The one marked "filters amount", and dial it back to a percentage you fell happier with.
This way you can be more subtle with your edit without having to go back and change each individual slider. What a time saver! I really love this.
6. Pay once. No recurring subscription
In my opinion Luminar offers excellent value for money. Unlike Adobe that has moved Photoshop and Lightroom along with the rest of their creative suite to recurring subscriptions fees, Luminar is a pay once piece of software, and for what it is, it's exceptional value.
Get the photo editor here and save
If you're interested in trying Luminar you can download the photo editor here. Save yourself some $$$ and use the promocode ATSKY10 at checkout for a $10 discount! If you're a new photographer just getting started with photo editing and decide to go with this software I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
If you'd like to see my first experience using Luminar here's the video on my youtube photography channel: