It's been quite some time that we are conducting Lightroom Workshops during weekends. During these workshop and at time 1:1 discussions, photographers often ask about opinion - whether Lightroom or Photoshop is better for them or something else. Every person will have different opinion about the same and answer varies from one Photographer to other. It also depends upon the stage of your life.
Lightroom is Adobe’s photo management and enhancement software which is designed specifically for serious amateurs and professional photographers. Initial idea of creating such software was - simulating old way of processing shot photographs. Which means a Digital mean of having a Darkroom to process photographs shot with Digital Cameras. Initially Lightroom was not very popular but with time many things were added during it's second and third version. In current shape Lightroom is one of the best softwares for photographers, which takes car of maximum relevant workflows of a photographer. Some of the features like Noise Reduction, Lens Correction and Color enhancements are very popular because their power with ease.
Serious amateur is someone who can and wants to spend the time to get the most out of his/her Photographs. If you are only interested in doing a few simple adjustments, such as cropping, fixing a color cast and fixing red eye, and don’t expect to have a lot of photographs to manage, then Lightroom is most likely more than you need. In this case, Picasa, Photoshop Elements or any number other free or inexpensive consumer photo softwares would be appropriate.
For serious amateurs and professional Photographers, I am a very big advocate of Lightroom as the foundation of the post-processing workflow. Lightroom solve various Photography workflows in brilliant way. It is an elegant and very powerful software for managing your photographs, fixing & enhancing them, and for sharing them, whether by creating jpeg copies to email out, making prints, creating slideshows or web galleries. Even now, 4th version of Lightroom comes up with wonderful capabilities of adding GPD information and having better organizing mechanism. Also you can design your Photo-Books yourself in Adobe Lightroom.
When it comes to fixing and enhancing your digital photographs, Lightroom has a wide variety of powerful Develop tools and many handy features, such as the ability to see Before and After side-by-side, to save your image work at various stages as snapshots, keep different versions of your images such as a black & white and a color version, and much more. All of the image fix and enhancement work you do in Lightroom is non-destructive, so you cannot ruin your image. Non-destructive editing is best part of this software. Anything you do can be undone when you doing or after an years. Lightroom is usually fast in doing things (although 4th version has some glitches, which Adobe has tried to fix in 4.1) — searches for images are lightening-quick, you can work on multiple images at once, and you can save settings and layouts so that you can use them again in the future with the click of one button. Presets of Lightroom are one of the wonderful way of reusing the hard-work you have done.
Should I learn Photoshop as well?
For all the reasons stated above and the fact that Lightroom is cheaper as well, I recommend that everyone should start out by learning and getting very comfortable with Lightroom... Lightroom is also a best tool to better understand Digital way of handing Images.
Here, I advise considering Photoshop as a supplemental tool to Lightroom and only if you feel that there are things you want to do to your images that you find you can’t do with Lightroom. Many times I have seen people prefering Photoshop over Lightroom, only because of peer pressure or because of the fact that they only know about Photoshop. Photoshop has become synonym of 'Photo-Editing tool'. Most of the serious amateur and professional photographers now use only Lightroom. Some of the photographers use mostly Lightroom, but occasionally do additional work in Photoshop as well. But there are still few folks who use Photoshop for every image they work. It all depends on what you want to be able to do. In any case, Lightroom and Photoshop are designed to work together. For any photographer, both of these softwares are necessary. Although for most of the Photographers, Lightroom will be more than enough with most-efficient workflows.
Some areas that photographers still turn to Photoshop for include: complicated clean-up and retouching which is required for Fashion Photographers... OR Local adjustments involving complicated selections, applying artistic and other types of filters and compositing photographs together (such as in HDR, panoramas, and creative collages etc).
Here I want to state that, article above is inspired by Laura Shoe's article at - http://laurashoe.com/should-i-learn-lightroom-or-photoshop-or-both/