What Programs Do I Use And Why?

Season 1. Blog 6.

Welcome back Friend,

Being a graphic designer and a photographer by trade, you can tell when someone uses a program to design or create something, and they should have used something else in place, such as creating printed graphics with Adobe Photoshop. I cannot tell you how many times people don’t realize that they’re actual programs that have been established and are mainstreamed to be used for specific projects and concepts. On top of that, these programs can be pretty difficult to learn, when starting out. Most professionals are transparent in being able to explain what programs are used and why. So let’s take a look at the ones I use, and have been professionally trained in.

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My Tool Kit:

Adobe Creative Cloud - Lightroom Classic CC, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign.

Other Useful Programs: Squarespace, Smugmug, Moo.com

As you saw in my last blog, “Best thing I ever Did…7 Years later”, you learned how Squarespace and Smugmug can be beneficial, and why they’re mandatory programs to see growth in your company from the front side of your company. I will now introduce you to programs that I use for the back side of creating my content for professionals, clients, and prospective clients. Like many other professional creatives, I use and highly recommend the Adobe Creative Cloud, and these programs are a MUST for any designer, or creative in this graphic design/photography industry. I will also explain their uses and what specifically their ideal use is. For instance, you should not be using Photoshop, for creating vector images. Essentially in a nut shell, you would not want to use a wrench as a screw driver or vice versa. It just doesn’t make sense, and the end result is not going to work out correctly or be ideal tool for the specific task at hand - The same concept applies when using creative software.

Let’s dive right in

Adobe Photoshop

Raster Imagery & Photo Manipulation

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First, let’s get familiar with the term, raster. Raster imagery is made up of pixels, and is only able to be manipulated a certain amount before it will “turn pixelated” or fuzzy when produced, printed or made larger in size for production. Another way to think of the word “raster”, is the combination of images on a page, such as a photo. Photos are raster images, and should be manipulated using Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is the perfect tool for retouchers, photo manipulators, studio portraiture, etc.

 Shown above, comparison between Raster vs. Vector. (Raster on the left, and Vector on the right)

Shown above, comparison between Raster vs. Vector. (Raster on the left, and Vector on the right)

What you don’t want to use Adobe Photoshop for is graphic design and page layout. A few reasons for this are: raster images can print pixelated if you are not too careful; massive file sizes, incorrect file formats for print, producing page layout, producing text. You may wonder why these are listed as things not to use photoshop for, and it really comes down to printing and how the products look, when made in a raster format.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC

Image Workflow & Photo Organization


You may be wondering what I use Lightroom for. I typically use Lightroom Classic CC for all quick edits; such as color grading/color adjustments, etc. I don’t normally do a lot to edit my photos - Whatcha see is typically what you get. I always try to get it right in camera, first, but when I make color changes, this is the program of my choice. I can also export with my watermark on my images, and that is how I generally upload some photos from the album (on Smugmug) for my preview images. Lightroom has cut down my edit time, from manually saving each individual photo (2 times - one with a watermark, and one without a watermark) which at one point would be a 4 hour process to now only about an hour, including the saving time. And everyone knows as a photographer, time is money, and time is very, very valuable. I can assure you, I would never want to waste my time, on editing 4 hours worth of work, for only about 70 images. Now, I can do about 200 in that same period of time, but rarely do I actually do that.

Adobe Illustrator

Vector/Logo Creation, & Some Page Layout


Illustrator is all vector art creation. Vector art is the format that every professional logo should be designed in. Vector art, in theory, can be blown up, and will still have the crisp, clean, sharp edges. No pixelation will occur (as stated above, under the Adobe Photoshop software). Vector art files have the file extension of .ai; .eps; .pdf (depending on creator - some are just raster imagery saved in .pdf’s). When I create a logo, I will save out an .ai, an .eps, and a .pdf - for whatever the client’s specific needs are. Each printer or production later on including the file may be different. An .eps file can be blown up to any dimension, such as a billboard size, and you will not lose any type of quality. Text never gets pixelated, with this type of file creation, such as if you would create something of the same concept in Photoshop. I often cringe, when photographer’s will use Photoshop to create something for a client, and you can tell once it’s printed that the file creation was not professional, and having the knowledge of a graphic designer is key, to professional and gaining trust from your clients.

Adobe InDesign

Page layout - Magazines, Calendars, etc.


InDesign is primarily used for page layout, such as magazines, flyers, books, calendars, etc. This is a combination of text, vector art, and images for a final presentation of a design, or design concept. I don’t use Indesign too much, being a photographer, but for graphic design, it varies depending on projects. You would not want to create a logo in this program. Indesign is a pretty limited program, and only to be used for page layout.