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Photoshop Tutorial for Photographers

Adobe Photoshop is an image editing program that allows photographers to make precise and powerful changes to their photos. It is used by professionals and hobbyists alike for retouching photos, creating special effects, and combining images. This tutorial will provide photographers with an overview of how to use Photoshop for their photography.

Getting Started

Before getting into the specifics of Photoshop, here are a few general tips for using the program:

  • When starting a new project, create a new layer for each element you want to work on.
  • Take advantage of Photoshop’s many tools, including the selection and move tools, the brush tool, and the clone stamp tool.
  • Use layers to make adjustments and to keep the original image intact.
  • Save your work often to avoid losing it in case of a crash or power outage.


Selections are an important part of Photoshop. Selections can be used to isolate certain parts of an image for editing, such as removing a person from a background, or adding a person to a background. Selections can be made with the Marquee tool, the Lasso tool, or the Quick Selection tool. The Marquee tool creates rectangular or elliptical selections, the Lasso tool creates free-form selections, and the Quick Selection tool creates selections based on color or texture. Selections can also be inverted, meaning that the area outside the selection is selected instead of the area inside.


Layers are an essential part of Photoshop. Layers allow you to make changes to one element of an image without affecting the other elements. For example, if you want to change the color of a person’s shirt in a photo, you can create a new layer and make the color change in that layer while leaving the original image intact. Layers can also be used to combine multiple images or to add effects to an image. Layers can be moved, resized, and combined to create unique images.


Photoshop has many tools for making adjustments to photos. The brush tool can be used to paint color onto an image, the dodge and burn tools can be used to lighten and darken parts of an image, and the clone stamp tool can be used to copy parts of an image. The warp tool can be used to distort an image, and the blur and sharpen tools can be used to soften or sharpen parts of an image. Photoshop also has tools for cropping, resizing, and rotating images.


Photoshop has a variety of special effects that can be used to enhance photos. These effects include filters, textures, lighting effects, and distortions. Filters can be used to create a vintage look or to simulate different types of film. Textures can be used to add a textured look to an image, and lighting effects can be used to add shadows or highlights. Distortions can be used to create abstract images.

In Summary

Adobe Photoshop is an incredibly powerful program for photographers. It can be used to make precise adjustments, create special effects, and combine multiple images. This tutorial provided an overview of how to use Photoshop for photography, including how to make selections, work with layers, use tools, and add effects. With a little practice, photographers can easily use Photoshop to create amazing images!

(If you need something to manage your photos you're probably looking for Adobe Lightroom)

If you're a photographer you owe it to yourself to learn at least a little Photoshop.

If you want a free photoshop alternative consider downloading "GIMP". It has much of the functionality of photoshop but is free and open source. (As an aside, Darktable is an alternative to Adobe Lightroom)

Here are some useful things you can do with Photoshop:

Photoshop is your digital darkroom. You can manipulate images, exaggerate certain elements and fix or touch up other elements. If you want to take your photography to the next level learning how to fix minor issues in Photoshop is a really important.

Here are some of the most common Photoshop keyboard shortcuts.

Common Photoshop Shortcuts

Below you will find some of the most common Photoshop shortcuts.

Ctrl+N -- New Document
Ctrl+O -- Open Document
Ctrl+Tab -- Switch between actively open documents within Photoshop (if you use a tabbed browser, this usually switches tabs in that as well)
Ctrl+A -- Select All
Ctrl+C -- Copy
Ctrl+X -- Cut
Ctrl+V -- Paste
Ctrl+S -- Save
Ctrl+P -- Print
Ctrl+Shift+S -- Save As (this allows you to save the document while adjusting different parameters, such as name, location, file type, compression, etc.)
Ctrl+Z -- Undo
Ctrl+Y -- Redo
Ctrl+Alt+W -- Close all documents

The following are mostly Photoshop-specific.

Ctrl+K -- Toggle Preferences Dialog Box
Ctrl+J -- Duplicate Currently Selected Layer
Ctrl+Shift+N -- Create New Layer
Ctrl+L -- Open "Levels" Dialog Box
Ctrl+Shift+L -- Apply "Auto Levels" (note that this is the same effect as opening the "Levels" Dialog Box and hitting the "Auto" button)
Ctrl+M -- Open "Curves" Dialog Box
Ctrl+F -- Reapply Last Used Filter (it retains the last settings used)
Ctrl+U -- Open Hue/Saturation Dialog Box
Ctrl+B -- Open Color Balance Dialog Box

Ctrl+Alt+Z -- One "Step" Back in History (this is a glorified "Undo"; the number of "steps" that Photoshop remembers can be adjusted in the Preferences Dialog Box)
Ctrl+Shift+Z -- One "Step" Forward in History

Ctrl+R -- Toggle Ruler Display (adjusted in Preferences Dialog Box)
Ctrl+' -- Toggle Grid Display (adjusted in Preferences Dialog Box)
Ctrl+; -- Toggle Guide Display (adjusted in Preferences Dialog Box)

Ctrl+E -- Merge Down (this merges one layer into the one directly below it; it also merges layers in a group or a selection)
Ctrl+Shift+E -- Merge Visible (this merges all layers that are currently visible, indicated by the presence of the little eye icon by the layer thumbnail)

Ctrl+T -- Free Transform
Ctrl+Shift+T -- Reapply Last Used Transform

See Also:
How To Use Lightroom

More Articles of Interest
Photoshop: Making circle selections
Photoshop: Rectangle marquee tool
Photoshop: Creating an artificial depth of field
Photoshop: Magnetic lasso tool