Should You Avoid Adobe Photoshop? Here‘s 7 Reasons Why It May Not Meet Your Needs

As an amateur photographer and design enthusiast like yourself, you likely hear Photoshop recommended consistently as the industry standard for image editing and graphic design. However, as ubiquitous as it is amongst creative professionals, increasingly there are reasons why Photoshop may fall short for your particular use case today.

In this post, we’ll methodically assess 7 key aspects of Photoshop – ranging from pricing to features to alternatives – that convince more casual DIY creators that it‘s perhaps not the optimal tool in 2023 given other options available.

We‘ll support each reason with data and expert perspectives so you can evaluate Photoshop fairly against your specific needs and skill level. Our goal is to prevent you from paying for and struggling with powerful software that goes way beyond what you really require as an amateur.

Let‘s dig in!

At a Glance: 7 Drawbacks of Adobe Photoshop for Casual Users

Before examining each in detail, here‘s the core reasons you may want to avoid Photoshop as someone new to design and image editing:

  1. Unintuitive user interface with steep learning curve
  2. Expensive monthly pricing that adds up over time
  3. Abundant advanced features well beyond basic skill needs
  4. Requirements for a powerful computer that can handle resource demands
  5. Proprietary file type with limited compatibility
  6. Viable free alternatives exist for simple use cases
  7. Specialized software better for vector graphics, video editing, etc

Now let’s explore each factor challenging the perception that Photoshop is the obvious or only solution for design novices…

1. Expect a Slow, Frustrating Learning Curve

A common refrain from photographers making their first forays into Photoshop is…utter bewilderment.

Between tools panel icons that resemble hieroglyphics and dense drop down menus bursting with exotic sounding functions, Photoshop presents an unexpectedly overwhelming interface even to open a file.

As creative industry blog Photoscapist puts it regarding the platform‘s ergonomics:

"Few programmes seem purpose-built to bamboozle novices in the way Photoshop manages to do."

Unlike the intuitive editing apps built into Windows and MacOS you may be used to, Adobe clutters Photoshop with countless features catering more to power users.

Expect a slow, steep ascent up the learning curve even to complete basic edits like selecting items or applying filters. Most tutorials must unfurl hours of video just to orient complete beginners in a complex visual landscape filled with exotic tools and unfamiliar concepts around layers, masks and paths.

Veteran New York Times tech columnist David Pogue documented his frustrating attempts learning Photoshop as an average consumer rather than pre-trained designer. He capitulates: "In Adobe’s universe, you’re just supposed to know this stuff”.

If this sounds more exasperating than enhancing for your creative debut, simpler alternatives like…

GIMP: Open-source image editor focused only on most commonly-used tools

…present less obstacle-laden onramps.

2. Budget-Breaking Monthly Costs Add Up

Originally you could purchase lifetime access to Photoshop for a single price – often around $700. However since 2013, Adobe only licenses its Creative Cloud suite on monthly or discounted annual contracts.

Basic plans to access Photoshop now cost $9.99 per month (or $119.88 yearly) at minimum. And limited to only two devices.

With over half of Adobe‘s 4 million individual customers opting for its mid-tier plan – jumping to $20.99/month for storage benefits – you must critique whether occasionally zapping acne or whitening teeth in your pictures warrants this recurring toll.

That tallies nearly $250 yearly photoshopping selfies and vacation snaps! Costs inflate further still if ever needing the likes of Illustrator or Premiere Pro to expand creative capabilities.

In an era of exploding subscription fatigue across streaming services, Microsoft 365, Adobe CC inserts yet another monthly line item hassling your bank statements.

Entrepreneur Mark McLaren suggests we holistically ask ourselves:

“With all the monthly and annual payments I’m currently making in my life for various services, and with all the new services I’m going to sign up for during my lifetime, isn’t buying software I can use indefinitely a better model?”

If budget better suits all-you-can eat buffets of subscription services over piecemeal apps bought outright, products like…

Affinity Photo: Pro photo editor for a one-time $55 payment

…exist sans recurring charges.

Summary So Far

We‘ve surfaced two immediate constraints Photoshop imposes on amateur creators through hostile onboarding and overbearing pricing.

Already alternatives present preferable starting points likely better optimized for your budding creative flow rather than professional polish.

This is just a taste of how misaligned Photoshop sits with casual user needs today. Let‘s march further down the list…

3. Prepare for Feature Creep Fatigue

Remember, Adobe tailored Photoshop foremost for experts like design firms and film studios, not selfie-taking niece aspiring makeup vlogger.

You can literally visualize engineers catering more to industrial complex rather than indie creator first…

Photoshop UI Screenshot

Who else but graphics snobs yearning manual chromatic aberration correction need this sheer volume of hyper-advanced capabilities littering the interface?

Functionality reaches such absurd zeniths that even professionals joke memes about never using ultra-niche tools baked into Photoshop they haven‘t discovered in decades of manipulation images for clients and employers!

Yet Adobe charges everyone the same premium despite petty projects benefiting barely a fraction of the software‘s potential.

Should hobbyist creators subsidizeeded asset housing for film studio assets? Features like 3D model importing make power users more valuable to Adobe than weekend MS Paint graduates merely merging images for a blog header graphic or Youtube channel icon.

Veteran Photoshop instructor Steve Caplin admits:

“In 25 years I still haven‘t found a use for half the tools in Photoshop"

Take it as permission to instead seek out apps purpose-built for simpler use cases. Ones consolidating just enough features to fuel amateur creativity growth rather than overwhelm it like…

Canva: Browser-based design focused on templates and drag-n-drop simplicity

Again, why clamber up Everest for some modest clickbait article thumbnails? Set course for gentler slopes and more welcoming vistas better suited for budding visionaries rather than careerist creators already longwise in specialized production pipelines.

4. The Exceptional Power Behind Photoshop Costs You – In Computer Performance

Photoshop‘s breadth of capabilities understandably requires some beastly computing muscle. So purchasing it risks mandate upgrading equipment so your machine can even handle everything Adobe packs under the hood.

System requirements call for at least 8GB RAM just to install Photoshop – no assets open – crowding out memory for simultaneous productivity. And barely keeping up with 200+ layer projects demands upwards of 32GB for smooth sailing.

What about graphics? Utilizing advanced 3D compositing or taking advantage Photoshop‘s CUDA acceleration relies on premium NVIDIA RTX GPUs in short (costly) supply still thanks to crypto hangover.

Let‘s discuss storage. Ever try stitching multi-shot panoramas into towering pixel canvases? Massive scratch disk space saves you from crashes losing progress when undertaking such I/O-intensive manipulation. We‘re talking 1TB+ SSDs minimum.

What about distraction-free focus? Complex selections and filtering bother even mighty CPUs, hence Adobe officially recommends 8+ core processors so lag never impedes creative flow state immersion.

But for many hobbyists, such extravagant hardware exists mainly hypothetical until finances allow upgrading. Whereas something like…

Pixelmator: Mac-exclusive image editor optimized even for older iMacs/MacBooks

…squeezes professional-tier performance from more modest machine specs Apple users likely already own.

No sense purchasing software too heavyweight for current gear to comfortably handle, especially if investing full-time into creative passions remains speculative.

5. Adobe Favors Its Own Formats

Ever flattened layers to export creations, only to baffle friends and collaborators unable to further edit or even open the .PSD Photoshop format shared?

Unlike truly universal equivalents JPEG or PNG readable across apps and devices, Adobe‘s proprietary .PSD and .PSB file extensions monopolize access, deliberately or not.

Unless working purely solo, even slight hopes of coworking require intermediary conversion steps to universally recognized formats destroying original project structures often vital for adjustments.

Photoshop alternatives like Affinity Photo and free GIMP instead focus on retaining layer data and other information when targeting common image types. This proves essential for enabling further collaborator tinkering rather than dead-end exports.

The broader lesson here for amateurs? Avoid software vendors deliberately restricting compatibility to trap users in walled gardens ultimately limiting creative freedom and idea exchange flexibility.

Open ecosystems with accessible file structures foster more experimentation through cooperation so fledgling visions evolve unconstrained by technical bottlenecks.

6. Excellent Free Apps Do Basics…for Free!

We‘ve hinted repeatedly at the obvious mismatch sticking a multi-tool powerhouse like Photoshop into uncomplicated use cases.

Yes, school portraits need brightening and old logo mockups could polish updating. But fundamentally, these remain simple enhancement tasks rather than elaborate ab initio compositions or matte painting.

My teenage cousin need only blemish banishment and teeth whitening to glow up those juvenile headshots – not node-based lens correction workflows prepared for Vogue cover submissions!

Appropriate solutions for straightforward manipulation already hide in plain sight – our own device native image utilities! Both Windows and MacOS integrate capable editing tools free out-the-box specifically for casual corrections, filters, lighting tweaks and more.

No subscriptions, import/exports or batch actions to automate. Just launch Photos or Paint, make quick changes and export sharpened JPGs about as intuitively possible for snapping shots on smartphones.

Feeling more sophisticated? Apps like Pixelmator ($40 one-time) cleanly consolidate essential color correct, layering, selection and repair tools spared of Photoshop‘s daunting sprawl.

Take advantage of polish previously only feasible through costly, cumbersome production pipelines now neatly bundled into modern apps democratizing basic beautification.

7. Jack-Of-All-Trades, Master of None

Photoshop inaugurated a graphics toolkit powerhouse in the early 90‘s realistically impossible replicating elsewhere before compute hardware and software engineering matured. It dominated as THE visual medium manipulation platform throughout desktop publishing‘s print heyday.

However today‘s creative landscape requires far more specialized software. Photography workflow management. Vector illustration. Multi-format publishing. Mockup synthesis and concept rendering. And so on.

Work staggering in dimensionality compared to the scanline era behemoth Adobe built then scramble plugging new formats, integrations and paradigms into aging architecture piecemeal every release.

Photoshop now stretches itself thin trying to cram video editing and 3D modeling into an app over 30 years old at its core – ancient in computer years!

We‘re left with glaring capability gaps and performance issues trying to wear so many hats instead of a focused toolbelt.

For analog-era veterans this Swiss Army knife still makes sense, but younger creators adapting faster to emerging genres need sharper blades. Ones forged expressly for niches like:

  • Inkscape: Sophisticated open-source vector graphics editor
  • Vectornator: Lightning fast vector illustration in the browser
  • Blender: End-to-end 3D content creation pipeline

Rather than brute forcing through technical constraints of an aging but reliable old workhorse, seek out innovation on the bleeding edge more precisely tailored for imagination not yet fully formed.

Don‘t limit the breadth of experimentation based on comfort zones. Sample broadly what this Cambrian explosion of creation platforms offers before settling.

Should You Pay for Photoshop in 2023?

We‘ve outlined 7 factors making Photoshop likely overkill for causal hobbyists below:

Reasons to AvoidSummaryTop Alternatives
Steep learning curveOverwhelming even for basic editsGIMP
Expensive subscription$120+ per year minimumAffinity Photo
Too advancedPower users need, not amateursCanva
Resource-intensiveRequires high-spec computerPixelmator
Proprietary PSDsLimits sharing and editingJPG, PNG
Free apps sufficeiOS Photos handles basicsWindows Paint 3D
Jack-of-all-tradesOthers now surpass capabilitiesInkscape, Vectornator

Rather than rush towards comfortable legacy brands like Adobe staples unanimously praised inside creative cliques, carefully analyze if better optimized options exist for your exploratory phase and production scenarios specifically.

Viable free tools lower barriers to casually trying image manipulation and design absent intimidating financial or functional burdens. Meanwhile rising usurpers modernize interfaces while concentrating must-have features at friendlier price points.

With creativity democratization flourishing, now‘s an exciting period assessing novel image editing and composition platforms launching regularly. Don‘t resign yourself just yet to monthly fees given this Cambrian explosion of options for visually expressing imagination now more accessible than ever thanks to computing leveling the playing field!

Weigh purpose-built software against multipurpose legacy. Favor specialization over consolidation; simplicity over complication. Seek the spark igniting intrinsic motivation through effortlessly translating visions from mind to screen rather than pacifying gatekeepers to an exclusive creative class.

The choice is yours. What possibilities feel within reach with tools now in hand?

Hopefully our analysis helps guide your decision wisely as you embark on visually communicating ideas enriching this world. We can‘t wait to see what you create next!

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