Photo-Editing Software Options for Designing Your Social Media Site

By Janine Warner, David LaFontaine

Just about every social media platform requires a profile photo, and photo-editing software comes in handy. At the very least, you will want to resize, crop, and color-correct your profile pictures; if you have advanced skills and are ready to try something a bit trickier, extract a subject from a photo to assemble fun collages.

  • Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is a widely used standard among graphics professionals. You can create original artwork, edit and enhance photographs, and so much more. Photoshop has a wealth of powerful painting and selection tools, special effects, and filters that enable you to create images far beyond what you can capture on film or create with many other illustration programs.

    With the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription model, you can sign up for a couple of months at about $19 per month to use Photoshop, and then discontinue the service.

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements: If you don’t need all the bells and whistles offered in the full-blown version of Photoshop, Photoshop Elements is a remarkably powerful program that tries to automate a lot of common tasks for beginners. If you’re a professional designer, you’re best served by Photoshop.

    For the hobbyist or small business owner who wants to create good-looking images without the high cost and learning curve of a professional graphics program, Elements is a great bargain.

  • Apple iPhoto: This user-friendly image editor is part of the iLife bundle that Apple loads onto its computers. The tools and functions of iPhoto aren’t as robust as many of the other programs listed here. For example, you can’t work with multiple layers or do sophisticated image extractions, animations, or pixel-perfect retouching work.

    However, if you’re a beginner and find the profusion of tools that crowd the margins of the more advance image-editing programs to be daunting, the fast, simple options in iPhoto may be perfect for you. You can crop, straighten, and do basic adjustments to your photos. You can also apply some quick filters that allow you to mimic some of the popular Instagram effects on your photos.

    [Credit: cw istockphoto.com/Alex Nicada]

    Credit: cw istockphoto.com/Alex Nicada
  • GIMP: No, this has nothing to do with an unfortunate character from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction movie. GIMP (short for GNU Image Manipulation Program) is increasingly the choice of photographers and graphic artists outside the United States, who can’t afford Photoshop or its professional competitors.

    While the phrase “You get what you pay for” used to hold true with GIMP, recent upgrades to the underlying source code have made this free program a legitimate alternative. However, if you’re used to the tools and techniques that work in Photoshop or other professional programs, GIMP takes some getting used to.

    Basically, because of patent and intellectual property copyrights, the GIMP programmers were forced to do elaborate workarounds to achieve the kinds of effects that other programs allow you to do with the click of a button. But if you have patience, and more time than money, GIMP allows you to achieve stunning effects without having to shell out such steep licensing fees.

    [Credit: cw istockphoto.com/STV]

    Credit: cw istockphoto.com/STV

Run a Google search for “GIMP image galleries” to see what gifted individuals have created.