I’ve used Adobe Photoshop for many years now, and believe it is the best image editing program available. For over a decade it has been the industry standard. Therefore, I recommend all photography enthusiasts use Photoshop if they can.
The one problem, however, is that Photoshop costs so much. Back when it was a standalone software product, it cost $699. Today, it is available as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Some people like this since it allows them to pay monthly. However, the cost is $19.95 a month. To put that into perspective, that’s still around $240 a year, and $720 every 3 years. Clearly, the program is still quite expensive.
So what’s the alternative? The best option is to use a free, open source program called GIMP. I know designers who use this program and it can pretty much do everything that photoshop does. If you work alone, GIMP will more than suit your needs. If you exchange files with other people professionally, however, you’ll probably need to have a copy of Photoshop, as that is the program that the vast majority of other designers use.
GIMP is available for download for free, so you should definitely check it out if you want a powerful image editing program, but find that Photoshop isn’t affordable for you.