Now, I know some of you are thinking, "I'm not into photography. Why would I need Photoshop?" Photoshop is useful for many, many things beyond photography. For instance....
Framed family silhouettes. So much easier with Photoshop. Freezer paper stencils. Interesting labels. Heck. Anything scrapbooking! Creating custom artwork (ie typography art, photos into storybooks), creating and saving pattern templates, editing sketches, and I'm leaving out about a billion more uses but you get the picture. If not, I'll Photoshop it for you:P
And if you *are* into photography well then you are REALLY missing out. You can take a dark, almost indistinguishable photo and make it look like you just turned on a light in the room! If you DON'T have DSLR, you can blur the backgrounds of photos to make it look like you took it with a DSLR lens (which I did often before I bought a DSLR for myself). Case in point. And here too! Just one more:) You can fix mistakes, change the color of objects, change the direction of light, add a sunset....and on and on and on.
And if you aren't into photography you can play around with typography in your paper crafts in ways you could never do before. I have 10,000 fonts in my library. Imagine the possibilities of that?! Here's a great site to find free fonts. But if you don't find what you're looking for just do a google search for "free fonts".
You can create templates of your work. Say you sew and sell your patterns on etsy. You can scan and alter your patterns in the program and save them as PDFs for everyone to use. Recently I used Photoshop to edit some sketches I drew up for my editor that came out a bit messy.
You can talk a photo and make it look like a comic strip (neat idea for custom Valentines) or painting or drawing and frame it as artwork. See tutorials here.
And if you're a blogger Photoshop is just plain necessary: headers, sidebars, photos, you name it, it's in there.
For people who love the vintagey look of some photography but don't know all the ins and outs of PS. I recommend using "actions". It's a very simple way of hitting a button and having your computer do the work for you. But also, I think it can help beginners get to know why and how PS works by going by through the history of the actions and examining what each step produced. They're also good in a pinch if you are in bit of a hurry. Here's a great site with FREE actions. Here's another.
Now, with everything there is a learning curve. Photoshop is not as user friendly as it's lighter PS cousins, like PS Elements. Some may think that having PS Elements is good enough. And I guess until you discover all the amazing things Photoshop can do you'll never know exactly how much you're missing out on. I have a real-life blogger friend: Stories of A to Z who recently decided to try the whole Photoshop package. She told me that she was surprised at how difficult it seemed. That was a few months ago. Just recently I popped in and saw her new header! I'm guessing PS had a part in it. Looks fantastic.
Stories of A to Z
Lastly, the cost. The cost of PS is not cheap but there are workarounds. The latest retail version of CS5 will set you back $700. What the?! No way! But yah:( For students and teachers you can purchase it for just $200. I believe all you need is a student ID. Years ago I purchased the student version with an old expired student ID, so it's not exactly strict. Surely you know someone with a student ID out there who can help you buy it. But why the giant discount? Reason is, you are not allowed to use the student software for commercial purposes. But otherwise the programs are identical. Now there are other ways around the cost of the standard version. I'm not going to mention them here but I think you know what I mean. But if you want to purchase PS the legitimate way and don't want to pay $700 you can find discounted ones on ebay for as low as $100 but probably closer to$250 or $350. Those are finished listings.
If any of you have any questions about PS that you would like answered I'd be happy to try and help. I can't guarantee I'll know the answer but I promise to try!