Graphic Apps


5  /  9 Reviews
Dec 25, 2019 Last updated



PhotoFlow is a free, open-source non-destructive photo retouching program that provides a complete RAW image editing workflow. It is similar to Darktable or RawTherapee, and it already integrates a large number of filters from GMIC.

The software is still in a developing stage, allowing you to open an image and apply basic editing filters using non-destructive adjustment layers. The program interface has a similar interface with GIMP or Photoshop by organizing the editing into layers, layer groups, and masks.

Note: You can find a PhotoFlow tutorial here and the Install instructions (for various OS) here.

Features (currently implemented)

- support for RAW, JPEG, TIFF plus EXIF data and ICC profiles

- colorspace conversions based on ICC profiles (partly implemented)

- realtime preview

- on-fly colorspace conversion

- color-managed processing in floating-point support

- color-correction options: black and white conversion, contrast/brightness adjustment, channel inversion, custom tones curves, hue/saturation adjustment, channel inversion, horizontal/vertical/radial gradient.

- scaling, rotating and cropping

- gaussian blurring

- sharpening support

- freehand drawing

- G'MIC filters integration

Upcoming Features

- support for fully non-destructive, layer-based photo editing workflow with realtime preview of the final image

- 8-bit and 16-bits support, including 32-bits and 64-bits floating point precision, selectable at runtime and on a per-image basis

- architecture based on Plugins: implement quickly new tools as separate modules that load at runtime

- ability to load and edit images of arbitrary size, thanks to the underlying rendering engine based on the VIPS library

- support for color-managed workflow: user-defined input, work and output profiles, soft-proofing, etc.

- layer grouping and layer masks support

- re-ordering of existing layers via drag&drop

- fully supported blending modes

- standard photo editing tools support sharpening, cropping, resizing, curves, blurring, levels, colorspace conversions, brightness-contrast control, etc.

- friendly user-interface to develop new tools and images filters as external plugins.

PhotoFlow review

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second. We’ve all lost photos of the editing process. I know I have. Photoflow is an image editing software that makes the first consolidated attempt at making destructive editing a thing of the past. 

The software is still in early access, but I’m impressed with what it’s capable of at this stage of its design. Photoflow has enough essential tools to get the most editing jobs done and is quickly ramping up the list of supported features. 

After spending some time with Photoflow, you’ll be wondering why digital photography didn’t make destructive editing a thing of the past from the start. 

Non-Destructive Editing

One of the best parts of digital photography is being able to edit images without destroying them. What do I mean? In the physical film, if you make an edit, it can be hard, or even impossible, to take it back. It’s what’s known as “destructive” editing since it “destroys” the previous state of the film as it goes on. The digital film lets us get beyond this limitation, but not always.

If you’ve been into digital photography for any amount of time, you, as I have, might have experienced the sheer terror that is realizing you just hit save after making edits you can’t take back. Maybe you forget to create a new copy for the edits, or you’ve gone too many edits in for the undo functionality to keep up; it is where Photoflow is starting to make some exciting moves in the digital photo editing world. 

Photoflow is an always non-destructive photo editing program. It means that every time you edit your image, it performs that edit in a new layer. Your base layer is still the untouched photograph, just as it was when you captured it. No matter how many clumsy saves or bold edits you make, Photoflow keeps your base image wholly preserved, great for anyone who doesn’t want to risk losing that base photograph. Whether you are new to digital editing and want to keep those files safe or you are working on a sensitive project, like a wedding or another once in a lifetime event, and need to make sure those files don’t get lost. 

While you can accomplish similar tasks in most other photo editing programs, Photoflow is the first to make it the default setting. Having a stable, untouched backup copy of your photo—inside your workflow—is a resource I’ll be looking for in every photo editor after experiencing it in Photoflow.

Photoflow is still in early access, and as such, it has a limited suite of features. With Photoflow as it is, you get access to non-destructive:




Brightness & Contrast

Blur & Sharpen

Crop & Resize

Colorspace Conversion

Non-destructive editing with these features is an impressive accomplishment. The ability to change colorspace without altering the underlying file is a much-needed feature. The team behind Photoflow has just added a “digital fill-in flash” filter effect that allows you to “relight” a scene in post. A considerable jump up from the basics of level adjusting and cropping. It’s always good to see when an open-source program is getting regular updates and community support. 

Photoflow is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS, with installation instructions for each on the project’s website. 

Photoflow might still be in early access, but the team behind it are dedicated and put out regular updates to the software. In addition to the new filter mentioned above, the team has also recently added a much needed Exif data reader for its image editor, and they even updated the UI graphics to give the program a modern look it deserves. 


After testing out Photoflow, I’m left wondering why non-destructive editing isn’t the norm. It’s such a relief knowing that no matter how hard I mess up the editing process, the core photograph is still untouched and ready for the next round of edits. 

Photoflow is already worth the experience, even if you want to see how nice it knows that your edits are always non-destructive. As updates continue to trickle into the program, Photoflow is poised to become a go-to image editor for any project with a raw workflow. 

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