The photoelectric effect is explained in such a way that some people get it right away, but others (including physicists before Einstein) don't/didn't.
Try this: take a photon gun that shoots one photon at a time, with a selectable energy. Fire it at the metal target. Here's what will happen: At low energies (reddish light), the photon is absorbed (let's ignore reflection!) and shakes up the sea of electrons - makes it warmer, but does not make a splash. Turn up the energy of the photon gun (toward the blue end of the spectrum) and shoot again. Now the photon is energetic enough so that when it hits the metal - the sea of electrons in the metal - it actually bangs an electron so hard that it pops out.
The photoelectric effect simply says that electrons are bound into a metal and low energy photons are absorbed by the whole sea of electrons because no one electron is excited enough to leave the metal. But a high energy photon can knock an electron so hard - so fast - that it gets knocked out of the metal before it can distribute its energy to other electrons in the sea of electrons.
Consider the interaction of a photon with the metal as having 3 possible outcomes: a) reflection (which we have ignored), b) absorption with temperature increase (very familiar to people who go out into sunlight with black clothing), and c) electron ejection because the photon energy is enough to excite an electron so much that it is ejected. This third possibility is measured by physicists with specialized equipment that captures the ejected electron.
But we normal human beings can't observe that. Or can we? Sunlight with its considerable blue and UV components can bleach fabric and cause sunburn by generating free radicals (the residue of an ejected electron!). But an infrared lamp will not bleach fabric, and won't cause sunburn (although it can cause thermal burns - which are somewhat different, but I suppose equally painful, so don't experiment on yourself).