As an educator to growing photographers, some of the most common questions I get are about Lightroom presets.
What is a preset?
Why do people use them?
What are the best ones to use?
Are they worth the investment?
Instead of answering each person over and over, I figured it would be much easier to write up a post to answer all of those questions and more! If you’re curious about the benefit of Lightroom presets, this one’s for you!
Lightroom is an Adobe photo editing software used widely in the photography industry. There is a desktop version for $9.99/month – SO worth it in my opinion. (If you’re a professional photographer, I’d call it a necessity.) There’s also a free phone app version. The phone app is less user friendly and has its limitations, but it gets the job done if you aren’t ready to purchase the full desktop version. Lightroom allows for you to adjust many parameters on your photos like exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, tone curve, and even change settings for specific colors! All of that can get pretty overwhelming if you aren’t sure where to start. That’s where Lightroom presets come in!
A preset is a way to adjust a group of settings on your photo with one simple click. For example, a preset might adjust the exposure, contrast, tone curve, and the settings for the color green. There are some free presets available, and many you can pay for. You are able to load presets into Lightroom and use them as you’d like. Presets are designed to be a starting point for your photos, not a one-click-and-done solution. No single preset will fit perfectly for every photo, and that’s okay. You’ll likely still need to adjust a few things for each photo, but it is still way better than adjusting every setting every time!
Simply put, presets are for anyone wanting a consistent, cohesive look from photo to photo. Presets are most commonly used by:
Are you one of these people? Keep reading!
This is the big question! The short answer: to make your life so much easier!! Presets are designed to shorten your workflow and make editing a breeze. By using presets, you’re able to adjust many settings at one time instead of having to adjust each little setting by hand for every photo. This is a huge time saver, but it also helps tremendously with consistency! Part of finding your style as a photographer is developing a consistent, cohesive look throughout your photos. I highly encourage photographers to find a preset that fits the style they’re wanting to achieve, and use that preset for all of their photos. This helps to keep your base settings the same photo to photo and develop that consistency that great photographers possess.
As an example, here is my Instagram feed from a couple of years ago versus now. Before, I didn’t use any presets…and as you can see, there was absolutely no consistency or cohesive flow fro photo to photo. Now take a look at my recent Instagram feed featuring my Light & Airy Preset Pack. SO. MUCH. BETTER. My colors are consistent and there is a nice flow from photo to photo, even though all of these photos were shot at different times.
Consistency Check: Go look at your Instagram feed. Focus on the skin tones and specific colors in the photos. Do the greens or yellows match from photo to photo? Do your photos flow cohesively throughout your feed? Do the photos seem to match each other, even if they’re from different sessions at different locations? When they do, you’ve achieved a consistent, cohesive look!
With thousands of presets available, picking one that fits the style you’re going for can get a little overwhelming. My best advice for picking one is to first define your style! Do you want your photos to look light and airy? Dark and moody? Bright with a pop of color? Vintage and muted? The options go on and on… If you aren’t sure what style you like, try searching local photography hashtags on Instagram and see what others have developed. When you come across a feed that makes your heart beat fast, start there! (BRAND REPS: I’ve found that most small shops prefer photos with a light and airy style. Just something to consider!)
Presets can also range pretty drastically in price. You’ll find some for free, and some up to $100 or so. It may be the unpopular opinion, but I wouldn’t necessarily say you get what you pay for with presets. I’ve invested in expensive presets and have been disappointed. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised with inexpensive presets! You really have to check out before and after photos and see what works for you.
Not sure where to start looking for the perfect preset? I’ve got just the place! I’ve developed my own presets fitting various styles and have made them available for purchase. You can head to www.rebeccaricephoto.com/lightroom-presets to get achieve light & airy! All of my presets are compatible for desktop AND mobile! And another bonus: there’s a snow overlay you can use too! So many have LOVED these presets, and I know you will too!
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