You may have heard the term, you might have seen Lightroom presets in action, and heck you might even have some presets you’ve downloaded or purchased – but do you know how to best use Lightroom presets or how to easily update and customize presets for your own style?
Lets quickly recap with what the heck a Lightroom preset even is…
“a Lightroom preset is simply a collection of different adjustments you can make within Lightroom that become bundled together to be applied within a single click.”
Now – that doesn’t mean that all presets are created equal…in fact they can come in many different “flavors” and versions.
All Presets Aren’t Created Equal!
Some presets might only make adjustments to “some” of the sliders, like – white balance, exposure or contrast while other presets might make ALL adjustments to a photo inclusive of sharpening or noise reduction etc…
Which version is better really depends on you and your own workflow, although since the primary point of using a preset is to save time, I prefer to use presets that within 1-click pretty much adjust everything I’d normally adjust if editing one by one. Wouldn’t you?
It would be silly to have so many presets that are adjusting different aspects of the photo in which simply selecting which presets you need to apply would drastically slow you down.
The first thing I’d like to point out is, since a preset is nothing more than a collection of editing adjustments, your final result within your photo is largely dependent upon your starting photo and how correctly exposed that initial photo is.
In other words, no matter how great the preset is, it has no control over your starting point photo and your final result after applying a 1-click preset may not be 100% to your liking…yet.
Now, as I mentioned above, presets are supposed to save you time (at least that’s why I use them) so keeping that in mind here is what I recommend in terms of how to best use Lightroom presets.
How to Use Lightroom Presets & Customize for Your Style!
Step 1 – In Lightroom, while in the develop module, as you have a photo selected – hover your mouse over your presets listed on the left panel and in the preview box in the upper left you’ll see what your photo would look like with that preset applied. This will give you a nice little preview and help you choose which preset might look best for the look you are trying to accomplish for that photo or set of photos.
Step 2 – Apply the preset of choice
Step 3 – Review your photo for exposure and contrast. If your unedited photo was underexposed or overexposed originally, then you can simply use the exposure slider to fine tune to your liking.
Step 4 – If you find that you are always underexposing or overexposing, or even prefer a little more or less contrast with your photos you can easily customize any preset and thus make it so you can save time by having the preset updated to reflect common adjustments you routinely make.
Watch the video below to see all of these steps in action and also see how you can customize the presets to your own liking.
Should You Use Presets?
If your photo shoots end with you editing multiple photos (or hundreds & thousands) then yes you should use presets and start saving some editing time. If you are a commercial photographer or landscape photographer who is only editing a single photo to perfection for a client then batch editing and presets may not be as helpful to you since each photo will be so different edit-wise from one another but for the vast majority of us – heck yes you should use presets…
I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t want to save time with their editing 😉
Cole’s Classroom Lightroom Presets Collections
Want to see my available premium preset collections? Simply visit the link below to check out client reviews, watch a video demo and see the sample photo galleries from photos using the presets!
Endless Elegance Lightroom Film Presets Collection
Essential Newborn Lightroom Presets
Crisp & Clean Lightroom Presets Collection