If you’re interested in photography or use Lightroom to edit, you’ve probably heard of or seen Lightroom presets before. However, when you’re new to photography, it might be hard to see what the point of using presets really is. It can feel like an unnecessary step, or even like “cheating”, if your natural tendency is to do 100% of the work yourself. But there’s a reason why professionals use presets, and once you understand the benefits, you’ll probably start using them, too.
One of the biggest reasons to use Lightroom presets, whether you are just starting out with editing or you have a booming photography business, is the efficiency it lends to your editing process. Presets save you a ton of time by making lots of edits with a single click, so that you can skip straight to fine-tuning. This is a life-saver, especially if you don’t feel super comfortable with Lightroom yet (although I’d recommend learning about Lightroom even if you use presets!), because you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out what major combinations of settings add to the photo and which ones take away from it; the preset has it all figured out already.
When you’ve added Lightroom presets to your regular editing routine, you’ll also find that it tends to speed up all other parts of your workflow. Presets make you a more efficient editor overall, so it’s definitely worth incorporating them where you can.
Lightroom is great for editing – it’s one of the industry standards for a reason – but it’s not always the most intuitive program to use. Even though we can all understand that a complex skill like photo editing requires complex tools, this can make it overwhelming to get started with those tools. In order to get professional-looking photos in Lightroom without presets, you have to understand a lot of different functions, photography editing jargon, and Lightroom controls. Even people who understand these things well can easily get frustrated or make mistakes in the time-consuming process of implementing manual Lightroom edits.
Presets are much simpler to understand and use. Typically, you can see examples of a preset’s effects before purchasing it, and it only takes a click to apply the preset to your own photos once you own it. This is a much more user-friendly experience than editing manually in Lightroom settings, and adjusting details after applying a preset is a more intuitive process than making larger edits.
Stylize Your Work
On the surface, it might seem like using presets could limit the potential scope of your work. In fact, there are infinitely many possible presets, and you can create any mood imaginable by using presets in Lightroom. Using presets to apply a certain type of style or vibe to your work, and then adjusting the photos to perfect them, is a great way to find a “look” for your brand or personality as a photographer. After you find that individualized style, people who see your work will be able to identify it as yours just based on the way it looks and the mood it conveys. This is an important part of building a successful photography business, and it helps you make a name for yourself and your photography. Plus, by keeping up with the latest presets and Lightroom info, you can easily stay on top of industry trends.
Learn From the Pros
The most useful thing you can do to improve as a photographer, no matter how long you’ve been in the game, is learning from your current peers and from those who came before you. Your ongoing photography and editing education can take many forms, like enrolling in courses or becoming part of an online community, but using Lightroom presets is one of the easiest and most overlooked ways to learn from the pros. Presets are designed by professional photographers and editing experts, so they can offer a lot of insight into how the most successful people in the biz do their own editing. Looking at a preset, what it does, and how it changes your own work can help you understand what makes a truly powerful photo – knowledge that is sure to influence and improve your own creative ideas later on.
The above are just a few of the benefits of using Lightroom presets, but you’re sure to discover many more for yourself once you start using them regularly in your editing. Presets are a total gamechanger for any photographer or editor; once they came into common use, the industry never looked back, and (in my opinion) we’re all better off for it. If you haven’t already, it’s time to get started with shopping for some new preset packs that compliment you and your work as a photographer.
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