The art of the Lightroom Preset

You’ve probably used a preset before, maybe not in Lightroom but the filters which photos are edited on Instagram and VSCOcam are presets. Below I’m going to explain about Lightroom Presets and what makes them so important in modern day editing. I’m also going to release a few presets with each article.

What do I use presets for?

Working often as a photographer, it becomes important – as in any field – to refine your processing work. Presets are wonderfully helpful in doing this. Primarily, the argument as a time-saving measure is stellar but it also places an understated value in consistency.

Shifting Importances

Especially in my younger years as a photographer, when experimenting many phases in Photoshop – Black & White high contrast, High Dynamic Range, oversaturated, tilted angle and even tiltshift! Individually there is nothing wrong with any of these techniques but when you have a phase, you want to use it on everything. These phases overlap too, leaving you with a series of edited images from three spectrums of eyesore as a collective portfolio.

It didn’t seem very problematic at the time but nowadays, with people having a developed understanding of visual aesthetics and photography taking commonplace where people are online – curation is key. Especially to lay your blueprint and declare your styles as an individual. In a similar way, with Instagram having a singular stream of each user’s content – when you upload new images it can be relevant to understand how the picture places well alongside your previous uploads.

Exploring Options

After all the experimentation in styles I have performed over the last year, I am now able to quickly have an impression on whether it suits my newest shoots. Without having to make all the changes individually, I can scan over my presets and see what types of edit are likely to work.

Everyday Use

Nowadays being an integral part of my workflow has resulted in having around 150 custom presets. Often when I shoot, I do so with a particular idea of processing in mind and now that I have built a strong library I am able to test these theories out.

I use presets as a base to test the individual qualities and then create a main derivative which will be used on all the images in a set with similar lighting and qualities. Each dynamic and condition will usually have its own key preset.

Afterwards comes the individual editing, some images need very little afterwards. Cropping, lightening and white balance. It is also useful that I shoot manual in camera because the results are more consistent and keeps structure for this part of the process.


Presets allow me to refine my workflow by adding consistency to the output process. Especially in situations I regularly shoot with tricky lighting conditions, I can concentrate on the finer details. They can also be re-used in new scenarios to give me a more beautiful base image to work from.

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