how to use lightroom presets

Learning how to use Lightroom presets is a valuable skill for you to possess, especially for your post-wedding workflow. Presets can help save time, and they can also “remember” your favorite settings for you. Many editors and photographers spend years learning how to tweak presets to give their photos a specific look and feel, so it can be helpful to learn more about the process in Lightroom.

How to Use Lightroom Presets

Learning how to use Lightroom presets is a 2-part process. First, you will need to learn how presets affect your photos. It is easiest to do this by using a preset made by another photographer or a post editing photography company, like ShootDotEdit. Often times, you can buy presets or download them for free online. Remember, you will need to adjust this preset to match your unique photography style (as every photographer has a different style).

Once you have gotten the hang of using premade presets, you can start experimenting with creating your own. You may even want to begin by creating simple ones that only utilize a few settings. For example, if you need to adjust the brightness of a few photos that were taken at the same event, create a simple preset for that task.

At ShootDotEdit, we want to make your editing process as simple as possible. Our fast and personalized wedding edits for photographers allow you to share your unique photography style with your ideal clients. Even if you utilize our color correction photography services, it can still be valuable to know about presets and how to use them in Lightroom.

What Is a Preset in Lightroom?

Presets are a series of saved adjustments photographers make on their photos. They can help save time when editing many photos at once.

For example, if you are editing wedding photos from one event that have all been shot in the same light, you will likely end up making similar adjustments on each photo. Instead of making the same adjustments on several photos over and over, you can simply create a preset. Then, you can apply that preset to every photo in your batch and all of your photos will have the same adjustments.

Presets save you time because you will not need to perform the same monotonous tasks on each wedding photo. Simply save your preset settings and use those same settings on every photo to create a consistent look for your images.

Who Creates Lightroom Presets?

Lightroom presets are created by either the users, the professional preset developers, or an outsource photo editing company. Adobe even has a few presets preloaded in Lightroom. In theory, anyone can create a preset with the right amount of time and practice.

You may want to create a preset to use on your photos, or you can buy one from another photographer. Presets are similar to filters. You can apply them to any photo to ensure a grouping of photos all have the same look and feel. A consistent style for your images is a crucial part of sharing your unique photography style. You can even layer several presets on one photo. Once you have a handle on the idea of this feature, you can begin mixing and matching ones created by other photographers and wedding photo editors.

You can then begin experimenting with your own presets. Do not get discouraged if it takes months or even years to get the hang of this Lightroom feature. Many professional photographers spend hours trying to master them. That is why here at ShootDotEdit, our photographer editing services take care of the most time-consuming parts of your post-wedding workflow, including creating and applying presets to your photography.

Why Should You Use Presets?

Professional wedding photographers often take advantage of presets for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons to use presets include:

  • Saving time by applying a preset to wedding photos with similar style and structure (or shot at the same event)
  • Applying a preset to photos you want to group together to give them a consistent look and feel
  • Layering presets to create an even more complex style for your wedding photography

Tips on Creating Presets

There are a few tips you will need when you are first starting to learn how to use Lightroom presets. The most important tip is to practice using presets as much as you can before applying them to important projects. When you are comfortable with this feature, the more effective it will be.

  • Notice how a preset changes the look and feel of your wedding photos.
  • Never “set and forget” your preset. Always check each photo to make sure your preset settings work well with each shot.
  • Take some time to get a feel for presets before applying them to every photo.
  • Do not forget to save your best presets in a separate folder.
  • Try working with other developers’ presets before creating your own; you can learn a lot from the presets of other photographers and photo editors.

Tips on Using Presets

Once you are comfortable using presets, try making a few yourself. You will want to learn from others’ preset settings as well as dive right into creating your own.

  • Take a look at the settings on purchased presets to understand the backend of each one.
  • Try to layer several presets on one photo for more complex effects.
  • Tweak the settings on each photo after you apply a preset.
  • Do not overdo your presets; try experimenting with layering presets, but try not to spend too much time improving ones that match your style.
  • When it comes to purchasing presets, always check the seller’s rating before you buy. You do not want to buy a preset that does not do your photo any favors.

Keep in mind, even when you use someone else’s preset, you will likely need to make adjustments to it. It is valuable to start with the already created preset, but make adjustments that are your own. That way, you stay consistent with the brand and look you prepared for your ideal clients.

Preset Settings

You will want to experiment with the various settings you can apply to each preset. You can do this on your own without saving these settings to a preset. You can change the color, tone, shadows, and exposures of each preset. You can even fix common problems that arise when shooting your photos, using the “Lens Correction” panel.

Learning how to use Lightroom presets and learning how to create them are two different steps. You may want to consider using one of the premade Lightroom presets or buying a preset from a developer before creating your own. Experimenting with another editor’s model can help you learn what makes a good preset. Once you feel comfortable applying this feature to your photos, you can begin experimenting with your own.

Lightroom Presets

Adobe Lightroom has its own presets. The easiest way to begin using presets is to try out a few of the free ones included with your Adobe software. Once you are somewhat familiar with this feature, you can consider purchasing a few more sophisticated ones from different developers to make your photos stand out. Once you have mastered using presets, you will want to dive right into the world of creating your own.

How to Use Lightroom and Developers’ Presets

The best part about using presets is you can easily apply a premade preset to your photo for instant editing. You will still want to familiarize yourself with this feature, though. Sometimes even presets created by developers need a little tweaking after you apply them to your photos. If you are already familiar with installing premade presets, you can jump down to the next section.

Step 1: Download your preset.

Step 2: Open Lightroom.

Step 3: Enter “Develop” mode.

Step 4: The presets module should appear. If not, select tab to get the sidebars to appear. Or select the white arrow on the center left-hand side of your Lightroom catalog.

Enter "develop" mode
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 5: Right-click the presets module. Click “Import.”

import preset develop module lightroom
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 6: Locate and select your desired preset from your desktop, hard drive, or USB to import.

lightroom preset import
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 7: To apply your imported preset to a photo, start by opening that image in the develop module.

Step 8: Choose the preset you want to apply to your image.

Step 9: Apply the desired preset.

how to apply presets in lightroom
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 10: Export your image to save your photo.

Your preset is now applied to your photo. You will want to make sure everything looks good before you save your photo and sign off on the results. It is not a bad idea to fiddle with the preset settings to see how the developer created the preset. Discovering why a developer might tweak a specific setting will help you understand the importance of each setting.

How to Create Your Own Preset

These are the steps to take for how to make a preset in Lightroom you can use on your wedding images:

Step 1: Open or import a photo you would like to edit in Lightroom.

Step 2: Make changes to your photo.

Step 3: Save your changes to a preset by completing steps four through seven.

Step 4: In the “Presets” panel, click the + symbol. Conversely, you can go to the “Develop” panel and click “New Preset.”

creating preset in lightroom
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 5: Give your preset a name that is easy to remember.

Step 6: Look over the settings of your preset to determine whether you want to make any changes. Some photographers and photo editors choose to save all their settings except for the exposure settings, especially if they want to use the preset on images that were not taken during the same event.

preset settings
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 7: Choose the folder where you want to save the preset for easy access, as seen above.

Step 8: Check to ensure the preset saved correctly in the folder you chose. Then, export to save your image.

review applied preset
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Creating a preset on its own is not a difficult task. The tricky part is choosing the right settings to save with your preset. To master this feature, you will need to determine which settings are appropriate for your current photo, as well as the photos you will apply your presets to in the future.

Save More Time by Batching Photos

The best part about using Lightroom presets is that you can apply your preset to batches of photos to save even more time (we cover how to batch edit your photos here). This works especially well with photos taken at the same event, photos taken in the same light and photos with similar technical elements.

How to Apply Presets to Batches of Photos

Step 1: Import the photos you want to work within Lightroom.

Step 2: Open the “Library” module in Lightroom.

select images in lightroom
Images by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 3: Click the checkbox on each photo’s thumbnail, as seen above.

Step 4: Open the “Quick Develop” module.

quick develop module lightroom
Images by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 5: Choose the preset you want to apply to your photos.

how to choose saved preset
Images by Brian Hatton Photography

Step 6: The preset will automatically be applied to your chosen photos.

Step 7: Save your photos.

Step 8: Open each photo.

Step 9: Double check each photo to ensure the presets you apply are appropriate for each one.

As the preset is applied to each photo, you will notice the elements of the thumbnails begin to change. Do not assume a preset will automatically look the same when applied to every one of your photos, though. Sometimes different lighting or a photo’s elements and composition can change the look of the preset. Adjusting the settings individually on each photo can help give your work a more professional edge.

Wedding Photo Edits

Creating presets and learning how to use them takes time, patience, and intuition. While you can create a preset using a formula, at some point you will need to learn how to use your photographer’s intuition to master this feature. Just like many other wedding photo edits, creating presets is not an overnight skill, so continue to practice your skills.

While you are learning how to use Lightroom presets, outsource photo editing needs to online photo editing services, like ShootDotEdit, to help define and showcase your unique photography style (and to save a tremendous amount of time). And to maintain a fast workflow in Lightroom, access our Online Training: Advanced Lightroom Skillsets with Jared Platt. Throughout Online Training, Jared focuses on how to maximize your time in Lightroom and use it to create a streamlined workflow.

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