What is a Lightroom preset? Essentially, it is a “pre set” collection of edits for photographs. One might give your photos a sepia-laden old-west effect, or another may give your pictures the look of technicolor film. Instagrams are a popular look that can be easily duplicated in Lightroom through the use of presets. Now that we know what Lightroom presets are, why should we use them?
1) It makes non-creative days creative – Chances are that if you are serious enough about photography that you are reading this blog, then you are a naturally creative person. But we each have days when we may not feel like the most highly-creative person in the world, but we still need to work on our photos. Presets allow the user to do quick editing like this easily.
2) It makes creative days more creative – Suppose you have just taken some pictures of you and the family visiting a town with a wild-west look to it. Wouldn’t you want to bring out that feel by using a tool that could give your photograph either an old-west or a daguerreotype look? You could either start from scratch by editing your photo in Lightroom, or you can begin by using an appropriate preset. Naturally, each photograph will be different, shot under varying conditions. That means that you can use presets as a starting point for your photo editing, and customize the settings of each one until you get just the look you want.
3) Connect with others – Each type of photograph effect has its adherents, and many have groups on the web dedicated to that style. Even more obscure styles can be shared through large outfits like Flikr, using the name of the style as a tag. For instance, there is Flickr group for daguerreotype-like photos. Being able to use tags like this makes it easier for your photos to be discovered by the general public.
4) The use of presets make your picture stand out – There are millions of photos uploaded to the web every year. When a person is looking for the perfect image on the web, yours could be easily overlooked unless it is somehow different from the other photographs with which it is displayed. With the use of presets, you can give your images a look that will make people take notice.
5) Get a greater degree of felexibility with your photos – Lightroom is non-destructive, meaning that the pixels of your original photograph are never altered. This leaves you with a true original, which can then have presets applied, crating different effects.
For instance, let’s say you are are photographing a folk singer, and have the perfect shot of her, but you don’t know what style she may like best for her promo shot. Using presets, you can take that great shots, try a Technicolor 60′s-sitcom-like setting for one version, Instagram-type effects on another, pastel shadings on a third, etc. This allows you to easily and safely create different versions of the same photograph.
6) If you are truly creative, and you love to share your work with the world, then presets may be just what you are looking for when it comes to custom photo editing. Once you create a preset in Lightroom’s develop module, you can then save it for future use. Then, if you wish, you can upload your newly-created preset to the web, allowing other people to download your custom preset for use on their photographs. Imagine the great feeling you’ll get knowing that the preset you created has been downloaded hundreds or thousands of times.
Whatever your style, if you use Lightroom, you should be taking advantage of presets. Whether you use them as-is, customize pre-made ones or develop your own, you should give presets a spin. Maybe you can come up with your own reason for using presets in Lightroom.