You’ve probably seen a lot of them pass by while scrolling on Instagram, hell you might even have downloaded one of my free presets yourself!
But are presets really worth the hype that they are getting?
In this guide I will share the honest truth with you. I will tell you why presets can be an amazing editing tool and a wonderful addition but I’ll also share the pitfalls and what you have to look out for.
Full disclosure, I offer Lightroom Presets for sale. But despite that I will get into the nitty and gritty of things (but I do consider my own presets to be pretty awesome and incredibly well made!)
Are Lightroom Presets really worth the hype?
What’s a Lightroom preset?
A preset is a 1 click edit for your photos. It’s a little bit like a photography filter but better! With a normal filter you’ll always loose a lot of the quality in your photos. But that’s not the case with a preset. You can add it to your photo and later on even make small adjustments while still maintaining a beautiful result.
A good Lightroom preset is made by someone who has a lot of experience with creating and editing different types of photos. A preset is a collection of different settings that will give your photo a certain look or feel. If you love the editing style of a content creator or photographer you can use their presets to get the same result for your photos.
Who is using presets?
Lightroom Presets are mostly used to create a cohesive Instagram feed or if you’re a photographer and you love editing it’s a fun way to save your own editing style so that you can re apply it to other photos as well.
I personally use my presets the most when I am writing blog posts. I always start by re editing all of the photos that I want to use and there’s a lot of them! By applying the same preset to every photo the entire article looks cohesive, the webpage looks beautiful and it only takes me 5 minutes to edit 30 photos!
What type of photos can you edit with presets?
You can edit both mobile photos and photos taken with your camera. For instance every preset pack of mine comes with a set of desktop Lightroom presets (to edit the photos taken with your camera) and a set of mobile Lightroom presets (to edit the photos taken with your camera in the free Lightroom Mobile app).
- Make your vacation photos more spectacular
- Create beautiful family memories
- Create a cohesive Instagram feed
- Create a beautiful webshop
- Make your website look more professional
Do Lightroom presets always work?
Well, yes and no. You can always apply a preset to any photo but the same preset won’t look good on every photo. That’s why a good preset bundle comes with different kinds of presets that include different settings. And why there are different preset packs for different situations.
For instance my Sunset Glow preset pack is perfect to add that golden hour glow to your outdoor photos but then again I wouldn’t recommend using them on indoor photos.
Why presets are worth it
There are a lot of benefits to using presets and purchasing presets from reputable sources.
Here are some of the ways that presets can be a big help to your photo editing and help you get professional results and speed up your workflow…
Presets can be a massive timesaver
Like I said before I love using my own preset packs when I need to edit a bunch of photos at once. For my blog I love using my Minimal Preset Pack. For every blog post I go with 1 preset and this makes them look very professional and pretty much like the entire story fits. You can see exactly what I mean if you check out my travel guides from Jordan!
With a preset you’re able to do a bunch of edits all at once and you don’t have to worry about the hundreds of sliders that Lightroom comes with.
With just 1 click you’re able to try out different looks and moods. Even if you know all the settings to get to that look, having a preset lets you just hover the mouse over both, take a look at the result, and make a quick decision. Even if the image ultimately needs additional tweaking, having a handful of presets can help you make style decisions very quickly.
Consistency of style
When you’re trying to create your own brand then consistency is key. You want people to be able to recognize your work immediately.
This can go from creating your very own website or webshop to simply editing all of the photos from the same photoshoot in the same style.
When I started out I only had 1 preset but from there I was able to develop my editing skills and with every single edit I learned something new. Over time my editing technique evolved but until this day every single photo of mine will had that dreamy effect. I call it the Charlies Wanderings vibe.
If you’re just starting out with editing in Lightroom things can become pretty overwhelming. Especially if you have to start editing every photo from scratch.
Using someone’s presets doesn’t mean you have to copy their entire look. It’s more a way of learning which adjustments they made to get a certain effect.
Along the way you’ll understand the editing process better and better but in the beginning it’s a lot easier to use a preset that you like as a starting point.
You can see which adjustments the preset creator did to get that specific look and then you can start using the sliders yourself.
What happens if you make changes to the adjustments? Or what if you start using the sliders that weren’t used for this edit?
I can guarantee you that you’ll learn something new if you deconstruct the presets that you’ve bought. And you’ll quickly realize as well if the preset seller is the real deal or not.
When presets aren’t worth it
Using crappy presets
By now it seems that every IG influencer has released their very own set of presets, even when some of them literally have zero experience in editing. It’s something that sometimes angers me but there’s nothing much you can do about it. With my trained eye I can pretty much spot a flaky preset pack a mile away.
Or you know those preset packs that promise you 70 presets for €10? Well I can pretty much guarantee you that every single preset in that pack will be pretty much the same and you won’t learn much about them either.
What’s more important to check is see if this preset seller has created tutorials and that they actually know what they’re doing ;).
If a preset seller can only offer you one specific look chances are pretty high that they don’t have a lot of experience with editing photos. A good preset has been tested on a wide range of images and can be used for more than just one occasion.
For instance, I thought it would be fun to create a preset pack specifically for spring. Every preset adds a dreamy and creamy vibe and it will make the flower colors soft and pastel.
By now I have tested and tried sooooo many presets. And damn, some people really have the nerve of selling some actual bullshit.
I once even experienced someone selling presets where she added the exposure brush that she applied to herself. This resulted in an overexposed human shape in every single photo… Most webshops are designed to sell you as many presets as possible for a small buck. Well chances are very high that that’s what you’ll get as well.
They are able to do this by making tiny changes to every single preset and then selling them as brand new ones. Unfortunately this happens a lot so make sure that when you’re looking into buying someone’s presets that this person is telling an honest story and that they themselves have a lot of experience editing photos!
You don’t want to learn anything about editing
Setting a preset and then forgetting it won’t get you very far honestly and like I said you can learn a lot about the editing process when looking at the adjustments that the preset creator made.
The most important factor is the exposure of your image. If your starting photo has the right exposure already then a preset will do the trick just fine. Otherwise you’ll need to play around with the exposure slider a little bit. It’s a small adjustment that can make a huge improvement for your photos!
If you’re starting to feel more comfortable with Lightroom you can also start playing around with the shadows, highlights, whites and blacks to regain more details from your photos.
Remember, simply using a preset is not the same as learning photo editing. They are, however, extremely useful as a tool in your photo editing toolkit.
Learning at least the basics of using Lightroom will allow you to use your presets more effectively as well as allow you to accelerate your learning by using new presets and learning how they work.
Assuming it will work on every photo
This is a comment I sometimes get after someone purchases a preset pack. They were only able to edit 49 out of their 50 photos… Well I hate to break it to you but that’s totally normal!
And it’s another reason why it’s so damn important to try to understand the editing process yourself. Within a second you’ll be able to see why a preset doesn’t work on that photo and a lot of times you can make a huge improvement by simply making a small adjustment.
Also, people that sell presets with the slogan “works on every photo” are shady as hell haha, cause there’s no freaking way that that’s actually possible.
I hope this article gives you a little guidance when it comes to buying presets and feel absolutely free to check out mine. They’ve been created over the course of 4 years of learning and improving my editing skills and every single one of them is made with love 💕 .
As a special treat you can also get a 20% discount with my code charlie20.