What are Lightroom Presets and How to Use Them

What is a preset?

A preset is a file that contains a set of adjustments that can be applied to instantly enhance an image.

They can be used in programs like Lightroom and are a great way to quickly improve the appearance of your photos and video by applying a range of adjustments at the click of a button.

From brightness, contrast, highlight and shadow adjustments, to saturation changes and other effects, distinctive aesthetics and themes can be created to make your photo or video files better suit the mood or atmosphere you are aiming for in your project.

Quick Finder

The main reason presets are used is not so much to help with editing the basics of an image, but to create a ‘feel’ or ‘mood’ that helps transform an otherwise ordinary image. Popular aesthetic styles can be difficult and time-consuming to recreate such as the ‘vintage’ film look, dramatic ‘studio lighting’ or colder ‘mysterious’ effects. With the use of well-made presets, recreating these iconic styles is quick and simple for even the novice photographer or filmmaker

Keep in mind that simply applying a preset to your work doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t or won’t have to make other adjustments to the visuals, fine tune other areas as you wish. 

Advantages of using presets

Save time – The beauty of using presets is that they eliminate the need to make every single adjustment to a file from scratch each and every time. If you have a large batch of photos or video clips to edit this will save you heaps of time in the long run.

Ensure consistency – Adjustments are saved in one file that you can apply time and time again. Your work will look consistent and professional, free from errors. 

Increase productivity and income – Are you paid for the projects you complete? Increasing your work-rate means you will be able to complete more projects in a shorter period of time. This translates to generating a higher income for yourself. 

Do professionals use presets?

The short answer is yes. Because of how much time is saved by using presets, they can greatly reduce the time it takes to complete small and large projects. Another reason industry professionals create their own presets is that they are very effective at contributing to the dynamics and emotions on-screen. By using the same effects and adjustments, the creator can ensure there is consistency throughout the project.  

Cult-classic movies like Blade Runner, 300, 8mile and Moonrise Kingdom, demonstrate how tailoring the colours to the mood of the film, creates a ‘signature look’.

Let’s take a look at some well-known examples of how presets have been used in cinema to create an iconic look.

Legendary director Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie ‘Blade Runner’ quickly became a cult classic for it’s use of glowing neon lights, vivid night scenes and constant rain. There was a heavy focus on the same 2 colours throughout – teal and orange. Some of the most popular presets used today are based around teal and orange. 

Zack Snyder’s movie, ‘300’ (2007) took a different approach to colour grading with a focus on high contrast and hazy highlights to add drama. A grain effect was implemented to better suit the historic setting of the story. An emphasis on rich red and gold tones signified status and power.

Now that you have a better understanding of what presets are and how you can use them to your advantage, let’s get you started with using them like a pro.

Where can I download presets from?

You can download presets from other creators online and use them for your projects on sites like on1 and PresetPro.

They can be used as they are, or you can tweak them further to your liking and save the changes.

You have the option of downloading free and paid presets. My advice is to source a good collection free presets to get you started.

That way, you’ll get a better idea of what’s available for free.

Also, you won’t waste money on paid presets that don’t achieve something special. For a great start with plenty of free presets to choose from, check out this awesome collection of free presets on PhotoBlog.

If you’re interested in paid presets, I developed a whole pack of presets to use with any photo or video editing program you’re using. 

Improve your photography editing process and create consistent results to make your art stand out in your own unique way. 

Our preset pack contains 16 different presets so you get the desired result with minimum effort. Our pack is a great deal – get yours today!

How to install presets in Lightroom

Follow these quick and easy steps to install presets into Lightroom on a Mac or Windows computer.

  1. The quickest way to install presets in Lightroom is to click on File, then select Import Profiles & Presets. Another way you can do this is by clicking on the Presets icon at the bottom of the Edit tab. Click on the three dots in the top-right corner of the Presets panel and select Import Presets.  
  2. If are using a Mac, open up your Finder, and for Windows users click on the Explorer folder icon. Now, locate the preset files that you want to use in your project. 
  3. It’s not necessary to unzip the files before using them but you can if you wish. Select the Import button and you will see the presets have been imported in the Presets panel. Preview the effect a preset will have by hovering your mouse over the icon, to apply the changes click, Apply
  4. Voila! You are done, now get out there and make good use of this new feature to spice up your photos! 

Can I sell my own presets?

If you create your own presets, not only can you create a ‘signature look’ for your own work, you can share them online with other creators. There’s also the option of selling them on sites like Sellfy, Etsy and Foto Presets!

Many photographers have now started doing this to create an additional income stream from their creative work. If you enjoy creating presets and you think people will like them too, give it a try!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See you on our social media!