I am sure if you follow me on my social media sites and apps, you will have seen the multitude of posts and Instagram stories about me designing my own Lightroom presets. I have had Lightroom for years now, but I had only scratched the surface of what it could do for me, editing-wise. I had purchased a few Lightroom presets from places and really liked the style it produced, but I had this nagging feeling that it wasn’t encompassing all that I wanted it to. Even though it looked so incredibly cool on the photos other people had taken, it never really “clicked” with the photos I take and have taken. The photos I used it on definitely looked good (don’t get me wrong!), I just knew I could do better and could find/create something that really captured my vision as an artist.
For those of you who are not photographers, let me pause and explain what a preset (also called an action if you are using Photoshop) does. A preset is a set of edits that you can apply to a photo without having to make all those same adjustments every single time you go to edit a photo. So instead of opening up your photo and manually changing color, contrast, lights/darks, saturation, and all the other sliders to get the look you want, you just click on your preset and BAM it is already done for you! I also should explain that once I add my presets to all the photos from a session, the session is not automatically edited and completed. Sometimes lighting and colors vary and you have to make specific changes to your photos to adjust for that. There also might be blemishes or odd objects or trash in a background that I will need to edit out and several other adjustments might be needed as well. Not to mention resizing the images, re-checking all the photos several times to make sure everything looks good, and uploading to a gallery. Plus you know, life gets in the way so it’s almost impossible to sit down and have it all done in one setting! haha
After seeing so many people successfully create their own and be happy with them, I decided I needed to really buckle down and get it done. I listed what I wanted and what I didn’t want in my presets, watched tutorials, stared blankly at my computer screen, drafted several unsuccessful presets, and then finally created something I am so happy with.
I then proceeded to test them on all my sessions from this past year in my Lightroom catalog and when I ran out of photos, I went back to my hard drives and re-uploaded sessions from previous years and tested it on them. I even edited RAWs my friend gave me to see how they’d look. I am definitely excited to use these with all my sessions coming up this season and I really hope they stand the test of time!
If you are struggling with finding that perfect editing style that screams YOU, I encourage you to not hide behind a preset and really take time to figure out all the sliders and do-dads in Lightroom (or Photoshop) so you can really control the outcome of your product. Let me stop here and clarify that I am not against buying presets, some people’s style works flawlessly with a preset they purchase! I am saying that if you are struggling with finding one that fits what you want your photos to look like, please consider trying to create your own. It will save you time tweaking a purchased preset to fit each session you do, it will save you money, and it will be ALL YOU! Your vision for your photos from start to finish! That’s a cool feeling.
I’d love to hear feedback about these and also let me know if you would like me to write a blog post going more into depth about how to create your own presets! Comment below and let me know your thoughts!
So all that to say, please enjoy some of my before and afters with these presets! (If any modifications were made on any of these photos in addition to the applied preset, it was minor bumps in exposure and temperature)
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And one of my B&W presets: