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what is a lightroom preset

What Is A Lightroom Preset?

Are you wondering what is a Lightroom Preset and how it can help you?

Here’s how.

If you’re a photographer, even a beginner one, you’re aware of how essential a good photo editing software can be.

A great photo editing software can do wonders for the photos you take.

It brings the quality to the next level.

As you’re taking a dip into this exciting world of photography, you’ll hear the term “presets” or, more specifically, “Lightroom presets” more often.

What do they mean?

In this article, we’ll explain what it is and what it can do for you as a budding photographer.

What is a Lightroom Preset?

Before we dwell into Lightroom Preset, it’s essential that you know what Lightroom is in the first place.

A Lightroom is a software used for photo-editing .

This was developed by Adobe.

It’s widely used by professional photographers to make the best image quality.

In Lightroom, you edit your photos by moving the controls to adjust different settings of the pictures.

They include brightness, colors, and saturation.

Once you’ve got the photo quality you like, you can save the combination of the settings you used as a preset.

Now, you  can use it for any photos you take in the future.

So, preset means just that, preset.

Convenience of Presets

You don’t need to set the Photo from scratch and use the setting you’ve used before.

You can buy ready-made Lightroom presets online and start using them straight away.

Some are affordable, but there are also expensive ones.

If you don’t want to buy one, you can simply go ahead and make one your own.

Doing so will also improve your photo editing skills.

Here’s how you can create your very own Lightroom preset.

Creating Your Very Own Lightroom Preset

Creating your very own preset is very easy to do.

And it’s well worth the time to use it as a way to:

  • Practice your editing skills
  • Save your time in the future

Here’s how you can create your very own Lightroom preset.

Two Ways to Create Presets

The first way is to make your own preset from scratch.

A second way is to revise an old preset.

This means that if you’ve ever made a preset before, you can start from there.

Then, make some new adjustments to it.

Finally, save the new setting combinations as a new preset!

Once you’re satisfied with the settings you’ve done, you can save it as a preset.

You can do this by going to the Presets panel in the top right-hand corner and click on the ‘+’ icon.

Then, name your preset and click Create to save your setting as a preset for future use.

Access the preset you’ve saved in the User Presets category under the Presets panel.

You can use this to apply your saved presets to any other image in your photo library.

Applying Your Saved Lightroom Presets To an Image

Now that you’ve made your very own Lightroom presets, you can’t wait to try them out.

Here’s how you can start using them.

You can start by choosing the image you’d like to edit.

After doing so, go to the Develop module.

Develop Module

In the Develop module, go to the Presets column.

You can find this on the left-hand under the Navigation section.

Once there, you’ll see a list of category titles.

This is where you can access the presets you’d like to use for the image you selected.

To see a preview of how a particular preset would look like on the image you selected, simply hover over the preset (do not click it).

You’ll automatically be able to see how your image would look like if you apply the preset you’re hovering over.

You can hover over your existing presets to choose the one that suits you best.

Once you’ve chosen the preset you’d like to use, click on it to apply to the image you’ve selected.

If ever you change your mind, you can always remove your preset.

Undo Preset  and Reset Commands

To do so, simply use the Undo Preset command, which you can find in the Edit menu.

Alternatively, you can click on the Reset button, which you can see in the bottom-right corner.

Do keep in mind, however, that using the Reset button will bring your photo back to its original state.

So, any edits you’ve made besides the preset will also get undone.

Using Multiple Presets on an Image

You can also try on multiple presets on the same image.

To do so, go to Photo>Create Virtual Copy.

This step will create a copy of the image for you.

You can then proceed to apply different presets on the copy of the image you created.

How to Install Lightroom Presets

If you’d like to use a preset that you’ve found elsewhere, you can do so by following these steps.

Open Lightroom and proceed to the Develop Module.

You’ll find the Presets Panel on the left.

Click on the ‘+’ icon that you can find in the top right-hand corner of the Presets Panel.

A pop-up menu will appear.

Click on the Import Presets option.

A dialogue box will be presented where you can select the presets you’d like to import.

You’ll be able to select multiple presets at once.

Do this by holding down the shift key while selecting the first and last presets you’d like to import.

Once the presets are successfully imported, you can find them in a new category in the Presets panel or the User Presets category.

Simply right-click on the category if you’d like to rename it.

Lightroom Presets are very simple to create and very easy to use.

Many photographers, beginners, and experts alike rely on them to create quality images and save time.

Pros of Using Lightroom Presets

Now, you know what is a Lightroom preset and how to use it.

Then, it’s time to consider whether you should use them or not.

Let’s start with the pros of using Lightroom presets.

Batch Editing at Lightning Speed

Scenario: You’ve taken several photos in a similar setting, like a cold winter morning.

You can use the same presets for all the photos you’ve taken, instead of editing each of them one by one.

The preset you chose might not work well for every photo,.

But that means that you’ll only need to do a little editing for the photos that didn’t look so good.

This is opposed to editing each one from scratch.

Increased Consistency

If you’re a photographer, especially a professional one, you need to have the photos you took a look consistent.

For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you’re going to be taking multiple photos during that one special occasion.

The photos you took during the occasion need to be consistent with one another.

(That’s why wedding presets tend to be so popular!)

You can’t have one golden sunny preset in one and blue winter preset in the other.

It’ll look ridiculous.

In such cases, Lightroom presets are very useful when you want to create a consistent batch of photos.

As you’ll be applying the same setting to all the photos you took, you would need to tweak some of them a little to look better.

This will save you a lot of time and energy.

Also, it will make the married couple happy!

Tedious Editing Process Simplified

Many photographers probably already know what I am talking about.

Editing is a process that’s very time consuming.

This is especially if you’re new to the world of photography.

Presets can save a lot of time for you.

They can do most of the heavy work for you, so you won’t have to edit photos from scratch again.

Just apply the preset you like and tweak it just a little to your liking.

Many times you won’t even have to tweak anything and can just move on to the next image!

Create Customized Style For Your Image

This is helpful when you have more than one shot of the same image.

This is what happens when you shoot in burst mode.

Since you’re able to edit your images after applying the preset to make them look slightly different from one another.

You can customize some pictures and make them look unique from the rest.

By using the brush tool, Lightroom allows you to customize one image or even a part of the image after you’ve done selecting your preset.

Try Out Different Looks For The Same Image

The old saying “Variety is the spice of life” applies well here.

As you become familiar with the world of presets, you’ll find that there are different presets for different times of the day.

This is true even for different sceneries or different lightings.

Let me give you an example.

You can make different presets for different scenarios like:

  • sunny day
  • sunset evening
  • forest environments

All different presets for different scenarios and environments.

This allows you to try different presets to different images.

It will give your image a different mood to it.


While there are expensive presets, you can find many low costs presets which you can buy online.

But are they worth the money?

I say it depends.

They do save your time, for sure.

However, you need to have a more in-depth look and see what presets are available in the preset package you want to buy.

The right preset package should be able to save you a lot of time and trouble.

If you don’t like any of the packages sold, you can always make your own presets!

Best Sites to Buy Presets Online


Allows photographers to navigate for resources essential to their skill.

There are many attractive presets you can find here for free.

Once you sign up, you’ll get free lifetime access to their site.

Although they’re relatively new in the game, offers some outstanding presets that you can buy at an affordable price.

They also provide a limited number of free presets that you can try.


PrettyPresets has a vast collection of presets.

It has weddings, engagements, and portraits as their main niche.

You won’t find any free presets here.

But they offer excellent examples of each of the presets they sell.

So you can have a good idea of what you’re going to get when you purchase a preset from them.


NewLayer is a fast-growing website that offers a great variety of professional-grade presets which you can purchase.

They also provide many other tools for photographers.

You won’t find any free presets here, but you can look at the presets they have to offer and get inspired.

Presets Heaven

The presets here are laid out in a blog format.

This means that you’ll have to wade through each article to find the preset that suits your taste.

To make it simpler for you to select, they provide before and after photos.

They provide their own presets and presets created by others.

They offer a wide variety of free presets.

So if you’re looking for free presets, they’re your go-to source!

onOne Software

They have a vast selection of presets (over 190 of them!) .

They display the before and after shots and explain to you with a clear text description.

Aside from Lightroom Presets, they also offer a variety of software that you can use

The aim here is quality over quantity.

While some sites offer beautiful presets, CameraDojo tends to offer presets that are essential.

With their presets, you can correct common problems such as:

  • White balance
  • Under/overexposure
  • Many other essential extras

A coin always has two sides.

Similarly, there are advantages, and there are disadvantages.

You need to be aware of both of them equally to help you decide whether you’d like to use Presets.

Below are some of the cons of using Lightroom Presets.

Cons of Using Lightroom Presets

Nothing in this world comes without its shortcomings.

And Lightroom presets are no exceptions.

Here are some of the cons you’ll need to be aware of before leaping into the world of Lightroom presets.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Often, using presets is like giving a shotgun to a sniper.

While shotguns and sniper rifles are both deadly, both have their place in the war zone.

Similarly, knowing when to use presets and when not to use them can be the difference between a high image and a poor one.

When it comes to precision, presets don’t work.


Simply because all images are different, and therefore need different treatment.

Just because you’ve bought a preset sold by a professional photographer online, doesn’t mean that preset will fit ALL of your images.

A cold blue saturated preset will destroy the natural beauty and the warm feeling of the golden sunrise that you have captured in your photo.

Too Heavy On The Edits

This is aimed at many of the free presets you’ll find online.

A lot of them are edited too heavily.

The problem with presets that are too heavy on the edits is that it’s not flexible.

This renders them pretty much useless as you can hardly find a suitable image to use them on.

They will only look good in a few images.

Also, they will produce bad results in many other photos that you take.

The heavier the edits are on a preset, the less versatile it is.

Rather than relying on presets to make your image look good, it would be wise if you learn how to take good pictures in the first place.

If the photo you captured is bad, presets and editing can only do so much and won’t make much of a difference.

Like makeup, too much editing on a preset can also be distracting.

People should notice your image, not your editing.

If you’re a beginner to photography and want to learn your Lightroom preset skills, I’d suggest you go for subtler presets.

They are more versatile and would give you a lot of room to practice and hone your editing skills in the long run.

Encourages Laziness

This is where the difference between yet another Instagram picture that you just scroll by and  one that’s done by a professional photographer that you can’t stop staring.

While Lightroom Presets are convenient shortcuts, as photographers, we should never rely on them too much.

They do come in handy in some cases, but you’d want to sharpen your editing skills.

Relying on them too much can give you problems in the future.

If you get a client that wants a specific style to his image, you would need to start tweaking it.

This is because you don’t have that style in your presets and you might end up feeling a bit lost and confused.

So while presets can be useful in some cases, and can give immediate results, you should never rely heavily on them.

Use them as a tool for learning.

Learn how that particular preset was achieved.

Kind of like opening up an old tv set and figuring out how it works.

Doing such things can be good practice for you to understand the features available in Lightroom better.

Losing Your Identity

While imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, there is such a thing as going too far.

We can, of course, seek inspiration from other photographers.

But trying to follow their edits with a few Lightroom presets won’t be enough.

While it’s great that you’re emulating the photographers you admire, there’s a lot to be said about creating and finding your style.

Of course, this is no easy task.

With so many photographers in this world, being a unique, totally different photographer is very hard.

But this is no reason not to try.

With so many photographers publishing their work by using the same presets, you can still stand out by creating your style.

By using presets, you run the risk of having your images looking like everyone else’s.

Therefore,  being labeled as a cliche.

This has become a common phenomenon among photographers everywhere.

There’s a dedicated channel on Instagram called insta_repeat that pokes fun at the similarities of the images taken by numerous photographers.

You Risk Burning A Hole In Your Pocket

A great way to get inspiration from the photographers you admire is to buy some of their presets.

But keep in mind this is not the end all be all solution if you want to be a great photographer.

When you decide to rely solely on presets you run the risk of spending too much money on presets that you’ll hardly use.

You might end up buying a $100 worth of presets package and probably use only a few of them.

Rather than doing this, it’s better to buy the presets you like.

Like the professional photographers you purchased from.

Find presets that resonate with you and then slowly learn how to make presets like them.

Doing so, you’ll slowly and steadily create your style and be a unique photographer in a sea of copycats.

Final Thoughts

Lightroom Presets is a useful feature to have as a photographer.

It helps in editing a large number of photos at once and saving valuable time.

It also helps you in being consistent in your photos.

This is especially good if you’re taking them for a particular occasion like a wedding.

I am making it a powerful tool to make great edits in very little time.

However, overuse of Presets can blunt your instincts.

It does not help if you’re trying to build your editing muscles .

Presets can make you lazy in being creative and finding your style.

You will simply depend on presets to do their work.

As a result, you might to get lost when a client wants a particular style that you don’t have in your vast collection of presets.

Buying presets can easily burn a hole in your pocket.

With that being said, presets can be useful to get inspiration.

You can do so by getting presets from photographers whose work you admire.

So it’s best to take the middle road and make use of it so that you don’t be too dependent on it.

If you enjoyed this article on what is a Lightroom preset, do check the articles below for more enjoyable readings.

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