She wrote me, ” Sidney, I am new and absolutely lost. I am wondering if I should use Lightroom presets or not? The internet is telling me so many different things, and I don’t know what to do”
I know the feeling. As great as the internet is, when you google a question, chances are, you’re going to get 20 trillion different opinions unless it’s something that’s steeped in facts. So I am here to make it simple: Truth is, it’s completely up to you.
Even though college courses are offered in the game of photography, there are very few hard set rules to our art. So now that you have the truth, I am going to list some of the possible pro’s and cons to using Lightroom presets.
Consistency W/ Ease
One of the biggest things Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions will help with, is constancy in your photographic style. Now whether this is important or not is up to you. Some photographers own the fact that their style is inconsistent and leverage that for their business. Personally, I myself, have what I consider to be 3 styles: My modern up to date style, a more moody style, and my signature black and white style. However, some people like every photo to be different, while others will can’t live if their style is off by .000005 of a stop. So, if consistency is big, then Lightroom presets and Photoshop Actions may help you achieve that with ease.
Some people love editing photos in Lightroom and Photoshop and others can’t wait to be done. As a wedding photographer, the speed of my workflow is crucial. So, using a Presets helps speed up my workflow by a lightyear. However, not all wedding and portrait photographers are the same. So in order to make a decisions, it’s important to assess whether or not the speed of your workflow is crucial. This will help aid in the decision to use or not to use presets and photoshop actions.
Decreases style originality
Let’s face it: we live in a world of filters. It does help a lot of people. But, it also puts a damper on style originality with respect to toning. We’ve all know 1 or 2 artist who’s photos look similar in color. Although the toning of your images isn’t the only thing that defines your style, it can help differentiate you and make you stand out. So if you are the type that wants to different where ever possible, Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions MAY hinder that.
They Aren’t All Created Equal
A problem I ran into early in my photographic career, is that some presets didn’t work with my photos. Some presets are made for certain camera and certain picture profiles. I had a friend who brought a popular brand of presets, but they didn’t work well with her camera and the area she lives in. So if you are considering using presets, it’s important to research if they will work with your camera.
Lightroom Presets & Photoshop Actions: The Best of Both Worlds
There is a simple solution if you want to mitigate the cons and use Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions: create your own. I have challenged myself to create my own presets at some point. Because for me the pros certainly outweigh the cons, but one day, I would like to create a style that hasn’t been made yet. Now don’t be fooled, this is no easy task. The world of the internet as made it so easy to recreate styles. However, if there is a will, then there is a way.
In case you’re wondering, here is a link to the Lightroom Presets I use.