Here’s how it goes. You take a bunch of fun, unique, personality-filled photos that you’re ready to share with the world. But when you go to edit them, they never seem to turn out quite like the pros. When this happens, many bloggers and aspiring social media influencers turn to Lightroom Presets as the solution.
Lightroom Presets, for those of you who are just getting started, are like the Instagram filters of Lightroom. They offer a high-quality, cohesive tonal theme for bloggers that’s easy to use if you aren’t familiar with Lightroom settings.
Lightroom Presets seem to offer an easy solution if you want gorgeous photos like the Instagram pros, but are they worth the money?
Well, sort of.
Presets are good when used like training wheels
Ashley Scott, the blogger behind Lovely and Limitless and the art director for Grateful Ventures, explains that presets are a good starting point but are, by no means, a blanket solution for guaranteed Instagram-worthy photos. Think of presets like training wheels.
“At least you can set up all of your favorite settings, fix any of your color tones that you know you’re going to want to adjust,” Scott says of using presets. “It helps save time. But you still have to go back in and edit exposures and all that stuff to tweak it. But it does save time.”
She adds that presets are a useful learning tool, but you shouldn’t spend too much on them.
“If you’re looking to buy a preset, I would recommend starting small. I know Etsy sells a lot of custom ones and they’re, you know, $5 so it’s not like you’re losing a lot from buying those types of presets,” Scott explains.
Balance those whites
FoodBlogs social media manager Lauren Joskowitz recommends presets as a helpful way to balance the whites in your photos.
“People probably don’t realize how important balancing your whites is to give your feed a cohesive look and feel. It’s actually really easy and it makes a world of difference.”
Joskowitz explains the FoodBlogs Instagram is a neutral tone, but “our photos have some pops of color, as well, like orange, red or blue – since we’re covering food here, and food is most beautiful in all it’s colorful glory.”
“Once we find a photo to share, we use Lightroom Classic to add the same filter as previous photos,” says Joskowitz. “This makes our images uniform in what colors to mute and which to bring out. We adjust exposure of each photo to make sure it’s not too bright and will fit the aesthetic of the feed in it’s current state.”
The best way to learn to use Lightroom — for free!
The best way to get influencer-worthy photos is, of course, learning the Lightroom software, which Scott assures is not that difficult, especially in the days of YouTube tutorials.
“Learn how to create your own presets,” Scott recommends. “A lot of YouTubers do ‘this is the photographer’s style’ and ‘this is how you mimic that photographer’s style’ so you can learn the program through them in a short 15-minute video, and that’s more useful because then you’re learning the actual settings and how to adjust them properly.”
Scott adds that when she first started editing, she had a set of presets, but maybe only used them once or twice before she caught on to Lightroom and was quickly able to edit independently. Now, she doesn’t use presets, but she does have a cohesive theme in all of her images.
When using presets, Joskowitz cautions, “Instagram audiences are straying away from over-stylized or over-filtered photos. I’d recommend make the filtering soft – barely noticeable – and don’t worry about making everything too perfect. Instagram audiences like authenticity. Show your personality. Show the mess. It’s relatable.”
The fun of social media — especially Instagram — is showing off your individual style and personality through your photos. One size doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to presets. So take the time and learn to use Lightroom. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your followers.