How to Create The Popular Matte Look in Lightroom

While in Las Vegas attending the annual WPPI conference I stopped in and spent some time at the print competition. There I repeatedly noticed that many of the prints had a matte type of look to them. Now part of this is the choice of paper they print on, but also how the photos is processed plays a big part as well. I created this quick video to share with you how this look is achieved very easily in Lightroom. I have also included some sample before and after photos below.

The look is basically achieved by using the tone curve in Lightroom. Previously this was only possible in Photoshop but with Lightroom 3 or 4 you are now able to pull it off right inside the program. In addition to being popular on color photos it also looks great on black and whites. Here are some samples showing the before and after of the matte look shown in the video. Let me know if you enjoy the tip and if so I'll continue creating these short video tutorials on ways to use Lightroom you might not have thought of before.

Here are some before and after samples showing how the matte look changes up the photos.






Here are some previous videos tips I recently posted here in Fstoppers:
Video Showing One of Lightroom's Most Under Utilized Tools
How to Easily Time Sync Your Files in Lightroom

Thanks for watching.

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Coolio buddy!

Thanks Jay.

Been trying to figure this out for year or so. Crazy how simple it is!

Awesome. Glad it helped. It is pretty simple now that Lightroom includes control of the point curve. Good times!

THANKS Trevor! I love this look for my photos!

Hoyoung Lee's picture

Thank you so much for sharing! I've been trying to figure this out for so long! You just saved me so much time~

I actually like the look, but the rebel in me hates the fact that everyone does the same thing. There's the matte look, the I-dont-give-a-crap-yet-I'm-still-trying-too-hard posing, the insane cropping for its own sake... :P

Yep, it's only original until it becomes popular, then it becomes an embarrassing, overdone trick, remember time lapses?

what's wrong with time lapses?

You can also do this in by putting a black layer over a photo and changing it to "lighten" or "soften" and this way you don't need lightroom, only adobe photoshop express or higher.

true, but then this post is pointless, as it is a tutorial about how to do it in lightroom..

So what's wrong with me telling others how to do it in other programs? I don't see the harm.

or simply using curves in photoshop as well.
good point about blending modes. thumbs up!

i've been wondering recently how to achieve this look. Thanks for the tutorial, it was super helpful.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Been looking for this for some time now. Really nice Trevor! Thanks for sharing and fantastic shots!

Can't say that I am really a fan of this look. Just my personal taste. Perhaps it is the old school darkroom training, but to me it just screams poor processing.

this was my reaction too - it's like taking a well exposed image and making it look like it's a poorly printing reproduction in a magazine. It goes against the grain so to speak, to kill a good file.

Same here

absolutely agree. looks like bad photoshop!

Thanks man! Love this

If i Ruled the World's picture


stunning guide )

I figured the exact technique out myself at some point last year. Its nice but its getting used a lot lately.

Can be achieved in Aperture as well, faded++ in the VSCO toolkit.

but that's basically paying someone $100 to move your curves adjustment...

John MacLean's picture

whoa - shitty audio dude!

Yeah John, I agree. I need to invest in a nice microphone.

John MacLean's picture

Even the new $30 Apple ear buds would probably do fine!

Might not be so much the microphone as it is your input recording level. It was way too "hot" and was clipping.

Where is the video??