Lightroom Presets Should Be Your Inspiration, Not Your Solution

For those taking their first steps with Lightroom presets, here's a rule worth remembering: presets are useful for finding an initial starting point for an image, but rarely is a preset a one-size-fits-all solution for a batch of photographs.

Photographer Manny Ortiz takes us through his workflow for a handful of different images, showing how his various presets function as a base for further Lightroom editing. It's then fascinating to see how each image then inspires changes to the hue, saturation, and luminance of individual colors to give a look and feel that is determined fundamentally by the image itself rather than an out-of-the-box solution. As Ortiz is keen to stress, each is photograph unique and, according to personal taste, each lends itself to a certain style. The video explains how this can be the determined by factors such as contrast, clothing, skin tones, and drawing out the infamous "Instagram teal."

So for me, the next question is how to find a personal style and yet still create a body of work where the edits are tuned to the idiosyncrasies of each specific image. Creating this balance can be a challenge, but using a small number of presets can be useful means of achieving this, as can being consistent with your approach to color.

Lightroom presets are always a hot topic, and I'm intrigued to know whether Fstoppers readers feel that paying for them is worthwhile. Personally, while I've downloaded a few for free that I never use (they all seem far too extreme), and I'm keen to find out whether other people find them useful and worth the money. Are they a great way to learn about Lightroom, or are they a trick to generate income for an elite band of well-established photographers? Please vote and let me know in the comments.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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