Pros and Cons of Presets - Catherine Guidry Photography

July 2, 2021

Pros and Cons of Presets

Using presets is a highly debated topic in the photography industry. Some people like presets because of workflow improvements, but others argue that it’s “cheating” or actually slows down the process because presets don’t look the same on every image. Let’s get into some of the pros and cons of using Lightroom presets and you can decide for yourself!

PROS

Accessibility from multiple devices

One of the nice things about using Lightroom Presets is that, not only are they incredibly easy to install and start using, but they can be used with both the desktop AND mobile applications! This makes it really easy to apply your brand’s aesthetic quickly and on the go, without having to transfer photos to your computer to edit before posting online. Especially when you just take a quick snap on your phone; you don’t want to have to transfer it to your desktop only to have to send it back to your phone to be posted!

Cuts down on time spent editing

One of the most notable pros of using Lightroom presets is that it cuts down on editing time. Not only can you apply a preset to a photo within a matter of seconds, but you can batch apply the preset to all of the photos in your gallery at once! What initially would take someone a timeframe of a few days to complete tweaking in photoshop over and over again can be done in under an hour (that’s not accounting for tweaking of photos that require different settings, but we’ll get to that later!

Creates consistent results

A consistent portfolio of images is part of being considered professional and having a recognizeable style! A nice, clean, cohesive, profile is eye catching and and pleasant to look at, and can potentially draw in new clients right off the bat! One of the easiest ways to obtain this cohesive look is to use Lightroom presets. This is a huge pro. It’s a quick, steadfast way to make all of the photos on your feed look like they really belong together!

Gives your edits a starting point

In addition to Lightroom presets being a standalone fix, they can also act as an editing “base.” In this way, a preset can be just an initial step in the editing process. Applying a preset is also a great way to get inspiration and quickly try out a plethora of different settings and feels before deciding to go in a specific direction. If you’re just starting out in your photography journey, playing around with some presets could help you discover what you do and don’t like and help you to discover and pursue your personal style.

CONS

Cost

Although using presets is a timesaver, it is another expense for the business. As photographers, we already have a lot of costs affiliated with running the business: gear, software, fees, subscriptions, and travel cost. So, although having the ability to save time and create consistency in your images is awesome..like most good things, it comes at a cost.

Presets do not appear the same on every image.

Applying presets to photos in batch CAN be really quick, but the preset may not work with every photo…and it definitely will need tweaking even if it does. For example, if some photos are too dark or the color is off, you’ll need to go into those and tweak them manually. It’s also important to note that, in addition to discrepancies photo-to-photo, there may be discrepancies from person-to-person; Not every preset or preset pack will work for everyone Factors like camera bodies, lenses, geographical surroundings, lighting conditions, and specific venues will affect the outcomes of how well those presets work for you specifically. You may have to shop around a little bit, and find something that works best for YOU!

Your work may look similar to others

One of the biggest cons to using presets is that other people using the same preset will most likely be producing and posting photos that look very similar to yours. Of course it’s ALWAYS possible to add your personal flair and make your style stand out, it may just be harder with others using the same settings on their photos at the same time. Ultimately, you should do whatever you feel communicates your style and your message with the most accuracy!

You can always create your own

Instead of using someone else’s presets, why not make your own? Once you find your style, you could very well create a personal preset pack that works incredibly well for the specific kind of photography you do. You can really do this in Photoshop, with the “Actions” menu. Then, you’re creating something that you know works well for your personal images and separates you from others!

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