A Beginner’s Guide to Lightroom Presets

Editing your Instagram photos is a necessary evil – but it doesn’t have to be, thanks to Lightroom presets. Lightroom presets are pretty much what they sound like – a group of predetermined settings that give your photos a certain look.

But many Instagram users are still slaving away with personal edits in other applications when they could be using all that time for something else!

Editing photos is important, but it doesn’t have to be slow. Lightroom has a variety of presets available for almost every mood and look – and if you own the application, you can make your own!

Keep reading to see our guide for how to use Lightroom presets!

Why You Should Always Edit Your Photos

Whether you’re using a Lightroom preset or editing by hand in another program, you should always edit your Instagram photos! Editing is what makes an iPhone shot look like it was taken by a professional photographer.

You can fix colors, scale, blemishes, and detail in editing. Sure, some people might complain about inauthenticity – but the point of Instagram is visual stimulation, not authenticity.

Then there’s the fact that everybody else is editing their photos. If you have a penchant for natural lighting, then sure, you don’t NEED to edit, but an edited photo is the industry standard.

Professional photographers wouldn’t sell a photo without editing it. So if your aim is to make money off of Instagram, you should absolutely be editing your photos!

Why Lightroom Presets Beat VSCO & Snapseed

There are a LOT of Instagram photo editors out there. The biggest names are VSCO, Snapseed, and Lightroom. Instagram, obviously, even kicked off the trend with its very own built-in editor. The Instagram editor has come a long way from its filter days, but it’s still no Lightroom.

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⛰️BEFORE & AFTER🏔️

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I can say with confidence that Lightroom is the best of all the aforementioned options. Here’s why:

  1. Lightroom was specifically developed for photographers. I’d trust the people who made Photoshop over most other programs. Lightroom’s explicit purpose is to aid professional photographers in editing photos – the fact that there’s a version available to you and I is amazing.
  2. It’s mobile friendly. Most Adobe editors have been confined to desktop applications for th duration of their lifespans. But Lightroom can be accessed on your cell phone, tablet, AND laptop. Other editors like VSCO and Snapseed are only for mobile!
  3. The paywall isn’t high.  You have to pay to download Lightroom’s desktop application, but the mobile application is free, and you can do lots with it that you can’t do with other applications. The options available in the free version are just as good or better than any other photo editing app.
  4. Professionals use Lightroom. The fact that Lightroom is standard for professional photographers should tell you all you need to know.

Lightroom’s industry standard status, low pay wall, and its accessibility make it the go-to app for photo editing.

Lightroom Presets Can Help You Find Your Look

Among the many things Lightroom presets are great for is pinning down your signature Instagram aesthetic.

Many Instagram accounts nowadays are color-coded or themed a certain way. It’s not necessary to do this, but it can help you decide on your personal look.

Using Lightroom presets is a good way to establish consistency from the very beginning – and followers love consistency! They followed tyour for a certain look – they’re going to want to see more of it.

Why You Should Use Lightroom Presets

The benefits of Lightroom presets are many. But the most obvious one is – they save a LOT of time. Anybody who’s ever edited photos knows exactly how time-consuming it can be. One small change can throw off the entire look of a photo.

Thankfully, Lightroom has a preset for almost every scenario. There are numerous ones with different moods that Lightroom has already put together for you! Honestly, they’ve got you covered

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Editing photos is one of the most time-consuming parts of Instagram, so finding professionally-curated Lightroom presets is a golden opportunity.

Using Pre-existing Lightroom Presets

If you’re confused about where to start with Lightroom presets, allow me to break it down for you. Lightroom has three categories of presets: Color, Creative, and Black & White.

Color is focused on enhancing certain aspects of color in your photos. If you want to use Lightroom presets to make your photos look more professional, start here. This is where you’ll find presets to make things look “natural”, brighten colors, or play with contrast and detailing.

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Kia ora, Hola, Hello 🙋‍♀️ * “Manaakitanga is a Maori word that loosely translates to 'hospitality' – it is central to Maori society and inspires the way that travellers are made to feel welcome when visiting New Zealand” – NZ history vocabulary . . The best of New Zealand is the people, always kind, educated and friendly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . #visitauckland #visitnewzealand #aucklandcity #newzealand #auckland #beautifuldestinations #travellingthroughtheworld #bestcitybreaks #prettylittleiiinspo #traveldeeper #blondesandcookies #sheisnotlost #girlsabroad #gltlove #culturetrip #placetosee #beautifulnz #travelwithme #kiwisummer #nzsummer #traveltagged #lightroompresets #journeysofgirls #darlingescapes #postcardplaces #thewanderingtourist #lightroomedits #doyoutravel

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Considering Your Lightroom Preset Options

Creative is for anybody who still hasn’t outgrown their Myspace profile picture phase, or for people who enjoy playing with different moods in their photos. This is where you’ll find changes in lighting like “Cool Light” and “Turquoise & Red”. You can make a photo look romantic with soft mist, or even turn it sepia with “Warm Shadows” and “Aged Photo.”

Here’s a picture of my cat win the preset “High Contrast & Detail.”

Now, here’s the same picture using the preset “Flat & Green” from the color option.

The presets totally change not only the look, but the mood of the photo.

Black & White is…well, black and white. But who knew there were so many different kinds of black and white? You can go for a a soft, classy vibe with Black &White Punch.

Or go for something more dramatic with Black&White Split Tone.

For every preset I’ve listed above, there are at least three more. Open the app and check them out before you make up your mind. I can almost guarantee they’ve got one you’ll like!

How to Create a Lightroom Preset

Of course, sometimes you REALLY need a specific look to your photo that Lightroom doesn’t already have on hand. If that’s the case, it may be time to bite the bullet and download Lightroom’s desktop version to make your own Lightroom presets.

Unfortunately, you can’t do this on the mobile app, so this is definitely something better suited for professionals.

When creating a Lightroom preset in the desktop app, the process is pretty simple. Choose a photo and adjust your settings using the slider. We recommend picking a photo similar to the ones you will most likely be photographing most of the time.

Once you’ve got your photo the way you want it, go into the pre-existing presets and click the “+” sign. Make any adjustments you want to, then choose a name and save it in “User presets.” Voila!

How to Apply Your Lightroom Preset

Make sure you’ve named your preset something easy to remember and applicable. For example, naming it “Style Outfit Forefront” is probably going to be better than “Preset 1.” You can make more than one to fit the different types of photos you usually edit!

Once you’ve got your preset saved, pick another photo and open it in the editing workspace. Open your “User Presets”, click the one you want, and you’ve got it!

You can always go back and change small details later, but making your own Lightroom presets is a great way to save time with something you personally developed.

Using Lightroom Presets with Your Photographic Style

When making or choosing your Lightroom presets, it’s important to consider what you usually photograph. A travel photographer and a beauty guru are going to take pictures of very different things. Portraits and landscapes require different settings and different looks.

For me personally, I take mostly landscape and travel shots. That means I tend to lower brightness and whites in my pictures, and increase shadows, clarity, and saturation. I generally do this using the [LIGHTROOM PRESET HERE] Lightroom preset.

Before you make yours, consider the things you usually do when editing your photos. Which Lightroom preset is best for you?

Lightroom Presets Are An Excellent Tool 

Lightroom is a fantastic photo editor for many reasons. It’s developed and used by professionals, it’s accessible across platforms, and it’s got plenty of pre-existing options for you to choose from.

It’s a great way to save time so you can devote yourself to developing unique content.

If saving time is your main priority, why not try out your luck with a personalized Instagram manager? Upleap can help you grow your follower count and engagement, so you can focus on taking and editing your Instagram photos. Try Upleap for free today!

By Victoria Hendersen

Victoria is an American expatriate currently based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Originally from Santa Cruz, California, she lived in Bordeaux, France before relocation to Russia's cultural capital. Victoria holds a BFA in Film and Media Studies from UC Irvine.

She works as a copywriter and translator. An experienced travel blogger and vlogger, her main drive in life is discovering the jewels of lesser traveled cities. You can keep up with her travels on Instagram at @village_witch.

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