Save Tons of Editing Time with Lightroom Presets

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Photographers don’t have a lot of extra time to edit. As a full-time photographer myself, I rely heavily on any tools that save me time in the editing process. One of the tools I use is Lightroom presets.

What are Lightroom presets?

A Lightroom Preset is a pre-determined position all (or some) of the of sliders in Lightroom (they are pre-set, get it?) In other words, you can edit a photo to your liking, and then save that exactly combination of slider positions for future use on another image.

First things first: how do you create a Lightroom preset?

Very easily! Once you have a photo edited the way you want it you need to save those settings.

Step 1:  Click “Develop” then “New Preset”

presets-step-0

Step 2: Give your preset a title

Lightroom Presets Tutorial

Name your new Preset

Step 3: Choose the folder you want the preset stored in, or create a new folder.

This is a good idea to separate your presets by type. You would be surprised how many random presets you end up with over a few years. Consider creating folders based on the type of edits they are.

Lightroom Presets Tutorial 3

Choose the folder to save it in

You can see I’ve named my presets by color blast (big colors), night, old school color, and black and white. Now I can quickly find the preset I’m looking for based on what type of edit I want to do.

preset-step-3-web

Or make a new folder and give it a name

Step 4: Click the boxes you want applied to this preset and click “create” to create your preset

Sometimes you don’t want every box checked when you create a preset. Imagine you just edited an underexposed photo and had to increase the exposure two full stops (+2 on the exposure slider) to get it correct. This preset would look great on underexposed photos in that set, but would overexpose photos that had the correct exposure.

Another scenario is that you create a preset that only applies a slight vignette to your photos. Unchecking every box except the “vignetting” box would create a preset that would keep the ‘look’ of any photo you are editing and only apply that vignette to it. Pretty cool!

Step 5: You’re done, the preset is complete.

preset-step-4-web

There’s your new Preset

The preset is complete and waiting in the folder you just created. Just open the folder and click the preset title to apply it to future photos.

Lightroom presets save time by enabling batch editing

Imagine shooting 300 images in an area where the lighting isn’t changing and stays consistent. You edit the first image to your liking and save the settings as a preset. Instead of individually editing the remaining 299 images one by one, you can apply that preset and achieve the same ‘look’ as the previous photos. 

The next time you want that type of ‘look’ on a photo with a similar lighting setup you can just apply a preset in one click. It will move all the sliders to those exact positions so the edit style stays the same.

The best part about this is batch editing your photos all at once. You can edit a single image and then apply that preset directly to as many photos as you would like in just one click.

How do you batch edit photos?

Select all the photos you want to apply the preset to, right-click the any of the photo thumbnails, and follow this path:

Lightroom Presets Tutorial 5

That will apply the preset automatically to all the images you selected in one click.

For a walk through on how to do this watch this video as I go through all the steps:

Lightroom presets also save time with the live preview feature

When you hover over the preset names the image thumbnail in the top left corner will give you a preview of what that image will look like with that preset. As you scan your mouse over the list you will be able to tell if a certain preset will look good or not. If it does, you can click once and be done with the image.

Lightroom presets give you a great starting point

Instead of manually editing a photo from scratch, you can apply a preset to make a big change and edit from there. It’s like getting a big head start.

Lightroom presets can do a one-click edit

If I’m hitting a blank spot on where I want to take an image I will hover over my presets and see if I like any of the previews. Sometimes I love it and it’s a one-click edit.  Sometimes I like the look but know it needs a little tweaking. Either way it can save a lot of time. Check out a few one-click edits below from some of my presets.

Straight out of camera

Straight out of camera

After one-click Preset

After one-click preset

before-5968

Straight out of camera

after-5968

After one-click preset

Hacking-Photography-Color-Pop-Presets---Fill-Light-Smooth-Pre

Straight out of camera

After one-click Preset

After one-click preset

I hope you’ve seen how much Lightroom presets can help speed up your editing time and supply you with some very creative edits. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

For more information on Lightroom presets check out these:

Don’t want to make your own presets? Check out the dPS Presets Collections.

Note: Mike Newton is the creator of our Lightroom Mastery Course – an introduction to getting the most from Lightroom.

Read more from our Post Production category

Mike Newton teaches photography learning shortcuts and other photo hacks at Hacking Photography. He is a full-time advertising photographer in San Diego California. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or his personal photography site.

  • Shiwanjali

    Thank you so much!

  • Jenny

    Great article, very well written, thanks !!!!

  • clearly

    What about sync after you edit the first image in a set?

  • My pleasure.

  • Thanks Jenny

  • Kunal Chopra

    Excellent Article Mike 🙂 I am very keen about your night colour and colour burst presets. Is it possible to only purchase these? Thank you.

  • Hi Clearly, are you referring to batch editing many photos at once? Hi cover that above and also have a video showing how to do it.

  • Hi Kunal, I don’t have the different sets separated but it sounds like that is something people would be interested in. I’ll keep you updated on this.

  • Michael Owens

    Do they sell ACTIONS for Photoshop of a similar nature?

  • BaPal

    Is it possible to stack presets? By that I mean apply first one preset to do a task and then another to do another task that does not change the settings of the first preset?

  • yes but it depends on what sliders each preset adjusts. If the first one you select adjusts say the contrast, then you select another that adjusts that same slider – it will replace the first setting.

  • yes for sure there are many PS actions available for purchase

  • do you mean instead of making it a preset? Yes you can do that too

  • Looks like Darlene beat me to answering you. When you save your preset you can just uncheck any box you don’t want applied on the next preset (photo attached below). This means you could great presets that only a certain part of the edit.

    For example you could create a preset that only applies a vignette and contrast. You could create presets that bump up the exposure 1 stop, 2 stops, or 3 stops in case you underexpose your photo and want to do a quick fix to get it to the correct exposure.

  • BaPal

    Thank you Darlene and Mike. That was what I was thinking. Perhaps some presets for Tone and some for Presence so they could be combined in different combinations.

  • KatyBell

    I’m new to Lightroom, still learning stuff so this was VERY helpful. Thanks a bunch!

  • Dave

    Fantastic article and presets. Thanks Mike!

  • Thanks Dave

  • Hi KatyBell, I’m glad you found it useful. I’ll keep creating new Lightroom tutorials if it will help.

  • I’m going to cry…FINALLY someone understands that warmer colors affects how viewers interpret the photographs.
    Great tips on the number 1 time saver 🙂

  • Hi Olivier,

    I’m a huge fan of warmer colors in most portraits as they tend to come out more inviting. Then again sometimes you can want some colder ‘drama’ with cooler temperatures. Great observation!

  • Kunal Chopra

    Hi again Mike! I thought i’d check with you again before the promotion runs out. Do you think that if you separated the presets into subsets such as the one I mentioned previously, then those would also get offered under a promotion? I’m really quite interested in the night colour and colour burst presets 🙂

  • lead

    I’m in love with presets lately. The VSCO film packs are quite nice if you know how to tone them down every once and a while.

  • Santosh Badiger

    This
    is exactly what I was looking for, after a busy day with clicks, it was really
    time consuming to edit each and every photo. Thanks a lot…..:)

    Found this article
    exactly when I needed it

  • Happy to help Santosh!

  • Vanessa

    Hi Mike Newton
    I bought the presets, however could not open the link that was send via email.
    It takes me to an error page. I really hope I did not waste my money? 🙁

  • Hi,

    Unfortunately you show up in the comments as “Guest” with no way to reach back out to you. Can you please email me at mike@hackingphotography.com? I’m happy to help you.

  • Vanessa

    Thank you! All good! Your presets makes life so much easier! 🙂

  • Vanessa

    All is good. The presets works! Now I need to learn to spend not so much time with editing, because it is just so much quicker. Thank you!

  • vafa

    thank you very much . ????? ?????????? ???? ????

  • Sascha Kleiber

    I think it is a big problem with LR Presets that they sometimes stack each other. If I want to try a lot of different Presets, without the effects to stack on each other, I do have to save the original step and reset after each Preset… Thats kind of annoying for me…Dunno if I’m the only one with that problem.

  • Dharam Pal

    Hi there Mike – great article. What do you think is the main difference between Lightroom and Darkroom software and wihch is best for post-production work.
    DPS Photography (Digital Photo Studios)

  • Camera Man
  • 65% OFF on BeArt Lightroom Presets here: http://www.beart-presets.com/shop/platinum-pack

  • Kaasho Baybbiiee Ox Ahmed

    Great Tutorial. I Thought i would let you know about the exciting new offer from Amil Neal Productions! You Can Purchase Premium Quality Lightroom presets, Photoshop Actions & More Worth 300$+ For Just 29$!!!
    Grab it Here :http://etsy.me/1AXfbKu

    Thank you.

  • Kaasho Baybbiiee Ox Ahmed

    The MEGA BUNDLE 455 Presets/Actions for $29 Only, instead the regular price $300

    Purchase Link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/227904163/455-lr-presets-ps-action-mega-bundle?ref=shop_home_active_1

  • Kaasho Baybbiiee Ox Ahmed

    Try The MEGA BUNDLE 455 Presets/Actions for $29 Only, instead the regular price $300

    Purchase Link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/227904163/455-lr-presets-ps-action-mega-bundle?ref=shop_home_active_1

  • Rob Meyer

    You can also copy and paste presets with a couple clicks from the right-click context menu of a thumbnail. Develop Settings > Copy Settings…, select which values you want copies, then select (or multi-select) the pictures you want to apply the same settings to, and select Develop Settings > Paste Settings.

  • Sam Lodor

    hi, noticed that every time I use LR, the space of my hard disk adds up. How can I solve this problem?

  • Marian Murdoch

    That’s why I stopped using LR. I need to figure out how to stop it from making copies of everything.

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