Lightroom Presets and Your Personal JPG Style

This morning, as I scanned through articles on hints and techniques, I came upon an article by Adam Welch in the Digital Photography School website. It was an article on Lightroom presets, a topic some ignore perceiving it as an unskilled use of Lightroom. When I got to his section on “Designate Import Presets” it occurred to me why this might be and perhaps how to better frame their use, especially on import.

Import Menu with Preset and Copyright Applied to all Images

Most people in the world capture photographs on cameras that produce a jpg, such as iPhones. What this means, of course, is an engineer somewhere has predetermined how much contrast, vibrancy, saturation, sharpening, and a number of other variables to apply to the photograph and this is what gives the jpg its look and feel. Essentially what a photographer will do with the RAW file is initially apply their unique look and feel to an image before doing further post-processing to the image. What he is proposing is capturing the basics of your style or look in a preset or number of presents and applying these to all your RAW images upon import. Thus applying your personal jpg style rather than some engineers idea of what a photo should look like. So essentially when you import your RAW files they all start off with your personal jpg style applied to them, keeping in mind this is just the starting point of your post-processing workflow. An excellent way to start before working with each individual image and as time saving as applying copyright to every imported image.

Preset Save Menu – Ticked Boxes Capture the Setting You Want to Keep in the Preset

He goes on to highlight how to customize the presets to avoid conflicts and to suggest strongly that presets themselves are only a jumping off point: Presets are a ladder. Don’t simply apply a preset and hope for the best. Most presets are intended to be post-processing workhorses and/or springboards for your creativity. In either case, don’t stop at the preset. He also suggests updating presets or creating new ones from existing presets as you perfect your style.