Photo Tip: The Best Way to Use Lightroom Presets

Every image needs some processing before you can sell it. Think of it like taking photos with film. When you shoot film, it doesn't come out of the camera as a finished print. First, you get a negative.  Then you take that negative to a processing lab and they process it and give you back prints.

Digital files straight out of your camera are like digital negatives. They need to be processed before you print them. And certainly before you sell them.

That’s where photo editing programs like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom come in.

We’ve talked about the differences between these two programs before. But today’s short-and-sweet lesson is about a function in Lightroom that will help you process your images in no time.

It’s called the Lightroom Preset function and it’s under the “develop” tab in Adobe Lightroom.

To see how it works, take a look at this cute photo from this month’s Photo Challenge:

Lightroom Presets

In Lightroom, when you’re in the “develop” mode you can simply roll your cursor over a few various preset options and watch as your picture changes shades and colors.

Here it is in Lightroom’s high contrast black and white preset:


And here it is in sepia:

As a processing tool for portraits, family photos, vacation shots, and fine art, these Lightroom presets are a real gem. They can shave hours off your processing time and really open your eyes to new creative ways of perfecting your photographs.

For stock, however: Be warned. These presets were not designed with a stock photographer in mind and they can often ruin your chance of getting accepted into a stock agency if you use them.

If you want to sell your photos as stock, you’d do better to follow my guidelines for processing your photos for stock, instead.

I’ll talk more about photo processing for stock next week after AWAI’s advanced photo processing workshop here in Portland.

I’ve invited eight AWAI members (all attendees at one of our live photo workshops in 2008) here this weekend to come and work with me on processing their images for stock. We’re going to do nothing but enhance their images and work on their stock applications for three straight days until they’re all up and running on the stock sites of their choosing.

It’s a test, really, to see how long it takes to get their first sale and to see which images from their library will sell the best. It ends on Sunday, so I’ll let you know the results next week.

Till then, remember that if you don’t already have Lighroom, you can get a free 30-day trial version on Adobe’s site.

Practice makes perfect. And these presets are a quick and easy way to polish off your portfolio and really make your images pop for photo buyers.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]