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Are Editing Presets Worth the Money?

When I was just starting out in the digital space – I was in college setting up my first blog. It was the era of VSCO cam and Instagram filters, Adobe at the time was just for the pros. The popularity of editing apps was rising – but no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t find that thing that could make my photos pop like I wanted.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Whether you’re a beginner or a photo pro – learning how to edit your photos (and keep a consistent look for that all-too-important Instagram feed!) is time consuming.

For many, myself included, editing presets are the answer. But with so many to choose from, especially if you’re just starting out – you might be asking, are editing presets actually worth the money?

 

What are editing presets?

Presets are groups of settings that change the way your photos look. They’re photo filters – you can change the color tone of an image, the brightness, or the overall mood with one click of a button.

If you are working in Adobe, they come in two formats; .xmp files for the desktop program, and .dng files for the free Lightroom Mobile app. Both are easy to use, and completely customizable based on the ‘look’ you like to create.

 

Are editing presets worth the money? Here’s my take:

Personally, I think presets ARE indeed worth the money. But, if I can offer you a small piece of wisdom today – it’s this:

 

1. NOT EVERY PRESET WORKS FOR EVERY PHOTO

It’s important to note that not every preset works with every photo. You have to take the light, the colors, and the file type (RAW vs. JPEG) into account. Because of this, I ALWAYS recommend to find a preset bundle that has at least five different options inside of it OR to see if there are any free presets available to try first.

This way, you’ll gain an understanding of how the presets work with your photos, and whether or not you really like them before you invest your hard-earned cash.

 

2. LOOK FOR PRESETS THAT MATCH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE

There’s no worse feeling than buying a pack of presets and NONE of them work for your photos. I’ve done this a few times early on when I was just starting to learn how to use presets and tweak them as I liked. What I found though, is that the presets that I liked best tended to be from creators whose photography style matched my own.

Now, I’m not talking about subjects here.

Instead, I mean the way you actually take the photo. Think about it – when you’re snapping a picture, do you like to use direct sunlight? Overcast skies? Do you underexpose a photo? Brighten it up like there’s no tomorrow? Each of these are important elements to consider when purchasing editing presets. Personally, I like to underexpose all photos I take in order to preserve the details that I can then bring out in the editing process. If your style matches how a certain creator shoots their images – you’ll find that their presets will likely work really well for you.

 

3. FIND A COLOR STORY THAT RESONATES

Speaking of how creators like to take their photos – there are some that have an instantly recognizable color palate as well. Creatives like Chelsea Kauai, Jack Morris, Sam Kolder and many others have such a distinguishable editing style that you know the photo is theirs before you even see their name.

If you know the colors you like to bring out in photos, you know – the ones that make you immediately love an image, see if you can find presets that really make those colors shine.

Here’s the thing: will every photo be a stunning masterpiece? Probably not. But it’s important to remember that your photos are a unique expression of your point of view – and so is the way you edit them. So whether or not you choose to use an editing app, photo presets or go completely unedited – find the style that feels like the most natural extension of your creativity, and I guarantee you’ll feel good about the photos that come out of your camera.

 

STILL LOOKING FOR EDITING PRESET INSPIRATION?

Grab my two favorite editing presets for Adobe Lightroom mobile & desktop FOR FREE!

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