Should You Use Lightroom Presets for Wedding Photography?

We can all agree that there’s no shame in editing your photos, right?

It’s so rare that every tiny element has worked in your favor, that knowing how to properly tweak your final output a little (or a lot!) often marks the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer.

Where the jury is less definitive, though, is on presets.

Do you use editing presets? If you do, you are not alone: the market for developing, and then selling on, Lightroom presets has exploded in recent years. How many times have you seen photographers comment on other people’s work, asking “What preset did you use here?”

It’s funny, isn’t it? But that’s how omnipresent editing presets have come to be!

There are great things, and not so great things, about using Lightroom presets for wedding photography, and the beauty is that using them is your choice!

And you’ll see as we run through the pros and cons to using presets, that it’s a double-edged sword; many good things feed into less-good things, and vice versa.

So, if you’ve been toying with the idea of applying presets to your photographs, we’re here to help you figure out if it’s the right investment for you…

Photographer: Dezerae Jobe

Pro using a Lightroom Presets for Wedding Photography: speeds up your editing process

Editing has never been faster than with presets. One click and voila; your photo is instantly edited to match your personal aesthetic and photography style.

And this speed brings a whole host of benefits; you can crack through your editing jobs faster — as you can jump from raw image to a ready-to-ship one in a fraction of the time. In Lightroom, you can apply the same preset to hundreds of images at the same time, so no more fiddly tweaking of settings on each and every shot. With Lightroom presets, you can be well on your way to the final edits in just a few clicks.

The speedier you can complete your editing, the sooner your clients get their hands on your prints, which is a fast track to positive client relationships.

This is one of the main reasons why we created our Dirty Boots Presets because easy editing can save you several hours of work during each editing marathon!

Pro: Lightroom presets provide the perfect springboard for further tweaking

As we’ve said: presets are a speedy way to get you envy-inducing image quality, making them one of the best photography tools to improve your efficiency.

But a word of warning here: a preset should only ever be a springboard for other editing. Think of it as the first step, not the whole journey.


Because even if you are bowled over by the final output a certain Lightroom preset achieves — and you think that editing treatment will look great for your shots too — it’s highly unlikely that the preset will work seamlessly on each and every shot.

What time of day did you shoot in? How was the light? What ISO setting were you using?

All of these factors will impact how the Lightroom Preset works on the images you’re editing.

So, should you opt to use a preset, you should always further edit your photos for proper exposure and tones in your images.

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t get into the habit of selecting a preset and calling it a job done.

Here’s why…

Con: heavy use of presets makes your work less protect-able

Demand for Lightroom Presets is increasing as they become more popular. This in itself is not an issue. However, there is a small risk that as photographers begin using the same presets as each other, eventually, work could start end up looking similar.

This is problematic for a number of reasons:

For one: it’s really hard to standout in a sea of sameness, so you may find it harder to attract new clients with your portfolio or photography website.

And two: you can’t trademark or protect work that looks like everyone else’s. You don’t want to erode your wedding photography brand, by losing what’s unique about your approach.

That’s why it’s so important to use a preset as the springboard for your personal finishing touches. Whatever it is that makes your wedding photography stand out from the crowd will come from those final adjustments you make on top of the Lightroom preset. That’s your magic sauce, so don’t lose it.

Photographer: Dakota Chasity Argo

Con using Lightroom Presets for Wedding Photography: if you rely too much on presets, you risk becoming a lazy editor

Editing should be a labor of love.

There’s something truly satisfying about fiddling and fiddling, until you get the end result you had in mind, isn’t there?

And the more you tweak, the better at it you become. Your editing skills are like a muscle, you need to build it up and flex it often, to keep it strong.

So if you replace that — sometimes grueling — process with a quick fix, such as a preset, you’ll find yourself more frequently taking the shortcut and relying more on presets than ever before.

It risks becoming a negative cycle, resulting in you firstly losing your will to edit in detail, and secondly your ability to do so.

Doesn’t sound great, does it?

There you have it: the pros and cons of using Lightroom presets for wedding photography…

As you can see, there are lots of really great benefits to gain from using a preset. They can save you time, by bringing you almost all the way to a finished image, faster than ever.

But you should bear in mind the drawbacks too: be aware of how much or how frequently you’re using presets. Don’t become too reliant — and therefore complacent — just because they are readily available.

You still want your shots to look like your work, no one else’s.

So, what’s next?

Well, editing is just one stage of a wedding photographer’s work process. For more, check out our article: 9 step post-processing workflow for wedding photographers.

Just in case you haven’t yet, feel free to check out our Dirty Boots Presets, maybe they are what you’ve been searching for!

Written by:
Dirty Boots & Messy Hair Team

Connection is what it’s all about. Feel free to reach out to us with any comments or questions you might have, even if it’s only to say hello. If it wasn’t for our beautiful community, this place just wouldn’t feel the same.

Photographer Tips
19 Feb 2020


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