Do professional photographers use presets

Morgan8585Morgan8585 Registered Users Posts: 3 Big grins
edited January 23, 2021 in Finishing School
This is my first post so hoping I have posted it to the correct place.

I have been trying to develop a photo style since I bought my camera last year without success. The raw photo comes out dull, flat and uninteresting. I have found pro photographers produce incredibly colorful photos. Many sell presets. Do pro photographers use presets for their work - is that how they develop a style?

I would be interest in your thoughts.


  • Options
    pathfinderpathfinder Super Moderators Posts: 14,699 moderator
    edited January 24, 2021

    Welcome to dgrin, Morgan,

    I think the short answer to whether pro photogs use presets depends of several factors - what type of pro are they, a studio portrait shooter, a photojournalist, a Nat Geo wildlife photog, a sport shooter on the NFL sidelines each Sunday, a part time family portrait photographer, etc.

    Anyone call call themselves a pro, sell a few photos, and decide how they want to edit their images. Time spent editing images might be thought of as creative burnishing and polishing, or a waste of precious time, depending on who you ask.

    As you pointed out, RAW files are flat, by plan, by definition, and do REQUIRE editing to look their best or even approach many in camera created jpgs. The discussions of in camera jpgs versus RAW files have been argued for almost 20 years, and there are still valid arguments for using each, in particular circumstances.

    A real pro knows when to use either, or as I always say - a REAL Pro knows more than just one way to skin a cat. One way to create more interesting images is creative lighting, which has nothing to do with image editing presets.

    Why don't you tell us a little about yourself, age, equipment, level of skill with image editing software, and level of competency with your camera and lenses, and then readers here can begin to offer you their opinions about your question.

    As for myself, I am not a working pro, but an avid amateur with over 20 years shooting digitally and I use LightRoom CC and Photoshop, and a few other odd apps for my images. The vast bulk of my shooting is done in RAW, and of wildlife and travel images. I have no real time pressure since I am not shooting to make a paycheck, but to fashion/create images to meet my own desires, at my leisure.

    I like the editing opportunities RAW files offer, but do choose to shoot jpgs some times too, but rarely. All my files on my smugmug site are jpgs , but most were shot in RAW.

    Presets offer a way to present your images in a consistent manner, quickly. Using presets without learning the ins and outs of image creation, lighting, and editing, may not be ideal, in the long run.

    I look forward to hearing what our readers suggest.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • Options
    slpollettslpollett Registered Users Posts: 1,200 Major grins

    I don't know that I consider myself a "real" pro, so I'm not sure how helpful my answer will be. I have struggled with trying to develop a consistent style as well. I've also been disappointed when I have a great photo, but the sky isn't as vibrant as I want. Or I could have a nice photo of a particular location and then I see other photos from the same spot and the colors are nothing like what I saw or captured. I've looked at and used some of the presets. Most of them I just don't like much. What I did find useful though, was trying different ones to see what they did. In Lightroom at least when you use a preset, you can see every adjustment that was done in that preset. I studied that and then adjusted those settings to find something I liked better. At some point, I got more confident and don't need the preset as my starting point anymore. I learned what adjustments work for me to get the look I want.

    Sherry P.

  • Options
    joshhuntnmjoshhuntnm Registered Users Posts: 1,924 Major grins

    i think yes. it helps with consistency and saves time.

  • Options
    shawncshawnc Registered Users Posts: 695 Major grins

    I find presets are a great tool to give you a direction for editing.
    I will use a preset to see where it takes me, usually its back to my sliders.
    I find them most helpful, and time saving on my wildlife images.
    There are so many images to work when shooting wildlife that finding a nice preset to get you close to your desired finished product can invaluable.

Sign In or Register to comment.