Photographers, especially portrait photographers, are always searching for creative and trendy “looks” to apply to their photos. There are many ways to apply these “looks” and all of them can be re-created in Photoshop; however, almost all professional portrait photographers use a program called Lightroom, which is made by the same company that produces Photoshop. This program makes it much faster and simpler to apply different “looks”, or presets, to your portraits. You can check the current price of Lightroom on Amazon.com here.
Lightroom users can either buy, create, or download free presets. Then, the photographer has only to flip through the library of pictures and can completely change the look of the photo with just one click. Lightroom presets are HEAVENLY!
If you feel like you are ready to take your portrait photography to the next level, then I would definitely recommend you purchase Lightroom and start downloading some presets.
I use Lightroom presets on every portrait shoot. In fact I used them on a shoot I was editing this morning for a family I shot a couple weeks ago. See the photo below? That's a before-and-after of one of the photos. You can easily see that the before photo is pretty dull, but the after photo looks MUCH better.
What are the best free Lightroom presets available online?
If you are more of a casual portrait photographer or simply don't want to invest in a quality set of Lightroom presets, then you might try finding some free ones online. I have downloaded over 300 presets in the last year and have already deleted 280 of them. There are TONS of junky presets out there, so I will recommend a few presets here that I consider to be high quality.
Presets #1 and 2: Sepia Chic and Sepia Chic 2 are some of my very favorite Lightroom presets. I use these two pretty often. You can download them here (check for the link at the bottom of the page).
Presets #3, 4, and 5: Basic Bam, Basic Bam 2, and Modern Aged. These are three great presets that come from Camera Dojo. The Basic Bam presets are great for just adding a tiny pop to photos, and the Modern Aged preset is much more stylistic. You can download them here.
Presets #6 and 7: Ultimate Fighter and Ultimate Fighter 2. These presets do NOT have wide applicability, but it is a good example of how some Lightrooom presets are for a specific purpose. These presets are perfect for achieving a grungy, tough, mean look for sports portraits. Just imagine this preset on Chuck Norris with his shirt off, and you'll get the idea of where to use these ones. Download these Lightroom Presets here.
Preset #8: Pretty Presets Autumn. This is an absolutely beautiful preset. I really love the look. You can download it here.
Before someone chastises me in the comments for not mentioning the many free presets available through OnOne Software, I'll just mention that a lot of people really like them, but I'm not a big fan. I think most of those presets are WAY overdone. There are probably some good ones in the collection, but I got so tired of flipping through the junkers that I just uninstalled them entirely.
How do I install Lightroom presets?
Lightroom presets could not be any easier to install. Simply download the presets and unzip the folder, then go to Lightroom. In the Library module, look on the left side where it lists “User presets.” Right click on “user presets” and click “import.” Now click on the presets you want to install and you're in business!