Is it cheating to use presets and templates in post-processing? No, definitely not, it can be a huge timesaver. But there are a few things you need to be aware of.

What are presets and templates?

Whether in Lightroom, Luminar, Photoshop or a myriad of other editing programs, you can use a range of presets and templates in your post-processing. Some software comes with a few samples already loaded. You can buy them premade and of course, you can create your own.

Presets are a list or group of specific settings that can be applied to your photos to achieve a certain look. They can be used for landscapes, portraits or any genre, and are available in a range from simple basic changes to dramatic looks.

Cinematic Green & Orange from Fine Art Floral Presets pack

Why use presets and templates in post-processing?

I love creating and using my own presets, especially in Lightroom Classic, I have presets for food photography, still life, landscapes and portraits. I have dark and moody looks and soft and dreamy looks. The great thing about creating and using presets is the timesaving factor. If I am editing landscapes I have a set of basic presets I can use to boost contrast and clarity or boost Fall colors. I might be going to a certain look for a portrait shoot I can then apply the same preset to all the photos, saving a huge amount of time.

Templates can make things quick and easy to set up. If you use templates in Lightroom for Slideshows or the Print module and use them regularly, it is much quicker to make the template once, save it and then use the template for future endeavors, rather than remaking the same thing over and over. Again another time saver. The beauty is often they can be quickly adjusted if required for a one-off purpose.

Sleeping Beauty Preset

One size does NOT fit all

Beware that not all preset or templates will suit all images. While they may look fantastic on the original image, they may look strange on something entirely different. Try different presets or looks for your image. Alternatively many can be used as a starting point you can then make your own adjustments too as well. When used in conjunction with Sync settings and batch processing you can actually edit a whole selection of images quickly.

The other thing you need to be aware of, especially when creating your own presets, is that these are global changes. Which means they affect the whole image. So if you straighten your image, or adjust the white balance or brighten a certain area of the image, and you save that as part of the preset, then those changes will affect future edits too. Don’t fear — you can usually pick and chose what settings to include in your preset before saving them.

Pretty Bokeh Preset

In summary

I love using presets and templates, I often make my own and even have them on my website. I do NOT think they are cheating at all but total timesavers that everyone should be using in their workflow. Want to try a few sample FREEBIE presets? Head over to my website and check out the Preset packs and maybe grab yourself a freebie.