Lightroom presets are a great way to store the editing work you put into one image and apply it to another, similar image. But when you start creating your own presets, it is easy to create a complete mess as the number and variety of your presets tend to grow quickly.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to organize them properly right from the start to keep everything tidy and useful.
Folders and Names
If you create a large collection of thirty presets or more, you should organize them appropriately. Folders and preset naming are two excellent organizational tools. If you have different categories of presets in your collection (e.g., black and white, color, HDR, portrait), create a folder for each category and name it appropriately. Then put all the presets that fall into a category inside the corresponding folder.
Note however, that all these folders will end up on the same level with all the other folders in your Presets panel due to Lightroom’s restriction to a single folder level (no subfolders allowed in the Presets panel). To allow the user to identify the folders belonging to your collection, use a common prefix in all folder names.
Prefixes and Suffixes
To organize the presets within each folder, you can use prefixes and suffixes again. Suffixes can be used to create subgroups inside a folder. For example, you may have a folder called “Landscape” where all your landscape presets are stored. Inside that folder you may have color and black and white presets. You can organize those by appending the suffix “(B&W)” to all black and white presets. Furthermore, prefixing all presets with a running number allows you to enforce a custom order. Note that Lightroom always displays presets in alphabetical order.
Dummy Presets as Separators
Finally, to increase the usability of folders containing a lot of presets, you can insert dummy presets that function as separators (Figure 3‑4). Such a dummy preset is empty (no settings stored inside) and has a name that acts as a visual separator enabling the user to clearly identify the different preset categories. When the user clicks on one of these separator presets, nothing happens because they apply no settings to the image.
You have to decide for yourself whether separator presets are beneficial in your case. They do add structure, but they may also be slightly confusing because they are presets with no effect. This may also be something you want to describe in your documentation.
If you create your own presets and if you use other people’s presets, staying organized is key. Otherwise, you’ll quickly lose track of what all these presets do and when to use which. Maintaining a proper folder structure, expressive names and some tricks like dummy presets, you can increase the effectiveness of your preset collections tremendously.
About the Easy Preset System for Lightroom
If you like the idea of using presets to simplify and speed up your Lightroom work, the Easy Preset System (EPS) may be a perfect fit for you. It is a carefully thought-out system of Lightroom presets that opens a whole new way of editing your images.
Instead of painstakingly pushing around sliders, you can choose from a large set of pre-configured and well-organized effects and combine them to edit your images. This is very fast, intuitive and visual. You can work entirely within the EPS to finish your images. Or you can use it to kick-start your editing work and then fine-tune the results later using the sliders in the Develop module. It’s all up to you.
Check out the Easy Preset System to see what it is capable of doing.
Now it’s your turn…
Are you using presets a lot in Lightroom? In which way are you using them, and how do you organize them for maximum effectiveness? Do you have any question about presets and how to use them?
Let me know by commenting below. I’d be happy to hear from you.