How to Correctly Use Creative Profiles in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a good friend — who is also a heck of a photographer — about the pros and cons of using creative profiles and presets as part of your photo editing workflow. His stance was unambiguous and straightforward: as far as he’s concerned, profiles and presets are murderers of creativity.

He believes that they end up being a crutch that photographers initially lean on and, eventually, depend on. While I can certainly appreciate his point of view, my perspective has a bit more cushion to it.

In some cases, presets and profiles can significantly speed up batch edits — especially if the changes are rote. I know plenty of wedding and portrait photographers who have a set of presets that they batch apply for more corrective changes than stylistic ones and it is a boon for their productivity. Personally, I’ve found a happy place in my editing workflow where profiles serve as a stylistic springboard of sorts that quickly provides me with a variety of directions to take my photos, some of which I may never have considered.

Depending on who you speak with, you’ll probably find photographers in one of three camps when it comes to using creative profiles and presets:

  1. Those photographers who, under no circumstances, would ever apply a creative profile on their photos.
  2. Those photographers who see the benefit of creative profiles and often use them with their photos.
  3. Those photographers who fall somewhere in between and either only use profiles that they’ve created for themselves or use them sparingly.

The truth is that there is no one camp that has anything over the other two. If you are the sort of photographer who prefers a manual touch to every single photo, then profiles may not be for you. I’m of the belief that creative profiles are wonderful and have often inspired me in terms of which stylistic direction I want to take my photo. I’m open-minded enough to allow myself to be inspired in that way and I can also see how that would be a turn-off for another type of photographer.

Regardless, one of the biggest problems I see when it comes to photographers who utilize creative profiles is how they use them. At the risk of sounding overly binary, I emphatically believe that there is a right way and a wrong way to use creative profiles. In almost all cases that I’ve seen, the wrong way usually involves not knowing how to apply restraint in the strength (or presence) of the profile. In other cases, the photographer falls into a creative trap by using the same profile on all of their images, resulting in an overly homogenous collection.

That’s why I recorded the video above. I think there’s so much potential with creative profiles… when they’re used correctly.

About the author: Brian Matiash is a professional photographer, videographer, and published author based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His passion is to serve other photographers by helping them grow their own visual pursuits. Learn more about Brian by visiting his website, on Instagram, and on YouTube.

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