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It takes a few seconds to make an impression.
Find out how to use Lightroom presets to take your Instagram to the next level and check my top recommendations for choosing one or more.
I have a love and hate relationship with my Instagram photos. Before 2020, famous Instagram accounts were those with the best aesthetic feeds – same filter, feed with patterns, feed with themes – just overall looks good. I’ve been trying my best to edit my photos with having that goal in mind. But as a photography enthusiast, I feel like using the same edit/filter to all of my photos just won’t do. I am a firm believer that every image needs it’s own customized edit and using the same filter or settings on all the photos (even with bits of tweaks) doesn’t cut it. Sure, it looks good when you look at the overall feed or profile. But try looking at the photos one by one and you’ll see what I mean. Examples are feeds that have pink themes, (now don’t get me wrong, I love their content) yes they look really good when you look at the overall profile, but looking at the photo one by one isn’t appealing to me. Colors are washed out, skin looks weirdly orange or tan, the plants and trees look like they died.
The Journey to my “Feed Goals”
So I tried to edit my photos with different settings for each, reminding myself that I want vibrant and cool-toned photos. This is a screenshot of me using a set of filters that are kinda similar to each other hoping I would get the “feed goals”. It looked good, but scrolling to see them individually was disappointing.
I downloaded VSCO in the hopes that I would get a set of filters that would be versatile and will give all my photos the same feel while not destroying the images. I turned on the trial period to see all the filters and was happy. My feed looked like tropical goals! (See below)
But then I returned to Manila and started posting city and Christmas post and realized that my feed aesthetic can only rely so much on filters or edits. I forgot to consider the other factors that would affect my feed – location, lighting and image quality.
Using VSCO and a bit of my own editing, my photos looked good one by one but looks like a disaster and all over the place. I kept looking for presets that won’t affect much of the colors of my feed but will be a good base which I can start off my own editing and it would still have a similar feel with my other photos. I edit all my photos on my mobile which means I only have the free version of Adobe Lightroom. It is enough most of the time but I could never achieve the look I want 100% because some settings are only available with the premium version.
The search for the best Lightroom presets
I searched and searched for months. I downloaded cheap presets from a website because they looked so good but made my photos washed out. My main niche is travel and a lot of presets don’t work as base. A lot of them also only works best if your images are underexposed. If you’re using a smartphone and have little control over the settings and some of your images are overexposed, or the photos have trees or your skin is brown like mine, then you have small chances that it will look good. I looked like I’ve given myself a vibrant fake tan, the leaves are dead or with dandruff, and the overexposed parts got brighter. And it’s just a sore to my eyes.
So, I still scoured the internet for presets and finally were able to stumble upon some very talented creators, who in my opinion, have the best presets on Instagram that will fit your style of feed. Most of these presets will already get your photos ready in one-click, but I choose to still edit my photos based on what looks best for each one. I believe that these presets will make the hard parts of editing easier and faster especially if you’re only using the free Lightroom mobile app like me. The only thing you need to do is tweak them according to your style. If you’re lucky, you don’t even need tweaking.
Here is my usual process on editing my photo for an Instagram post:
- Choose a photo that has good quality (no editing tool will help you with a crappy image quality)
- Choose a preset base that you’ll want to work with. I use @mariefeandjakesnow presets and so far, no disappointments. I’ve actually stopped buying presets after having theirs but I still want to try the other preset sellers and then learn Lightroom on my desktop so I can make my own too.
- After choosing a preset, I usually play with highlights, shadows, and blacks next.
- I lean more into cool-toned photos so I also sometimes tweak the temperature, tint and vibrance. (Saturation makes my skin looks reddish brown)
- A lot of my photos are usually set in nature so I tweak the individual colors as well – mostly orange, blue, cyan, and green. My biggest pet peeve is the green color looking like dead plants.
- Finally, I adjust clarity or dehaze. I like clear, detailed photos so I really do this step a lot. Then sharpen as necessary.
Now, I still highly encourage people to learn how to edit their own photos but not a lot has the time and resources to do this. Personally, I like editing because I love having the power to manipulate colors and lighting to give a maximum character to my photos. I have Adobe Lightroom in my desktop that I’ve explored a little bit but honestly there is just A LOT to learn. I’m getting a headache from all the information overload. I don’t have enough time to juggle all the training and reading on blogging, SEO, social media marketing, Instagram, creating content, a full time job and TEFL training.
But with these presets, a lot of the hard work into editing my photos is done and I am enjoying experimenting with the different settings. But what I love most about these presets is they don’t destroy my photos, they are versatile, and even though I use different settings and bases for each one, my feed has never looked this good! I guess this depends on the creator too. So I recommend that you try one buying from one creator first and see if it fits your style.
Honestly, I am completely satisfied with Maja presets because they suit my photos AND they work really good on my mobile photos. 99% of my feed is taken with iPhone 7 and XS and a few from my sister’s Huawei p30 Pro. I believe that the other creators’ presets in my list will do the same for you, you just have to carefully choose according to your style.
List of Preset Creators that will transform your feed:
Now, I haven’t bought from all of them because I don’t have that kind of money. If I did, I would have an Adobe Lightroom subscription hahaha but these presets in my opinion are versatile and will really work best as base or even as one-click edit for your photos. However, one-click won’t literally mean one-click 90% of the time. You’d have to tweak it a bit to suit your photos. But still, the hard work has been done for you. Most preset sellers are accommodating enough to let you try their presets by sending them 1-3 unedited photos so you can pick the perfect pack for you. DM them if they offer this service.
I will also give my suggestions as to what kind of photos these presets will work best. Keep in mind that these are merely recommendations and you can always try experimenting with it. This is the best part!
1. Maja Presets
The current packs I am using. They work best on travel and portrait photos. I love how it transforms skin tones (not changes color, but improves it) and levels up the details and blues of my photos. I love it for nature photos as it doesn’t wash the colors out. They also give out a lot of tips and tricks in their website and Instagram posts and they do answer your questions. Customer service at its best too!
For travel and lifestyle. If you want moody, vintage and dreamy vibes, Haylsa has got your back.
3. Katie One
Katie’s presets reminds me of vintage and classy Parisian photos. I bet this would look best on European travel or travel in general, general lifestyle and portraits.
4. 123 Presets
They have a WIDE collection of presets that will suit any niche you have – travel, lifestyle, food, family, blogging, what have you.
I love how Camilla doesn’t change your tones so much but gives you a brighter, cleaner look on your photos. This works well on all niches.
One of the most famous creators on Instagram, she developed presets that have sunny and flare effects for your photos. She also doesn’t change your colors and tones so much but gives you a brighter, more vibrant feel on your photos. Her presets make it look like it was taken by a professional camera. Very good for travel photos!
Works good on lifestyle, travel and portrait photos. Their presets will also give your photos a more professional and cleaner look. If you like posting interior photos, I think their presets are also suitable for it.
Works for interior, lifestyle, family, portrait and if you want a consistent tone on feed. If you have a fitness, interior or family accounts, I think these presets will work for you!
Kelsey has these girly themed presets that Instagram gals will love. I especially love her Ibiza and Gold presets. And they’re all so affordable! If you want a colored-them feed, then check out her account. Works good on travel, lifestyle and portraits as well.
10. Loox Presets
Her presets are amazing! I’m not sure if she has a dedicated Instagram account just for her presets but you can see her main account and judge yourself! She uses similar settings depending on where she’s traveling to and all her photos look natural, clean and professional. I absolutely adore her feed.
Disclaimer: The Instagram feed photos were taken from the creators’ Instagram accounts. I do not claim ownership of this photos. Links are provided to direct you the creators.