Most web and graphic designers use Photoshop on a daily basis as one of the main tools of the trade. Photoshop is incredibly powerful for designing and for photo editing, but Adobe also has Lightroom, which can be used for processing/editing photos and for the organization of photo files.
As a designer you probably work with a lot of images, including those provided by clients, purchased stock photos, free stock photos, and possibly even your own photos. Because designers work with so many photos, and because many designers are also photography enthusiasts, Lightroom has become increasingly popular even outside of the circles of just professional photographers.
Also helping to boost Lightroom’s popularity is its inclusion in Adobe’s Creative Cloud. If you have a Creative Cloud subscription for software like Photoshop and Illustrator, you also have access to Lightroom.
The early versions of Lightroom included basic functionality for editing photos, but the Library Module for organizing photos was equally important. Since photographers, even hobbyists, can easily build up an archive of thousands of photos, keeping them organized is essential. But over the years, with each new version, Lightroom’s Develop Module has become increasingly powerful, and Lightroom users find themselves opening Photoshop less and less.
One of the best ways to take advantage of Lightroom’s capabilities, especially if you are just getting started with the program, is to make use of presets.
Lightroom Presets are small predetermined settings files that, once installed, and with just a single click, can be used to apply specific and often stunning effects to your photos instantly. They serve a very similar purpose as Photoshop actions that would be used in Photoshop to apply a specific type of effect to a photo.
Presets can help to speed up your editing workflow, allow you to get amazing effects that you might not be able to duplicate on your own, and they can also serve as an excellent educational resource if you want to learn how to create different types of effects. There are many presets available for purchase, but there are also some that you can download for free.
Finding the best free presets can be a little challenging because you need to weed through a lot of lower quality options as well, so this collection was compiled to showcase some of the best free presets that you can download.
Free Film Effect Lightroom Presets
These presets will give your digital photos a film-like appearance. These effects are often somewhat subtle, but can help to create truly beautiful photos.
PRO Landscape and Travel Lightroom Presets (Envato Elements)
Starting off our list strong is this collection of Lightroom presets. You will find a total of 15 different presets created to make editing nature, landscape, and outdoor photos easier.
With the help of this preset, you’ll give your portraits a grittier feel and you can apply it with a single click.
The Editorial Collection v2 (Envato Elements)
If you want to make your photos look like they belong on the cover of a magazine, try this preset. You will find 13 presets compatible with both JPEG and RAW files.
This film-inspired Lightroom preset will give your photos a classic film look. You can apply it to all kinds of photos, including landscape, outdoors, portraits, and more.
Film Lightroom Preset (Free)
This is another film-inspired Lightroom preset but the difference is that this set gives your photos a soft, washed out look. Use it to produce an interesting effect on your portrait photos.
Anniversary Lightroom Presets – Volume I (Envato Elements)
This set of presets contains 20 different presets designed with couple, senior, and portrait photography in mind. A few notable features include authentic color tones, moody atmosphere, and film imitation.
If you’re just getting started with Lightroom, this preset collection is what you need. It contains several useful presets that will help you enhance your images and improve your workflow.
Sunny Landscape Lightroom Presets (Envato Elements)
Try this preset collection if you like shooting a lot of landscapes, sunrise or sunset photos. The collection comes with 30 different presets that support RAW, NEF, DNG, JPG, and TIFF formats.
Christmas Holiday Lightroom Presets (Envato Elements)
Add a little bit of holiday spirit to all your photos. You will find a grand total of 30 different presets with support for RAW, NEF, DNG, JPG, and TIFF formats.
Use this vintage preset whenever you need to make your photos appear more vintage. The preset will apply a nice-looking, soft vintage effect that will make your photos stand out.
Matte effects are a popular effect for portrait photography and thanks to this preset, you no longer have to create it from scratch each and every time.
Newborn Lightroom Presets (Envato Elements)
This preset collection was designed with newborn photography in mind. A total of 20 presets will add various effects such as soft light, soft black and white, vintage, amazing eyes, and more.
Faded Lightroom Preset (Free)
Try this preset if you want to add a nice-looking faded effect to your photos. This effect works well with a variety of photos, including city scapes, landscapes, outdoors, portraits, and more.
I’m Blogger – 50 Lightroom Presets (Envato Elements)
You will find a grand total of 50 presets, perfect for travel, fashion, lifestyle, food, and other photography styles. Use it to make your blog stand out.
Free HDR Effects Lightroom Presets
Lightroom is great for allowing you to increase the dynamic range of a photo. The most recent version (Lightroom CC) includes a new HDR merge feature, but in order to do that you will need multiple exposures of the same scene. If you are just working with a single photo you can get an HDR appearance with these presets.
UltraPOP Lightroom Presets (Envato Elements)
Add new life to your photos with this UltraPOP preset for Lightroom. The collection contains 20 different presets, each of which adds a unique pop of color to your photos.
HDR Lightroom Preset (Free)
For a more dramatic look, consider using this HDR preset for Lightroom. You will be able to quickly apply all the effects needed to produce a true HDR look.
Flowerage Portrait Presets for Lightroom & ACR (Envato Elements)
These Flowerage Portrait presets for Lightroom are perfect for wedding and art photography. The collection works well with natural light portraiture with lots of greens and flowers.
This is another HDR preset for Lightroom but this time you will get a cinematic look. This preset is perfect for landscape and nature photos and works with Lightroom 4, 5, 6, and CC.
HDR Lightroom Preset (Free)
This HDR Lightroom preset will make any photo appear more somber and works well with portrait photography. You can also tweak the preset to your liking.
Zine Fashion Lightroom Presets – Volume II (Envato Elements)
The Zine Fashion Lightroom presets were designed with fashion, art, and beauty photography in mind. The presets work with Lightroom 4 and higher and support a variety of image formats.
FoodKit – Food Presets for Lightroom & ACR (Envato Elements)
Any food or event photographer will find this preset handy. Not only will you be able to make your photos look yummy, you’ll also be able to speed up your workflow significantly.
Strong HDR Lightroom Preset (Free)
Try this Strong HDR Lightroom preset if you want to make your photos appear bold and dramatic. The preset works with Lightroom 4 and newer versions.
Artistic vol. 3 Lightroom Presets (Envato Elements)
This pack of Lightroom presets contains 26 different presets with artistic look and feel. They are compatible with Lightroom 4 and up and work with both JPG and RAW images.
Boost the dynamic range and make those fall colors really pop with this Autumn Color Boost HDR Lightroom preset. The preset works with Lightroom 4 and newer versions.
This preset makes it easy to apply the black and white effect to any photo and keep the deep, beautiful blacks.
Matte Blogger Presets for Lightroom & ACR (Envato Elements)
In this collection of Lightroom presets, you will find 10 tonal effects that will give your photos a beautiful matte look. The presets supports the RAW image format.
Free Color Effects Lightroom Presets
There are all kinds of options for working with color in Lightroom. With some dull photos you may want to make the colors pop, and in other cases you may want to use a faded effect instead. You can also do things like bring a blue sky to life or enhance autumn colors in a nature photo.
Color Pop Lightroom Preset (Free)
Bring your photos to life by adding a pop of color. This free preset will make the colors in your photos appear more vibrant. The preset works with both RAW files and .jpg files.
This is another colorful preset for Lightroom, designed to bring your landscape photos to life by making the colors appear more vibrant. The preset works with Lightroom 4, 5, 6, and CC.
Autumn is one of the most colorful seasons and this preset will make those fall landscape photos appear even more lively. The preset is easy to use and adjust to your needs.
Light Leak Lightroom Preset (Free)
Add a nice leak effect to your photos with this free Lightroom preset. The preset works well in combination with vintage effects. It’s easy to apply and to customize to your liking.
Cinema Lightroom Preset (Free)
Make your photos stand out with this free Lightroom preset. It will turn your photos into cinematic masterpieces and you can easily adjust it to your needs.
As the name suggests, this preset will make your photos appear more intensive and warm them up. It’s a great choice for portrait photos and it works with both Lightroom and Photoshop.
Popper Lightroom Preset (Free)
This preset is a great choice when you need to add a touch of color to your photos without going overboard. The preset works with Lightroom 4 and up as well as with Photoshop.
Soft Pastel Lightroom Preset (Free)
Although you can use this preset with a variety of photos, this soft pastel Lightroom preset works best with portrait and outdoor images.
Knock two birds with one stone and add a soft look and improve the lighting in your photos with a single click.
Soft Pastel Lightroom Preset (Free)
Add a pastel touch to your photos with this Lightroom preset. It works with Lightroom 4 and up as well as with Photoshop and you can easily customize it.
Make your photos appear faded which will give them a nice aged look. The preset works with Lightroom 4 and up and supports both JPG and RAW image formats.
Faded Lightroom Preset (Free)
Try this faded Lightroom preset if you want to save yourself time and not apply the same filters and effects from scratch every time.
Grace Lightroom Preset (Free)
Make your photos appear more smooth by applying this Grace preset for Lightroom. The preset is free for personal and commercial use and works with Lightroom 4 and up.
Free Black & White Effect Lightroom Presets
It’s easy to convert a color photo to black & white in Lightroom, but simple black & white conversions often look dull and uninteresting. To get the most from your black & whites you’ll need to make some other tweaks as well, and these presets will take care of the work for you.
This Black and White Lightroom preset was designed for RAW images but works well with the JPG format as well. It will instantly turn your color photos into black and white.
B&W Berkeley (Free)
Not only will this preset turn your photos into black and white, it will also give them a nice vintage effect. The preset is easy to apply and customize.
Free Vintage Effects Lightroom Presets
Want a vintage effect for your photo? That can be done very easily with this selection of excellent vintage and retro presets.
This preset will fade the colors of the photo and apply a subtle vintage effect. It works with Lightroom 4 and newer as well as with Photoshop.
Vintage Lightroom Preset (Free)
This preset, called Vintage Wash will instantly make your photos feel more retro. The preset works with Lightroom 4 and newer and supports a variety of image formats.
Recreate a lomo look with the help of this Lightroom preset. This preset works with Lightroom 4, 5, 6, and CC versions.
This fun collection of Lightroom presets works well with portrait photography and will apply a fun retro look to your photos.
Warm Retro (Free)
Similarly to other Lightroom presets, this collection of presets will add a warm retro look to your photos. The collection supports Lightroom 4 and newer.
Vintage Garden (Free)
This vintage collection of Lightroom presets is a great choice when you need to add a vintage effect to landscape and outdoors photography.
This Lightroom preset will turn your photos black and white and make them appear more vintage at the same time.
How to Install & Use a Lightroom Preset
Lightroom presets make it easy to edit your photos in a consistent manner. They save you time because you don’t have to recreate the image adjustments from scratch. There are plenty of free Lightroom presets available online. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to install and use a Lightroom preset.
How to Install and Use a Preset for Lightroom CC 2018+:
- Download and unzip the preset file you want to use
- Launch Lightroom
- Navigate to Develop Module
- Hover over the + sign next to the Presets
- Select Import Presets
- Apply the preset by selecting the photo you want to edit and clicking the preset name.
How to Install and Use a Preset for Older Versions of Lightroom:
- Open Lightroom
- Go to Preferences > Presets
- Click on the box titled: Show Lightroom Presets Folder
- Double click on Lightroom
- Double click on Develop Presets
- Copy the folders of your presets into the Develop Presets folder
- Restart Lightroom
- Use the preset by selecting the photo you want to work with and clicking on the preset name
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