The Truth About Presets - Why You're Wasting Your Time and Money

Whether intentional or otherwise, presets have become marketed as a one-stop shop to transformational images, and I’ve always become so passionate about educating others that a preset isn’t the answer to building a well-rounded business, and that more importantly, buying presets from big-name photographers isn’t your speedway ticket to your own success. I know that it’s tempting to invest in presets, especially if you’re not well-versed in the editing process, but let me be the first to give you a little bit of tough love; there is nothing more important than being knowledgeable in your craft, whatever that may be for you. Taking shortcuts, fumbling through the processes, or basing your own business around what everyone else is doing simply isn’t a sustainable way to operate as a human being, let alone as a business. Harness your knowledge and trust in your own learning, and I promise you that those imposter feelings will eventually begin the dissipate the more that you immerse yourself in learning the ropes.


Editing is one of my favourite parts of the photography process; it really does take your images and brand to the next level, but would you believe me if I told you that the editing and adjustments made in Lightroom are simply the final step in the process? The bulk of the work around your brand and style has to be done long before you even think about editing your images.

Editing isn’t going to fix the light that you shot in, alter the outfits that your couples are wearing, make your posing more reflective of what you’re wanting to capture, or magically fix any other changes that you wish you could implement in your own work.

Sure, presets might give you slightly similarly-toned images to whoever’s look that you’re trying to achieve, but even achieving that means that you need to shoot in a similarly-toned environment to begin with. There are no shortcuts when it comes to cultivating a style and brand that’s reflective of what you’re seeing and feeling in your mind, so please don’t be fooled anymore in believing that presets are going to revolutionize your business.

So what can you do to work towards creating the style of work that you want to pursue moving forward, long before you even think about editing? Here are a few guidelines that I encourage you to keep in your mind and plan for as you move into any shoot from here on out, especially so when it comes to putting together a brand shoot.

First and foremost, what is your style?

What elements is your brand based around? What do you want to create through your imagery? I know that’s starting things off with a super loaded question, but it’s a crucial starting point. If this is all new information for you, I’d encourage you to check out MY BRANDING E-COURSE where I coach you through this entire process that you can now use as you move through every business decision from here on out. You need to know what you’re trying to create before you go ahead and create.

Choose a location for your session that is reflective on your branding and the tones that you want to incorporate in your shooting style:

is this a greenery-filled forest, or a more neutral toned grassy space? Snowy? Indoors? Urban? Etc?

Coach your clients on what to wear and educate them on the important of outfits,

and more importantly, how those outfits interact and blend well with your shooting location of choice

Now pick a time of day that also reflects the look that you’re wanting to achieve.

It’s important to be educated on how lighting affects our images, so if you’re wanting a little cheat sheet on the difference between hard and soft light, come and download this free guide and let it help you in making your lighting decision AND with editing your images afterwards.

Next comes the actually shooting process, which again starts long before the actual shoot, but that’s information for another time. When it comes to the shoot, it’s on you to utilize the energy of your couple to steer the shoot. Based on how you direct and guide your couples, you can also use that to cultivate the sorts of images that you want to capture. Above all else, always keep your purpose and your message in the back of your mind all throughout your session time.

At this point, when you come home and import, cull, and edit your images, you truly know that you’ve done the best that you could’ve done to give yourself the very best base when it comes to editing. You should love the work that you created even before you’ve begun your editing and you should agree by now that it’s all of the work that you’ve put in prior to Lightroom is what’s important, and the preset/edits are just a wonderful bonus to really finish off your vision.

I know it’s a lot of work and a lot of information to take in, but that’s why you’re here right? You’re ready and willing to put in that work in order to create a more sustainable and substance-filled brand. I believe in you. Now get out there my friends and put in the work to build a session that really reflects who you are and what you believe in.

If you haven’t already downloaded my FREE Lightroom preset, then I’d encourage you to important that into your Lightroom catalogue and try it out on your next set of images. Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram so that I can see your work, or use #kaihlatonaipresests so that I can share the love on your hard work!