Pretty Presets: How I create light & bright photos in Adobe Lightroom

Have you ever opened up Instagram, scrolled through hundreds of gorgeously lit photos and wondered,"how did they achieve that?"


I was that person - always trying to create bright images, but suffering trying to correct poor lighting with Instagram's limited editing capabilities. After experimenting with several editing applications, I finally turned to the Adobe Lightroom App. Today, I'm sharing exactly how I create light & bright photos.



Fun Fact: When I got started in my marketing career, I became absolutely fascinated with graphic design. During my very first internship with a corporate marketing team I worked hands-on with the lead graphic designer 3 days a week. She saw my strong interest in design and took it upon herself to mentor me - teaching me everything I know about the Adobe Creative Suite. I honestly cannot thank her enough for the knowledge she instilled and the opportunities that have resulted.


After nearly 10 years of working in InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator for marketing materials, I've learned how to navigate the sometimes complicated Adobe Suite. Ironically, I never learned Adobe Lightroom. When presets started to pop up, I decided it was time to learn more about this application in order to create my own settings.



What's a Preset?


In a nutshell, a preset is a configuration of settings, designed to achieve a certain look or style of photo. There are thousands of preset codes out there to fit all types of aesthetics, however I think it's important to do your research before purchasing any. I cannot tell you how many times I would pay for apps that I couldn't figure out or contemplate spending hundreds on a preset pack, unsure if it would achieve the look I was desiring.


After hours of researching and watching countless tutorials I learned how to use the Adobe Lightroom App...and that I never needed to purchase any of those other applications in the first place. It took lots of trial and error, but eventually I developed a collection of presets that I now absolutely love and apply to all of my photos!


Below I am happy to share the four presets I commonly use, based off of the lighting of the original image. I typically only shoot in natural light, something I highly recommend if you desire the lightest & brightest results, however these presets can still help brighten up even the darkest of photos.


Two final notes before we dive into the settings:


1. You will need to first download the FREE Adobe Lightroom App.


2. You do not need to follow these settings exactly. You can absolutely start with these as a base and make your own adjustments personalized to your liking!



Warm Light & Bright


Light: Exposure +1.56, Contrast +8, Highlights -99, Shadows +10, Whites -100, Blacks +49


Color: Temp +5, Tint +1, Vibrance 0, Saturation 0


Effects: Texture 0, Clarity -6, Dehaze 0, Vignette 0, Grain 0


* This is my most commonly used preset. I love how it brings out warm tones in my skin tone and clothing while still maintaining bright whites.


Cool Light & Bright


Light: Exposure +1.47, Contrast +8, Highlights -100, Shadows +10, Whites -100, Blacks +19


Color: Temp +5, Tint +1, Vibrance -12, Saturation 0


Effects: Texture 0, Clarity -6, Dehaze 0, Vignette 0, Grain 0


* Similar to the settings shown above, but without so much warmth. I like to use this when the original photo already has strong warm tones that I would like to cool down a bit.


Over Exposed


Light: Exposure +1.70, Contrast +8, Highlights -100, Shadows +10, Whites -100, Blacks +19


Color: Temp +11, Tint +1, Vibrance -22, Saturation 0


Effects: Texture 0, Clarity -6, Dehaze 0, Vignette 0, Grain 0


* I use this preset when I am dealing with a very dark and saturated photo. This setting mutes out the photos vibrance and increases the white tones.


Indoor Lighting


Light: Exposure +1.97, Contrast +8, Highlights -99, Shadows +10, Whites -100, Blacks +49


Color: Temp -13, Tint +16, Vibrance 0, Saturation 0


Effects: Texture 0, Clarity -6, Dehaze 0, Vignette 0, Grain 0


* I created this preset specifically for the lighting inside of my apartment. The walls are painted a very warm beige that comes across as yellow in photos. In order to calm down the yellow, this preset balances out the temperature and ups the exposure to create a more neutral beige tone.

How to Use the Presets


So you have the settings, now what? Below is an interactive video taking you through the process of setting up, saving, and accessing your presets. Once your presets are saved, you can easily apply to any photo. I encourage you to watch and learn!




By now I hope you have a better understanding of how to use presets in Adobe Lightroom! If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me here. Happy editing!


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