You don’t need them. You don’t. Trust me. Chasing the newest pre-sets is stunting your skills. It’s preventing you from becoming the Photoshop ninja you aspire to be. Even worse, heavy reliance on pre-sets is gonna make you obsolete. There, I said it.
Pre-sets offer quick-fix candy for a heavy price. Look, I get it. In a world where you’re supposed to do everything stupid fast, speed and convenience are pretty damn attractive. But here’s my thought, honed after decades in the business: S L O W down.
Learn to drive Photoshop yourself. If you can learn to adjust your color/contrast/sharpening you won’t need to rely on someone else’s presets.
Besides.. haven’t you notice those presets ONLY work if your file EXACTLY matches the tone and value of the SHOT that the pre-set creator used?
Easy issues to remedy if you know how to DRIVE the color/contrast controls. But if you know how to drive them, what would you need someone else’s pre-sets for anyway? If you’re relying on pre sets, I’ll bet you don’t really have a handle on the controls.
The more you rely on pre-sets, the more of a toll they take. Me, I have trouble remembering where I left my keys, let alone where I’ve stashed a pile of purchased pre-sets. What if you’re working on a remote location? Do you have all your cheats with you? There’s a laundry list of ways this kind of workflow can go badly wrong. Now where’s all that time you saved?
Heres the thing, pre-sets CAN be awesome. They’ve gotten me out of a creative slump or two when I needed help getting inspiration. Still, they’re not ever gonna help you wrangle Photoshop into submission. Only your own skills can do that.
Why is this an issue?
I am finding that folks don’t know how to manipulate their own images. They lack true control of the program. And that leads to… issues. Picture this—
You have a big campaign. You shoot upwards of 5000 images. You plan on using the latest and greatest presets you downloaded from who knows where.
So far, so good. The awesome new pre-sets worked on the few images you tested on pre shoot. All good. Until life intervenes. Say something goes haywire on part of the shoot and you have some crazy exposure catastrophe on a good portion of the images.
Buh bye matching tones and values. That preset ain’t gonna work now. Do you have the skills to manipulate the images yourself? Oh, and remember… 5000 images. Can you do it fast? Client needs a stupid-quick turn around, right?
Unless you’re a consumer shooter—a hobbyist—working for your own enjoyment, you’re now officially hosed. As a professional, your time is an issue, and your livelihood depends on your ability to nail this look. Now. You had better know how to control the program quickly and efficiently. Period.
Use shortcuts at your own discretion, but please, for the love of your professional reputation, invest the time and energy in learning the skills.
This is why I teach at Creative Live. I want to help people get GOOD then GET fast.
Master your knowledge of Photoshop.
Here’s my list of MUST masters:
changing color and tone
file size management
After that, there are TONS of quick tips/hacks you can utilize.
Just know what you are doing FIRST - you might find the process less frustrating. And a lot more fun.