Over 90% of the world’s creative professionals use one of Adobe’s myriad of amazing and helpful products. As of 2019, they have been downloaded 376 million times. Even if you’ve never opened Lightroom before, chances are you’ve used Adobe previously, even if it was simply to sign a document or read a PDF file. But enough gushing about Adobe. You’re probably reading this article because you’re a Lightroom beginner who wants to create better photos with the app.
Whether it’s for your own family photos, or you want to make your Instagram feed sharper, or you’d like to make your professional website work better, Lightroom is a great solution.
And while Lightroom can cater to the needs of most photo editing newbies, there are a few mistakes one can make.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the top mistakes Lightroom beginners make and help you learn how to avoid them.
So power up your Lightroom app or on your computer, and read the rest of this article to help you make your photos stand out.
1. Using the Wrong Version and Finding Yourself Utterly Confused
Lightroom has many different versions, which can seem confusing at first. You may see all of the versions and think, “Wait…I downloaded Lightroom, why are there so many other versions for me to use and so many different features?”
Well, if you’re just looking to edit a few family photos or make your Instagram pictures look great but you’re not a professional, you’ll likely want the Lightroom Mobile version. This version of the app is completely free and was made so in 2015 after Adobe saw itself losing a lot of customers to VSCO, Color Story and other free editing apps. By making it free, it gave maximum accessibility.
If you use the free mobile version, however, you should be aware of a few pitfalls of it. For those that love the desktop version, you won’t be able to sync the photos together unless you pay a premium fee. You also lose your Cloud-based features, meaning you don’t get the extra storage space Adobe offers to the premium users.
For those who want to use the desktop app, and sync it with their mobile, Lightroom CC is recommended for beginners. You get 1TB of storage with the premium features, but be aware that that isn’t a lot if you’re an aspiring professional.
2. Not Using Shortcuts on the Desktop App
Even if you’re just editing for fun, shortcuts can save you a huge amount of time and streamline your work process. Adobe has built-in shortcuts that you can access on the Desktop app with ease.
If you go to Menus and hit Tools, you can find them via their relevant options. Additionally, you can download them via Adobe’s Help Center. Professional photographers would suggest that you print them out to have next to your computer so that you can use them at any time.
This will save you a ton of time in the post-editing phase, and allow you to get things done much quicker. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll be doing it habitually.
3. Not Knowing the Difference Between Lightroom and Photoshop
If you don’t know the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop, you might be disappointed in what Lightroom has to offer. While professional photographers often use Lightroom, it doesn’t do what many people might think it does.
The word Photoshop is so iconic in today’s Internet obsessed society that we often use it as a verb. For example, “That YouTuber totally Photoshopped herself in her Instagram pictures.” And what you usually mean is that they’ve changed some of their features. Maybe they’ve made themselves look thinner. Or maybe they’ve made themselves look as though they had bigger breasts or lips.
Those kind of changes are, unfortunately quite common in our image-obsessed world where we’re always chasing sustainable perfection. But if you’re looking to make yourself a “Skinny Legend,” Lightroom isn’t going to cut it. However, if you want to make your photographs look pink or light and airy, Lightroom will do the trick for you.
The Real Difference Between the Two Explained:
This video by YouTuber Justin Odisho helps detail the difference between the two apps very clearly. It will help you get an idea of whether Lightroom is right for you. However, Photoshop is quite complex, so you may wish to start with Lightroom anyway as a beginner.
In a sentence: Lightroom is for editing and retouching photographs while Photoshop is for finer details and for distorting the image.
While a professional photographer might work in both applications, they might, more often, work in Lightroom to make their photographs shine. But, if they want to edit their subjects to look like they’re in space, for example, that won’t be something they can achieve in Lightroom.
4. Lightroom Beginners are Guilty of Over-Editing
There’s no doubt that when you first learn the power of editing in Lightroom, it is super fun. There is something satisfying about bringing out the light in a subject’s eyes or making your Instagram feed pop with a certain color.
But, there is such a thing as over-editing, and you want to avoid it. You’ve probably already seen examples of over-editing while perusing your favorite Instagrammers who have upped the contrast so much that you can barely see their faces.
Editing is a personal thing, so it can be difficult for people to see the line between just the right amount of editing and way too much. As a beginner, you’ll probably be guilty of creating photos that are over-edited and posting them online. But it’s all about finding your style and deciding what works for you.
Some photographers say that you’re overediting when the edits overtake the subject of the photograph. That is a good mark for beginners to use when they’re starting out with Lightroom. Once they become more proficient, they may wish to go over that line for their own aesthetic.
Remember, in the end; it’s all up to you. They’re your photos, and it’s your aesthetic.
5. Not Understanding the Type of Photos They’re Taking
You don’t have to be a professional to have an understanding of the types of photos you’re taking. And you don’t have to be a professional to know the difference. In fact, doing so can make your photos stronger and sleeker looking.
You shouldn’t treat all photos you’re editing in Lightroom the same; otherwise, some of your photos will look amazing, and some will just look so-so. That’s because you need to ensure you’re using the correct editing options for the type of photo.
For example, with a portrait photo, or a close up picture of one person or animal, and a landscape is typically a bigger picture of something larger like a building or monument.
There aren’t necessarily any rules to follow when you’re taking different types of photos, but you do want to understand that it means you don’t want to slap the same filter on all of them.
While finding what you like as a photo editor is good, editing all photos as though they are the same isn’t a good look. And in fact, if you want your images to look semi-uniform on Instagram, it’ll kill that vibe for you. That’s because different colors and saturations will look different on different photos and make your overall looks different.
6. Not Using Presets
Presets are powerful tools for beginners and advanced Lightroom users alike. And they’re great for editing photo on the go. Got a great shot you want to post on the ‘Gram while you’re out and about? A preset can help you make it look fabulous.
You can buy some of our fabulous presets here to help make your photos look amazing.
So what exactly is a preset? Well, it’s a setting that gives your pictures certain vibes. For instance, the preset may be set to make photos look pinker or moodier by already setting the vibrance, saturation and other aspects of photo editing.
Most people purchase presets if they’re Lightroom beginners and know that they want their pictures to look a certain way. Whether they’re for Instagram or a blog or to show to families, they can help your pictures look great with one tap on your mobile phone.
Presets also work for the desktop app and can be accessed easily for beginners.
Presets Don’t Stand Alone
The interesting thing about presets is that they come in packs. That means you’ll very rarely just buy one preset that you use. And once you get going with them, you’ll find different presets work better for different photos and different moods you want to bring.
We already discussed that you can’t just rely on the same settings to bring about the same look you want in different photos. That’s why you need different settings to give you the right mood.
It is highly recommended that any Lightroom beginner purchase a couple of packs of presets to save them time and frustration when it comes to Lightroom. We even have a handy guide to help you learn to install them.
You can also use Lightroom presets as a way to help you learn about Lightroom tools themselves. When you put on a preset, if you go into the Lightroom tools, you’ll see they’ve been changed. If you wish to play around the preset using it as a guide, you may, or you can figure out what parts of the preset give your picture the look you’re aiming for.
7. Being Too Timid with Editing
We’ve already discussed being too over the top with editing. But you can also be too timid with editing and barely make a difference at all with the photo. Don’t be afraid to go in and play around, that’s what the app is for.
Some people may be perfectionists and have trouble with the concept that they can, and will, make mistakes. But with photo editing, there aren’t mistakes, only learning curves. Use presets to see what you like about the app. Have fun using the tools and see what happens when you do different things.
The world is your oyster when it comes to editing, so don’t be afraid to go hard. You can always pull back if the editing is too much.
8. Thinking Similar Tools Are the Same
While a lot of tools seem like they’re the same, they aren’t, and that can get very confusing for a Lightroom beginner. One example is Saturation and Vibrance, which look identical to the untrained eye. However, Saturation changes all of the colors in a photo, while Vibrance changes some colors, but keeps the skin tones in the photo looking natural.
Don’t assume tools that look similar are. They are two different tools for a reason, not only to take up space in the app itself.
Making Lightroom Work for You
Adobe Lightroom is a powerful tool that’s perfect for Lightroom beginners as well as seasoned photographers. While beginners may go for free Lightroom mobile version, expert photographers will probably choose the desktop version that allows you to take full advance of all of the tools and options.
Our presets are perfect for Lightroom beginners who don’t know their way around the app but want to make their photos look flawless and professional.
Download a pack of our presets today to make your Instagram, Facebook or other social media look fantastic. No matter your skill, you deserve to have a beautiful feed.