Presets vs. Manual Editing

And comparing it to a cooking class!

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I'm Katelyn James Alsop, a photographer, educator and momma who believes any photographer can have a profitable AND purposeful business.


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Presets vs. Manual Editing

This question is in our inbox almost daily.. “Do I need both the Consistency Course and the Preset Process? Or are they the same thing?”

Presets vs. Manual Editing
Presets vs. Manual Editing

I have FINALLY found a great metaphor to explain both their similarities and their differences and why you may need just one or BOTH!

Ok! I want you to think about the idea of a cooking class. 

What do you do in a cooking class and what is the goal?

In a cooking class, you’re learning how to cook because you enjoy the process of cooking and you want to know everything about it! You are going to do every part of the process in order to understand and master each step! For example, if you’re in Italy and you’re taking a cooking class, you may be making the sauce from scratch, making the pasta by hand and then adjusting the ingredients to change how tangy, spicy or sweet the end product is!

And if you’re somewhat of an experienced cook (that would NOT be me!) then you might know some tips and tricks already, but the knowledge that this cooking class gives you will take you to the next level! 

In the cooking class, you’re learning all these great tools and mastering the basics and the foundational concepts. This is going to come in handy when you’re cooking in your own kitchen and you need to understand how to piece together the ingredients. A cooking class is going to take time to work through but the knowledge you will receive sets the foundation to being able to truly MASTER the art of cooking later!

Now, let’s think about another cooking option…..

Let’s say you know you want a really GREAT meal, but you don’t have the time to make the pasta or sauce from scratch! You decide to order a prepared meal kit… We’ll use ‘HelloFresh’ just as an example!!

A Hello Fresh box is going to have all of the ingredients pre-prepped and shipped directly to you. This is going to save you time in the kitchen and will shave off some of the steps of the process. 

If you started making the food and realized “Hm, this is too spicy for me”…. you may not know how to change the pre-packaged food with all of those ingredients to get the recipe you ultimately want unless you had the knowledge from the cooking class. Hello Fresh is awesome if you have the skills to understand the basics… but if you haven’t had the cooking class, you may struggle to reap ALL of the benefits of cooking with Hello Fresh because you don’t how how to make the adjustments you need to get the final product that you desire! 

This same metaphor aligns perfectly with the Consistency Course VS. The Preset Process! 

The Consistency Course is the full scale cooking class.. Sure it is an investment of time and money, but it will teach you EVERYTHING you need to know about editing manually and the in’s and out’s of  Lightroom! 

Once you have all of the knowledge and you want to speed up the process, that’s where the KJ Preset Process comes in! 

The KJ Preset Process is similar to Hello Fresh. It’s pre-packaged with 4-steps that can fit any style and will save you so much time because the ingredients are already selected for you. However, if you don’t have cooking class (consistency course) knowledge, then you may have a more difficult time making adjustments you need to get the final product that you want! 

A pasta dish that’s too tangy needs a bit more sugar in the sauce…. And an image with a green hue on the skin needs more from a profile adjustment in Step 3 (and cooler White Balance)…. This type of knowledge can’t be found by just clicking around in the Preset Process, it comes from a deep understanding of Lightroom! 

So, what do we recommend? 

If you don’t understand the foundational basics of editing or Lightroom, we would HIGHLY recommend the Consistency Course first! 

If you understand how to edit manually and you’re ready to speed up that process and harness even more consistency in your work, you’re ready for the Preset Process! Now sure which fits your needs best? Watch this BRAND NEW Youtube Episode!!! :

If you watch this new episode and are still struggling to decide which resource is best for you, take the QUIZ! This Editing Experience quiz will really allow you to nail down where you are in your editing journey and which resource will be the best investment! : TAKE QUIZ HERE!


PS. If this was helpful and you want to continue to grow and learn, try KJ ALL ACCESS for free!! Click here to join now!!!

Have you seen some of our most popular youtube episodes?

We release brand new Youtube episodes each week ranging from business topics, personal episodes, gear reviews, technical training and behind the scenes education! If you’ve never explored this part of our photography education, dive in now! It’s free!! Enjoy!



Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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