Lightroom Presets – Sharpening for Portrait Photos

A few weeks ago I posted some landscape and outdoor sharpening presets for Lightroom. This time around I have some presets that tend to work best for portraits. The main difference is the masking feature. With landscape and outdoor photos we typically want to sharpen everything. With portraits, we usually want to sharpen the details (eyes, lips, hair, etc…) but keep the sharpening away from the skin so it doesn’t get that textured look to it.

You’ll see 3 different versions here – Light, Medium, and Strong. Also, you’ll need to make sure that you zoom in to 100% for them to work (otherwise you won’t see any change). One more thing… keep in mind that portrait presets need a really sharp portrait to work best (mostly the eyes). With landscapes I find you get a little more flexibility to sharpen your photos. But with portraits if the eyes aren’t already sharp, no amount of sharpening is going to save it. In fact, most of the result in a portrait preset are really going to be seen on the eyes so make sure that’s the first place you check.

Here’s a quick Before/After

Hope you enjoy. Have a good one!

Author: Matt Kloskowski

Matt is the full-time Director of Education for Kelby Media Group and a Tampa-based photographer. He's the Editor-in-Chief of Lightroom Magazine, the lead instructor on the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom LIVE Seminar Tour and author of several best-selling Photoshop books. Matt also hosts the world's top Lightroom blog,, where he's built up a massive library of Lightroom videos, presets and tips. In addition to teaching Photoshop, Lightroom and photography seminars around the world, he's an instructor at Photoshop World and one of the full-time staff writers for Photoshop User Magazine.

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  1. Thanks for These Presets! they are great!

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  2. Does it work for LR5 ?

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  3. I have a question is this only a free trial and how long can I use the free trial for until I have to pay. Thank you

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  4. Matt,

    Is this specific to Caucasian skin tone? I tried it on an Indian skin tone and it creates speckles on the skin.



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  5. I cant make it work. The result is ugly already with Light preset. I get artefacts and it seems so do you. Just look at the boy’s eyebrows and the whites of the eyes!

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  6. Matt,

    Is there any way to have presets folders “nested” in LR4? I have many folders of your presets and want to store them in a folder called “Matt’s Presets Folder”.

    So far I’ve not come up with a way to do this. Can it be done?


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  7. Thank you for offering free presets. I were wondering if they are supposed to use with RAW files only?

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