VSCO Film presets on Lightroom portrait edit


Visual Supply Co., best known as VSCO, is a company focused on creating products for photographers. As well as being the creators of smartphone apps such as VSCO Cam, they also produce a Preset pack known as VSCO Film, which emulates the overall feel a common camera would give to any picture.

From old film SLR cameras to even nowadays models, VSCO Film captures in a wide variety of Lightroom filters the configurations of almost every model of camera existing (from main brands obviously). But even if this pack can be as large as to contain over 100 presets per volume, where do they apply on Portrait edit?. Follow up this guide on how to work with VSCO Film presets on Lightroom portrait edit.


For this tutorial purpose, I am going to use a simple portrait, on RAW file, which I need to post produce in order to apply the VSCO Film presets.


Also, I need a VSCO Film preset pack. It doesn’t matter too much which volume do you buy, they are all pretty stunning. In my case, I’ll use VSCO Film 06, but in case you are wondering how to test this preset pack, visit VSCO site


And as you can see, the VSCO Film 00 pack is available to use for free. Pretty cool, right?

Lightroom Procedure


Start by developing the image. Either if you work with a RAW or a JPEG, this is a must. I’ll point out the parameters value used for this image:

  • Exposure +1.0
  • Highlights -69
  • Shadows -33
  • Whites +45
  • Blacks -17
  • Clarity +50
  • Vibrance +10
  • Saturation +5


Split toning applied with:

  • Highlights
    • Hue 34
    • Saturation 13
  • Shadows
    • Hue 24
    • Saturation 11


After this is done, you can start applying the VSCO Film pack of filters.

First, you need to install the VSCO Film presets, which you can do following up this guide. Then, as you can see at the Lightroom Interface, VSCO creates several folders where Presets are stored. Those folders are classified by volume first (in case you installed several volumes of VSCO Film) and then by camera brand maker.

Next, we have to split the task regarding the kind of portrait we are taking, and under this, we can divide this into three categories:

  • Full-body portrait w/landscape
  • Waist up portrait
  • Close up portrait

Full-body portrait w/landscape


For this kind of portrait, not only our subject matters but also the background surrounding it. I am going to pick up the C-Portra for most of my pictures since it matches the Canon camera as well as being meant to use with Portraits.


Apply a filter, and immediately you can see the overall change. In this case, I need to reduce the exposure value a little bit, as well as increase the contrast.


Something you may notice when applying this kind of portraits is that sky tends to lose color due to the increase in Highlights, as well as losing detail. If we only focus on the sky color (which is this case) all you need to do is to grab the Adjustments Brush tool and start masking the sky area, being careful enough to not mask the subject or other elements at our scene. Then, reduce Highlights, increase Saturation, reduce Temp slider and add a bit of red to the color. Now the sky looks better and not faded because of the VSCO filter.


Waist up portrait


In this case, all that really matters is the subject, so the background plan can become faded like if it was a macro shot.

Before even applying the preset, I am going to mask the background plane and add both Smoothness as well as to reduce Clarity. With that, I am losing detail on the background plane, so then I can go and apply another preset from VSCO Film to my portrait.


Be sure to keep an eye on how the preset handles both Highlights and Blacks, as with this filters tend to become the most clipped areas.


Close up portrait

With this, our main focus is to enhance the macro feel on our portrait by enhancing details. First, choose a filter from VSCO and apply it. Then, start playing with Clarity and Sharpness sliders for bringing in more detail to our subject.


If you want, you can add a bit of Split Toning, or even Vignetting effect, but mostly the VSCO Film preset is all we need to achieve this effect.

Some end thoughts on working with VSCO Presets

As VSCO Film gives us a wide variety of presets, it is important to keep creativity in mind while working with them. Do not stick to only working with your camera brand as you are going to miss a lot of interesting effects to apply to your image.

Remember to always apply Lens Correction to your image, matching the information of the camera you used to take your picture, as applying the filters sometimes add more distortion to the image.

Reduce the Film Grain slider every time you apply this filters, as they add a lot of film grain to the image, which in some cases can become a huge problem.

You can also combine several presets of VSCO Film for getting interesting results; mostly any preset of camera brand with the ones labeled as Toolkit, which only enhances selected aspects of the image.


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