A lot of people sell actions, curves and presets for their own reasons. I’ve seen some fantastic actions, and some not-so-fantastic actions being sold. Sometimes for hundreds of dollars even! You know you could buy a really nice outfit with that…right….?!
Before you buy any photoshop actions, curves or whatever else – here are some points you should consider. And yes, I know I sell some actions and LR presets, but let me just be honest with you for a sec, okay?
Can you make this for free on your own?
Let’s be realistic for a second here. Is this action something you can’t just learn on your own? There are plenty of free video tutorials out there and other free actions for use. If you experiment enough and practice, you may just be able to make something like it! Learning to create an effect on your own is more beneficial, as you learn and retain new techniques to use on other photos and other situations.
Don’t buy curves.
Curves are simple to recreate. Download free curves, but don’t buy them.
It’s like someone selling you lemonade when you have a lemon tree in your backyard. Yes, lemon trees are real everyone. I know, I’m very cultured. I go outside every now and then.
Here’s a trick: next time you see a curve you like with a before and after, take the before and after photos, separate them, and then try to get the before photo to look like the after photo. If you have a basic understanding of curves you should be able to recreate the effect. If you don’t have a basic understanding of curves, watch my video “Learning Curves in Photoshop” and learn! They’re super easy.
Once you have that photo down, you kind of mastered the action. Andddd now everyone who sells curves will hate me – but it’s okay. I just saved you good people like $9. Go buy a fudgesicle – on me. If you still have trouble with figuring out a curve, send me the before and after and I’ll help you with it ☺
Is there a before and after to the photo?
I hate it when people try to sell actions and don’t include a before and after. So you’re just showing me a finished product, but how am I supposed to know the difference between the two? What have you done? What if your photo was shot with that vintage color and the orange bubble over it? This drives me crazy. If there is no before to show you the difference between photos, don’t take a chance. Not sure why people do this, I really want to know as it may help me sleep at night.
Are the before and afters different in color and style?
Some before and afters are all the same colors and tones, practically the same photo. If you’re going to buy that action, make sure you have photos like this you want to use with it. Otherwise, look for actions that are different textures, tones and atmospheres so you can see how it will be in different colors. Trying out an action that you saw a preview in a forest with on your photo in the ocean won’t render the same results.
How much is it? Are you buying in bulk?
I’ve seen packages of actions for $200, no joke. Buying bulk actions is a risk because most likely you will be buying after only seeing 1 or 2 actions (that you like), and the rest will be a mystery. If you’re going to buy actions, buy individually so you know exactly which you’re buying and you don’t become overwhelmed with all the new “vintage cream puff” and “sugarlolly plumsicle moonlight shadow vintage color” actions you now have taking up space in your actions palette.
If you’re spending more than $10 on an action….I don’t know what to say. Sure they’re good for learning process and MAYBE to get yourself off the ground – but don’t become dependent. Actions aren’t worth that much to me because you know what? Learning the actual material and being able to do it yourself (maybe even better) is absolutely FREE.
LR Presets, should you really buy them?
I say yes and no. There are some specialty lightroom presets you can buy (such as my own *wink wink*) that are pretty good. I won’t lie, some are actually good to have, especially to use as a base. But let’s say you can’t spend money on these things… you know what you do? You go out into the internet, google some free lightroom presets, download and play around with them. Use one as a base, and then keep creating new ones off of that. I started with one preset and now I literally have 100+ and I have no idea where the hell they all came from. I think I need to stop online hoarding, yeah, it’s bad. A lot of presets won’t work perfectly with most of my photos, so I end up having to change the settings to fit every individual photo.
Buying isn’t all bad: Use good actions to learn about colors and settings.
Sometimes you should buy actions just to pick them apart and see layers of colors, and how the modes are set. You can use these techniques and settings for the future. That’s usually what I do. I will buy actions at times just to see what layers were used (because I’m like a curious cat), so I can use those layers and styles for my own colors. It’s like buying a recipe off of someone. You can make the same food, or you can pick the recipe apart and make something better with the information you just learned.
Do NOT become dependent on actions. Not even mine. Even though mine are awesome. Hahahahaa ok but honestly…
Be careful, and happy shopping. Spend responsibility.