Profile Selection for Printing


Today’s Question: Somewhere along the way I started to use the Adobe Landscape profile while editing in Lightroom [Classic]. However, when I sent these to a lab for printing they would come back somewhat muted in color. Do I need to revert to using the Adobe Standard profile to get a true rendering of what I am sending the printer versus what I want as a finished product?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, you don’t need to switch to a different profile for optimizing in the Develop module. However, you may want to review which profile you’re using when exporting your photos, and also make sure you have calibrated your monitor display.

More Detail: The profiles you can select within the Develop module merely serve as options for a baseline interpretation of the color within an image. They are designed to provide options similar to the various settings available as presets within the camera, since those presets in the camera only apply to JPEG rather than raw captures.

In other words, you can use any of the profiles in the Develop module you’re happy with, and then continue fine-tuning the image based on your preferences. You can then export the image so it can be printed by a third-party provider.

When exporting for print, as a general rule I recommend using the Adobe RGB option for the Color Space setting in the Export dialog. However, it is a very good idea to check with your printer to confirm which profile is best. In many cases you’ll find that the sRGB profile is better for ensuring accurate output with a number of print providers, based on the workflow and hardware they’re using.

It is also important to keep in mind that not every printer, ink, and paper combination can reproduce every tone and color you’re able to see on your monitor display. Calibrating your monitor display will help ensure you’re seeing an accurate preview of your image. In addition, it is a good idea to use the Soft Proofing feature in the Develop module of Lightroom Classic to preview the image based on the final output profile from your print provider. This will enable you to get a much better sense of what the final print will look like, and possibly make changes based on limitations of that output.

You can learn more about color management with my “Color Management for Photographers” video course, available in the GreyLearning library here: