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Often hours of prep, shooting, and post go into a single photograph. Then, we upload them to Instagram & co. just to find out the social media compressing software made everything blurry and changed colors.

Fear no more! After some testing, I found two ways to export your photos for social media. One solely uses Lightroom, the other one is far more advanced and uses the power of Photoshop. Best of all: I created some presets you can all download for free!

Disclaimer: This blog post requires some basic knowledge of Lightroom or Photoshop, as I won’t explain how I imported the photos into Lightroom. You can learn this over at Adobes tutorial site.


Fundamentals of photos on social media

You always want to make sure to hit these requirements when you’re uploading to social media (or the internet in general).

  • Correct resolution
    • Facebook: max. 2048px (I use this size for my website as well)
    • Instagram: max. 1080px (square, horizontal), 1350px x 1080px (vertical)
    • Twitter: max. 1024px
  • 8bit sRGB color space
  • DPI only matters in print, so forget about the 72 dpi “rule”


Exporting photos only using Lightroom

In Lightroom, these settings are relatively easy applied.

  • Export Location: Choose folder later
  • File Settings: JPEG, Quality: 70, sRGB (it will automatically save in 8bit)
  • Image Sizing: Long Edge, 2048px (for Facebook), Don’t enlarge, Resolution: 300 pixels per Inch
  • Download the presets for Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

The additional sharpening around the right eye of the model is the last kick you can get out of the photo using photoshop.

Exporting photos using Photoshop

This way is a little bit more complex but will give you the absolute control. You can sharpen specific areas of the photo, which results in stunning images on your social media channel. So this is something for the control freaks amongst you.

  1. Layer > Flatten Image
  2. Edit > Convert to Profile
    1. sRGB IEC61966-2.1
    2. Adobe (ACE)
    3. Relatively Colorimetric
    4. Use Black Point Compensation
  3. Image > Mode > 8 Bits/Channel
  4. Image > Image Size
    1. Fit to: Original Size
    2. Width: Specific for your social media channel
    3. Height: Specific for your social media channel
    4. Resolution: 300
    5. Resample Image: Bicubic Smoother
  5. Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object
  6. Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask, this is different for every photo
    1. Amount: 100%
    2. Radius: 0.7
    3. Threshold: 0

This filter gets applied to your smart object, and you can mask the filter, giving this last focus on the important parts of the photo. Then you save the file.

  1. File > Save as
    1. JPEG, embed the color space
    2. Quality: 8
    3. Baseline

By using these actions I can batch process through a library of photos within minutes and all of them are custom sharpened. For my clients, I always export the photos ready for their need, so they don’t have blurry photos on their feed.

Get the Actions for Photoshop and Lightroom now

Tested in Lightroom Classic CC 2019 and Photoshop CC 2019


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