A Simple Guide to the ‘Desaturated Urban Look’ in Lightroom

The ‘desaturated urban look’ is incredibly popular these days, especially among rooftoppers and other city photographers who want to give their images a moody, gritty feel. Check out this video to find out how you can create this same look in Lightroom.

Before we dive any deeper, it’s worth noting that, for every photographer who have made a name for themselves using this “look,” there is an equally angry photographer who thinks said look is tacky. Moody city shots and desaturated portraits of pretty girls half-concealed by shrubbery are not everybody’s cup of tea.

And yet… that’s no reason to ignore a popular editing style and never learn how to replicated it. You never know when it’ll come in handy. Which, finally, brings us to the tutorial that will take your image from this:

To this:

It was created at the end of 2015—when this style wasn’t quite so over-used or maligned—by talented photographer and retoucher Serge Ramelli, and it still holds up surprisingly well today (obviously). In it, he helps his viewers deconstruct this look, using very popular photographer Ryan Millier‘s work as his guide.

It turns out this crushed-blacks, blown highlights, contrasty, desaturated, almost selective-color look isn’t that tough to create for yourself, even if you don’t want to use one of Ramelli’s presets. In fact, using his tutorial, you can create your own.

Check out the full tutorial up top, and then, if you want to use Ramelli’s source files or download his presets, you can get them at this link for the reasonable price of just one email address.