“How do you edit your Instagram photos?” is by far my most-asked question on Instagram. Thanks to the handy screen record function, I’m going to show you exactly how I do it.
When I first started out on Instagram in 2012, like most people I used Instagram’s original filters (do we all cringe looking back at those heavily, filtered retro-looking photos?). At the time they fit in with every other photo, but as I refined my photography style and feed aesthetic, I found my own edit and overall look which I’ve been sticking to since – bright, crisp and cool-toned.
For years I used VSCOcam (now called simply VSCO), but more recently I’ve left the filters be and just used Instagram’s own photo editing tools. Some people might think it’s too basic, but because I’ve streamlined my edit, it works for me – for now, anyway.
Yes, that means no Photoshop, no Lightroom, no Snapseed, etc. It’s not that I don’t like these tools/apps, it’s just that Instagramming for me has always meant mobile photography (99% of my photos are taken with an iPhone) and mobile editing. Maybe I’m an Instagram purist (or stuck in the past), but it’s just how I like doing things. If you have a favourite photo editing app, that’s great. As with anything in life, you do you. And really, you can take this tutorial and apply it to any photo editing apps.
Anyway, let’s move on to the tutorial and video about how to edit Instagram photos.
How I edit my Instagram photos: a tutorial
First things first when it comes to editing your photos: turn up the display brightness on your phone. (Side note: you should be shooting on max display brightness too.) This way when you’re editing the image, you’re doing so at its ‘true’ brightness. Photo editing when your brightness is turned down is likely to lead to overly bright/blown out photos, and you don’t want to notice this after you’ve posted the photo to your Instagram.
When it comes to actually editing, there are three main settings I focus on: brightness, contrast and warmth (aka temperature). This is key in creating crisp, bright and cool-toned photos. I don’t have a number rule when it comes to these three elements as each photo is different, so what I do is play around until the photo looks good to my eye.
As you can see in the video tutorial below, I also increase sharpness and play around with highlights and shadows – sometimes these stay the same, other times I increase/decrease them. It really depends on the photo.
If I want to increase colour intensity in a photo (like the one in the video, where I wanted to make the colours of the pancakes, maple syrup and berries pop), I’ll also slightly increase saturation. It’s really about experimenting and comparing the edit with the original photo (note: to see your edits before/after, place and hold your finger on the image in Instagram Edit and release your finger).
Finally, I make sure the image is straightened/aligned properly, and I check the image looks similar to my other photos so it fits seamlessly into my feed (try the app UMUM to do this), then it’s time to publish.
All in all, the editing process takes a couple of minutes. Coming up with a caption, on the other hand…
I hope this helps you edit your photos. Let me know if you’d like to see another tutorial and my top tips on How To Take Photos On Your Phone.