How I Edit My Instagram Photos (With Before/Afters)

My Instagram feed is a constant work in progress, and I’ve only recently really focused on making it cohesive and ~aesthetically pleasing~. Lately I’ve received a few more requests than usual on how I edit! It’s been a process to get here, but through trial-and-error I’ve nailed down a few tips that work for me. If you’re trying to create your perfect look, I’ll be sharing everything from apps to specific filters I use to edit my photos.

Before I hop in, I want to let you guys know that I am still improving my editing! It’s a work in process…

I’m indecisive, so sticking to a few filters and colors is really tough. If you can get yourself to choose just a couple, your feed will look much cleaner and cohesive! You can switch it up every few rows, but make sure similar colors are close together. #thelittlethings

Here are a few buzzwords to give you an idea of what I’m going for:

  • Bright
  • Clean
  • White
  • Black
  • Contrast

iPhone Photos

If I’ve taken a photo on my iPhone, I first put it through FaceTune.

This app is AMAZING! It’s worth the $x, I promise. Here, I’ll do minimal cosmetic retouching (‘whiten, smooth, reshape, patch’), sharpen certain areas (‘details’), and add a couple of filters. It’s also great for getting rid of minimal things, like dots or things you wish weren’t in the background. My favorite ‘lighting’ filters to use are:

  • Lighter
  • Expose
  • Brighten

I use these three to lighten and highlight part of a photo. Compared to the default iPhone  I’ll also use ‘darken’ sometimes if I want to take the focus away from the background. The main reason I love FaceTune is because you can selectively apply filters. If you apply a filter, adjust the strength, and click ‘wipe’, you can apply the filter to specific spots in the photo.

I like to use ‘paper’ filters next. Depending on the photo, I’ll make the background duller or darker using ‘BW silver’ and selectively adjusting/applying the strength.

After Facetune
After VSCO











The next step is VSCO! If you’re not hip to this yet, get on it now. It’s free, too, so no excuses. Honestly, I love all the filters, but I’ve narrowed my choices down to HB1, HB2, A7, and A8. Most people are probably set with just the filters that are included, but I bought the Minimalist Collection (A7-10). If you’re not looking to spend money, C1 is a great filter to use too!

Pro-tip: never use the filter at full strength. Here’s what I used on this photo:

  • Skin Tone: +3.0
  • Contrast: +2.4
  • Temperature: -2.0
  • Saturation: -2.6
  • A8/Analog: +3.5
  • Tint: -0.9
  • Sharpen: +3.3

These are just the adjustments for this one photo! It really depends on the lighting. I usually always turn up the sharpness and turn down the saturation and temperature though!

Aaaaand I’m done! I’m a sucker for minimal edits, but making some well-thought out changes can go a long way when it’s for the sake of my feed.

Camera Photos

If you have a DSLR, use it! I know many bloggers who’ve invested in a camera just for blogging, but I’ve actually had mine for almost SEVEN years! I shoot in RAW so I can edit the photos in Lightroom. Fellow photographers, you feel me here! Lightroom saved me from the hours on hours I used to spend in Photoshop. I have a preset or two I downloaded from random blogs, but I wasn’t a huge fan. I I adjust my own presets on Lightroom for every set of photos I have, but I always up the luminance and adjust the basics (exposure, contrast, etc.) before putting the photo through VSCO the same way.

After Lightroom
After VSCO

I used to think having a “pretty feed” wasn’t important, but it makes a word of difference in the 2-3 seconds that someone clicks onto your Instagram profile. It’s like a recruiter looking over resumes! Make a statement and make it count.

And that’s it! Pretty simple. Have a color palette in mind, and make tiny tweaks depending on the photo. I’m planning a few more posts on this concept, including the apps I use to help out with Instagram growth and photography tips!

I hope this helped you guys out! Leave questions and requests below 🙂