How I Edit My Instagram Photos

Instagram is one of my all time favorite social media platforms, and the process of editing your Instagram photos is a crucial part of building your personal brand and maintaining a cohesive Instagram feed. Today I wanted to write a quick post about the apps, tools, and techniques I use to edit my photos for Instagram, and highlight a few of the before and afters of my own Instagram photos.

@gisellelisabeth on Instagram

I tend take all of my photos with my iPhone camera and use the app VSCO to edit my photos directly on my iPhone. I usually take the original photos using the square framing on the iPhone camera app and don’t have to do much editing or correction to the crop or frame of the photo, but if needed, I’ll start by editing my photo on VSCO by sharpening, straightening, or cropping the photo.

After adjusting the photo to my liking, I like to use the A6 preset on VSCO (part of the Analog series) to add a bright, warmer effect to the photo. In order to keep my Instagram photos looking cohesive with similar coloring in each photo, I tend to only use the A6 filter in my photos and adjust the heaviness of the filter depending on the individual photo.

For selfies or any images of people, I like to preserve the integrity of the original image and avoid over-filtering by adjusting and lowering the intensity of the A6 filter. For other images of places, flatlays, or interiors, I like to keep the preset at the default level (this is usually the maximum level when you select a preset) and later adjust the exposure and contrast of the photo. In this particular image below, I lowered the intensity of the A6 preset, reduced the brightness, and increased the contrast in order to keep the edits and coloring true to the original image.

After selecting or adjusting the A6 preset, I start editing the exposure and contrast of the image of the photo. I love bright, clean looking images and am a fan of capturing some sort of “true white” in most photos—this usually means I like to have a high contrast and brightness in my photos with a true white color showing through in some aspect of the photo. This clean and bright look is a common pattern throughout my Instagram grid and is an aesthetic choice that helps to contribute to the overall clean and cohesive look of one’s Instagram feed. For images like The Apartment by The Line showroom (below), I raised the exposure to around +4.4 to enhance the brightness of the room and allow for more light to pour in from the windows. This edit shifts the focus from the background of the photo (the outside of the window) to the interior of the room with light hitting the furniture and decor.

These images can often be difficult to edit due to the lighting in the original image, but it’s important to play around with the image’s brightness and filtering until you are happy with its editing. After editing the exposure, I like to balance out the photo’s high exposure by raising the contrast of the image as well—in this particular image, I raised it to about +2.5. Adjusting the contrast in images like the showroom also helps to preserve the crisp and bright looking image without the image appearing washed out, and this greatly helps to balance out the depth, lighting, and colors of the image.

Exposure Adjustments on VSCO Contrast Adjustments on VSCO

If you are a fan of a particular edit that you’ve made on VSCO, you can save your edits and apply it to multiple photos either by copy/pasting the edits in the app or by saving the edits as a preset that you can apply to future photos. Since every photo I take is slightly different, I like to start from scratch by adjusting every photo to my liking, but creating your own preset can be a helpful and convenient way to quickly edit a cohesive series of photos on your Instagram.

For flatlay photos, I like to edit my photos using the same steps as listed previously, but I will actually start the editing process by using the app Facetune to whiten the background of the photo. Although Facetune is often used for—well, faces, I actually like to use this app to clean up the background in an image or crispin the white colors for photos such as flatlays. You can use the “whitening” feature on Facetune (usually intended to whiten teeth) to enhance the natural white colors of the background for these kinds of edits, or to tone out any orange or yellow colors that may be enhanced in your photos when the contrast is raised.

What are your favorite ways to edit your Instagram photos? Leave me a comment on Instagram @gisellelisabeth to let me know your tips and tricks!