The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

Alright, so I can’t be the only one who turns to Instagram for inspiration, whether I’m searching for fashion, food, travel, lifestyle, or really anything else.  I browse through hundreds of accounts every day as I fulfill my blogger duties, and I constantly see perfectly-curated, aesthetically-pleasing feeds.  While those are stunning to look at, they’re nearly impossible to master, unless you choose to only wear three colors and happen to live in a big city or by the beach! 😂  Personally, I love color, so while I may sacrifice that “perfect” feed, I do focus on creating beautiful, quality photos to share with my followers.  I am often asked how I edit my photos for Instagram, so here I am, with my step-by-step guide to photo prep and feed planning!

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

I use four apps primarily: Snapseed and VSCO for editing, Planoly for planning, and Hype Type for Instagram stories.  I keep all my “potential” Instagram photos in my favorites album on my phone, and when I’m ready to use one, I unfavorite it (so I know I’ve used it) and open up Snapseed.

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

I do the majority of my actual editing here.  Snapseed allows me to tune the image, which is always my first step.  I typically turn up the brightness, add a good bit of saturation and ambiance, and a little bit of highlight.  If necessary, I’ll add contrast back into it or turn down the warmth.  I very rarely post high-temperature photos on Instagram.  I’m just drawn to cool tones!

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

Snapseed also gives me the option to spot-edit, using the brush tool.  I’ll turn on the “eye” so I can see where I’m editing, and I zoom in pretty far to get the details!  I typically use this tool to give extra saturation to the brighter portions of a photo (plants, the sky, a drink, my hair, etc.).  This tool is also great for adding exposure over any dark portions of the photo!

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

My last editing step in Snapseed is the drama filter!  This brings depth and … well … drama to the photo. I do, however, turn down the filter strength, and up the saturation, otherwise it can look a little cartoonish.  This filter is especially fantastic for beach or city photos.  I used it on all the photos I took while in Florida (you can see those here), and I’ve seen some fantastic skyline shots as well!

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

I always “save a copy” in Snapseed, so as not to completely override the original photo.  That way if I decide to edit again, I can go back in and change it, rather than having to work with the edits I already created.  Next I open up VSCO and select my photo.  I use the preset S2 from the bright & clean collection.  I found out about this filter from Payton of Hustle & Halcyon and I knew I had to start using it because her photos are always fantastic!

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

This filter truly lives up to it’s bright & clean name, so I typically turn the strength down a bit.  Then I add some sharpness and some grain, and save it to my camera roll as the actual size.

The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

You can see how the photo progressed from start to finish here!  Before it was a nice photo, but it was a little dull.  Snapseed brought out the color and life, and VSCO added a brightness and sharpness that it lacked before.  I know my process may seem tedious, but after some practice, I can do all this in about 2 minutes flat, so I know you will be able to as well!

You may think I’m forgetting the other two apps I mentioned at the beginning of the post, but not to worry, I’m about to explain how they come into play!  Planoly is a great free app you can use to plan your feed.  I upgraded to the paid version pretty quickly so that I could plan with more photos, see my analytics, and add saved hashtags.  It’s been totally worth the $9 a month!  The greatest part is how you can rearrange your feed until you’re happy, write up your captions and hashtags, and schedule to post.  You’ll get a notification when it’s time to share, and it saves your caption to paste on Instagram.  So mindless and simple, and it keeps me incredibly organized!

I am a recent fan of Hype Type, an app that allows you to create moving words across your photos – perfect for Instagram stories.  You can choose the font, colors, and even add music.  I love this especially when I’m advertising my latest blog post.  It’s so fun and it’s really pleasing to watch!

So that, my dear friends, is how I keep up my Instagram feed and edit all my photos.  I hope you found this helpful and inspiring.  Let me know if you have any questions at all.  I’m not a pro, but photography and editing has been a passion of mine for years, so I’ll certainly do everything I can to help!

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The Ultimate Guide to Editing Photos for Instagram

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Nataly
    September 13, 2017 at 10:31 AM

    This is such a great post! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    Mary Powers
    September 13, 2017 at 12:49 PM

    Totally gonna try out hype type! Was curious how everyone was doing these amazing stories lately! Thanks for all the great tips!

    – Mary
    http://www.MissMaryPowers.com

  • Reply
    Kim
    September 13, 2017 at 4:35 PM

    You are so organized! I really need to play around with snapseed more and I have loved hypetype recently!

    xoxo,
    Kim

  • Reply
    Lauren Nakagawa
    September 13, 2017 at 7:18 PM

    So that’s how you do it! *I’ll have to look into Planoly 😀

    xx
    Lauren
    http://www.shoesandsashimi.com

  • Reply
    Laura || Walking in Memphis in High Heels
    September 13, 2017 at 8:18 PM

    Bookmarking this! I really love how you edited your photos, snapseed and VSCO are amazing apps!

  • Reply
    Amanda | The Golden Girl Diary
    September 13, 2017 at 10:16 PM

    This is super helpful! I need to get back into taking more photos + editing myself. I usually just post my photos done with my photography so I totally need to check out these apps!

  • Reply
    kileen
    September 13, 2017 at 10:35 PM

    this is such a useful post! i need to start using that Drama filter!

    kileen
    cute & little

  • Reply
    Megan
    September 14, 2017 at 12:40 AM

    These tips are so helpful! I want to start using the same filter on all my photos and this is a good place to start!

    Megan | http://www.pipmegan.com

  • Reply
    Mei
    September 14, 2017 at 10:28 AM

    I use almost all of these! Love them all. Thanks so much for sharing these tips 🙂
    XO,
    Mei

  • Reply
    LuxMommy
    September 14, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    Love these so much!

  • Reply
    Caitlin
    September 14, 2017 at 11:41 AM

    I love this post! Super helpful, and Hype Type has become my new bestie for Insta stories!!!

  • Reply
    Shelby Back
    September 14, 2017 at 1:05 PM

    I love seeing others’ editing strategies! I start in snapseed too!

    xo!
    Shelby
    http://www.glitterandgingham.com

  • Reply
    Tif
    September 14, 2017 at 3:33 PM

    I am loving Hype Type! Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever tired it, but I’ve found Facetune to be super helpful for lighting edits.

    TIf
    http://www.brightonabudget.com

  • Reply
    LuxMommy
    September 14, 2017 at 11:28 PM

    Such a great post, thank you so much!

  • Reply
    April
    September 15, 2017 at 1:34 AM

    This post is so helpful! Thanks for sharing your tips with us!

    April | http://www.thebluehydrangeas.com

  • Reply
    Lauren
    September 15, 2017 at 10:42 AM

    You nailed it with all of my favorite apps! They are super helpful 🙂

    Xx,
    Lauren | http://www.mylifeaslaurr.com

  • Reply
    Laura (5ftandpetite)
    September 15, 2017 at 4:00 PM

    Question!! Do you use iphone to take pictures or you have your personal camera? If so, which?

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      September 16, 2017 at 12:31 PM

      For my Instagram I use my iPhone 7+, and for my blog I use a Canon Rebel t2i with a 50mm lens 🙂

  • Reply
    Jamaria Johnson
    September 16, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    Okay so I’m definitely saving this post to reference later! So many great tips! Thanks for sharing XO

    Jamaria | throughjamseyes.com

  • Reply
    Maggie
    September 17, 2017 at 7:53 PM

    Great tips!! I am always interested in how other people edit their photos– and yours are always gorgeous!

  • Reply
    Greta
    September 17, 2017 at 10:26 PM

    Your photos always look absolutely amazing. Thanks dor sharing your secrets with us!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

  • Reply
    Kristina
    September 17, 2017 at 10:57 PM

    Great post!! People don’t realize how much goes into editing a photo.. I use Snug for planning and love the new Hype Type app too!

    Xo, Kristina

  • Reply
    Candace
    September 18, 2017 at 2:21 PM

    No wonder all your IG photos turn out so beautifully. I could tell before you even said so that you put a lot of work and effort into each post. I, on the other hand, only use one app haha. I will definitely be using some of your tips from now on!

  • Reply
    Adriana
    September 19, 2017 at 12:42 PM

    This post is amazing!! Thanks for sharing girlie!

    ~Adriana
    http://www.leopardmartini.com

  • Reply
    Lacey @wearetheglittergospel
    September 20, 2017 at 9:13 AM

    Love these tips steph! I use VSCO, but I need to get on the snapseed train!

    xx,

    Lacey
    The Glitter Gospel

  • Reply
    January Hart Rizzo
    September 20, 2017 at 11:41 AM

    These are ALL the apps I use too! Planoly has been a total game changer for me!! Great post!

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