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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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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