Let me start this post by saying that I’m hardly at the top of the Instagram food chain! I’m just still really taken with Instagram, and I love prepping images to share there. We get lots and lots of questions on the Lovely Indeed feed about how we edit the images on our feed so I thought I’d do a quick breakdown here. Despite lots of changes to the platform (most of which are totally frustrating!), I truly love the creativity it encourages, and the inspiration that it provides. The images there, whether they’re from a colleague’s curated feed or of my friends’ kids at the playground, are some of my favorite to scroll through.
It all starts with a photo, right?! For this particular post I’ll talk through my process of editing photos taken on my phone. After all, isn’t that what Instagram was originally meant to be? I often share DSLR photos on my feed these days, as do lots of other people I know, but I think for the most part the questions I get are about how to edit phone photos specifically. So let’s rock that out.
Snap a Good Photo Phone editing apps can go a long way, but if you take a bummer of a picture sometimes there’s just nothing that can help you. So we always try to start with a good photo — as clear and crisp as you can get it, from a good angle, and with lots of natural light. Natural light is key to the images on our feed, but if dark and moody is your vibe then go for it!
Crop I go back and forth between shooting full-frame photos and shooting in a square when I’m taking pictures with my phone. Sometimes I like having a larger image and sometimes I like the square because it helps me envision what things will look like on my feed. Make your own choices there. But after you take your photo, take a second to look at it and see if anything needs to be cropped out. You can straighten and change the perspective if you took a photo that’s a little crooked. Lots of times this makes the difference between a really killer photo and one that looks a little “off.” You can also use cropping to make images more interesting or fun. Here’s a side-by-side of one that I cropped — partially because it looked cool and partially because I didn’t want to share the cars behind my son in the photo.
Spot Correct Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty of some editing apps. Pretty much any old app will crop, but not all will do the finer adjustments like spot correct. If I have something that I need to edit out of a photo on my phone, I usually use Snapseed. You can spot correct or edit things out of photos completely. I’ve edited birds out of the sky, food out of teeth, wrinkles out of shirts, you name it. If you’re using Snapseed, select the Healing tool and experiment with it a bit. I like to zoom in on the photo for spot correcting so you can really get detailed.
Color Correct Another of my favorite uses for Snapseed is the ability to color correct certain areas of a photo. If you go under Tools and choose Selective, you can highlight a portion of your photo and adjust only that portion. I use this often if I have an area of a photo that looks yellow or red and I want it to look white. To achieve that, use the Selective tool, and adjust the saturation downward until most of the color is gone. Then brighten that area as well. Below is an example of that — the paper this artist was painting on had a red cast that I lessened using the Selective tool.
General Adjustments After that fine tuning, I usually run all of my phone photos through the same process. I’ll up the saturation a bit, up the contrast a bit, reduce shadows a bit, and then brighten a lot. Sometimes I also sharpen the photo just slightly to make it pop. Since Instagram upgraded their own editing software, I’ll often do this right in the app. Otherwise I’ll use Snapseed or A Color Story, my other favorite editing app. Below is an example of a pre- and post-adjusted photo.
Bells and Whistles But don’t stop there! If you like fun effects, add a little something extra. I love messing with the filters and effects in A Color Story — there are endless possibilities and combinations. My particular favorites there are the Candy Minimal filter pack, the Skies Over effects pack, and the Color Fog effects pack. But try them all out. They can really help you see your images in a way that you might not have envisioned but really elevates them quite a bit.
So there you have it! Hope this helps you get a little glimpse into what we put into each image. I think I’ll always love choosing and editing photos from my phone; there’s something that just feels a little different than a photo that you take off of a big camera, shot in a studio. The “Insta” vibe is really there and provides a peek into your day. I love that! Happy editing! xoxo