How I Edit Instagram Photos

When I asked what type of blog posts you guys wanted to see the most requested was definitely how I edit my photos for Instagram. Ask and you shall receive! I’d love to turn this into a little series about how I curate my feed and other Instagram tips and tricks - leave a comment if there's anything else you'd like to learn about!

Let me start with a little disclaimer - Instagram can be a slippery slope. I’ve talked about this before but I’ve definitely fallen victim to Instagram’s ways. It's easy to step into an ‘Instagram hole’. What's important to remember is that while Instagram is super inspiring and can be a great creative outlet and community you also don't want to get too caught up in ‘Instagram fame’. It's a platform that you should be having fun with! So have fun! Don’t take it too seriously. That being said let's get started!

I’m going to walk you through a few photos that I’ve recently posted and how I went about taking them and editing them on my phone. I tried to give you a little bit of variety in lighting and composition so that you can see what I’m naturally drawn to.

My favorite photo editing tool I use on my phone is VSCO Cam. It's easy to use and understand and it has so many preset filters. VSCO cam is also a free app so its perfect if you're just starting to dip your toes into more advanced photo editing. I actually bought the yearly subscription to VSCO cam so that I could also use the video editing feature. I think it was $20 for the whole year. With this subscription you also get all the VSCO cam presets which I think is a pretty fair deal! I start all my photos in VSCO and make basic adjustments. I like to edit the exposure (how light or dark a photo is), I always play with the sharpen and clarity tools to make my photos look more focused, and I add the preset that I use on all my photos (M5). I sometimes will play with the white balance to make my photos a little more golden toned or with the HSL tool to eliminate any greens or unwanted (not golden) colors.


Obviously, the world is filled with stereotypical ‘Instagram photos’. The flatlay on a white sheet, the legs on a cozy bed scene, and of course the latte art picture. While I’m all for a ‘typical’ Instagram photo it's making it your own that makes your post get higher engagement overall. This is one of the biggest lessons in Aimee Song’s book, Capture Your Style. I do post a lot of pictures of my coffees but I try to make them few and far between. But if posting just pictures of coffee is your thing make it your thing and run with it (see @coffeeandbookss). On this particular day, my friend pointed out that my latte matched my nails perfectly so I snapped a picture. When I edited this photo I was super pleased with the way it turned out. It had warm tones that weren’t overwhelming and the color of the latte made the picture a little less basic. Another great tip for latte pictures is upping the clarity and sharpening to make the foam really stand out. I actually also uploaded this photo to FaceTune after VSCO Cam and used the Details tool to make the bubbles more defined.

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Since I try to make my photos warmer toned I find that sometimes my skin tones can get distorted in the process. VSCO Cam has a skin tone tool that can definitely help even this out a little. If you drag it more to the left it gets a little bit more green in your skin tones and if you drag it to the right it adds in more reds. It takes a little playing around with but use your best judgment. I didn’t use that specific tool for this photo but its one of the ways I make sure my photos don’t over edited.

The most important fix on this particular photo is the straighten adjustment and the crop. Whenever you have a photo that has straight lines in it make sure that they're all squared away as much as possible (the railing in this photo for example). Nothing bugs me more than a picture of the horizon that isn't straightened! Here its a pretty minor detail but it's the little things that make a difference! I also cropped this photo to make it just perfect. Whenever I have people like Chaz or my friends take photos for me I always look beyond the original composition because you’d be surprised how much you can salvage with a good crop. In this case it wasn’t make it or break it but it just helped draw the focus more to my outfit.


This photo is definitely not my favorite photo ever but its a good ‘filler’ photo. I try to exercise my photography skills by taking pictures of anything and everything I find interesting. If I like the way they turn out I can use them in my feed one days when nothing really exciting happened or when I just don't have anything else to post! Sometimes I had a great caption idea but not a great photo for it and filler photos also come in handy here.

While these tips are super basic they're the basis of how I edit and make my feed work! If you liked these tips and want to hear more about how I’m a crazy person about my Instagram let me know! Oh and don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram to see more of my photos!