Editing Instagram photos can be tough. But getting it right is essential to Instagram success – it’s what makes your post stand out amongst other feeds and creates a recognisible ‘look’ for your feed. While it may feel like a challenge to get one of those highly polished Instagram accounts, it’s definitely achievable. Anyone can edit Instagram photos like a pro: you just need to know how. Here are our tips on how to achieve those Insta-ready photos.
Start with a good photo
First things first. Before you start editing, you need to make sure you have a good photo.
The camera that you use is important. No, you don’t need the latest DSLR. Any recent smartphone will do. In fact, Instagram is an app that welcomes spontaneity, so your iPhone or Android may be better suited than your Nikon D800!
The actual photo has to be high quality, too. Photos taken on the move are often blurry. If you can’t guarantee a steady hand then it is a good idea to use your phone’s burst mode. This will capture a whole load of photos within a few milliseconds, leaving you to choose the best one.
If you are interested in learning more about how to take the perfect photo then have a look at our post on essential blog photography tips.
Bright is beautiful
The human eye is a wonderful thing. Light rays reflect off an object and enter the eyes through the cornea, producing images that no smartphone could ever recreate. It’s not unusual to scroll through your old photos and notice that they make what you saw look a lot more dull and drab than it really was. The job of a good edit is to help bring back this sense of vitality: increasing the brightness is a good place to start.
Artists have always been fond of bright whites and great Instagram photographers are no exception. The problem is that warm room lighting often gives photos a yellow tint. Fortunately, most photo editing apps allow you to increase or decrease the brightness of any photo via Instagram’s edit feature. With Snapseed, you can single out particular areas of your photo that need whitening by using its selective editing brush. This is a great way to highlight and accentuate elements of your photo.
Bonus tip: Increasing the brightness is not the only way to achieve that sharp, bright look. Instead, try reducing the saturation of your photos. Increasing brightness can make some photos appear grainy – desaturating the photo has the same brightening effect without reducing the image quality.
Borders can make your Instagram profile grid look fantastic. They give your photos a minimalist look which can be very visually appealing to your followers.
As you would expect, there are lots of apps that can give you a choice of borders (e.g. Squaready or Framatic). But you don’t need to download anything to start adding borders to your posts: Instagram’s own editor has this feature.
To add a border, just select a filter and then click it again. A square box should appear – click this to add a border to your post (N.B. if you want a border but not a filter, simply drag the scroll bar to 0 to make the filter opaque).
Edit with a particular style in mind
You are free to edit your photos using whatever style you like. The important thing is to keep this style consistent. If your editing approach changes with every post it can begin to look messy.
We have already touched upon the merits of creating crisp, bright images on Instagram, but this does not mean that they are right for everybody. You might prefer dark and mysterious photos with low saturation and high contrast. Maybe you favour a warm coloured filter over your images. Whatever editing style you choose, that is absolutely fine. What matters is that you keep this editing consistent.
Make use of filters
Somebody once told me to live life with no filters – if I wasn’t on Instagram, I might try and take this advice! A filter can make or break an Instagram post. Each individual filter creates a unique mood.
Instagram provides a number of basic filters to use. Beyond the ones you see immediately, you can access more. Simply scroll to the end of the filter list where you will find a “Manage” button with a wider range of filters. This is a great place to start if you are trying to establish an Instagram style. But if you want to edit Instagram photos like a pro, it’s a great idea to use another app.
VCSO Cam is a favourite among Instagram pros. This filter king has a great range of stylish options ready to match any mood. Play around with filter colours and different saturations to see which you prefer and then, where possible, stick with this to create an engaging Instagram feed.
Don’t go overboard
Finally, it’s good to remember that you can always have too much of a good thing. This applies to editing, too. Many people would say that the cardinal sin of Instagram is over-editing. Remember to have fun when you’re editing your photos, but keep them looking as natural as possible. You want your photos to look like photos, not like drawings!