How I Edit Photos For Instagram (With Before + After Snaps!)

So, I get asked this question ALL the time. And I’m proud to say that my process is actually pretty light. In fact, the majority of the time, I’m only using two apps to edit photos. And sometimes, if I’ve done a good job, I only need to use one! Which is something I’m quite proud of.

Spill the deets you say? Well lucky you, that’s what this post is all about. I wanted to share my thoughts on editing, the process I use about 90% of the time, and show you a little before and after action to see what a few quick edits can do to a photo.

So let’s get to it!

Edit To Enhance Your Favorites Parts Of A Photo

How I Edit Photos

For and foremost, start by thinking about editing as a way to bring your photo back to life. The cameras that we have today are great, but they still can’t pick up the vibrancy of colors and details that you see in real life.

Before I even start to edit a photo, I like to think about what inspired me to take the photo in the first place. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I like a good sunset. What usuallyย gets me are the colors, or how the clouds highlight against the sky, or in this example, I loved how the sunset reflected on the water. It’s those little things that I look at when I start to edit, and I’ll try to enhance them a bit more so that you can see them, too!

The crops a little off here, but you get the idea. And of course, what you have to love about Positano are the colorful houses. So in this case, I tried toย brighten and enhance the colors a bit, too.

But make sure you don’t overdo it. As much as possible, I try to maintain the integrity of the photo. I can always tell when someone has turned up the saturation or sharpening too much because the photo stops looking real.

How I Edit Photos

At the end of the day, or in this case, when the edit is finished, I just hope that my photo inspires someone to want to explore a place that I’ve been. If I can do, I’ve had a very successful day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Let’s Get To The Good Stuff: How I Edit Photos For Instagram

I have a confession before we get started: I actually don’t have a DSLR camera. So everything I shoot is on my phone. I have a bias for Android smartphone cameras, by the way.ย But that’s another story. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Since I use my phone to take photos, that’s mainly where I do all of my editing for Instagram as well. So, for anyone wanting info on editing in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. That’s not this post. I usually only use Adobe Photoshop and/or Lightroom when I’m posting photos to my blog. I’ll share a post on how I do that soon!

In fact, most photographers I know use Adobe Lightroom, so if you absolutely cannot wait for my post and want to learn how to use that program now, there’s an awesome online class you can check out. It teaches you how to edit in bulk, which saves SO much time! It’s actually a program that I’ve been teaching myself a bit more, but this course was super helpful in getting started.

Alright, NOW let’s get to the good stuff. Here’s my step-by-step process for editing photos.ย I’ll go through each app I use (there are only two!) and what tools I use to get my photos looking just right. It might seem a little odd, or backward, but it gives me the results I’m looking for. So just stay with me!

Step 1: Select your favorite photos.

If you’re anything like me, you take a lot of different photos of one subject matter. I like to try different angles and orientations, so I end up with multiple photos I need to choose from. Scroll through your gallery and make your selects (add a heart so you can easily find it again in your ‘Favorites’ folder).

How I Edit Photos

Step 2: Take your photo into Instagram.

This is where it might seem a little backward. Because the ultimate goal is getting a great photo to post to Instagram, so why do I use this app first?

I’ve tried a few other apps but for me, still, Instagram gives me the most control and the results I’m looking for to make those base edits. I’ll start with the Edit feature. The tools I use the most are:

  • Lux
  • Adjust
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Warmth
  • Saturation
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Sharpen

Pretty standard editing here. Once you get a sense of how these tools change your photo, this part of the process can be pretty quick. Next, I’ll go into the Filter feature. The filters that I seem to use ALL the time are:

  • Clarendon
  • Juno
  • Ludwig
  • Lark
  • Aden
  • Lo-Fi
  • Nashville

I would say out of all of those, I find that I usually gravitate towards Clarendon. I really like how it brightens up the colors of my photos, as you can see in the photo above.

Now, once the photoย is in a good spot, click Share and let the photo post to your feed. Head to your feed real quick and delete the photo. Backwards, I know!

Step 3: Upload you recently saved Instagram photo into Snapseed.

For this to work, you have to make sure you’ve allowed Instagram to save photos you post. To make sure this is on, go to your settings on Instagram and make sure ‘Save Posted Photos’ is on.

How I Edit Photos

Now, upload your photo to Snapseed. It’s an awesome app, so if you don’t have it yet, you can get it here. It’s super robust, so I encourage you to explore all the tools available. But for my purposed, I only use a few Tools that I find really helps enhance my photos. They are:

  • Tune Image > Ambiance (I don’t touch anything else)
  • Brush
  • Healing (if needed)
  • Details

The Brush tool is amazing because it lets you edit small parts of your photo rather than the entire image. It’s literally like brushing on edits in the areas that need a little more help. I use it ALL the time. It’s so cool! If one part of the photo is a little dark, just add a little exposure to that area. If it’s too bright, just brush in a little Dodge & Burn. The results are amazing!

Other tools that are really nifty but I don’t use all the time are Perspective and Expand. Expand is especially a cool feature. It will expand the photo out for you based on the original edges. So, for example, if I wanted to add more sidewalk to my photo, I could do so just by dragging the border down. How cool is that?

So, whatever edits you decide to make, just make sure you hit ‘Done’, otherwise, you’ll lose all your edits.

Step 4: Now it’s time to post on Instagram!

I know, I know, Snapseed seems like an extra step. But trust me, in most cases, I find that it really helps take my photo to the next level. When I get super excited about a photo, that’s when I know it’s ready to post on Instagram. And this part is super quick. Just upload the file you saved from Snapseed, skip the editing part, and you’re back to normal Instagram posting. You know the drill here.

How I Edit Photos

And that’s a wrap. Next, just sit back, and watch all those likes roll in. The best feeling is when you’re really excited about a photo, and other people are, too!

Letโ€™s go places,
Sarah

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How I Edit Photos

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