The second best-kept secret for better Instagram posts is, edit, edit, edit! (Number one is to learn how to take a better photo).
I have pretty much every editing app on my iPhone, and I dread to think as to how much I have spent over the years on apps in an attempt to improve my ‘gram or achieve a particular aesthetic.
In this post, I am going to share my current “go-to” apps to improve your Instagram images and use one photo as an example as to how I have developed it using three of the apps.
The photo below was taken on a very overcast day, on iPhone7. I was standing in the road to take the shot so had to take it quickly and didn’t have time to think about composition, but I knew I would be able to edit it later and vastly improve the photo – which you will come to see as totally achievable.
The Lightroom app is free and brilliant. It is much easier to use than Lightroom on a desktop, so don’t panic. There are presets (filter effects), but I don’t use these and instead fine tune my photo by playing with each of the tuning tools.
My favourite feature in the Lightroom app is that you can play with colour mixes, and tone greens, etc. to suit your Instagram aesthetic. For example, if a green is too yellow toned for your gallery, have a play with the hue, tint and saturation to make it the right shade of green for your ‘gram. I use it to really enhance the colours in an image, rather than just increasing the saturation I like to use it to highlight tones that are key to my brand identity.
Cropped and perspective straightened in Lightroom. Exposure, Contrast, Tint, Vibrance and Saturation increased. Blue and Magenta saturation and hue increased as well.
This is hands down my favourite app! It is a paired back user-friendly version of Photoshop and has transformed some of my photos. Using the Brush tool, you can remove anything from a post; I have even lifted a car from an image using Touch/Retouch. Predominantly I use it for removing anything that is distracting in my pictures, such as a piece of litter, or a crack on a wall. I also use it for removing my dogs lead from posts as often his photos are taken with him on his lead, and then there is a big black line leading out of the frame which looks yuk!
Initial Touch/Retouch edit including removing wall cracks, mobility handle from beside the door, and the drain pipe down the left of the image. Selective whitening in Facetune to brighten the white paintwork on the window frames.
Facetune is designed to edit your skin. If you choose to use this to edit your selfies, do so with caution, the effects are very heavy-handed, and you can make yourself look like a mannequin with just a few taps and swipes. I have been guilty of smoothing out the odd wrinkle and brightening under my eyes with this tool, but minimally.
I love the Facetune app for the whitening feature (it’s actually for teeth whitening). I use it for swiping over window frames, white plates, backdrops, etc. to brighten up areas of my photos and get my whites to pop. Using a stylus can make this task a little easier. I also use it for the Detail option to make specific areas of my image clear and sharp. Facetune also has a Patch tool for removing unwanted distractions in a photo – similar to Touch/Retouch but not quite as quick. I also use the Blur tool for removing detail, such as my address on Monty’s collar tag.
Final editing in Touch/Retouch smartening up any areas such as cracks and the strap hanging off the trellis by the front door. Brighten the white of the adjacent house wall with Facetune.
Snapseed is an excellent app by Google, very similar to Lightroom in that you can tune your images. I use Snapseed for selective brightening for photos of my dog, helping to bring out the detail and increase the exposure around his eyes.
You can use the Brush tool and brush on details with your finger tip – such as increasing or decreasing the saturation or temperate. The other tool I love is the Selective tool where you can tap and then pinch and zoom to cover the area you want to edit. You then selectively increase or decrease the brightness, saturation, contrast and structure.
Similar to Touch/Retouch there’s a clone tool to help you patch up things you don’t want in the image. It is possible to do this in Lightroom also, but I don’t find it as user-friendly within the app.
Another great feature in Snapseed is the Transform tool. Wonky lines and a dodgy perspective can ruin an otherwise good photo. Another app that is useful for straightening your perspective is SKWRT.
VSCO is loved by so many it has it’s own hashtag on Instagram! VSCO is the perfect app if you’re getting into the flow of Instagram and is the one I recommend to my clients to help them create cohesion across their gallery because of the wide choice of filters my personal favourites are A6 and S2. In addition to filters, you can selectively edit your images yourself just like in Snapseed and Lightroom but you don’t have as much control over them, and you can’t play with the colours as well as you can in Lightroom or selectively edit like you can in Snapseed.
My biggest tip to you with VSCO is not to “over-filter” and by that I mean you don’t always have to apply a filter at the full 12 strength. (You have the option of between 1 and 12). Many Instagrammers go for a heavily filtered aesthetic, but as a business, I wouldn’t recommend this – especially if you are selling a product. Photo editing should enhance the product you are selling not completely change the look/colour/feel of it.
Recently I have stopped using VSCO filters and instead am focussing on using the same editing pattern in Lightroom to create cohesion, but until you are confident in your aesthetic, I would recommend choosing one VSCO filter and applying that to your images.
There are lots of editing apps available, other favourite apps are A Color Story and Pic Tap Go, but I have only played with these and not used them for any length of time or for editing any photos you see on my accounts.
If you enjoyed this post, why not Pin it for later or share on social. You can also come and find me on Instagram and see the above tips in action.
Sam is the founder of Small and Mighty Co. A transformational coaching business and marketing consultancy specialising in supporting small and mighty creatives grow with confidence and achieve their dreams, in business and beyond.
An accredited NLP Practitioner Sam’s specialities include mindset, motivation, marketing and modern-day consumer behaviour and is well known across the small business industry for her savvy straight-talking advice; with regular speaking appearances at major events across the UK and features on the BBC and Channel 5 News.