I donâ€™t think Iâ€™d be alone if I said that Instagram was my favourite Social Media platform. I currently run two accounts at the moment, one for the blog and one for my adorable doggy so Iâ€™ve spent a lot of time reading and learning about Instagram and one thing has stood out consistently: you wonâ€™t attract followers if your photos are sub-par so Iâ€™m sharing a few hints and tips on how to edit Instagram photos like a pro which will hopefully not only help you attract followers, but create a cohesive, fun and fresh look across your grid.
First things first, tips for taking the best photos
I alternate between taking photos on my phone and my camera. I have a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, which has one of the best mobile phone cameras on the market at this time and I have the Olympus Pen E-PL8 which is a micro four-thirds camera with interchangeable lenses. Both cameras have the ability to shoot in full manual mode and in RAW format.
I have a box full of props and a few large pieces of white foam-board which I picked up from Kmart, which I set up right next to the window in which ever room Iâ€™m working in. My house has some great sunny spots, but it definitely depends what time of the day it is as to where I shoot in my house. I like to make sure I shoot by a window with the maximum amount of natural light, because darker photos tend to be harder to edit and often have a strange colour cast.
Iâ€™ll snap away with either my phone or my camera using manual mode, usually setting my aperture anywhere between f/2 and f/5.6 and an ISO of 200. I do tend to let the camera work out the shutter speed on itâ€™s own, but as Iâ€™m handheld, I will always make sure itâ€™s no slower than 1/200 of a second and readjust the other settings if required.
I am planning on writing a complete series on manual photography at some stage but if youâ€™re new to photography and youâ€™d like to read some more about it, I highly recommend Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.
How to Edit Instagram Photos like a pro using VSCO
When Iâ€™m done taking photos, if I am using my camera rather than my phone, I will use the Olympus App to import my photos on to my phone, otherwise, I just fire up VSCO and import all of the photos Iâ€™ve just taken. VSCO is my favourite editing app, Iâ€™ve tried a lot of other apps but this one is a) easy to use and b) creates a lovely edit so Iâ€™ve always ended up going back to VSCO.
Once the images have imported, Iâ€™ll choose one image and use this as my “master”. As Iâ€™m editing a batch of photos taken in the same lighting conditions and generally with the same colour scheme, I can edit this image and copy and paste the edits across the entire batch to speed up my process and ensure consistency in my photos.
I will then apply my chosen pre-set first, which is usually one of the S or A pre-sets and adjust the level of the pre-set. For this particular photo, I didnâ€™t reduce the level of the pre-set at all, but generally, I will reduce it to anywhere between levels 6 and 8.
I will then make a number of adjustments to the photo to brighten and enhance the look of the picture. The S series does bump up the brightness quite a lot and whilst I like a very light and bright picture, it can sometimes lead to a loss of detail, so I like to tidy that up in the adjustments panel.
Three things I will always adjust straight away will be the exposure and contrast - which I edit to suit the picture as this is quite subjective, Iâ€™d suggest having a play around until you think it looks good - and the crop and straighten - always to 1×1 square and to straighten up any crooked angles.
Unless the image has a lot of dark shadows and an unusual colour cast, I donâ€™t tend to edit any further in VSCO and if I do, itâ€™s very small adjustments.
Other Apps to Suggest
Occasionally, no matter how I edit in VSCO, my white background just wonâ€™t look good. This is usually when I shoot in lower light or have a light on in the room and donâ€™t realise. To fix this up, Iâ€™ll use the Selective Tool in Snapseed, a free app by Google and increase the brightness and reduce the saturation in select areas which should brighten and whiten the background.
Another app that I like for whitening is FaceTune. I have tried the smoothing filters before and I must say that I looked like a very unappealing alien but for whitening my teeth in selfies and big patches of white backgrounds, it comes in very handy. This app isnâ€™t free though, and Iâ€™ve now bought it on both iOS and Android.
Android: Download from Play Store
Apple: Download from App Store
So if you thought it was hard to get bright, white edits, think again! Once you get a favourite look, youâ€™ll be flying through the process and youâ€™ll know almost straight away whatâ€™s going to work and whatâ€™s not. But, as always Iâ€™m always around to answer any questions you might have in the comments!
Do you use VSCO for photo editing? Whatâ€™s your process? Care to share some of your own hints or tips on how to edit Instagram photos like a pro in the comments?