I did a post on this quite a long time ago, except I figured that it was time to update how I edit my Instagram pictures. Obviously, every picture is a little bit different. When I take pictures with my camera, I edit them a lot differently than if I had taken a picture on my phone. My camera pictures tend to be a lot warmer and vibrant than iPhone pictures, so of course, the editing process is different. In addition, whether the picture has more color or more white space also affects the way that I edit in terms of the filters and the basic modifications. However, I've developed somewhat of a pattern in my Instagram editing and I thought that I would share it. 

Instagram, Edit, Photography

Phone, Instagram, Edit, Photography

Photo Editing Apps

For the photo editing apps that I have, my most used editing apps have been A Color Story and Snapseed, but recently I've been getting back into VSCO cam. All of the apps that I use are free (a total plus!) and they're all amazing nevertheless. 

VSCO cam: Everyone loves it and it has quickly become a classic. There are so many great filters with VSCO, but they tend to be darker and more unsaturated, so I don't always use a VSCO filter. VSCO cam is also great for taking pictures, if you take the photo in the app, you have the option to put the brightness and focus and different things to get a better photo. In addition, the interface, at least the old version (I haven't updated after hearing the negativity surrounding the new look) is clean and crisp. 
Snapseed: I've raved about Snapseed all the time, it's the best app that I've ever used for photo editing. I don't use its filters, but it has so many features that I'm obsessed with. Snapseed allows you to transform pictures, the functionalities let you select specific spots to edit, kind of like in Adobe Lightroom, and it offers a lot more flexibility than other editing apps. 
Dropbox: If you're a blogger, Dropbox is a must! I take lots of my Instagram pictures on my camera, so I am able to Dropbox my pictures from my laptop straight to my phone. Dropbox is also great for sharing pictures with friends. If you need to send a friend a large number of photos, you can simply create a Dropbox folder and share it with them.
A Color Story: I love the filters on a Color Story! I love the bright and clean look and each of these filters brings so much light to your pictures. I use a filter from A Color Story on almost everyone of my pictures, especially when there's a white background, it's vital. If you're looking for clean and bright filters, different from the high contrast and dark VSCO cam filters, then this is the app for you. It also has the basic editing capabilities as well as some cool effects like bokeh and light flares if you're feeling artsy. 
Boomerang: I just recently downloaded Boomerang, but I have seen so many cute Instagram video gifs and I've considered jumping on the trend as well. I don't have much to say on it at the moment, but I plan on playing around with it a lot more. 

Phone, Instagram, Edit, Photography

The photo that I'm editing in this post is a picture that I took on my phone, since I do a lot more editing on phone pictures rather than ones of my camera. This one especially needed the transformation, since I took it on Snapchat and Snapchat tends to have lower quality pictures than the basic iPhone picture. 

Phone, Instagram, Edit, Photography

Step One: Snapseed Editing

First, I go into Snapseed, where I do most of my editing. If you haven't used Snapseed before, you're missing out, because it is by far my favorite photo editing app of all time. I always increase the brightness, ambiance, saturation, and contrast. It obviously varies depending on the picture, I do a lot less editing if the original photo had been taken with my camera vs my phone. I have to do a lot more editing when I took the picture on my phone, since the quality is definitely lower. I generally increase the highlights because I like that brighter and whiter look of my photos, so I decrease the shadows so that I can balance of the photo. I want to avoid an overly washed out look while still keeping my photos looking bright. 
I also used the brush setting, it's basically a feature on Snapseed like the brush tool on Adobe Lightroom where you can brush over certain parts of a picture and brighten/darken them, change the temperature, change the saturation, and dodge or burn the photo. In this specific photo, I used the brush tool over the white table so that I could really brighten the picture and the whites without overexposing the ice cream. I just dragged my finger over all of the white parts of the picture at the +0.7 setting of exposure. This can also be done with the selection tool, but the brush tool was more fitting, considering that the selection tool doesn't allow as much flexibility in terms of selecting the area that you want to change. The brush the the selection tools are the reason why I love Snapseed more than all the other apps.
I also love the transform feature on Snapseed, you can change the perspective, which is especially good if you want a straight on shot and the object is a little tilted. Unlike VSCO cam, which has a similar feature, Snapseed doesn't crop the photo, but rather clones the edges. The edges look seamless and the photo doesn't have to be cropped any extra.

Bonus tip: Phone pictures tend to be washed out and unsaturated. Make a phone picture look a lot better simply by increasing the saturation. 

Phone, Instagram, Edit, Photography

I always sharpen my pictures, generally anywhere from +15 to +40, depending on the picture. I have to sharpen pictures a lot more if they have been taken on my phone. I also increase the structure a little bit, I generally only increase it about +3 when I take them on my camera and then a little more if it is a phone picture, which this one is. 
On this specific picture, I really increased the structure and sharpening a lot because I really wanted to bring out the details on the ice cream, especially since the photo began very dark and I all of the brightening really softened the picture and washed out the details. 

Phone, Edit, Instagram, Photography

Step Two: A Color Story Filters

Next, it's time for the fun part, the filters. As I mentioned before with the introduction of each app, A Color Story has great filters that are clean and bright. A Color Story is an editing app created by A Beautiful Mess, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint. Although I have used most of the filter on A Color Story, unlike some other editing apps where I always stick to the same one, there are of course a few that I love more. Of the essentials collection, Everyday is great for a subtle filter to brighten photos, On Lock has a very bright white look with a cooler tone, and Lipstick is bright yet saturated. As for the Good Vibes collections, my favorites are Palm Springs, which is clean and bright, Mimosa, which is very similar to Palm Springs with subtle differences, and Pop Song, similar to Lipstick with a bright yet saturated look. 
The most I apply a filter is about halfway along the scale, but sometimes I mix filters by applying just a little bit of two filters. Mixing filters is great if you want a very bright look, but you also don't want to overexpose the look with the filters.

Phone, Instagram, Edit, Photography

Phone, Instagram, Edit, Photography

Step Three: VSCO Cam

Sometimes if I'm going for the mixed filter look I'll add a little of a VSCO filter to counteract the bright A Color Story filter. Since the VSCO filters are generally darker, more contrasting, and less saturated, these filters and balance out the brightness of the A Color Story filter(s) if the photo is overexposed. I rarely use a VSCO filter on top of a filter from A Color Story, but I still add one once in a blue moon.
Other times, I'll skip the Color Story filter and use a VSCO filter instead. If the filter has an abundance of color and less white space, I'll skip to VSCO cam. A Color Story is ideal for photos with a lot of white space in order to make it more bright and clean. If the picture has a lot of color in it, I might want to try something a bit more dramatic, like a VSCO filter. In the past, my favorite filter was C1, since it's saturated and contrasting, but I've recently been liking A6 and HB2. A6 and HB2 are definitely a lot less saturated than C1, but they each have their own nice qualities. A6 has less contrast and is more faded, yet HB2 has a lot of contrast and a lot of brightness, kind of similar to some of the Color Story filters, but a lot more dramatic with more contrast. 
If I don't use a VSCO filter, I still use the app before I post. As I mentioned before, the interface is clean and fresh, but it also mimics the Instagram feed's grid, giving me a sneak peek of what it will look like after I post it. The grid look allows me to check to see if the picture will be cohesive with my feed. I upload every picture onto VSCO, whether or not I use VSCO to edit, so that I can check and see if it blends with the other pictures. If it doesn't match, I can easily post a different picture so that it best goes with my feed. 

Instagram, Edit, Photography, Phone

Step Four: Posting to Instagram

Ice cream, Sunny Rebecca, food, Instagram, Edit, Photography  Instagram, Edit, Photography, Ice cream, food, Sunny Rebecca

After all that work, all you have to do is hit publish! As you can see from the before and after picture, the photo has gone through a huge transformation. Want to see the picture on Instagram? Guess what? You can follow me and like it! Let's connect! Here's to doing it for the gram! 


  1. I have not used any of these apps apart from VSCO and Boomerang so I will give the others a try! :)

    What Sarah Writes

  2. Great tips. I use most of those apps for editing too, but I will have to check out Dropbox for sure. Thanks for sharing.

    March and May