How I Edit Photos For Instagram

I've had so many questions and requests for information on how I take and edit photos for our Instagram, Pinterest, and blog so I figured it was about time to get this post going!  If you know about Instagram and Pinterest at all, you know they revolve around photos and having a consistent feed!  Ever since having Emily I have been an obsessive photo-taker, it is what it is.  I love that I have so many photos of the little things in our daily lives to look back on and how I'm able to see our babies grow with each photo.  Clearly, obsessive photo-taker here, haha!  

So onto the photo editing!

I tend to only use my Nikon, in manual mode, to take photos of the babes and our family however occasionally i definitely whip out my phone.  Currently i use the IPhone 7+.  The photo quality is amazing for a phone camera!  I'm super impressed by the capabilities of the plus's camera compared to the other IPhones, too.  All the photos included here were taken with my Nikon, however the editing process I go through is the same.  

I used to be constantly attached at the hip to my laptop with Lightroom and Photoshop, editing photos several times a day.  It was nothing short of exhausting.  I felt like it took me away from my babies and family and that was the last thing I wanted of course.  Over the past year or so I have tried several IPhone applications trying to determine which ones I get the most use out of and what works best for my style and look i try to create.  My all time favorite apps are:

  • VSCO (my main base and for sharpening every single photo)
  • Retouch (for removing objects or people in the background)
  • Facetune (for teeth whitening or blemish removing)

I feel like I have a great rhythm with these apps and know what to expect for my result when I look at the "before" photo.  My entire editing process from uploading photos from my Nikon DSLR to posting takes about 3 minutes!  That's it!  If you have a camera with wi-fi capabilities, awesome, take advantage of that if you find it easiest!  While my camera does have wi-fi and I can easily transfer photos to my phone that way I prefer to use the SD card reader.  It's so easy to use and I really enjoy being able to snap a few photos, put the camera away and edit on the go.  Most times while we're out as a family I'll edit photos in the car while Scott is driving.  That way, photo editing isn't taking me away from the kiddos once we get where ever we're going!  

Ok, so now the photos are all uploaded to my phone, right?  Here are the steps I take EVERY single time I edit a photo:

  1. Open the VSCO app, select the photos I want to edit
  2. I have 3 presets/filters I use however almost always stick with the A6 preset from VSCO's Aesthetic Series.  This is a FREE series currently! (a.k.a., Run and get it!)
  3. After I've applied A6, I adjust the exposure to my liking.
  4. Sharpen the image
  5. Correct the straightness if needed
  6. Finally in the VSCO app, if needed, I'll adjust the temperature and/or saturation (I prefer a cooler toned photo)

Now most of the time I'll be totally finished with my edit and it's ready to go.  Super quick, right!?  Sometimes however, if there are say-objects in a photo I want removed like a power line, or person in the background I'll take my saved photo from VSCO, open it in the Retouch app and remove whatever I need to.  If I feel the need for Facetune, this is when I'll open my saved photo from Retouch and do what I need to.  


Super simple and overall about 3 minutes for one photo and a few seconds for subsequent photos from the same series since the settings are going to pretty much be the same with a few adjustments.  

Below are tons of examples of how quick an "okay" image can be turned into a fun memory.  For me, deeper tones invoke more emotion and meaning so I tend to go that route. 


I love the way Emily's jean color pop here and those little feet!


Brightening up this image helps make everything pop off the screen to me, especially considering the lighting was so dreary!


This photo shows how a back lit photo with clutter on the sides can easily be taken out and brightened up.


I felt like I wasn't able to see much definition in these girls' faces until I brought my exposure down.  Luckily this photo wasn't ruined and was able to be saved! (Shooting in manual is amazing!)


Brightening and sharpening everything up in this photo of Brody makes it seem like a sunny day was outside, not a rainy one!


This photo of Emily was taken while I was setting up my Nikon settings and is clearly super overexposed.  I was so happy I shoot in manual mode because it allows me to manipulate much more than jpeg!  Obviously bringing down the exposure was the most important thing here!


It's all about exposure with me and even though it looks great in camera doesn't mean it can't look better!


This photo is an example of where I decreased the exposure.  I see so many people who adore the super bright and airy photos but I'm not one to shy away from lowering my exposure at all! 


This photo has so much white in it from the snow we had that I feel like it threw off my camera settings a bit.  This photo was super dark but I was able to save it with a few quick swipes!


This is one of my favorite photos of Emily, walking into a huge ballroom.  The colors are deepened and sort of become jewel-toned with some editing.


This photo really shows off the crinkles of Emily's dress and I love how lowering the exposure helps bring out details!


This photo shows how the A6 preset/filter deepens the greens in photos.


I'll adjust the exposure and temperature on photos to also help with the time of day the photo was taken.  Here I wanted more of an evening look, not mid-day which is when it was taken!


I adore how the VSCO presets/filters make Emily's back lit hair just go crazy! 


Again with lowering exposure I feel like I notice more details.


When I photograph details, specifically on clothing, I love getting up close and increasing the exposure a bit but adding some saturation as well.


Again, the jeans!  


Annnnnd, again! A6 really makes jeans pop for some reason! 


Sometimes I love the Legacy Series presets from the VCSO app.  These presets are considered to be the ones that "started it all" and are supposed to look "like film".  I love how there is a slight matte added!


The 05 preset/filter was used here from the Legacy Series as well.  Also the exposure was lowered.


Again with the 05 Legacy.


05 Legacy here as well and I obviously increased the exposure.


I hope you guys can take away something fun and creative from this post about how I like to edit my personal photos!  There is no right or wrong way to edit your photos as long as you love them!