The biggest compliment you can pay any blogger comes in the form of a question: “How did you edit this picture?” Listen, dear reader — I spend an embarrassing amount of time deciding which of the hundreds of pictures from a photo shoot will make it to my Instagram feed, and once I’ve gotten that narrowed down, I have to make the picture look aesthetically pleasing.
My old photo editing guide is a bit of a mess compared to this one, mainly because I had no idea what I was doing. I can’t promise that I know what I’m doing now, but I am definitely more knowledgeable than I was then! The most significant change: I’ve ditched iPhone editing and edit all of the pictures you see in Adobe Lightroom CC. Let’s explore how things happen!
1. Take A Picture
Y’all, I don’t consider myself photogenic (although I’m trying to be kinder to myself!), so this is an exhausting process (shoutout to Vagner for being the ultimate Instagram husband and rarely complaining). It takes a long time for me to get a picture that I love, and I’m usually looking for something that has ample natural light, isn’t cropped in any weird ways and reflects my personality. All of the pictures in my feed are taken with my Canon 60D + 50mm 1.4 lens (although I’m selling my Canon 60D very soon because I just ordered a Canon 6D) or my iPhone 8 Plus. Nothing too fancy here.
2. Edit in Adobe Lightroom CC
This is the key step that it’s often easier to avoid. I used apps like VSCO and Snapseed for years because editing in Lightroom seemed cumbersome and unnecessary. While I think it’s possible to create beautiful content without using Lightroom, the program makes it so much easier. It’s only $9.99 a month, and it’s proven much more useful than Netflix which is the same cost!
One of the reasons I love Lightroom is because of its preset filter. You can create your own preset to apply to your pictures, or you can save yourself major time and invest into a preset pack that’ll help your feed look cohesive. I swear by Dreamy Presets Millennial Pink and edit all of my pictures with this pack. Other Lightroom presets that are popular among fashion and lifestyle bloggers: Aspyn Ovard presets, Jaci Marie presets, Hello Fashion Blog presets, and Tezza presets. Good presets are usually not free, but once you find a pack that works, it’ll make Lightroom so much less scary for you. I apply the preset, adjust the tone and lighting curve, and move on to the next step!
In my quest to make my Instagram feed more representative of my personality, I’ve decided to have a little bit of fun with my pictures! No idea whether it’ll stick, but I downloaded an app called Filterloop that lets you add dust, grain and other effects to your photos. Vagner asks why I’d want my pictures to look distorted, which is a good question — but I’m just having fun with it!
As always, I love FaceTune (please FaceTune responsibly) and the regular photos app for straightening and cropping pictures. After I’m done, I publish and move on to the next image! My photo editing process changes SO much from year to year, but this is my updated 2018 guide, and I’ll probably stick with it for a few more months at least. I hope this is somewhat helpful for anyone who’s searching for how to edit Instagram photos!
Ayana Lage is a fashion and lifestyle blogger based in Tampa, Florida with a background in digital media and content marketing. She’s worked for Bustle, the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, and numerous freelance clients. As a blogger, she’s worked with 50+ lifestyle, fashion, travel and food brands. When she’s not blogging, she’s focused on her day job in digital marketing, watching Queer Eye, or laughing aloud at tweets from @dril.