Oh Instagram. Is anyone else a total Insta-fanatic, frantically refreshing their feed every spare minute, or is that just me? I love Instagram, not just because I love snapping (and spying on) pretty pictures of peonies and pastel cottages, but because I love the sense of community and engagement I find there. I love chatting with internet strangers (and internet friends) about things of beauty + daily life, and feeling like this one little app on my phone holds a portal to a world full of like-minded individuals.
But I also love creating content too, so today I wanted to share with you a little of my process. I think I’m a little rare when it comes to editing my insta-snaps, because a) I use only one app, and b) my editing ‘routine’ if you like, hasn’t changed in over a year. I don’t want editing photos for my feed to be a faff, I want to open an app, click a few buttons and know my photos will come out how I like. I don’t have the time (or the inclination) to get any more involved than that. If you’re looking for a more in depth process, I love my gal Katy’s photos for example, this girl spends so much time on her snaps they deserve to be hung in a museum, and she’s always recommending a new app.
But for me it’s all about ease + simplicity, and I’ve got editing my photos down to a 30 second art now. I try to take all my photos in good natural light – not always possible, but my general Instagram ‘theme’ (I’m not entirely sure I have a specific theme but ya’know) is bright and light images. I know that photos taken in the dark or under warm yellow light aren’t really going to fly. I like my photos to be pretty clear too, so I try not to over-edit and end up with a graininess to the images. The editing steps I take are, as a general rule, the same for every photo no matter the subject matter, it’s just how much I tweak things that change! For example, I’d probably edit a photo taken outside in the sunshine less than a photo taken indoors on a slightly cloudy day.
So here’s the image we’re starting with, and it’s a pretty typical image for my feed (not least because it involves a coffee cup). Lots of white space, taken in natural light, but a little dark and shadowy. You can see that although a lot of the subject matter is white, the slightly lower light levels mean that all the whites look different shades, and almost a little dirty, and that’s what we want to fix! We’re not looking to completely change an image here, just gently improve!
So the app in question here is A Colour Story. It took me a while to grow to love this app, but the main draw of it for me is that I can do pretty much everything in one place, and I’m all about that!
The first thing I always do when I import an image to A Colour Story (after making any tweaks I need to to the orientation) is adjust the curves. It’s easy to get sucked into messing around with curves, so I keep things simple, I grab the centre point and lift it up, to a point just before the whites get too blown out and before any darker shades lose saturation. There’s no magic formula to this and it changes for every image, it just needs a little playing around!
Then, for some images, I’ll also up the brightness just a little. I find doing this tends to make the images a touch hazier and more ethereal, which I like! Again, this is a step I normally only take if it’s an image with a lot of white space, doing this on a colourful image tends to desaturate the colours too much! I only lift the brightness by around 10/15%, just enough to make things a little whiter!
Then, to make sure the image is clear + sharp, I’ll up the contrast a little. Too much of this tool can really make images noisy, so I only ever lift it by around 20% again, but I find doing this just sharpens things up a little, making any dark lines in the photo a little clearer. Again this is one to play around with, well lit photos taken in natural light with bold colours shouldn’t really need any clarity adjustments, but it can help to make darker colours pop!
Then I add a filter! This step varies but it’s always either Carrie, Valerie or Warm Fade. I very rarely apply the filter at full strength, as it tends to either blow the highlights up or make things too grainy, it’s usually around 40-50%. This step is what makes my images look cohesive in my feed, it makes sure that all the whites are similar tones and that they all seem similar, even if the subject matter and colours are completely different. I like my images to be bright, but with a hint of warmth, so sometimes I’ll just add a little of Warm Fade to the image to warm things up a little!
One final step that I only do on an image like this which is mostly white, is to lift the shadows a little! This just helps fine tune the image so it has that bright-white-Instagram look, and isn’t something I do to every image, but it often just polishes the ones I do!
And that’s it! The image you’re left with is bright + light with a little warmth to it, not too grainy and it hasn’t taken you an hour to do!
I hope that’s helpful/interesting to some of you, I’m very much of the mindset that Instagram shouldn’t be a chore – it should be fun and a great place to engage with likeminded people! Whatever your editing style, make sure you’re taking the time to like and comment on the photos you enjoy, that’s what it’s all about!
And psssst, don’t forget to follow me!