How I edit my photos for Instagram

How I edit my photos for insagram

I take all my photos on iPhone. It’s easy, quick and always accessible when I need a camera. I got a lot of questions about how I edit my photos I post on Instagram and here is a tutorial for you.

It took me a few months to find the edit style I like. I follow some really beautiful profiles on Instagram and had always been wondering how they get these perfectly clean photos until one of them revealed it was a DSLR… Nevertheless you can achieve really good results with your phone only. And good photography will help you to grow your account really quick.

How to edit photos for Instagram

This is one of my favourite streets in Chelsea – Cheyne Row. It’s a bit hidden and has very beautiful and photogenic houses. I’m going to show you how I edited this photo which became quite popular on my Instagram account. I edit all my photos before putting them online and this is how I do it. It can look overwhelming, but truths to be told sometimes I only apply a filter and that’s it. I hope it will be an inspiration for you to experiment with your photo edit style.

How to edit photos for Instagram
1.  I take a LOT of photos from different angles. It’s always a good idea to spend some time on the spot so later you don’t regret about not having a photo you satisfied with. Tap on the screen and scroll exposure settings up or down to see what works best.

2. I never edit in Instagram because there are better apps available for that. This is my folder with frequently used apps, but the main are VSCO, Snapseed and Afterlight.

How to edit photos for Instagram

3. First I import the best photo (or photos if I can’t pick just one) to VSCO and go to Instruments.

4. The colour scheme I want to achieve is rather light that’s why I adjust Exposure straight away.

How to edit photos for Instagram

5. I have almost all filters in VSCO, but I only use HB1 for Instagram photos. I like this a bit grey effect probably because it’s one of my favourite colours. If you thinking on your own edit style for photos think about one or two main colours you are most comfortable with in your daily life. This is how I fell in love with HB1.

6. Then I adjust the intensity of the filter. It really depends on the original photo whether to go for +12 or +10. Here I find +10 the best fit. After applying the filter I save my photo in ‘Actual Size’.

How to edit photos for Instagram

7. Next is Afterlight. In this case I decide that the photo isn’t light enough so I adjust this setting accordingly. This is very rare case but it happens.

8. I also make sure that all horizontal lines are actually horizontal.

How to edit photos for Instagram

9. Then I choose cropping tool and select ‘Square’. I know it’s possible to do it in Instagram, but you will see later why I do it at this step.

10. I don’t like that building under reconstruction on the left so I make the size of the square crop smaller. This is also a good way to work on your composition and make your photo look better.

How to edit photos for Instagram

11. Last step is to add a frame. That’s why I should already have a square photo.

12. I adjust this setting to 20% on every photo so my feed looks consistent.

And that’s it! I only use Snapseed when I need to edit small details, i.e. to add some contrast to coffee or to emphasise the colour of flowers. This app has a very cool and useful tool ‘Selective’ which allows working on really small parts of a photo.

Please let me know if this is useful and if you have any questions about taking photos with your phone, editing and other photo relates issues. I’m happy to share what I’ve learnt so far.


Interested how I’ve grown my Instagram account? Check out my free ‘Build an Authentic Instagram Account’ e-course:

  • I am really appreciating this blog of yours and I am really glad that I found it, because I take my pictures only with iPhone and I really need to learn more on this. I actually use VSCO and Snapseed to edit my insta photos, and I use photoshop to edit the photos for my blog: – the link if you would like to check out how the photos come out after editing process. They are all taken with iPhone 5.
    Now I will continue reading all your posts 🙂 I already bookmarked your blog so I am looking forward to new stuff.

    • Thank you Enchi! I really like your photos! Keep up good work 🙂

  • I was so thrilled about how you edit your photoes!!! Thank you for revealing your secrets!!!

    • Thank you Katya! Let me know if you have any questions about photo editing 🙂

  • Roman Shine

    Wow!!! This makes editing very simple. This teaches us not to over think, but to have great and better compositions before we start editing. I love using VSCO as well.

    I also think the square tool is perfect for Instagram, great you also introduced that to Instagrammers like myself.

    Thank you

    • Thank you, Roman! Yes, the main point here is to take a photo that doesn’t need or requires little editing 🙂

  • Barbara

    I am learning so much from your very informative blogs and I thank you for helping me take better pictures with my iPhone 6 Plus! I’m very excited to take your suggestions and apply to my photos when I edit I have loved taking pictures as soon as I got my very first camera phone, and I am more interested in making my photos better, so any help is much appreciated. Thanks again!!!

    • Thank you very much, Barbara! I’m happy to share everything I know about mobile photography 🙂

  • Joy Porter Drennan

    Thanks, Katya! I am an iphone photographer, too! Love it I am trying to learn snapseed for most every edit, but I am not sure what I am doing. Do the edits degrade the pixels? Your photography is fantastic.


    • Hi Joy, Snapseed is a very powerful tool! It all depends on how much you edit. Heavy editing will decrease the quality of an iphoto for sure.

  • Dale Moore (contentdale)

    Nice tips Katya. Have you tried Darkroom by Bergen Co.? It’s a very easy too use editing app. Like VSCO, there are several built in filters and you can buy more. Unlike VSCO though, you can create your own filters. You do this by making some changes, exposure, brightness etc. then saving your settings as a new filter which you can use again.

  • Hi Katya,

    I’ve downloaded the kit and some of the apps and I think it requires quite a bit of practice.

    I have two issues that I’ll need to figure out re photography:

    1. Defining the colour palette and the filter
    2. Since I’ll be using instagram as a marketing/selling tool for my services and to build my personal brand, as opposed to lifestyle photography, so there’s not always daylight available (in museums for example).

    So, I’ve been checking out some of the instagram accounts of museums for example – they play a lot with light/shadow.
    Then also, I noticed magazines choose a certain theme for the feed as well, for instance Russian Gap use a lot of portraits on their feed from events they attend.

    Anyhow, I registered on instagram for fun last autumn thanks to your email course – I think this can be such a powerful marketing tool!

    Thanks for such a detailed tutorial!