how I edit my photos for Instagram

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he number one most frequently asked question that I get, is how do I edit my photos. “Ah-hah!” I say (as if I was the Wizard of Instagram Oz ) If it’s a picture I’ve taken with my iPhone- I always, always use the VSCO app. If it’s with my big girl camera, my Canon 100D, I always, always use Photoshop and apply some actions- but that’s a whole other post.

First, let’s tackle VSCO!

VSCO is my most used app, after Instagram. In fact, I never use Instagram’s filters. Some people use Snapseed or Afterlight, but VSCO is what I know and love. It’s always worth purchasing a few collections in the VSCO shop- they’re not very expensive and it all helps to suss out which filter and adjustments suit you. Personally, I’m into the A series.

Before and After

Here’s the Before photo that I took against a black backdrop of a Peony flower. The light in the room where I took the photo wasn’t the best- it makes the whole photo appear faded and a little bit…fug? It definitely needs some pep!

I applied my favourite filter and then bumped up the saturation a notch or two. I do the same with the brightness and contrast. If a photo is too ‘yellow’ I turn down the temperature a few notches- handy in those evening photos inside restaurants.

Voila! You can see how much of a difference it’s made.

The result is much brighter and vibrant. You can now see the petals of the flowers, as if a stream of light was shining across it. The black background is a little more dense but still matte, making the colours pop even more.


Often, I’ll layer a photo; I’ll filter it once with an effect, save it to my camera roll again, and then upload it back to VSCO and apply another filter. I like this method especially if I want a photo to look moodier. These are some ‘moody’ examples, where I’ve layered filters.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with a9 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

These were all taken on my iPhone 6- nothing overly fancy pants. First, I applied a filter from the A series, saved it, and then applied another filter (usually from the G or C series)

I think composition also plays a HUGE role in making the most of your Instagram shot. We all love a flat lay- but I also like to think about texture and shadows. If the light is right, getting an extreme close up of an object(in my case, usually food!) makes all the difference. In doing so- that photo of a steamed bun has gone from…a photo of a steamed bun to the KING OF ALL STEAMED BUNS.

I like my photos to look really vibrant but I also don’t want them to be too bright. I prefer a darker, moodier aesthetic, so whilst these are the filters that I use, they aren’t the be all and end all of filters. It all comes down to your own personal preference.

Give it a go and watch your feed evolve! Give me a prod on Instagram whilst you’re at it – you can find me @theawkwardblog


Author: Angela Shek

just a clueless mama in East London

10 thoughts on “how I edit my photos for Instagram”

  1. I owe ALL of my Instagram improvements to you. SOLELY to you. You told me to give VSCOcam another go when I said I was a little bit meh about it … and you showed me HOW. Your photos are always so, so stunning. Thank you x a million!


  2. It is totally down to you. You really helped me hone my eye for better presented images and you were (and continue to be) so incredibly generous with your thoughtful advice and suggestions. Other bloggers would shy away from giving specific help or instruction, but I have always really appreciated your generosity. Thank you!


  3. I haven’t used VSCO in a long time. I pretty much you Instagram’s filter and stuff for my photos. I think they work for me as of now. Who knows! That might change one day.


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