How to edit awesome photos for Instagram

How to edit awesome photos for instagram, using just your phone!

So, I like to Instagram my food. I know, I know – it’s annoying. I am your stereotypical foodie grabbing shots of her food before eating, and I’m OK with that. I’m not here to show you pictures of avocado on toast right now, though, I’m just here to give you some easy tips on how to edit photos for Instagram. So you can do it to.

If I’m at home, I often fiddle around with things for so long that I then have to reheat said food because it’s gone cold! I don’t often put that in the caption (although maybe I should… disclaimer These pancakes were fab even after 10 minutes of photographing and a quick Chef Mike reheat!).

But one thing that other bloggers, foodies, and casual Instagram users often ask me is how to edit photos for instagram and get them so sharp and bright and… HD-like? I must shoot on a DSLR, surely?

Nope! Well, very rarely. Some photos are shot with a DSLR, true – but only if I’m doing a shoot for a recipe to go on the blog. Probably about 90% of my instagram photos are shot purely with my iPhone 6S – cracked screen and all! I mean, the thing has a 12-megapixel camera in it so, why wouldn’t I use it? It’s often the closest camera to hand, and certainly the easiest to start snapping away with!

So, what are my top tips for how to edit photos for instagram? Keep it simple. You don’t need a dozen expensive apps. You just need the camera app, and, at most, an editing app of choice.

How to edit photos for Instagram: iPhone photography tips

Tip number one: my first trick – if it’s a trick? Tip, maybe? Make sure you have HDR selected across the top, so you get the top quality possible, saved right there on your device. It, basically, makes everything sharper to the eye.

HDR is selected with the letters go yellow

Tip number two:  I like to shoot my photos mostly with the square option selected. This lets me centre things or frame them nicely, if I’m adding in something other than the food on my plain white background windowsill.

Tip number three: following on from above, I also shoot with the grid turned on. I don’r actively follow the rule of thirds most of time time, especially when I’m largely shooting my white photos, but it is useful at the very least for trying to get things roughly centred. If your grid isn’t  on, you can turn it on by going to Settings > Photos & Camera, and then just make sure the grid slider is in the on position.

Tip number four: tap your finger on the screen where your main element of focus is. This tells the camera where to look and sorts out lighting, largely (in more technical terms, it sets the focus and exposure where you tap).

How to edit photos for Instagram: photo editing tips

I’m sure there are a hundred and one different ways and apps you can use to edit your photos on your iPhone (I swear I have about 6 myself!), and you can do some stuff just within the Photos app alone, but I have a favourite, which I’ll share with you now.

I edit all my photos in Snapseed (this is not a sponsored post). Like, literally. I have a few other apps, including one called Afterlight which is pretty nice, but Snapseed is my favourite, and has been for some months now. It was free when I got it, and at the time of writing it’s free now too. I think they did, briefly, charge for it a year or so ago.

All the tools and filters available in Snapseed

The main features I use, in just about the order that I use them are:

  • Tune image
  • Glamour glow
  • Tonal contrast
  • HDR scape
  • Details
  • Crop (if not square already)

I don’t necessarily use each of them every time – sometimes I’ll go to use the HDR scape tool, and the photo just doesn’t react well. If that’s the case, I just press the X in the corner to revert the changes, or, if I’ve already applied them, I can go to either the vertical 3 dots in the top right and tap ‘Undo’; or I can go to the little number (the value changes depending on how many tools you’ve used or filters you’ve applied), tap that and select the edit I want to amend or remove. Love it!
Once I’m done editing, I just tap ‘Save’ and select ‘Save a copy’ – this way the original is still around incase I need it later, and I have my new, edited version right there on hand!

A typical bowl of oats, before and after a quick Snapseed edit!
A typical bowl of oats, before and after a quick Snapseed edit!

And… that’s all there is to it! Seriously. I grab my phone, snap some photos and then spend a couple of minutes editing and done!

What are your favourite ways to edit photos? Do you use your phone too?

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2 thoughts on “How to edit awesome photos for Instagram

  1. useful thanks! Although I’ve never really understood why snapseed is so popular especially compared to afterlight as results are so similar but I find it harder to use. Depends what you’re used to I guess! xxx

    1. I think you’re right, it’s largely personal preference – I have both apps and just prefer the results I can create with Snapseed. One day I’ll probably figure out the knack of using Afterlight too and I could be converted!! Thanks for reading 🙂

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