Editing Your Photos (And What Apps to Use)
Editing Your Photos
(And What Apps to Use)
you choose to do it. I have a pretty regimented
a half above is a good starting point, depending on
editing protocol: start with Snapseed for
how much you want to get into the shot) and crop
brightness and contrast, then Facetune for any
to zoom later.
unwanted clothing wrinkles or acne abolishment,
Your iPhone has a built-in editing tool that
and then VSCO Cam for a very, very light filter so
works for this purpose. Open your image, tap Edit
When it comes to Instagram, the word editing is
some of these things (lightly being the operative
that the images in my grid all look uniform (more
at the bottom of the screen, and tap the icon that
often the redheaded stepchild that no one wants
word here) with editing apps. I don’t believe in
on page 34).
looks like two rotating half squares intersecting,
to talk to at the party. Sure, editing tools can be
using these apps to completely alter your face
used for evil (shaving pounds off your body isn’t
or body. But I do believe photos can have unflat-
photo to Instagram’s original square-intended
good for anyone), but when applied in the right
tering elements that can be edited so that you’re
proportions. Cropping doesn’t necessarily mean
way, they can turn good photos into double tap–
presenting yourself in the best possible light.
cutting something out of an image (though a rogue
and accessory details that need to stay sharp and
worthy ones. You don’t need to transform yourself
(Fixing photo “blemishes” isn’t solely reserved for
tourist, lingering shadow, or crumpled napkin
clear (again, not ideal scenarios for using the
or your photos into an unrecognizable state
those that sprout on your face; random cigarette
ruining the edge of a food shot is fair game for the
zoom feature). If you’d rather edit your image first
(authenticity is so much better than a heavy hand
butts on the street or a rogue piece of garbage can
chopping block), but it helps to use your phone’s
and crop later, Instagram has an in-app crop tool
on an editing app any day); rather, use them to
also be removed for a better photo.)
built-in cropping tools to home in on the image
that works wonders, too, as do the editing apps I
you want to post.
mention below.
But before I start fine-tuning, I crop my
enhance the sharpness, color saturation, bright-
I use three apps—Snapseed, VSCO Cam,
ness, and other technical elements that make an
and blogger-favored Facetune—plus Instagram’s
amateur shot look super professional.
own built-in editing tools for my postproduction
zoom. I think it distorts images and tends to make
magic. When thoughtfully applied, working with
things blurry and weird. So instead of zooming in
dresses get wrinkled. I stand in positions that look
editing apps almost feels like postproduction for a
on, say, a flat lay of my favorite beauty products
unflattering on camera and get stuck with dreaded
magazine shoot or a blog entry post. As such, the
so that I get everything into the shot, I’ll actually
“camel toe.” And, when it makes sense, I lightly fix
editing process deserves ample time and energy if
take the photo from a bit farther away (a foot and
Now, don’t get me wrong—I break out. My
just next to the Cancel button. Crop your photo
until the subject you want to post fills the square.
Cropping is great for food photos, flat lays,
For example, I don’t love using my camera’s
Check out the following pages for more detail
on how I edit.
For enhancing the brightness, contrast, shadow
Once a photo is bright and clear, import it into
This app is actually its own camera, which I
Instagram keeps getting more sophisticated in
levels, and saturation of a photo. My favorite
Facetune. Since this app is similar to Photoshop
don’t use (as I mentioned in chapter 1, I prefer
its own in-app editing capabilities, which you
thing about this app is its handy Selective Adjust
in its functionality, it’s tempting to get caught in
my iPhone’s standard camera). Instead, I like
can access by tapping on the wrench icon once
tool, which lets you brighten, saturate, or desat-
a trap of giving yourself porcelain skin, bigger
VSCO for its collection of super-minimal, clean
you’ve selected a photo to post. It has similar
urate specific areas within a whole photo. So if
boobs, a tinier waist, and anything else normally
filters. I don’t use heavy filters on any of my
brightening, saturation, and contrast tools to
you happen to be holding a pretty bouquet, you
reserved for the plastic surgeon’s office. Again,
pictures and I especially never use anything
those in Snapseed—so at times, when a raw
can isolate the blooms and saturate their colors.
this is your feed and you can do whatever you
that changes them in a dramatic way. But VSCO
photo is nearly post ready, you can skip
This is also super helpful if a photo isn’t evenly
want to your photos, but I prefer my photos
filters come with a sliding scale so that you can
Snapseed and Facetune altogether and head
lit and needs brightening in certain spots. I use
to be real and authentic, so I use Facetune’s
pump a filter’s intensity up or down. I use one
directly here. My favorite editing gizmo within
contrast controls sparingly so that my photos
Smooth tool to smooth out only the most major
specific VSCO filter on a very low intensity for
Instagram is the Adjust tool, which lets you
don’t have a fake, granulated look that too high a
of zits or unflattering body-angle situations
some of my pictures so that my grid has a uni-
level outlines and get a perfectly straight photo.
contrast creates.
(aforementioned camel toe or see-through shirts
form aesthetic (I like my feed to have a certain
Within Adjust is a proportion function, another
that would make my father blush included), as
vibe, despite all of the different subjects that live
favorite for fixing anything that happens to look
which allows you to adjust the perspective along
well as any heavy dress or shirt wrinkles that the
on it). Another cool thing about VSCO is that it
like I took the shot in a fun-house mirror.
the vertical six or the horizontal axis, and you
steamer missed. The app’s Patch tool is perfect
has its own Grid feature, which gives you a test-
can also rotate the image.
for getting rid of cigarette butts, and
ing space and lets you plan out your Instagram
Details—my favorite feature of the app—brings
grid before you hit Publish.
There is also a feature called Transform,
out the details in jewelry close-ups, product
shots, and any architectural backgrounds.
1 The original photo was taken
at night under incandescent
lighting, which makes this image
a bit yellow and too warm.
2 Using Snapseed, I brightened the photo, brought down
the warmth, and gave it more
3 Using Facetune’s Details
feature, I sharpened just the
4 I applied a light VSCO
filter and posted this image onto
1 The original photo that was
taken by my assistant at my jobsite. Note the random coffee cup
(not mine) on the left.
2 Using Facetune’s Patch
feature, I made the coffee cup
3 Using Snapseed, I made the
photo brighter and less warm and
cropped the image. 57
4 I sharpened the image using
Instagram’s sharpening tool and
posted it.
Et voilà! Postproduction editing might seem
(those lucky enough to live in a warm climate will
like a lot of work, but you’ve already taken the
find killer patterns in palm-tree leaves, in particu-
time to style and compose a cool shot, so why not
lar), and even the way that the sun’s rays might hit
put in the extra effort to fine-tune it to pro status?
your shoes or pants.
A word on shadows. When it comes to an
1 The original photo I took in
London on a gloomy gray day
didn’t highlight the pretty pink
door on this town house. 2 Using Snapseed’s Transform
feature, I straightened the image
so all the lines are more aligned.
I also brightened it and gave
more contrast to the photo so
the colors pop.
3 Using VSCO Cam, I found a
filter that added a pink overlay
to the photo, which resembled
how the door and building looked
in person. 4 I sharpened the image on
Instagram and posted the final
As with so many elements in photography,
Instagram shot, the word shadow can be dirty. You
there isn’t a right or wrong way to deal with shad-
don’t want a shadow covering your face or darken-
ows—you have to experiment and have fun with
ing the bagel-and-lox plate that should otherwise
your shots and look at potentially weird lighting
be brightening your brunch. There are times when
situations as an opportunity to get creative.
shadows are menacing—for example, if someone
is standing near you during a daylight shoot and
you can see their shadow but not them (photobomb fail), or if you’re standing in direct sunlight
1 The original, unedited photo.
and your nose is casting a beak over your face.
However, when used correctly, shadows are
2 Using Snapseed, I brightened
the overall image, then selected
certain parts of the background
to brighten while leaving our skin
actually a great way to get artsy with a shot and
3 I added a VSCO Cam filter and
then posted onto Instagram.
and window coverings (think sunlight flooding
help contextualize a post’s time of day (cereal and
morning sun, anyone?).
Interesting shadows can be created by blinds
into a bedroom through horizontal blinds),
patterns from light that shines through tree leaves
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