Instagram Photo Editing Tips

Over the past few months, I’ve been asked by several people how I edit my Instagram photos, so I thought this could be a helpful post for everyone. I only use 3 apps to edit my photos, and I always do everything in the same order so I don’t miss a step. Here we go!

Step 1: Lighting with Afterlight


Lighting can make or break a photo, so I use Afterlight to Brighten and Sharpen every shot. Depending on the photo, I may increase the Contrast slightly and adjust the Highlights and Shadows. If my photo already has a light leak of its own, I will often enhance it with a Light Leak film texture. (My favorite is #25.)

Pro Tip: Press your finger on the photo you’re editing and it will toggle back to the original, unedited state. Lift your finger and it will go back to your edited version!

Step 2: Filter with VSCO Cam


While Afterlight and Instagram both have many options to choose from, I find that VSCO Cam is the most robust app when it comes to filters. I downloaded all the free sets and purchased the $4.99 bundle pack, which was well-worth the money. I will warn you, the amount of filters will be overwhelming at first, but don’t be afraid to experiment with them! It took me a while to figure out that “M6” is my favorite.

Pro Tip: Be sure to press every icon to see what everything does!

Step 3 (Optional): Insta-ready with SquareReady


If my photo doesn’t look great when cropped in a square, I will use SquareReady to keep the original vertical or horizontal orientation. (Android users: try SquareDroid!)

And there you have it!

I hope this post was useful and will help find your own photo editing style. One last thing I’d like to share is that while we’d all love to have an exact recipe to follow when editing Instagram pictures, it simply isn’t that easy. Each photo is unique and will require slightly different things each time — for example: some will need more brightening, while others will need less of a filter. It just takes practice, so get Instagramming! And be sure to follow me on IG too 😉

If you have any questions or, better yet, would like to share your own photo editing tips, please share them in the comments below! 🙂

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  • Reply Beauty Vanity

    I just started using VSCO too and it’s amaaaazing! I’ll never go back 🙂

    xx Alyson
    The Beauty Vanity

    December 12, 2014 at 11:00 am
    • Reply Christina

      Right?! It’s so good. Glad you love it! What’s your favorite filter?


      December 12, 2014 at 11:38 pm
  • Reply Melissa San Vicente

    Okay, we are twinning ALL the time. M6 is my favorite! And S2. I’m 100% sharing this. You are the cutest! <3 xo, Mel.

    December 12, 2014 at 11:07 am
    • Reply Christina

      Great minds think alike! ILY! 😀

      December 12, 2014 at 11:38 pm
  • Reply sincerelydolly

    Many thanks for the tips! I’ve heard of the last two apps but not of Afterlight. I’m definitely going to check it out! There’s just so many things you can do to a picture these days, I’m totally overwhlemed.

    December 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm
    • Reply Christina

      You’re so welcome! Afterlight is really great and you’re going to love it. If you still are feeling overwhelmed after playing around for a bit, let me know and I’ll do my best to help! 🙂


      December 12, 2014 at 11:37 pm
  • Reply Victoria

    Wow, I was unaware of the plethora of photo editing apps out there! I’ve never heard of VSCO but I will definitely check it out now.

    December 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm
    • Reply Christina

      There are so many more, but these are definitely my favorites. Have fun exploring VSCO!


      December 12, 2014 at 11:35 pm
  • Reply Christine

    Thanks for the suggestions! When you use your iPhone, do you take pictures HDR on or off?

    January 9, 2015 at 8:45 am
    • Reply Christina

      Good question! I’ve tried on numerous occasions to take pictures with HDR on, and it seems to really help when photos are incredibly back-lit. However, other than that scenario, I keep it off. 🙂

      January 9, 2015 at 10:37 am

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