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How to Edit Instagram Photos Like a Pro

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May 21, 2024• Proven solutions

Whether you're looking to become the next Kylie Jenner or simply want more exposure for your business, creating amazing Instagram shots is key. This is because Instagram suffers with chronic content overload. More than 95 million photos and videos are shared on the platform every day, which means that your posts can easily disappear into the ether.

So, what does it take to go from insta-average to gram greatness? An expensive camera? A degree in photography? Not necessarily. While these things will certainly help, you still have greatness within your reach thanks to the Instagram photo editor app. We'll go through some top tips on how to edit Instagram photos like all the other professionals out there, so that you can enjoy gorgeous grams every time.

You may also like: Top 10 Best Instagram Photo Editors for 2018 >>

How to Edit Instagram Photos like a pro

Let's take a look at how you can start editing Instagram photos with professional flair, to get your account jumping like all the superstars out there.

Before you start editing

If you're dealing with a simply awful shot, no amount of editing is going to make things great. Beginning with an awesome shot and striving to make it perfect is a much better strategy, so think about how you're setting up, lighting and taking your shots to ensure success.

Often, one of the best routes to greatness is by imitating an already great artist. Are there influencers on the Instagram platform whose style you would love to emulate? Take note of what they do and what makes their images better than others, and work to replicate their success in your own shots. Take a look at our iPhone photography tips for advice on creating gram-worthy shots every time.

You may also like: Photography Tips for iPhone

How to edit Instagram photos within the app

Editing images for that professional touch doesn't have to be hard or time consuming. In fact, once you know what you're doing, you'll be able to crank every single visual you post into top gear, with just a few taps here and there. Here are some top tips on how to edit Instagram photos to help you post like a true pro.

  • Take a great photo to begin with
  • It's a bit of a no-brainer, but if your photograph sucks from the get-go, none of the Instagram photo editor apps will fix your mess for you. Take heed of our photography tips and begin with an awesome shot before you've even started to fiddle with the software.

  • Upload like a pro
  • Hopefully you're comfortable with uploading images to Instagram, but if you're still in the dark, here's how to do it. Open the Instagram app on your device and click the plus sign to upload an image. You'll find this in the bottom of your screen front and centre. From here, simply click the photo you'd like to upload from your camera roll.

    When you upload, Instagram automatically crops your image to their signature square format. However, if you haven't decided how you want to crop your photo or would prefer it at its original width, you can simply click the expand icon in the left corner to take it back to full size. You can upload one image, or up to 10 photos at once, so don't be shy!

  • Select your filter
  • Now you can start to really have some fun! The built in Instagram photo editor app is a pretty powerful little tool, and there's loads of tweaks and edits you can make to step your photo sharing up a notch. The first thing to do is choose one of the many awesome filters which are built into the Instagram app.

    There's no hard and fast rule about which filter looks best; it really comes down to personal taste. However, it's worth thinking about what you want to achieve, and go for a filter that creates the right type of atmosphere for your scene. Here are some of the most popular Instagram filters, and how each one will change your image:

    • X Pro II: One of our favorites, this one sharpens, adds contrast and a vignette edge, to give photos a dramatic, professional effect. This one is a particularly good choice for modern photos of people
    • Moon: If you love black and white photography, this filter is a great choice. Shadows are more intense, highlights seem to pop and the soft focusing gives a nicely aged look to the images.
    • Lo-Fi: Another favorite over here, Lo-Fi saturates your image with rich colors and darkens all the shadows to add drama and intrigue.
    • Hefe: If you love the vintage look, Hefe will be a great choice. It adds a yellow tone and darker border for an edgy, aged appearance to your shots.
    • Valencia: Hefe not aged enough for you? Try out Valencia. The addition of warm tones and faded colors will give your images an antique look, perfect for Insta-greatness.

    There are plenty of other filters to play with, so have a tinker and see which ones you like best. You may find that different filters suit different types of shots, or that you prefer to use the same one or two to give your Instagram feed a uniform style that is all your own.

    To help you refine your photos with the same filters regularly, you can reorder the filter options on the Instagram photo editor app itself. Simply press and hold the three grey lines on the filter you want to move, then slide it into the position you wish. You can also hide filters entirely from the ‘manage' functions of the menu, so that you don't keep being offered a filter you really don't like.

  • Add a touch of lux
  • Have you ever noticed the lux function on Instagram? If you want to know how to edit Instagram photos like a pro, then this is one feature you really need to get to know intimately. It's super easy to use, but perhaps you've never found it. Well, let us welcome you to the world of better photos.

    When you're still on the filter selection screen, do you see that little sunshine-like symbol at the top? Hit that, and then fiddle with the slider to add more of less lux to your image. This tool automatically tweaks the saturation and contrast, adding vibrancy to your photos and highlighting the small details that make a good photo great. Slide up for more or down for less and learn to love the lux touch!

  • Do some basic editing
  • Within the Instagram photo editor app, aside of the filters there are also some tools for the most basic of manual image editing. It's well worth becoming adept at these, because on your quest to discover how to edit Instagram photos like a pro, these handy functions really do separate the men from the boys. Here's how they work:

    • Adjust: Also know as the ‘straighten my shot' tool this is crucial if, like so many of us, you're incapable of taking a photo completely straight. Find something perfectly horizontal or vertical, and line it up with the handy guides within the tool.
    • Brightness: Shots a bit shady? This can add a touch of sunlight and brightness to any image, very useful for those taken in poor lighting or at night.
    • Contrast: When everything is somewhat wishy-washy, contrast will adjust the difference in light balance to add more variation between light and shadow. Alternatively, if your image is a bit over exposed, less contrast can tone things down a bit.
    • Structure: When you want to pick out those little details, structure will help add texture to your image. Great for landscapes and nature photos but not so great on portraits.
    • Warmth: Adjusting the tones on your images can make things more dramatic, friendlier, or more edgy. Sliding the tool to the right will add sepia and orange tones, perfect for a sunset or holiday shot, whereas to the left will make things cooler and more blue-ish.
    • Saturation: Adjusting the saturation can make the colors in your photos more vibrant but be cautious in its use as it can make photos look totally over-edited. Slide the adjuster completely to the left to turn your image black and white.
    • Fade: As you might guess, fade makes your picture look faded. It's great for manually adding a vintage feel to your photos if the built-in filters just aren't doing it for you.
    • Highlights: Make whites whiter and brights brighter by adjusting this setting up or move it down to tone down highlights that are just too poppy.
    • Shadow: As the alter-ego to highlights, you can already guess what this tool does. Use it to add drama by darkening shadows in your image, or make previously unseen details reappear by reducing the depth of the dark areas.
    • Color: Add a tint to your photos of your choice of color and choose whether to apply it to the shadows or highlights of the image.
    • Vignette: Love the attention focusing abilities of dark edges around your subject? Vignette adds this automatically, and you can adjust the intensity of this effect with ease.
    • Tilt shift: If you want something in the foreground in focus and everything else out of focus, this is the tool that imitates what only the most expensive cameras can do. Choose a circular shift to pick out a particular object, or a linear shift to focus everything at a certain depth in the photo.
    • Sharpen: To make your images super clear, sharpen is a great tool. Unlike Structure it doesn't add extra detail, it simply enhances the details that were already there for a clearer, more professional image.

    Once you've finished editing your image, you're all ready to post it. Don't forget to make the most of hashtags and an interesting caption to help other users find your photos and consider tagging your location to get even more likes and followers.

So now you know how to edit Instagram photos on the Instagram photo editor app. You don't always have to post your photos to Instagram either. Simply turn on your airplane mode and the app will allow you to save your photos locally, letting you make use of all the funky tools available without having to share your images directly.

Do remember that Instagram images are 1080 x 1080 pixels when they are uploaded. You might not realise this as they are certainly a lot smaller when you view them. Instagram itself resizes each image to 612 x 612 pixels, but when it's displayed in a user's feed, it's even smaller again, at just 510 x 510.

What this means for you is that, although the picture displayed is small, any distortion caused by expansion of a small image in the first place will be replicated even at smaller sizes. When it comes to insta-worthy images, quality is king, so never be tempted to share anything that is any less than 1080 x 1080 pixels. If you've got smaller pictures that you are itching to share, do so via other social media platforms.

How is your Instagram photo editing going? Do you have any images you're particularly proud of? Let us know and send us your own top tips for how to edit Instagram photos.

author avatar
Shanoon Cox
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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