How I Edit Instagram Photos

How I Edit Instagram Photos

Above: Black Le Pen / Fashionistas I Met And Liked Notebook / Laut White Marble iPhone6 Case / Illesteva Leonard Mirrored Sunglasses

The most common question I am asked on Instagram is how I get the look of my photos to make my feed cohesive. I try to respond to every message I get, but I thought it would be more helpful (and less repetitive for me) to write a blog post about how I edit Instagram photos for my feed. Today I’m sharing a step-by-step guide to how I edit my Instagram photos. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Start with a Quality Photo
I do not take photos with my phone. Very rarely will I post a photo taken with my phone. The quality is not what I would like it to be, and they are a better canvas if well exposed. If you need some photography tips, I have a offer a great online photography course for free. You can use a camera with wifi, an eyefi card, or use some other way to transfer your photos over (tutorial here). I prefer Dropbox, you’ll see why in a minute.

How I Edit Instagram Photos

The before photo.

2. Edit in Lightroom
As a professional photographer, I edit all of my photos in Adobe Lightroom. Very rarely will I open them in Photoshop to do a full edit, but I do use Photoshop for the finishing touches. I use a custom preset that I’ve designed to brighten them up, lower highlights & whites, increase vibrance, decrease saturation, decrease yellows/oranges/reds, and increase teals & greens. I also apply a lens profile so the photo is not distorted. Then I export using a custom export preset that I’ve designed to export at 1400px wide directly to my Dropbox folder.

How I Edit Instagram Photos

3. Download from Dropbox
Pretty simple step. I download the image from dropbox so I can edit in programs on my phone. I can technically skip step #2, but as a professional photographer it would be like nails on a chalkboard for me not to finish an image before sharing.

How I Edit Instagram Photos

How I Edit Instagram Photos

4. Import to VSCO
I then import my image to VSCO to apply one of my favorite filters. A long time ago I bought a minimalist pack that I really enjoy, along with a few others. My favorite filters are A6, A9, G3, M5, and Q4. I use A6 the most, and always tone down my filters to a 9/10 strength. I then save the file as a full size version.

How I Edit Instagram Photos How I Edit Instagram Photos

5. Open in Instagram
I then open my photo in Instagram to do further edits. In Instagram I apply a filter (My favorites are Lark and Juno), then tone it down by 25-50%. I then enter their manual editing screen and adjust brightness, contrast, temperature, highlights, and sharpening. By this time I am usually happy with my photo and ready to post.

How I Edit Instagram Photos
Photo after all edits are complete.
How I Edit Instagram Photos

6. Post to Instagram
After all edits are complete, it’s time to post to Instagram. I prefer to use a shorter caption, and no more than 3 hashtags. Emoji are always necessary ;). If you decide to do a similar edit, I’d love to see it! Use the hashtag #hejdolledit to share with me.

Finally shared our trip to Sea Ranch on the blog today, link up ????! #california_igers #searanch #travels

A photo posted by Jessica Doll / Hej Doll (@hejdoll) on

Do you have a specific method for editing your Instagram photos?

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Responses to “How I Edit Instagram Photos”

  1. My routine is somewhat similar as yours except I take photos with my iPhone and if I couldn’t wait to get on my computer to edit them in Lr (which I mostly do for my blog photos), I just edit them in Snapseed. DropBox has been a lifesaver, really. I use it literally more than I use my external hard drive to access files instantly!

    1. *I take photos with my iPhone (if I don’t have my mirrorless camera with me). 😀

    2. Isn’t it?! I love it to work between my laptop and desktop computers. I’ve heard great things about snapseed as well, but just don’t personally prefer it.

  2. These are some great tips for editing instagram photos!! I am trying to get better at editing my photos before I post them on IG and these tips will be helpful – thanks!
    Charlene The Frugal Fashionista

  3. Thanks for the tips!!

  4. your photos are always so good. thanks for this!
    Southern Elle Style

    1. Thank you. 🙂

  5. I really need to become more diligent in only posting high quality photos on IG! Sometimes I just get super impatient and want to post photos from my phone rightthissecond! And then later I am sad when I look back at my imperfect feed, haha. I really need a pro Dropbox account… I run out of room quick!

    1. I totally understand. It’s so hard to wait sometimes. I don’t have a pro account and have managed ok. I just clean it out every now and then.

  6. I’ve been thinking about doing one of these posts as well, and my process is totally different from yours! I don’t even use Lightroom, but I bet it’s fantastic. May have to download it now just to play around with it! xx Adaleta Avdic

    1. Ooh, I’d love to see yours! I’m always interested in how other people edit their photos as well.

  7. Your photos are always so gorgeous. I’ve been meaning to get an eyefi card so that I can take more photos with my camera and then immediately edit on my phone to post!

    Fizz and Frosting

  8. I always love seeing how other bloggers edit their photos! This is such an informative and great post! Your feed is goooorgeous. xo

  9. Thanks for sharing your tips! You definitely have beautiful photos!!

    Xo, Brianne

  10. These are all great tips! I really need to start posting photos from a camera and not from my iPhone all the time.

    Amanda ||

  11. Thanks for sharing! I love the brightness and cleanliness of your images always!


  12. These are some amazing tips!! Totally bookmarking this post!! I love the idea of using Dropbox!! <3
    Amanda |

  13. Great post! You have some amazing tips!! – Style by Liv

  14. i haven’t used an eyefi card b/c i usually take photos in RAW on the camera. do you take photos with your camera with the intention of only using them for instagram, or do you set your camera to save both RAW and JPG versions? kinda curious on that! i mostly use my phone to take the photos, so they’re not as good of quality.

  15. What a great post! My feed is pretty cohesive and i try to maintain a white color palette which can be rather limiting but one of my favorite apps for achieving bright whites is actually Facetune, and I use the teeth whitening tool 😀 it works really well! 😀 And Snapseed is another favorite.
    Lauren Jade
    Lauren Jade Lately
    Simplify Life, Maximize Happiness

    1. Hahahaha. Oh my goodness, that’s genius. I’ve used it to clone out weird things sticking into the photo before like odd leaves or tree branches but never thought to use it that way.

  16. Molly Moon

    Fabulous tips! I love to see how others edit their instagram photos–it’s a fun way to learn about new editing apps! I just downloaded Lightroom Mobile last week, it’s so much fun to work with.

    Molly | Hey There Sunshine

  17. […] VSCO Photo editing tool. I use this for every single one of my instagram photos, read about how I edit Instagram photos here. […]

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