Instagram & Favorite Photo Editing Apps

Instagram is one of the most popular and fastest growing social media communities, and we can clearly see why! People have the attention span of about 8 seconds, so naturally, a photo is truly worth a thousand words (and likes)! One of the main keys to growing and attracting your Instagram followers is a beautiful profile feed! It’s a no-brainer that if you have an interesting, inspiring, and beautifully curated Instagram feed, you’ll most likely win over that new follower. Every image is important because it tells a story and your profile feed makes a first impression.

People are surprised when I tell them that 90% of my Instagram photos were taken and edited on my iPhone. With today’s smart phone technology, you don’t have to own expensive cameras or lug around bulky photography equipment everywhere you go to capture beautiful images. You can do it all on your phone!

I get tons of questions about my Instagram. Many of you have asked what photo editing apps I use and how do I keep my Instagram feed so uniform. The key is a color flow or tone. To be honest, there are only 3 photo editing apps that I use and swear by. I have a certain style that I stick to, but it took me some time to figure out my photography style and how to achieve it consistently. Here are my all-time favorite apps that I use on a daily basis and the only photo apps you’ll ever need!

Related article: Instagram Flow


PicTapGo

– $1.99

PicTapGo is one of the easiest and most user friendly photo editing apps I’ve ever used and am in love with. It’s clear, straight to the point, and so worth the $1.99. I paid for this app over 2 years ago and still use it almost everyday! The cool feature of this app is that you can “stack” and layer filters. With each filter, you can control the strength of the filter, then add on a new layer if you want to. Another amazing feature is that you can duplicate what you just did for all your photos so that it’s consistent (this is saved automatically under “History“). You can also save the specific recipe in your filter library and re-use it anytime. IMPORTANT NOTE: keep in mind that the lighting of your original image plays a lot into how the filter effects the photo. If you want your images to be consistent, make sure to snap photos during the same time of day or with similar lighting. Play with the filters and find out what look and style you like most. After a while, PicTapGo automatically adds your most used filters into a folder under My Style so they’re easy to find (I absolutely love this feature). They offer a nice wide range of filter options so I never had to buy any new ones.

My style. For me, I personally like my photos with a cool tone, little saturation and a little definition (sharpness). I don’t like images that are over saturated or over exposed where your skin tone looks like an alien or like the walking dead zombies. My personal favs that I always use are: Cool It Down, Powder, Bleached, Auto-Contrast, Auto-Color, Lights On, Crispity, Highlights, Warm It Up, Sugar Rush, and Sweet Tooth. The names are pretty straight-forward.

  • I use Cool It Down if my image is too yellow or orange.
  • I use Powder to saturate my image just a tad bit or when I do Black and White photos.
  • Auto-Contrast and Auto Color if there’s really weird lighting that needs to be corrected.
  • Lights On to brighten dark photos.
  • Crispity to add definition and a little sharpness to the image.
  • Warm It Up if my photo is too blue or if the skin tone looks too unnatural as if you’re frozen, Warm It Up is great to give a little life back into your skin color.
  • I use Sugar Rush or Sweet Tooth to add a pop of color in dull images.

photo editing app for instagram pictapgo


Afterlight

– $0.99

Afterlight was one of the first photo editing apps I paid for and it’s been a great investment as I use it everyday! It’s very easy to use once you play around with it and figure out your editing style. I personally don’t use any of the filters on Afterlight, but I use it daily for all of my cropping needs. The cropping presets are amazing along with the border options! Afterlight is my go-to app for all things border as well. I’ve attached some examples of what I’ve done on Afterlight using borders for my own Instagram photos on @brandypham.

My style. My favorite functions on Afterlight are: Crop, Clarify, Brightness, Saturation, Sharpening. That’s mainly all I use on Afterlight. Pretty amazing right? When my photos are taken with beautiful natural lighting, I usually don’t have to edit them too much and go straight into Afterlight.

  • Crop Tool: I love how Afterlight has a grid that shows up because I use it to play with composition using the rule of thirds. (Article coming soon.)
  • Then I’ll just adjust the brightness, sharpen the image a little with the Clarify or Sharpening tool, and then Saturate the image just a tad, and I’m good to go! These are my exact steps on Afterlight!

Tips on using borders with Afterlight: When using borders, it’s best to stick with a one size photo so your Instagram feed will look consistent and will have a nice flow. If you add borders to a square image, you should keep it square so all your borders match up using the same border size. If you want to alternate portrait and landscape size images with borders, use the same cropping ratio on Afterlight (there are plenty to choose from and to play with). It’s best to plan these type of photos on Planoly first so you can see how your Instagram feed will look before posting.

photo editing app Afterlight for Instagram Planolyphoto editing app for instagram afterlight planoly


SnapSeed

– Free

I was introduced to Snapped by two of my fashion friends who swore by it! It might feel a little bit more advance, but once you learn all the functions, you’ll fall in love (I promise)! It takes a little time getting used to, so play around with it and find out what you like or don’t like about SnapSeed.

My style. What I use on SnapSeed: Tune Image, Crop, Rotate, Transform, and Healing. In Tune Image: I use Brightness, Ambience, Contrast, Saturation. Crop and Rotate are pretty self-explanatory, but Transform is one of my favorite editing tools on SnapSeed. Ever have an image that looks a little wonky and lopsided? The Transform function can help even out the perspective with their vertical or horizontal option. Another favorite function is Healing. You can “heal” unwanted spots and patches on your images like crumbs, or smudges on your face without forking out the money for FaceTune.

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Planoly

– Free Trial

My Secret Sauce to plan and schedule Instagram

To make sure all of my edited images go well together, I plan my entire Instagram feed on Planoly first before publishing or posting on Instagram! I upload anywhere from 1-9 photos at a time and play with the arrangement of my images by using our Drag and Drop feature on the grid. I’ve heard so many people say that Planoly is their secret sauce and it’s so true! It’s mine too!

Here are some of the things that I personally think about when I plan and schedule my Instagram photos on Planoly:

  • Make sure each photo flows into the next photo well. For me, I use color as an indicator if the photos sit well next to each other. SeeInstagram Flow
  • The bane of my existence is two food photos next to each other or on top of each other. It’s not only food photos, but also if it’s the same type of photo (i.e. hands in similar or same position, selfies, laptop, flowers, etc). For me, I like to space out my photos and make sure that there’s a nice variety of photos with different compositions so it makes for a more interesting profile when looking at my entire profile feed at a glance.
  • When planning and scheduling your Instagram feed, think about all the new potential followers clicking onto your Instagram account for the first time. Does your feed look inspiring and interesting enough to entice new people to follow your account? Keep these things in mind when you plan and schedule your next Instagram post!

I hope you’ll find your own Instagram photography style and process. Let me know if this was helpful or if you have any questions or tips of your own. We’d love to hear from you and share it with our community! Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!

 

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XO, @brandypham

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