After 2.5 years of blogging – I have discovered a lot more goes into social media content creation than meets the eye. Instagram, the social media platform created for ‘in the moment’ shots taken by your smart phone has now transformed into a display of artistic and highly edited content. Before you cringe at the word edited – remember – photo editing is a good thing. It’s what transforms mediocre photographs into a work of art. Now, ever wonder how Instagrammers can post such flawless content? Today I am going to show you a behind the scenes look at the not so glamorous time and work it takes and how to edit Instagram photos!
HOW TO EDIT INSTAGRAM PHOTOS
Step One: Style
Okay, so you want to brag about your newly purchased MAC lipsticks on Instagram, duh. First, select a background that will make your product pop. This may seem trivial, but it actually makes a huge difference. The key is contrast. If you are photographing medium to dark toned objects – try to use a light background. 90% of the time, I actually use contact paper as backgrounds for a good amount of overlay photos. It’s actually…genius. Why? Well for starters, it’s quick and easy. I can shoot literally anywhere I want – inside or out. Plus, I kind of have a crush on marble. Contact paper is waaaaay cheaper than investing in a marble table. You can find my favorite marble contact paper here, here and here. I have all three and like to switch them up.
If I don’t photograph flatlays on contact paper, I either photograph them on my gold glass desk (I’m in love with it!) or my faux fur rug (under $25!). I love the way products photograph on this rug – and it looks amazing against hard wood floors! I also sometimes take photos against my faux fur blanket (I have and love this one!) and cream colored pillows.
Next, arrange your items neatly. The key word here is neatly. You’ll want to make sure your items are close enough to appear in the frame, but far enough to allow the background to peak through. This is more aesthetically pleasing to the viewer, as they can make out each object individually. Props are key. Minimalist, light colored (and gold) props tend to do best. My most used props are this white pineapple jar, this metallic zebra dish, these candles (they smell amazing – I have them all!), this gold pineapple dish, this pineapple ring holder, these lipsticks (they photograph so well!), this and this coffee table book and this gold pineapple. The great thing about these props is they all double as gorgeous home decor! My room and home office are sprinkled with my photo props and they create a “feel good” atmosphere.
Step Two: Photograph
Now it’s time to take the photo! First things first. Lighting. If there is one thing I’ve learned from years of blogging – lighting is everything. Great lighting can make any photo look amazing. Poor lighting can destroy even the best photo. So, how to I ensure great lighting every time? Well, for one – I always use natural lighting. I never use flash. Never, for any reason. Flash will drown out all the colors and make everything look wonky. So, I always photograph with my windows open. To make lighting that much better, I always use my ring light. I love mine so much I am ordering a second! It has never failed me. It allows me to photograph flay lays all day and through the night. I own this ring light and this stand. While mine is on the pricey side, you can purchase this ring light (and stand!) for under $100. You can also use a softbox lighting system. I’ve heard great things about these, but I find them too big for the space I’m working with. Perhaps if I have a studio one day (a gal can dream, right?!). This set is highly rated and only $75! A cheaper alternative is studio lighting disc reflectors (here is a great set of 5 for $16!). I have a few blogger friends who use and love these!
Next up – camera and lens! Investing in a great DSLR is one of the best decisions I’ve made. My family has always been heavy into photos, so I use mine for work and pleasure! Right now I have this camera. She’s a pretty penny, but worth it. Seriously, my photos have never been so crisp. Additionally, it’s a full frame camera – meaning the camera is able to capture more into the frame. You can purchase the body only here. Here is a great bundle deal with memory card, tripod, gear bag, spare battery, cleaning kit and remote control! If you’re on a budget I would highly recommend the this camera as an alternative. It’s over $500 cheaper, but it is everything you need and more for everyday photos, blogging and Instagram photos! As for lenses, I always recommend the this lens as a great basic lens. It is fixed, meaning you can’t zoom in and out, however it provides some impressive depth of field (ie. blurs the background while the subject is in focus). I use this lens for product shots and flatlays. While we’re on the subject, if you’re looking for a great portrait lens, I’d highly recommend this lens. I use this lens for all my outfit shots. It is a great price in comparison to the next level up lenses which are in the thousands!
Finally: the angle is everything. These days, you will see a lot of Instagram product shots taken from above. This angle is visually pleasing and allows you to keep your picture clean and simple. I normally use a stool or chair to gather enough height to compensate for the zoom on my preferred overlay photo camera lens. Since you will be taking your photos from an awkward angle, make sure to hold as still as possible and take multiple photos to avoid blurry photos. Luckily, this practise also doubles as a great arm workout! Cheers to multi tasking at its finest!
Step Three: Edit
This is my favorite part of my job! I love editing photos. Love! I happen to be extremely detail oriented so my perfectionist mind has a field day making everything ‘perfect’. You can edit your Instagram photos with a number of photo editing programs, however I have recently been experimenting with Corel AfterShot Pro 2. This editing software is perfect for editing Instagram photos as it is extremely affordable and easy to use.
Step 1: Straighten
When editing photos, I first straighten the photo. Chances are, if you’re taking a photo while standing on top of a chair, you’re photo may not be 100% straight. I quickly straighten my photo in Corel AfterShot Pro 2 under Standard > Basic Adjustments > Straighten. Although straightening a photo may seem trivial, it will make your Instagram feed more visually structured!
Step 2: Crop Photo
Next, I crop my photo into a square to make it Instagram friendly. Cropping photos into a square is super easy in Corel AfterShot Pro 2 as they provide an option to crop your photo into a square! Simply click the cropping icon under your photo and select the square cropping option! From there, crop your photo into a square!
I decided I wanted to emphasize the booties in this photo so I cropped out any distracting and unwanted background!
Step 3: Remove Unwanted Shadows
Unless you have a Ring Light, shadows will likely creep into your photos. Since my Ring Light was in Florida while taking this photo, I had to improvise using Corel AfterShot Pro 2. To remove shadows, I increase the fill light in the photo. Fill light is one of my favourite tools as it brightens shadows while leaving the highlights alone. In other words, fill light helps to even out the brightness in the photo. To adjust the fill light in Corel AfterShot 2 go to Standard > Basic Adjustments > Fill Light and play around with the setting until the photo looks decent.
Step 4: Brighten Photo
After increasing the fill light, I adjust the exposure in my photos. Personally, I like my Instagram feed to be bright and cheery! Although everyone has a different aesthetic, brightening your photos always gives them an extra kick. To brighten my photos, I increase the exposure of the picture. To heighten the exposure on Corel AfterShot Pro 2 go to Standard > Basic Adjustments > Exposure. From there, increase your exposure to create a brighter photo!
Step 5: Save Image
After you have finished editing – it’s time to save your final project! To save your photo on Corel AfterShot Pro 2 go to File > Export > Export Files.