Nikki McCaig Blog

How I Edit My Instagram Photos

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When I was younger, my Instagram was a place I showed off about my trips to visit friends away from university. I would post random images, use terrible filters and cheesy captions just to keep up with the trends. It was cluttered and messy and there was no sense of cohesion or order – I was just doing what my friends were doing. Once I become immersed in the world of blogging, however, this all changed. I began to consume more information about how Instagram worked, how the algorithm would function, and how I could use this strange photo posting site to help promote my work.

But even as I taught myself how to take and edit photos, and how to write meaningful captions, something was still missing. My feed just didn’t feel like me, and I could never seem to find that perfect syncronicity that my favourite bloggers and Youtubers seemed to nail. Through my job in Marketing, I grew to learn more and more about Instagram as a creative and visual platform, and found more and more accounts to take my inspiration from. This led to me finally sitting down one weeked, and teaching myself how to Instagram. I watched about 7 hours of ‘How I Edit My Instagram Photos’ videos on Youtube, and I spent far too long reading blog posts about how my favourite celebrities choose their filters. Finally, it led me to here. 

So where do I start?

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My Instagram is a bit of a process – I usually try to plan ahead in bulk, to avoid spending too much time in my working day editing and uploading. But when I do find the time to sit down and focus on my ‘gram, here’s where I start.

Take photos – with the same camera. Whilst my iPhone has the potential for good photos, to keep the quality of my images consistent, I like to make sure that each my of pictures is taken with my Olympus Pen E-PL7. It has just the right settings to keep my photos clear and high quality, without losing a a little bit of the gritty realism I like to keep in my feed. I like to choose images that fit to my chosen aesthetic – clean, white, minimalist with a touch of boho greenery. I want my Instagram to match my blog, which similarly has a clean minimalist look and feel, so this is a really important step for me. So once I’ve chosen, say 6 photos, I will pop them into my first app and get planning.

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Let’s plan this out

UNUM is one of the best apps that I use. It’s how I keep my feed looking structured and cohesive, and it allows me to really plan ahead of time, so that my images are ready to go up on the day. I know there are other Instagram scheduling apps available, such as Plann, but UNUM just has the right amount of functions for me, without being overly complex or analytical. So I pop all of my images into UNUM, and just re-arrange them into an order that feels right for me. I usually try to coordinate the images by my blog schedule as well, making sure that if I’m uploading a post about coffee shops, for example, then there’s a coffee based image on my Instagram feed that day.

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Time to edit! 

I’m not afraid to admit it – editing photos is my favourite part of social media mangement. It’s such a calming, relaxing experience, and although I love writing, sometimes it’s nice to turn your grammatical brain off and just focus on colours and shapes instead. So the two apps I generally use for my photo editing are VSCO and Snapseed – both recommended to me by various bloggers and Youtubers over the years. Firstly, I open up my chosen image in Snapseed. After cropping and straightening the image, I get to working on the details. This can mean editing out a dirty mark, an unwanted detail or label, or smoothing over a rough surface to make it look more polished. Then, as white is such a strong feature in my Instagram feed, I open up the Brush tool, switch the setting to Exposure 0.7 and just wipe it across the entire image. This makes sure that I capture every element of white I want it, and make it look as bright and clean as possible. Then I drop the tool down to Eraser setting, zoom into the image, and remove the Exposure from objects such as mugs, clothes, plants and tables, to help keep the contrast looking natural.

Once I’m happy with the overall brightness of my image, I’ll save it, and re-open it in VSCO. If an image doesn’t need too much work on it post-Snapseed edits, I’ll simply head straight into my filters, but if it still needs some work I usually head into the toolbar. Again, I like to play with the exposure levels, and brighten the image again, before adjusting the contrast to bring out some of the darker details as well. This tends to bring a level of clarity to my image before I add any filters.

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My current favourite filter on my Instagram feed is VSCO A6, brought down to 3.9 – this setting gives the white areas of my image a soft dusty brown hue to them, which I love, and just makes the image feel a little bit more cared for. Then, if this has washed out some of the colour in the picture, I’ll head back into toolbar and pop the saturation up a little bit.

My Uploading Process

Once I’m happy with my edited image, I transfer it back into UNUM to keep it in sync with the rest of the feed. From there, I’ll usually use UNUM to take the image straight to the upload page of Instagram.
As the image is already edited, I don’t have to worry about changing any of the settings, it’s just ready to go! I’ll add a caption, which is usually plant or coffee related, and then send it out into the world. For hashtags, I use a nifty little hack where I’ve added in a text shortcut on my phone for the word ‘Instagrams’ – meaning that whenever I type that word in, all of my hashtags pop up as a text option, ready to be inserted into the first comment on that picture. I’ve really enjoyed teaching myself about Instagram over the past few months, and I hope my efforts are coming across in my feed!

If you have any questions about my Instagram, please don’t hesitate to let me know either in the comments, or get in touch!

Thank you so much for reading!