I am not going to break the news to you if I tell you that visuals is the most important part of Instagram.
However, a lot of people fall into the trap of how deceitfully easy it is to snap an image and mindlessly upload it to Instagram. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should do it. While it seems like Instagram is the easiest social platform out there, it may not actually be the case.
You have to think about your brand, the quality of both your contextual and technical aspects of your visual storytelling. Do not throw away hours you’ve spent creating and polishing your Instagram presence for one blurry, badly-lit image.
We all have that one image we really want to post, even though we know better. Thankfully, there are tons of free and paid photo-editing Instagram tools that can save the day and make that questionable image light years better. So, no more excuses — let’s create beautiful images and quality visual content for your business.
Instagram native editing capabilities
Instagram has really stepped up their editing game in the recent years. Stop slapping that Lo-Fi filter on everything; instead find your unique filter that will give a custom, recognizable look to your Instagram posts, unifying the look of the content. Some filters will warm up the colors in the photo, while others will make them cooler. If your brand employs colorful imagery, find a filter that will accentuate colors in your photos (consider Clarendon, Lark or Juno for intense hues). If your branding is based on a few key colors, try Pepretua for accentuating blues and greens, or Valencia for enhanced yellows.
From filters to those fine tuning features, make sure you understand what they do and how each one affects the image.
Do not throw away hours you’ve spent creating and polishing your Instagram presence for one blurry, badly-lit image.
Check out gorgeous free and paid VSCO filters. They add a little more sophistication and individuality to images. Because most people default to Instagram filters, you can easily take it a step further by using VSCO filters instead. Not only do they look more unique, they also usually come in groups. So, if you’re one of those people who can’t commit to a single filter, get a collection of 2 to 3 similar filters so you have a bit more room to play with the looks of your posts. Plus, VSCO is one of the original photo-editing apps for Instagram and has a lot of fine-tuning capabilities as well that, until recently, were far superior to Instagram’s.
Now this is fine tuning at its best! This free app allows you to play around with details of the image, and even control brightness and contrast of specific parts of an image!
I love to use this tool when I get uneven lighting in photos, so I can pretty much smooth out those unflattering shadows on a face. You can also play with the perspective and even the angle of your face (it detects the face and you can move it around pretty seamlessly).
They also have a wide variety of vintage- and film-inspired filters, so if you’re all about creating a sense of nostalgia with your images, you have to try this one out.
Snapseed‘s interface is pretty simple for the powerful features you get with it.
Afterlight is another very cool photo-editing app. While there is no free version, the $2.99 price tag is well worth the capabilities. Plus, once you pay for the app, there are no in-app purchases so you get all of the features without ever having the need to pay extra for advanced or new features.
What I really like about Afterlight is the ability to create and manipulate layers. Have you ever had an experience where you were playing with the photo and you wanted to take out some of the previous steps without undoing all the work that came after it? This is where this feature comes in especially handy!
Also, what differentiates this app from the rest of smartphone editing apps is the ability to tweak the hue and saturation of specific colors to create some really unique results. This is probably as much control over the photo as you’d ever want or need. Plus, this app has some of the coolest fonts and typography styles around.
Yes, it’s that same Adobe Lightroom. However, now you can also download it to your smartphone. Adobe creates amazing products for photography, videography, and graphic design (among many other creative endeavors). So, this app is no different.
It boasts tons of useful features like resizing and cropping, and improving a variety of other adjustments, like contrast, lightness, vibrance, hue, and saturation. You also have an option of sharpening your image, which, I find, is much more precise than a lot of other apps and tools. Of course, if you have a very blurry or grainy image, do not expect it to create miracles, yet take a look at how much improvement it can make in your photo.
I love this app because it’s like a lighter version of Adobe Photoshop on the go. Now you can leverage all of these powerful capabilities for Instagram photo-editing right in your smartphone.
I love this tool and create a majority of my visual content in Canva. This website makes it easy to build correctly-sized images for all major social media platforms. They have a beautiful library of photos and fonts, but you can also upload your own visuals and design pictures from scratch using text and filters.
To create a completely unique filter for your Instagram photos, use Canva (free and premium). Once you found that ideal balance of saturation, brightness, contrast, hue, and other options, save the filter code you get in the settings window. Now you can apply a uniformed filter to all your images by simply pasting the code.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer or have a very sharp sense for color palettes to create stunning, outstanding visuals. Design Seeds is a great resource if you’re not sure which colors go well together.
I love to geek out on this website for gorgeous palettes. If you’re looking for color combinations for your graphics, this website is full of great color palette suggestions.
This website is a great easy-to-use photo-editing app for Instagram for Instagram and beyond. You can crop and rotate images, as well as, add filters and frames to it in pixlr-o-matic.com. You don’t have to install any programs on your computer either; typing in the web address is enough to get started with this tool.
What tool do you use and recommend to create beautiful images? I’d love to hear your suggestions and reviews of other apps and tools. Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation!