Hi friends! SO I’ve had a request for this blog post for YEARS now. How’s that for being on top of my game? My style of photo editing has changed a bit over time– but for the most part, it’s been somewhat the same– lots of light and a good deal of contrast.

I recently had someone suggest that maybe I should go with a less contrast, more natural look– but then they followed that statement with the thought, “every time I scroll through Instagram and one of your photos show up, I know it’s yours.” Well for me, I’d rather have my photo stand out as mine, you know. It’s whats pleasing to my eye– and I like it that way– I hope people who like it will find it and enjoy it as well. I’m sure my style of photography and editing isn’t for everyone, but thats not the point of it. The point of it is to make something that matches me, my mood, my whatever. And for you guys to make something that matches YOU!

So at the end of the day, my best advice for anyone editing photos is to take photos, edit, and filter them to something that fits YOUR life. Something you love. It could be something muted, or intensely contrasted, grainy or smooth, whatever, just make photos (art) you love! With that being said, heres a post on how I edit my Instagram photos anyway! Cause you guys asked! Take it as tips and tricks and find and style that matches for your photos/feed 🙂


Alright so! First things first. The photo editing apps I use most are:

  • vsco
  • a color story
  • snapseed
  • facetune

I don’t use snapped and facetune on every photos. But I use a color story and vsco on almost every photo I post.

I’ve been using vsco for years. There’s something about a certain filter (04) that I just love. It brings out a deeper contrast I love.

A color story, I used it a bit when it came out– but as the app has developed even more filters, there are definite ones I can’t get enough of. Now I use a color story more than any other photo app, but I do still use vsco at the end up each photo editing process— mostly out of habit I think 🙂

Snapseed I use when I need to add saturation to certain parts of my image, but not the entire image. You know, when I want to brighten up certain things— like pink flamingos. You guys know I like everything around me really colorful, so this helps bring out a pop of that if needed.

Facetune is mostly just what it sounds like– an app to tune your face. But honestly, I use to mostly to edit objects out of photos. Like wires in a sky photo, or signs off a building, or whatever. Sometimes I’ll use to create more contrast on a certain part of an image too.

And my favorite filters? Well,

Pretty simple, yes? So now let’s go through the process, cool?

With this photo I just used a color story and vsco. I didn’t need snapseed or facetune. I mean, realistically, I could have maybe brightened up the fruit plate a bit more with snapseed— but the photo didn’t need it, and so I skipped the step. But you can see the image is a lot brighter and deeper in the after.

First step, I insert the photo into a color story.  For this photo I chose “lola” from the flashes of delight pack. It has a deeper contrast with cool undertones. I tend to stick more to the blue side. Or I have, lately I’ve been trying to go with more warm looking photos, but cool is my first love. I find that a color story brightens images A LOT. Sometimes if it’s too much, I’ll use the curves tool to bring down the light. But this isn’t often, as I do like my photos on the brighter side anyway. Next I’ll use the clarity (sometimes sharpen) tool to… well, makes this more clear or sharp.

Realistically, the photo is great as is after this. But I like to stick inside my comfort space, and so then I take the photo into vsco, because old habits die hard. Before I would use the 04 filter at full strength (pre- a color story days), but now I find that my photo is waaaayyy too filters if I use a color story app then vsco. So I usually put the photo in there and just turn up the 04 filter just a touch. Any where from 1 to about 7 usually. Then I go ahead and crop my image. Instagram allows for photos to be 4×5 in size and I’d rather crop it pre-instagram so that I know how the photo looks in my feed.

And voila! a pretty, bright, and contrasted photo that makes me super happy. Realistically this photo only needed two steps to look fun, but I like to drive myself crazy and I put it into apps. Whatever, right? Well, thats fun… but then sometimes I get super anal and put my photos in up to 4 apps. Like for this flamingo photo…

While this flamingo photos is pretty simple in colors and composition, I ended up throwing it into a lot of apps to make it match my feed more and get it to the colors I wanted.


First step (like always) is I open the photo in a color story. I ended up using pacific on this photo. I don’t use pacific often, as it’s really deep and intense, but it felt right for this moody photo. I then used the curves tool to bring down the light even more and make the photo more contrasted and more moody.


Then (again) I throw my photo into vsco. This is usually my final step, but I did end up tweaking the flamingos even more. I used that 04 filter again at a medium strength and saved the photo. Next I ended up bringing the photo into snapseed. And then with the brush tool I colored the saturation on each flamingo to really make them stand out. I mean, they’re adorable, they should stand out, right? 😉 I also ended up taking this filter into acetone to erase the little switch plate thing thats on the wall. Again, because I’m super crazy and like to waste my time on tedious details, but it’s cool, whatever. Either way, thats it– thats how I edit my photos for Instagram. Little tweaks to make a big difference on my tiny squares 🙂

Alright friends! I hope this answers some of your questions on how I edit photos for Instagram! I do edit my blog post photos a bit differently, as I don’t have the same filters on my computer. But either way– the photos are deep in contrast, bright in color 🙂 No matter what, don’t drive yourself crazy over it, it’s not worth it. Just take a minute to play around with different apps and filters and see what you like! Cheers friends!


  1. Thanks for this list, Andrea!
    Snapseed and VSCO are two of my favorite photo editing apps I’ve been using since ages, but never heard about Facetune. Does it allow saving images in high quality? Most editing apps save images in a poor quality.
    My recommendation: Camera+. It turns your phone into manual mode for taking pictures just like a DSLR. Do try it out!

  2. This is fantastic! A few days ago I was thinking about asking you about your favorite filters as I’ve been trying to change the look of my feed to truly reflect my mood which is rich/moody/matte. I don’t like editing on my phone though, so I’ve been looking for vsco photoshop dupes. I’m off to find something close to legacy 04!