How to create swoon-worthy Instagram photos with your camera phone (Updated June 2020)
Follow our easy, step-by-step guide to Instagram editing, and turn your basic camera phone shots into swoon-worthy photos you’ll love. In this post we will share with you all our secrets to improving your photos right in the Instagram app itself. So, there’s no need to buy a digital camera or spend money on fancy editing apps. Make the most of your camera phone with these easy tips. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating your own swoon-worthy photos in Instagram.
We all want to achieve swoon-worthy photos, but how? Even if you aren’t using a digital camera, beautiful photos are within reach if you follow this easy tutorial. Throughout this post we will show you side by side photos before and after Instagram editing. You’ll see the huge difference editing makes.
Before and After Instagram editing.
- Crop the original picture to focus in more on the bed and specifically the details of the throw and the pompoms.
- Select large, portrait size (vs. the default square size).
- Brighten just enough.
- Highlight to add to the drama of this pic.
- Add a bit of structure to increase the crispness
- Finally, bring back some of the shadows.
- Step-by-Step Guide to Create Swoon-Worthy Photos in IG
- 1. Crop & Size
- How to Add Photo to Instagram, Crop and Size
- 2. Adjust
- 3. Add Brightness to Create Swoon-worthy Photos
- 4. Use Highlight to Create Swoon-worthy Photos
- Time Out
- 5. Structure
- More Editing Tools to Create Swoon-Worthy Photos
- Ready to Create Swoon-Worthy Photos? Take This Quiz
- Create Your Own Swoon-Worthy Photos
Step-by-Step Guide to Create Swoon-Worthy Photos in IG
1. Crop & Size
There are three size options available in Instagram:
- horizontal or wide mode
- the default square size
- the longer vertical portrait size
If there is one single decision that will increase the success of your photos it is this decision. We highly recommend choosing the tall, vertical portrait option. Why? Because these photos are more powerful. They take up more “real estate.” They occupy your followers screen for more time. This time is essential to drawing them in and grabbing their attention. Remember, people are scrolling fast. This added screen time is vital in today’s competitive Instagram world.
How to Add Photo to Instagram, Crop and Size
How to select the size and orientation of the photo? First of all, you must start with an original photo that is actually vertical size. If you start with a square photo you won’t have any option to choose the tall portrait size.
Step 1: Tap the + at the bottom of your home page as if you are going to add a new post.
Step 2: Choose a photo from your phone’s library of photos that you want to post.
Important Step 3: Before you tap Next to start editing and creating your post, select your size.
- Look for two expanding corners icon in the very bottom left corner of the photo.
- Tap this, and you will see your photo size change to the taller portrait size.
- In this small view it is deceiving because when you hit this toggle it appears that the photo gets smaller and further away.
- This is an illusion and doesn’t represent what the photo will look like on Instagram.
- It’s because the tall photo is too tall to fit into this square space at this moment.
- You will notice that it crops off a small amount of the photo from the top and bottom.
- It crops off considerably less than the square size, but the entire size of the vertical photo still is too big for Instagram.
- Note that you can move the crop up and down and select where you want the crop to be.
- You can do this here by moving the photo with your finger, or you can edit the crop in Edit in the next step.
Step 4: Tap Next and continue to Edit.
In this next step you can choose between Filter and Edit, select Edit.
Step 5: Choose Adjust and you can control where you want the photo cropped.
- Change the rotation of the photo by moving your finger left and right along the bottom graph of lines.
- Next, you can use two fingers to zoom in and out of your photo without changing the size of the photo.
- This is the only place you can do that.
- The first step we take in Edit is to align my picture.
- Basically, you want your picture to be straight.
- Sometimes it’s hard to tell until you get into this mode and as soon as you start moving the alignment the grid lines will appear.
- Use these as your guide.
- If you took your shot on an angle this can get a little tricky.
- We suggest using the lines of your walls, or your table or couch (depending on your subject) and make sure these are lined up.
Some people choose to take purposefully crooked photos. How do we put this nicely? Julie and I think it makes pictures look “juvenile.” Ask yourself, have you ever seen magazines take pictures like this, and you’ll have your answer.
If you want your pictures to look professional and be taken seriously, we don’t recommend it. Our goal is swoon-worthy photos, so let’s leave the crooked photos for the teenagers who are just having fun.
3. Add Brightness to Create Swoon-worthy Photos
- This is an extremely useful editing tool because the biggest limitation in using a non-digital camera is the inability to control the amount of light.
- If you shoot your photos in bright natural light, they often come out blurry or fuzzy.
- The best solution to get those beautiful light and bright photos you see on Instagram is to take your pictures in moderate, indirect light and then brighten them up using this editing tool.
- A word of caution. In pursuit of swoon-worthy photos, be careful to not go crazy in this brightening mode.
- Over-brightening was one of our first editing mistakes.
- If you watch closely, you will see that at a certain point you start to sacrifice clarity/crispness and color.
- We will talk about ways to balance these later, but you want to tread lightly with adding brightness.
- You can always adjust a bit and come back later.
Before and After IG editing.
I took out some of the warmth to get rid of the yellow hue. I added brightness overall and highlights to whiten a bit more. Note: Editing for IG and editing for best website results are not always the same. Pictures which appear balanced on Instagram often appear too bright on the website. Case in point.
4. Use Highlight to Create Swoon-worthy Photos
- Next is Highlight, which is similar to Brightness
- Instead of bringing up ALL the light in the picture Highlight only brightens the whites and accents the areas where light is coming from.
- Highlight has a way of adding sparkle to a photo because it increases reflections from glass or anything that is reflecting light.
- You will want to play with this and how it balances with Brightness.
- Depending on the amount of contrast you want to have, while Brightness decreases contrast, Highlight increases it. These are both useful tools in achieving the light and bright goal.
This is a good example of how decreasing Warmth, increasing Brightness, increasing Highlights, and adding a bit of Contrast and/or Sharpness back in can really enhance the natural beauty found in these tulips.
If all this editing has you confused at any point and you find yourself looking at the edited version and wondering if you are actually improving the photo or maybe even making it worse, just tap the photo at any time to take a quick peek back at the original. You can start over at any point by tapping the back arrow and selecting Discard. No harm done. Just start over.
I often do several takes with this whole editing process because I like to compare and contrast. You can use the Save Draft function and create several versions so you can take your time deciding before you finally decide to Share.
- Finally, we come to Structure, a useful editing tool if used with a light hand.
- If your photo has become washed out because of the amount of light (either edited or natural), you can use this function to create dimension or to give structure to the objects.
- It adds both highlights and low-lights to the edges of objects.
- Structure is a bit more subtle than Contrast.
- Structure is similar to but a little more dramatic than Shadows.
More Editing Tools to Create Swoon-Worthy Photos
- Contrast: This tool is useful if your picture is looking a little washed out. As mentioned above, it is similar to Structure in that it adds sharpness to the edges of objects, but comparatively is a bit sharper/more intense.
- Sharpen: This is supposed to add to the clarity of a picture. We don’t find that it makes a noticeable difference unless all you need is a very subtle crispness. It’s worth playing around with.
- Warmth: Great if you are using indoor (artificial) light that often throws a yellow hue over everything. You can lessen the warmth a bit until your wood tones and whites look less gold/yellow and have more of a neutral tone.
- Saturation: This fades the color a bit. You might want to play with this if you want to create a certain tone or mood that is a little softer. When there is a yellow or brassy tone, we sometimes play with decreasing this. If you want to increase color intensity, simply increase the saturation, but very slightly. A little goes a long way.
This photo was taken in a Selective Focus or Portrait mode. I deliberately chose to blur the background to concentrate the focus on the vignette in the foreground. Here you can see the before shot looks dull and lifeless. All it took was some editing with my handy brightness, highlighting, structure tools to make this into a fresh pretty vignette.
For more tips on how to edit photos for Instagram, read this article, “How to edit Instagram photos in 6 easy steps.”
Ready to Create Swoon-Worthy Photos? Take This Quiz
You can use these questions to quiz yourself or use them to review what you’ve learned from the above editing steps to create swoon-worthy photos.
If the picture is faded or blurry, but I don’t want to decrease the amount of light, what should I do?
- Increase Contrast.
- Increase Structure.
- or, if you can afford to decrease the light a bit go back to Brightness and see if you can decrease the Brightness a bit.
2. If the picture is too yellow what should I do?
- Decrease the Warmth to create a more neutral tone.
- Try decreasing Saturation a bit.
3. If the picture becomes too brassy and acid looking, how can I turn it into a swoon-worthy photo?
- Decrease the Highlights.
- Decrease the Structure.
- Or, just start over. Sometimes too much editing just starts to make a picture look fake. Start over and try to keep your edits soft and subtle for best results.
The trick when using a camera phone? Create a picture that is full of light but doesn’t sacrifice clarity or crispness.
Create Your Own Swoon-Worthy Photos
This is not a complete discussion of all your Instagram editing options. But it is a full review of everything you need to dramatically improve your photos for Instagram. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or even use a DSLR camera to create swoon-worthy photos for Instagram.
- Ready to take your Instagram to the next level? We offer Personalized Instagram Audits that give you a complete analysis of your Instagram account, a detailed road map for success, and 90 minutes of video coaching.
- Also be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss any of our valuable content. Click on the box below to receive bonus VIP printable, our free Instagram Photo Editing Guide.
- Read our many other Instagram related blog posts
- If you are debating whether or not to upgrade to a digital camera you’ll definitely want to read our post, “Camera Phone vs. Digital Camera: Pros & Cons.” We walk you through a detailed comparison based on ease, time, cost, and value of both so you can make an informed decision and decide method is best for you.