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Welcome to Brunette with a Budget.
A fashion, beauty & vegan wellness blog created by Chicago-based journalist & content creator Amanda Kaplan.

How to Have a Killer Instagram Feed

How to Have a Killer Instagram Feed

Believe it or not, one of the things I enjoyed most when I first started my Instagram page was creating an aesthetic. As someone who absolutely loves organization and cohesiveness, I found it (embarrassingly) relaxing making sure that all of my images had the same aesthetic, yet were unique. While taking photos is one important component of an Instagram page, editing is probably the most important. For my Instagram page, my images are always bright with warm tones and little pops of color. And trust me, right after shooting the images they look nothing like the ones that I end up publishing. 

Along with questions of where I get my clothes from, the second most-asked question I receive in my Instagram DM's is how I edit my photos. I have worked very hard to create a similar vibe with all of my images, so I'm not going to share all of my secrets today. Instead, I'm going to share editing basics that everyone can benefit from. The steps below are some easy ways to make your images look stellar! If you're interested in me coming out with Lightroom presets that you can easily apply to your own personal Instagram images, let me know in the comments below!


STEP 1:
APPLY A FILTER IN VSCO

VSCO is a dream when it comes to creating consistent-looking images for Instagram. VSCO offers a ton of free preset filters to apply to your photographs. If you're not into spending a lot of time on editing, VSCO is a great tool. 

While I'm not going to share the exact filter and adjustments that I use on my photos in VSCO, I'll tell you that I do use one as the base for the rest of my edits. The first step in my editing process is applying my VSCO filter. After applying it, I save the image to my camera roll and move on to the next step. I personally don't like to make any other adjustments on VSCO because I think other apps do a better job.

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STEP 2:
UPLOAD TO SNAPSEED

Snapseed is a great app for editing photos. This app offers a ton of tools that make your images look more professional than just an iPhone photo. 

After applying my filter in VSCO, I'll upload the filtered image into Snapseed and begin doing my micro-edits.

 
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STEP 3: 
ADJUST BRIGHTNESS

The first tool that I use in in Snapseed is "Tune Image." This tool allows you to adjust everything from brightness to saturation. I don't have a custom-curated method for editing in this tool, I honestly just go down the list (If you click the toggle tool at the bottom of the screen—the second button from the left—all of the editing options will pop up) and make all of my normal adjustments.

In Snapseed, I actually have a preset that I use on all of my photographs, but to the right is an example of editing the brightness. I typically like my photos to be very bright with cool tones, therefore I always amp up the brightness. 

Depending on what you want your aesthetic to be, the brightness adjustment is a great starting point for making your images either darker or brighter—it really depends on what vibe you want to give off.

 
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STEP 4:
ADJUSt CONTRAST

After adjusting the brightness, I then play around with the contrast. Even though I use a preset, I often have to go in and adjust the contrast because sometimes there is more light in one photo versus another. The contrast can make shadows stand out or fade away—it's really up to you and what you want your feed to look like!

I personally like to turn by contrast down because I prefer my images to have less shadows. If you want a lot of depth and dimmension, I would recommend turning the contrast up so that the shadows are more prominent in the image.

 
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STEP 5:
adjust saturation

Have you ever seen those Instagram accounts that are vibrant and filled with color? Well chances are, their original image was a lot less colorful and a lot more dull—this is where the saturation adjustment comes in handy. 

I personally like my feed to have cooler tones, but when I'm photographing food or an outfit that has many different hues, I do enjoy turning my saturation up just a bit. One thing to keep in mind is that when you turn the saturation up, all colors present in the image will become more vibrant. For example, in the image to the right, I didn't necessarily want the table to become more saturated. But, because I wanted the fruit in my Noyo to become more vibrant, the table ended up looking very orange. Apps such as Lightroom allow for you to pinpoint exact colors in your image that you want to become more saturated, but Snapseed is definitley an easier tool for getting the job done all at once! 

 
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STEP 6:
ADJUST AMBIANCE

I'll be honest with you guys, I'm not really sure what the ambiance adjustment does exactly, but as you can see from the screenshot to the left, I like to turn the ambiance down. This tool is similar to the contrast adjustment in the fact that it either increases or decreases the shadowing present in your image. After turning the contrast down, I personally like to turn the ambiance down, as well, just to add a bit of dimension back into my images. You defintiely don't need to use this tool on all of your photographs, but I suggest playing around with it until the shadowing looks how you want it to!

 
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STEP 7:
ADJUST SHADOWS

Besides adjusting the contrast and ambiance of your image, the shadow tool allows you to pinpoint the dark hues in your photograph. For my images, it always differs how much I amplify the shadows or tone it down. For example, in the image to the right I really wanted to enhance the dark colors of the Noyo and the plant. While I didn't want the shadows behind the objects to be overwhelming, I did want the dark colors to pop. Similarly to the ambiance tool, the shadows tool is completely optional but can really make your image stand out.

 
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STEP 8:
ADJUST TEMPERATURE

Depending on whether you want your images to be primarily cool or primarily warm, the temperature tool will come in handy. Since I enjoy the background of my images to be white, I tend to make my images cooler as I don't want the background to have any yellow undertones. There are many bloggers whose Instagram pages are very warm. If that's something you're into, I would suggest amplifying the warm tones by increasing the temperature of your image. Regardless, adjusting the temperature is one of the easiest ways to ensure that all of your images are cohesive.

 

STEP 9:
CREATE A FOCUS EFFECT

I shoot all of my Instagram images using my iPhone 7. And unlike the newer versions of the iPhone (8 and X), the iPhone 7 doesn't have the fancy portrait effect. Since I really like the look of a blurred background with a particular image in focus, I mimic iPhone's portrait mode using the app FaceTune. FaceTune has a setting called "Defocus." Within the defocus setting, there are two options: "Defocus" and "Blur." I honestly don't know the difference between the two, but I typically use the defocus option when blurring out the background of my images.

For the photo to the right, I wanted the foreground of my image (the Noyo) to be crisp and clear, but wanted the plant and vase to be blurred out. In order to do this, I use the defocus brush and brush over the entire image until everything is blurry. I then go in with the erase tool and erase the parts of my image that I want to keep in focus. This tool makes the coveting iPhone portrait mode incredible easy to replicate.

 

STEP 10: THE FINAL IMAGE

After adjusting my image, I am left with the final product that compliments the rest of my Instagram feed. Sure, it may sound like a lot of steps to do in order to create an aesthetically pleasing theme, but once you get the hang of it the editing shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes. And personally, 10 minutes of my day is worth it to have a fantastic looking feed!

I hope this guide to creating a killer Instagram feed was comprehensible! If you have any questions or want to show off your personal feed, leave me a comment below and link your Insta! If you want to see my Instagram page, click here.

with love & light, amanda

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