Hey y’all! Welcome to the second installment of Sewing Blog 101 — the easy photo editing edition! Now that you have a sewing Instagram, you have to post some gorgeous photos. The quest to easily edit photos is kind of elusive. I’ll be 100% honest (as I always am) and tell you I’m still figuring it out for myself. I’ve seen a lot of articles on Pinterest that tell you to theme your Instagram, to find a look and stick with it. While that works for lots of folks, I’m still trying to find that perfect aesthetic myself. But I know there are some basic things we should all keep in mind when prepping photos for Instagram! PS — this is a general tips post to get you started. We’ll talk flatlays and product photography someday, and I’ve already covered outfit photos.
Easily Editing Instagram Photos
1 – Take the best photo you can, with what you can
True story: I take all of my photos on my phone. I know how to use a digital camera, and I know how to use Photoshop. Currently, I exclusively use my phone to take photos, and I edit all of them on my phone as well.
In my last year of college, I took a digital photography class. It was an amazing class for a lot of reasons, but one standout was because the first six weeks of the class required you take photos only with your phone. We live in a beautiful age, folks. There are coffee shops on every corner and you carry more computing power in your pocket than NASA used to get to the moon. So there’s no reason you can’t take some good photos with your camera.
I have an iPhone — I’m running on a 7 right now, but I’ve also had a 6 and a 5. While the photo quality has gotten remarkably better with each new installment of the phone (as you’ll find for a lot of phones), there are a couple of ways you can take great photos on any phone.
Natural light is key, y’all. Light. That. Shit. Up, and avoid lamps as much as humanly possible. For process shots, this isn’t as important, but if you’re taking a photo of a finished garment, you want some awesome light! Sometimes I’ll save a bunch of photos to be taken on a weekend morning when there’s lots of sunlight, and then post them throughout the week. The less you have to edit Instagram photos, the better. It keeps them looking more realistic. I’ve also found that bright cloudy days (like a winter morning) provide enough even light to get a good photo too.
Some other tips: I use the grid layover on my phone’s camera to help me get a sense of how I’m structuring the photo. It helps me make sure the photos are visually balanced. I never zoom in on the photo before I take it, since you lose quality that way – I just crop when I edit them.
And lastly, don’t be deterred by having to take tons of photos. iPhones have a burst function that I swear by. You press and hold the “lens” for as long as you want and get, like, a million photos. If I’m having friends or family take my photos, I ask them to just press and hold. Then I can move around as much as I want without having to tell them when to take the picture. Even for one flatlay photo, I’ll take a bunch of options. You’ll find you want the choices! Especially when you’re taking photos of yourself and you blink in 95% of them. Not that I do that, or anything…
2 – Edit ’em good
I currently only use one app to edit Instagram photos (and blog photos, too), A Color Story. There are a couple others out there that I’ve used (Snapseed and VSCO are both still on my phone), but I love the ease and functionality of A Color Story. It’s a free app with some free functions, but a lot of low-priced add ons. They run sales every once in a while, which is how I got whatever bonus features I have.
I start off by cropping the photo, if necessary. I like having a mix of square and non-square images — I actually prefer the rectangular ones on Instagram.
Then I adjust the photo using the curve tool. The curve adjustment plays with the tones and colors of the photo. It’s an easy way to brighten the photo without blowing it out, or to work with a specific color. After that, I adjust the temperature. Brightly lit photos with a warm temperature tend to do the best on Instagram. I’ll play with the saturation and color contrast if there are certain colors I want to pop or minimize.
Be careful of what you do with clarity and sharpen features. I find that they make the photo look a lot less realistic and more painterly, which seems counterintuitive. If you take the best photo you can right off the bat, though, you should be able to avoid using them!
Other than curve, temperature, saturation, color contrast, and brightness every once in a while, I don’t really touch the other adjustment options. Things like blur and vignette are great for some people, but I find that often, the point of your sewing Instagram photo is to show off some details. Blur and vignette often hide them.
After adjusting the photo, sometimes I’ll add in effects or layer on a filter. I really like light leaks in A Color Story. A lot of times, you can get a photo that looks naturally lit, but still a little off. Adding in a light leak gives the “light” in your photo a source, and makes it look more realistic. A Color Story also offers a wide variety of filters. One super helpful thing about it is that if you press on a filter range you don’t own, it’ll tell you the best kind of photo to use it on. I usually prefer ones from Flashes of Delight, but lately, I’ve been really into Seasons, On the Road, and Fawn too. They’re good for indoor scenes, which I shoot a lot. You can adjust how heavily the filter is applied, too, which I love.
If you’re editing a ton of photos at once and you find an adjustment combo you love, A Color Story lets you save all those adjustments into one filter. So handy! Plus then you can sometimes reuse them when you edit Instagram photos later, saving you lots of time.
3 – Upload!
Boom! Time to upload your gorgeously edited photo to Instagram. I can’t remember the last time I used any Instagram adjustments, except maybe a last minute brightness or temperature adjustment. I really don’t use their filters, not even before I started using A Color Story. They’re fine, I just like to control it all myself!
Once you’ve uploaded your photo to Instagram, it’s time to promote it and engage with both your followers and the people you follow. That’s coming up on the next installment of Sewing Blog 101!
Other Useful Tidbits
- I use the app Over to add text to my photos. Super easy and lots of cute font options!
- Want to learn more about taking photos of you wearing garments? Check out this post with insights from so many sewists!
- My favorite article with lots of detailed photography tips!
- Two of my faaaaves came together to talk Instagram: Rachel’s MakerStyle podcast hosted Beth from SewDIY!
- Did you know I have a Pinterest board with all of the best articles on these blogging topics? Give it a follow so you don’t miss any of the tips!
I hope you’re finding this series useful! Let me know in the comments if there’s a topic you’d definitely be interested in having covered.