How to Edit Instagram Photos Like a Pro

Instagram is a visual platform. Great photos are key to a successful Instagram strategy. Quality images equal quality engagement.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to upload beautiful content to your Instagram account.

You only need a smartphone camera, some editing tools and tricks, and a bit of practice.

Learn how to edit Instagram photos for a better user experience and to build a brand identity. Here’s a list of the top photo-editing apps to help you take your photos (and engagement) up a notch.

Download your free pack of 10 Instagram presets that you can customize now to save time editing photos.

How to edit Instagram photos in the most basic manner. Instagram has many editing tools and filters built-in, so this is a good place to start if your first venture into image manipulation.

1. Start with a high-quality photo

A bad photo can be hidden by even the best filters. Make sure to start with a high-quality image.

Natural light is always best, but you can use HDR mode on your smartphone to capture outdoor portraits, close-up shots, and dim lighting.

Another tip: Take a lot of photos to ensure you have options when posting. Another tip? Take a lot of photos to ensure you have options for when the time comes to post.

You can customize stock photography if you are short on time or lack inspiration. You have a wide selection of high-quality stock photography available for free.

Pro tip: Make sure your photo is sized correctly for Instagram. Your photo or video may look blurry or grainy if it is too small. After posting a photo, you cannot edit it. The best photos will be at least 1080 pixels in width. Instagram will automatically crop your photo in a square. However, you can change the width and height of your image to suit your needs.

2. Upload your photo to Instagram

Open the Instagram app, and click the plus-sign icon at the top right.

You will be presented with a variety of options for posting. Next, select post. Next, tap.

Instagram Create menu

3. Choose a filter

You’ll find many filters here that will alter the lighting, contrast, sharpness, and colors of your image.

For example, “Gingham” creates a muted and flat look while “Inkwell”, turns your photo black-and-white. To see how each filter will look on your photo, tap the button.

How to edit Instagram photos using the Clarendon filter

Lifewire says that “Claredon”, the most used filter, is the best for creating a cool look that increases contrast and natural color.

Pro tip: Adjust the intensity of any filter simply by tapping it again and moving the slider from 0 (no effect), to 100 (full affect).

However, the majority of Instagram pros will skip the filter step in 2021 in favor customizing their visual balance. This brings us to Instagram’s “edit” function.

4. Use the Instagram editing tool to customize your photo

You’ll find an “Edit” tab at the bottom of your screen. To access a variety of editing options, tap that button.

Adjust: Use this to straighten your photo or alter the horizontal or vertical perspective.Brightness: A slider to brighten or darken your image.Contrast: A slider to make the distinction between the dark and bright parts of the images more or less intense.Structure: Enhance the detailing in the photos.Warmth: Slide to the right to warm things up with orange tones, or to the left to cool them down with blue tones.Saturation: Adjust the intensity of the colors.Color: Layer on a color to either the shadows or highlights of the photo.

Adding a color to an Instagram photo

Fade: This tool can make your photo appear faded or dimmer.

Using the Tilt Shift photo editing feature on Instagram

Tilt Shift – Choose a “radial”, or “linear” focal point and blur all others. Sharpen: Give attention to the finer details. What is the difference between structure and this? Unclear.)

Pro tip: Look at the top of your screen for a magic wand symbol. To open the Lux tool, tap that. This allows you to adjust the brightness and exposure on a sliding scale.

After you are done editing, tap Next at the top right corner.

5. Tweak individual photos in a multi-image post

You can edit each photo individually if you are sharing multiple photos in one post (also known as a carousel). To access individual editing options, tap the Venn diagram icon at the bottom-right corner.

Editing individual Instagram photos in a carousel (fall leaves)

Instagram will apply the same edits to all photos if you don’t. Editing photos in multiple locations or with different subjects is possible.

6. Upload your photo or save it to use later

Tap share to send your masterpiece out.

It was possible! You have edited an Instagram picture! Now everyone can see it!

…or if you feel shy and need to wait, tap the back arrow two times. You’ll be prompt to save your image or edits as draft.

Instagram photo editing tips: Beyond the basics

You’ll need to spend some time on your Instagram images before you open the app.

These are just a few of the ways you can make your photos pop.

Focus on your goals and be clear

The shooting stage has been a success. However, if your camera isn’t level or if there’s a piece of litter in the shot, the straighten-and-crop tool can help.

This tool can be used to enhance your composition even if it is too late to retake the shot. One rule of thumb: You’re golden if the horizon is straight in your photo.

Take care of the details

To clean up images prior to going to the color correction stage, you can use the spot-removing feature in your favorite editor app.

You can make your shot more polished by removing any crumbs from the food table or discreetly erasing a zit on your model’s forehead.

Take a look at the grid

You want to create a grid that has a consistent and on-brand feel? You can keep your tones consistent, no matter if they are warm and vintage, bright and neon, or pretty in pastel.

Grid-spiration is here with our countdown to 7 ways to create an Instagram grid layout.

Mix and Match Editing Tools

This is one our top tips.

There is no set rule that says you have to use one editing program. You can love both the smoothing effects and cool filters of one editing program. Use them all to get the perfect photo before you upload it on Instagram

How Instagram influencers edit photos

Are you looking for the best way to edit Instagram photos like a pro? We did the work for you!

You’re welcome.

TLDR: Professional Instagram posters often use multiple editing apps to achieve the look they desire — Lightroom and Facetune are especially popular.

Mia Randria, an Instagram influencer smoothes her skin using Facetune. She zooms in to correct any rough patches or under-eye circles. The patch tool is used for larger bits and the push tool for finer details such as her lips.

After that, she can adjust the color, contrast, and lighting using presets in Lightform. You can download 10 free presets for Instagram right now to get started with presets!

Slim Reshae meanwhile shows you how to edit Instagram photos using Lightroom. She uses the noise reduction and clarity tools for smoothing things out. In Facetune, she will make more precise tweaks to her photos, including whitening her eyes, teeth, and using Healing & Patch to correct any skin bumps or patches.

Slim’s final stop is VSCO to apply a subtle color filter.

Here are 10 top Instagram photo editing apps

There are many great apps that can help you make Instagram posts look amazing, but these are our top picks for photo editing.

1. Hootsuite Photo Edit

Hootsuite is the best platform to edit photos and schedule posts.

Hootsuite’s image editor allows you to resize photos according to pre-set social media networks, including Instagram. You can adjust lighting, saturation, focus points, filters, text and more.

Option to edit photos in Hootsuite composer

Cropping a photo with the Hootsuite photo editor's preset dimensions for Instagram

This is a complete list of all image editing options available in Hootsuite Professional users and higher.

Get it free


You get 10 preset filters for free (pay to upgrade and you’ll have access to 200 more). The app also features advanced editing tools that adjust contrast, saturation and fade. You can save your favourite combination of edits using the “recipes” feature.

Download your free pack of 10 Instagram presets that you can customize now to save time editing photos.

Grab the free presets now!

An Instagram photo edited with VSCO

Source: VSCO

3. A Color Story

Filters galore: choose bright whites or moody colors to match your style, plus 120+ effects and high-level editing software that goes into photography-nerd detail (in the event you needed to tweak your “functioning curves and HSL”).

A Color Story is for those who have more “big picture” brains. It also includes a preview of your grid so that you can create a cohesive look.

an Instagram photo edited with A Color Story

Souce: A Color Story

4. Avatan Photo Editor

The Avatan photo editor has a large selection of effects, stickers and textures. However, the most valuable tool is the retouching tools. You can easily smoothen skin, lighten dark spots, or patch distracting details.

3 Instagram photos edited with Avatan

Source: Avatan

5. Snapseed

Snapseed, a powerful toolkit for photo editing developed by Google, is conveniently stored on your smartphone. The brush tool lets you easily adjust saturation, brightness, and warmth. The details tool enhances the surface structure to add texture to layers.

a series of photos edited with Snapseed


6. Adobe Lightroom

How to quickly edit Instagram photos? Presets can help you quickly edit Instagram photos.

This cloud-based photo editor makes it simple to edit photos on your phone or desktop. It’s also the best editing app for people who use presets as filters.

It’s easy to edit the photo subject and background with the intelligent highlight tool. However, a paid subscription is required to get the best tools.

Photo of a laughing child edited with Adobe Lightroom

Source: Adobe

PS: Are you interested in trying presets. While most influencers will charge a fee to get their presets, we offer a set of 10 created by Hillary, our incredible designer, for free.

Download your free pack of 10 Instagram presets that you can customize now to save time editing photos.

7. Afterlight

You can browse through the filter library by using custom filters created by photographers. Use advanced tools and add-ons (dust texture anyone? give photos a real film-like quality.

an Instagram photo edited with Afterlight

Source: Afterlight

8. Adobe Photoshop Express

This is the mobile version of Photoshop. It uses AI technology to automatically handle noise reduction, retouching and cutouts.

a series of Instagram photos edited with Adobe Photoshop express

Source: Adobe

9. TouchRetouch

TouchRetouch can be used as a magic wand for fixing any problems in your photos. Just a few taps, and you’re done! The background photobomber or distracting powerline disappears. This bad boy costs $2.79 but once you have it, your blemishes won’t be able to hide.

a series of Instagram photos edited with Touch Retouch

Source: The App Store

10. Facetune

Over 100 million people have downloaded this spooky-realistic facial editing tool. You can smoothen out any rough spots subtly, enhance your best features, or ignore #IWokeUpLikeThis.

Don’t overdo it with the editing tools. Instagram users are smart enough to spot when their favorite influencers are over-tuning their faces. They may also be turned off if you aren’t authentic.

an image of a woman edited with Facetune

Source: Facetune

These are only a few of many Instagram photo editing tools. You can find many more Instagram apps, whether you are looking for editing or something else.

Once you are able to edit Instagram photos, you need to choose a few apps that work well for you. You can use these apps regularly to improve and enhance your posts.

You can then build an engaging and inspiring Instagram presence by posting stunning photos one at a time. Your followers will notice, we promise.

Hootsuite makes it easy to manage all your Instagram marketing strategies from one place. You can edit photos, add captions, schedule posts to the most effective times, reply to comments and DMs, as well as analyze your performance using easy-to-understand data. Get it for free today.

Start editing

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Hootsuite makes it easy to create, analyze and schedule Instagram Stories and posts. You will save time and get better results.

It’s free to try >> How to edit Instagram photos like a pro

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