Skip to content
home | create | how I edit iphone photos for instagram

how I edit iphone photos for instagram

    My iphone is like an extension of my arm – it’s by my side at nearly all times of day (and night). I love it for texting and checking the weather and asking siri important questions like ‘how many days until …?’ (asked by a certain second born who is slightly excited about his upcoming birthday) and watching cute youtube videos like this one and this.

    Most of all, I love it for the camera.

    Admittedly, an iphone does not take the same quality of photos as a real camera, but the fact that it is always with me, easy to use and quick to capture everyday moments works out just fine for me. It is fun to practice photography with my phone – looking for interesting angles or composition or finding the right light – and sharing those photos on instagram is a favorite, too.

    I almost always do some editing before posting to instagram (I like a slightly dreamy, washed out look) and thought I’d show you what that looks like.


    We’ll use this photo taken yesterday of a piece of my mom’s blackberry pie (yum).

    Here it is straight from the camera:


    It’s a nice photo and could probably be used as is. But running it through some photo apps gives it just the right amount of artsy-ness to make it a little more visually appealing.

    I use the standard camera app to take photos and then edit through Afterlight – a simple to use $.99 photo editing app.


    I begin by opening Afterlight and bringing in the photo from my photo stream.


    I brighten slightly, add a bit more contrast and occasionally bring the sharpening up slightly as well.


    Next (here’s the most important step) I choose the guest filters and then the Russ filter to get the dreamy/washed out look I like. You can change the opacity to adjust how strongly the filter is applied. Once I like the look, click the check mark to save.

    Instagram is set up as square photos, so sometimes I use the crop tool to cut the photo into a square before posting.

    Sometimes a photo just looks better with it’s original rectangular proportions, so I like to add borders to get the square size without cropping the photo. To do this, I click on the borders icon, and then Original.


    Next I click on the side borders and it will automatically turn the photo into a square with white margins. Click the check mark to save.

    Once finished editing, I click the Done button at the top right and then save as a small image to my camera roll. I like to save a copy to my photos and post to instagram from the IG app, but you could also just click on the instagram icon from Afterlight to post. Your choice.

    And here is the final edited image:


    Just those few simple steps really give an average photo a fancier look!

    Here are a few more before & afters to see the subtle, but pretty difference editing makes:









    Hope this is helpful in making your photos more beautiful!



    SnapShop iphone course (I took this course last year and it was so good! If you want help learning how to compose interesting images, play with settings, learn more about editing and fun photography tools, Ashley teaches it perfectly. Learn more about her excellent photography courses here).

    See my instagram feed here.

    16 thoughts on “how I edit iphone photos for instagram”

    1. I’ve been dying to know how you edited your iPhone photos! Thanks for sharing!!

      P.S. Alexis sounds old and crabby. And bored. Your response to criticism is so gracious. Thanks for setting the internet bar so high. ;-)

    2. Really great tutorial….thanks for the step by step walk thru!! Of course, now I’m desperate for your mom’s pie recipe!! Any chance you can post that or just put it here in the comment section? :-)

    3. People who leave angry, nasty messages suck. Please know that most people love posts like this! Why people take time from their day to spread negativity baffles me!

    4. Thanks for sharing this! My ADD and OCD has me looking more at your phone wallpaper though. Can you please share how to add that and the cute text? Thanks in advance!

    5. I absolutely adore your iPhone wallpaper! Could you share the image? It’s so hard to find beautiful patterns like it that aren’t distracting! Thanks so much!

    6. I absolutely adore your iphone wallpaper! Could you share the image? It’s so hard to find simple, beautiful patterns that aren’t distracting. Thanks so much!

    7. I have been doing photography for over 45 years. Real photography where we learned the basics and built on our talent. To me this a just cheating and not real photography. It does not speak to talent or knowledge of photography in the true sense. I find photos taken this way so marginal. It’s typical of digital obsessed people trying to take shortcuts to present themselves as something they are not.

      1. Never would I call myself a real photographer or pretend like I know what I’m doing! But I do appreciate how tools like these have encouraged more non-professionals to give a new hobby a try and enjoy themselves in the process.

      2. Alexis you need to take a step back and realize that Emily is just trying to help us non-photographers learn how to edit our photos. Just like sharing recipes doesn’t mean someone is trying to be a professional chef or DIY decorating doesn’t replace the talent honed by a professional decorator. There is definitely a place for professional artists but most of us cannot afford them for our everyday needs. I studied ceramics in college and after but am not going to attack those who have the desire to learn to throw or even go to those paint your own pottery places. There is nothing wrong with wanting to create within our own skill sets and with the resources we have available to us.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *