Take a quick look at my Instagram feed from back in January. Of these nine photos, three of them were taken and edited on my phone. Can you tell which three?
The bottom right (Rome), the bottom left (San Gimignano), and the top middle (Lille), were all taken and edited on my iPhone 5S, which I got when I was a junior in college. Am I sort of bragging, sort of embarrassed that my old-as-heck iPhone can take pictures that rival those I take with my higher level DSLR? Yes, on all counts. However, the iPhone photos are still pretty low quality--it’s just that I’ve learned how to blend them in pretty nicely with the better ones. As long as you don’t zoom and keep colors consistent, you should have no problem dropping a few iPhone snaps into your feed.
I’ve been lugging around my Canon less and less during my time in Europe, which means I’ve relied on my phone to take any pictures I’ll be gramming later.
Because of this shift, I’ve started to feel like I have a rock-solid mobile photography and editing workflow. So, I want to share it with you! I’m hoping it helps some of you to feel like the end product of an edit is a truer representation of the subject than when it began. If it does, that’s how you know it worked. If it looks overdone or not how you remember it, it’s time to start from scratch.
My typical workflow for this process includes taking a quick photo, never more than one or two because I have no space on this dinosaur, a quick crop, importing into VSCO, making a few tweaks, and then finally exporting it. From start to finish it takes about three minutes. If you don’t have experience using VSCO, carve out around 10 minutes to follow this tutorial and complete your edits.
Here's the photo I'll be using. It's a quick snap of an orange tree in Rome, taken in a pretty shady spot.
10 step mobile editing tutorial:
1. Download the VSCO app from the app store if you don’t have it already. It’s free. You might need to make an account, but I can’t remember. If that’s the case, it’s worth it. It’s an app I would never delete!
2. Click the “+” button in the upper right corner. Choose the photo you want to import. Bonus points if you go for a walk and take a fresh one.
3. Next, select the photo you want to edit. This reveals four options at the bottom of the screen; click the second one, which looks like two lines with a circle through them. This opens the edit screen.
4. Now you have another four options at the bottom. From left to right they are: filters, all editing tweaks (exposure, crop, temperature, etc), and the third is an arrow that allows you to undo changes you’ve made. Again, we are going to click the two lines with a circle to start your edit.
5. Crop the image to the size you want. You can pick one of their premade sides, or drag the corners yourself. When your crop is complete, click the check mark in the bottom right corner.
6. Use the straighten tool to make sure your image is clean and not crooked. Nothing ruins a nice photo like a crooked lines that could’ve been fixed super easily. As a note, this is something I try and get right when taking the photo. It’s easy to take it properly than it is to fix later.
7. Now switch to the filters tab. Click through all of them to see which style you like the best. My favorites are A6 and M5. When you use this in the future, try and stick to one or two filters to maintain a consistent editing style! *My tester, Colleen, informed me that A6 is a purchased filter. To get a similar look, use C2 and lower the saturation to -1.
8. Go back to the edits tab. Make any other small adjustments you want. On this photo, here are my tweaks: +1 on saturation, +1 temperature, and +2 on grain. Play with all of the settings until you’re happy with it! I don’t usually increase saturation, but I’m trying to warm up my feed for spring! For this step, be aware of the brightness of your phone. Most of the time mine is on 2/3-full brightness. This will be especially important if you want to print the photos!
9. When you’re ready to export the photo, click ‘save’ in the upper right. This takes you back to your feed, where you can export. Make sure the photo is still selected, and then click the ‘…’ button on the bottom right. Click ‘save to camera roll,’ and select a size. I usually keep its original size.
10. Hooray, that’s all you need to do! Here are my original and final versions side by side:
A few notes about VSCO: If you want more filters, you need to purchase them. They range from$1-4 and usually come in a set. I bought the E series a few years ago, and find it to be great for matching to natural skin tones. Also, clean out your VSCO library every once in a while. It takes up a lot of phone space to have a bunch of duplicate photos sitting there. Finally, if you’re not sure how you want to edit your photo, look at other feeds for inspiration! Are you drawn to a certain style? Do you prefer warm or cool feeds? Take notes on what types of edits attract and repel you, and use these notes to get the wheels turning on your own editing style.
I hope this tutorial inspired and encouraged you! If you use this guide for your next edit, will you tag @ewinnnoterinn so I can see what you’ve created?