How to edit Instaworthy Instagram photos in 1 minute?


I was scrolling through my phone gallery, deleting photos that I have posted on Instagram. By chance, I came across some pre-edited and post-edited photos so I decided to share with you my personal tips in creating a relatively "Instaworthy" image without launching Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom in desktops.

As a background, I am a hobbyist and a part-time photographer for 4 years. Then, I became a lazy "Instagrammer" who love taking photos in 1 or 2 tries *walk away quickly*. This normally results in slanted or dimmed photos. But, I will make up with my photo editings skills (at least I can edit photos on the go).

There are many photo editing tips out there so I will not go into specific editing details in each application this time. To me, telling you the calibration I did will not train you in selecting and creating your own photo editing style. My article is more about guiding you which photo editor to use and when to use a specific feature. Of course, with a simple 1-minute demonstration to aid your understanding :D
Simple demonstration stopping at step 2

How I select a photo edit mobile application?

Obviously, I have tried and tested numerous mobile photo editors throughout the years. The "pass" criteria for a photo application to "stay" on my phone are:

1. Must be FREE! Erm... at least the features I need must be free.
2. Exported image resolution must be high and not pixelated upon zoom.
3. Must be able to export without a watermark.
4. Preferably able to save my own edit style (useful filters can be an exception).

Photo edit applications I own

After going through careful selection and validation, the following applications went into the "final round". Each of them serves a different purpose in my editing process and I do combine a couple of applications to edit only one photo.
P/S: no specific arrangement
2. Snapseed
3. Photoshop Express
4. BeautyPlus
5. A Color Story
6. Lightroom CC
7. Afterfocus

Before editing a photo...

Usually, I take photos with my Sony RX100 M4 or Samsung Note8. I rarely use my DSLR for social media (except for travel photos and the photos taken in 2014) because it's a hassle to set up a tripod. The uploaded photos will be compressed by Instagram anyway (ok, I admit DSLR is better... but still... lazy).

Before editing, think of the final effect you want to achieve. I prefer my photos to lean towards a tinge of blue instead of orange for a relatively calming effect. This is my own editing preference and there is absolutely nothing wrong to edit in your own creative style :)

My Instagram Photos Editing Process

Most of my photos will go through at most 4 general steps before publishing online.

Personally, I try to edit everything within one application to prevent unneeded image compression to happen. I arrange the applications based on their image resolution and their features. I recommend you to manually change and select the highest free photo quality available under setting of each photo editing application you use.

1. Adobe Photoshop Express or Snapseed for brightness and temperature

Both products provide similar features to reach my end goal.

I only use Snapseed when there's a major need to selectively edit certain areas using the feature called "selective focus", or when there's a need to remove an element that disrupts the main attention focus in the picture using "healing" feature.

These days, I only use Photoshop Express as most of my photos are taken with the Sony camera that has a pretty satisfying auto image processing. Nothing is too much an eye-sore so there is no need to spend much time editing a photo.

Moreover, I am able to create and save my own "default" style (filter) in Photoshop which can be summed up as:
1. An increment in brightness, contrast, clarity, white, tint, vibrancy and sharpness
2. A decrement in shadow, temperature and saturation

With that, version 1 of the original photo is completed and the end-result will move on to the second round of iteration if needed.
Simple demonstration on Adobe Photoshop Express (step1)

2. Beauty Plus or VSCO for filters

I use some filters to create consistency in my feed.

I used to edit using VSCO and even purchased the S-series (see my Instagram photos posted in 2017). My favourite filters on VSCO are S2 and A6. However, I have moved on to BeautyPlus because this makeup application offers a higher image resolution than VSCO (unless the application has upgraded).

Although I do not have a good skin complexion, I still prefer to keep my photos more natural. Thus, I never use the "auto" retouch feature in BeautyPlus. Instead, I use "tone" retouch feature to adjust the overall image brightness then apply 2 filters called "charm" (under Country) and "Rosy" (under Classics).

Normally, this will be the end of my photo editing process unless there is a severe need to post a photo and I have no time or no chance to retake any photo that is up to my expectation.
Simple demonstration on BeautyPlus (step2)

3. Adobe Lightroom CC, After Focus or A Color Story for selective edits

This step is rarely reached because I hate the further drop in image quality.

Adobe Lightroom CC contains "Color Mix" feature that allows selectively adjust on hue, saturation and luminance of each colour in your photo. I only launch this application when the hue of a certain colour is off (usually orange and red) and could not be fixed in Snapseed.
After Focus is useful if you would love to enhance the depth and bokeh of your image. I have stopped using this application because I find it too much a hassle to manually improve the depth of field for a natural effect in each photo, especially in a long run (to remain consistency in my feed).
A Color Story provides the lowest free image resolution and limited free features. Therefore, the only time I launched this application is when I need a flare effect on background elements that distracted user focus point.
A post shared by Yunzi 。°(•‿-)。 (@joysofyz) on

4. Instagram for final touch-up

Finally, it's time to export the mage to Instagram! Sometimes, I will add a little "Clarendon", "Lark", "Juno" or "Ludwig" filter to make the image pops before publishing.

Phew, my photo editing steps sound complicated right?! Rest assured, I usually stop at step 2 and only took up less than 5 minutes editing my photos these days (getting lazier). 

This post is written in sudden impulse and I do hope that you have enjoyed my photo editing tips on the simplest photo I can find (usually not this simple, I do take very bad photos). I appreciate any genuine feedbacks or comments on your needs and will love to blog some more detailed articles with specific steps I took in each mobile application if required.

Till then, Ciao~

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Joysofyz | Yuji's Budget Story: How to edit Instaworthy Instagram photos in 1 minute?
How to edit Instaworthy Instagram photos in 1 minute?
I will guide you on which photo editors to use and when to use a specific feature to create Instaworthy photos.
Joysofyz | Yuji's Budget Story
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