Mobile Photography 101: Let's Edit

19th May 2016

By: Phyllis Langley

Photography has always been something I’ve been deeply passionate about and I constantly strive to learn more. Being self taught, I still have so much more to learn and I’ve become frustrated at the lack of guides and walkthroughs from photographers on the internet.

Before we get started, if you’re eager to become a better photographer whether it be for marketing your office space, using social media or just personally, I encourage you to find a handful of accounts on social media or the internet for inspiration. If you’re not, I hope you enjoy reading these tips anyway :). I always use to look at my favorite artists photos and wonder how they edited them. It took awhile for me to realize that even if they gave me their step by step process, my photos wouldn’t turn out the same as theirs. Remember, everyone has their own unique style. Strive to be original and find an aesthetic in your photography as your skills progress.

I’ve been using VSCO Cam for the past couple of years and I’ve remained loyal ever since its debut. I used to upload the picture in the app and throw a filter on it, but as of late, I’ve developed a strategy and process that stays consistent. VSCO is not only one of the best photo editing apps out there, but it is also an enormous community of photographers at every level. Not only has this community connected me to other artists (locally and globally) but it has inspired me to take my love and passion for the art to new heights. I hope that in some way it does the same for you.

Here is a guide to my 7 favorite tools within the VSCO App:

First things first… (I’m the realest..jk)…download the app!

Before & After of a delicious stop at Nickel Taphouse in Baltimore, MD.

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1. Straighten:

This is the third icon from the left. I have a difficult time getting into the editing process if the photo doesn’t quite fit my eye. I’ve turned many photos that I thought were below average into above average just by straightening it. This is the third tool from the left and all you have to do is pull the yellow bar from left to right until you like the adjustment and/or its level.

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2. Crop:

I also like to crop my photos before really adjusting them. Personally, I’ve always thought that this makes a huge difference in how I move forward with the editing process. I love being able to post a vertical photo of a crop of 4:5 or 3:4. If its edited it well, it basically takes someones entire screen on Instagram…how could you not double tap that?

3. Exposure:

This is the first icon. It will make a fairly drastic difference to your photo so be gentle with the +/-. I usually make sure my photos aren’t over exposed when I take them, so I can bump up the exposure by +2 or +3. If you’re photo happens to be a little overexposed, try pulling down the exposure a few notches.

4. Contrast:

This is the second icon. It will make your photo look darker so be gentle with this tool as well. It will darken/lighten the shadows. I usually add +2 to +4 to my photos because I tend to like my photos to be in high in contrast.

5. Highlight Save/Shadow Save:


These tools are vastly underrated and I encourage you to use them more. They are the circles just left of the thermometer. Once you begin to play around with it and realize what adjustments they make, they will be one of your go-to’s. If there’s a light in my photo that is a little too bright, I go to the Highlight Save and increase it anywhere from +4 to +9. Shadows save is pretty self explanatory.

6. Saturation/Temperature:


This is the grey and black box icon. If you want to bring out or take out the colors in your photo, experiment with these tools. I tend to style my pictures in hues of blue so I take the temperature down -2 or -3 if it is more on the yellow/orange side. Be careful not to increase the saturation too much because your picture will look over edited.

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7. Filters:

I went ahead and bought every filter because I loved testing out new ones to help me find my desired aesthetic. Each set creates a different mood and tone. Experiment with each to find your favorites. Also, you don’t have to use the filter completely. When you have one selected, you’ll see the adjustment bar in the center of it. Press on it a second time to increase or decrease its strength.

If you like these tips and would like to see more, retweet our post on Twitter or comment under our Instagram post. See more of our pics at @gokinglet and more of mine at @lifeophylly. Happy snapping!

Work small, dream big,

Team Kinglet