Whether you are trying to improve your company’s social media, perfect your client’s Instagram feed, or develop your own personal brand – Instagram is becoming more and more saturated each day, with competitors and new users joining the platform.

Before delving into the creative aspect of editing pictures, we need to ask ourselves the following:

  • Why should you edit Instagram photos?
  • What should you take into account when editing them?
  • Who are you trying to target?

By following these stages, you’ll be able to target the right demographic for your profile, as well as stand out. A profile that’s visually impressive allows your page to grow organically too!

Find below examples of profiles that take these factors into account, catering for what their audience is interested in and editing content to match a theme, to create a strong visual impact!

It’s clear that these three profiles have used editing tools alongside a chosen camera angle to adhere to a certain theme, aiding the growth of their pages.

I will be giving step-by-step editing tips, so that you can start to build a profile that is not only appealing to you, but also potential clients, friends, and followers.

Profile 1 (@joellefriend): The Tonal Theme

Tonal themes adds emotion to an Instagram feed, and works incredibly well when trying to achieve a grainy aesthetic. This kind of theme is perfect for anyone trying to curate a travel feed, but works just as well for lifestyle shots.


  1. To achieve a tonal theme, the image needs to be made ‘cooler’ by using filters, desaturation tools and working to reduce the amount of colour.
  2. For the below image, try the following – Download ‘VSCO’ on iOS and Android devices and select the A9. This gives an instant cooling effect to your image.
  3. Move onto the 2nd tab and slightly increase contrast (to around +1.0) and decrease exposure (to around -1.0).
  4. Decrease saturation, to slightly take away some of the colour in order to enhance the ‘cool’ effect (this is -2.0)
  5. Finally, we add grain to make the image more film-like.

Profile 2 (@debiflue): The Filtered Theme

When you create a filtered theme, there is clear vibrancy and consistency. Presets in apps such as VSCO can be used to keep a profile consistent, helping those who want this kind of aesthetic. This not only adds cohesiveness to a feed, but it also makes it beautiful to look at!


  1. Download ‘Adobe Lightroom’ on iOS or Android and open the photo you’re editing.
  2. Increase all functions on the ‘Light’ section, including Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Black. This is to brighten the image and make it look sharper.
  3. Click on the ‘Colour’ section and increase the temperature to make the photo warmer.
  4. At the top of the ‘Colour’ section, click on ‘Mix’ and here you can change the hue, saturation and luminance of certain colours in the photo. In the below picture, I have decreased the hue on the dark blue shade to make the sky look brighter and insta-worthy!

Profile 3 (@minimaliststyle): The Desaturated Theme

When you choose to use a desaturated theme on your Instagram, you create a very cool tone, while staying minimalist in your approach. A lot of lifestyle photographers, and bloggers who focus on flatlays, will use a desaturated theme in order to allow specific colours to stand out. These themes also make a feed extremely cohesive without much work, so if you want a simple, but beautiful, way to amp up your Instagram — this is it.


  1. Download ‘Facetune’ on iOS or Android and open the photo to edit.
  2. Click the ‘Whiten’ tool and anything that is off-white in colour, go over with your finger, to achieve a cleaner photo that looks more sleek and minimalistic.
  3. Use an editing app such as ‘Adobe Lightroom’ or ‘VSCO’ to lower saturation slightly and up the exposure to get an even brighter and monochromatic effect on your image.
  4. Make sure to use props that are dark tones to give your image natural contrast.
  5. To achieve a photo like the below, the key is practice. Try placing the items in realistic but varied positions to see what works best!
Image Courtesy of Pinterest

So, there you have it.. 3 different ways to edit photos to make them adhere to various themes. Remember, photography and editing come hand in hand, and in order to make your profile’s theme successful in the long-run, the right photography is key too. If you want a minimalistic theme, make sure to use monochromatic props, and only a few items to make the contrast even more noticeable.

The theme should be tailored to what drives the most engagement on your page – Is your audience most engaged when your pictures fit a bright theme, or are they drawn to more cinematic, vintage-looking images?

Our Go-To Apps:

  • VSCO
  • FaceTune
  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Aviary

By James Scoffin