How I Edit & Publish to Instagram Workflow

During the period in which I worked as a retail manager, I came to foster a respectable relationship with all of my peers including the ones who I didn’t necessarily worked with on a daily basis in the same store but who I corresponded with either once or twice a day via phone or email.

I worked in 5 different stores with the same company and irrespective of where I was situated I would invariably have fellow co-workers reaching out for assistance whether it be software, operational related or any other back-of-house matter that may have seemed esoteric to them. I always was willing to make myself available but when it came to specific technical circumstances, I consistently had this clamshell approach where I wouldn’t disclose the series of steps I took to resolve their matter but instead I proceeded to step away with a smirk and said something along the lines of “there you go.”

I was told they respected me for how much I knew but in the back of my mind I felt they took offense to how reserved I was in demonstrating some of that proficiency because I felt that by doing so, I would devalue myself as part of the team and no longer be seen as valuable anymore. Needless to say that was a detrimental mentality to have which I no longer hold on to even after having moved on from that job.

What does this have to do with photography? Well, very often I encounter tweets or emails from people inquiring about what apps I use to photograph with the iPhone and what the workflow as far as post-processing looks like prior to sharing anything on Instagram. The moral of the brief anecdote I shared was that I detest the idea that anything I do is a secret. It’s really not.

The reason I have no problem sharing with you how iPhone workflow is because even though you may opt to follow the same series of steps, there will always be a dissimilarity between our work because you and I think differently, we see things differently and what may seem appealing to me may come across as inconsequential to you. With that said, I chose this photograph I took the other evening in Bayside, Queens overlooking the Throgs Neck Bridge.

Original Un-edited Photograph

Original Un-edited Photograph

Initial Editing Using VSCOcam

Initial Editing Using VSCOcam

Fine Tuning in Snapseed

Fine Tuning in Snapseed

Final Photo Uploaded to Instagram

Final Photo Uploaded to Instagram

Here’s a no frills breakdown of my general routine:

  • Everything I shoot with my iPhone is done using the native Camera app largely because it’s quickest to launch and because I’m keen in always shooting with HDR Mode on. Instead of just taking one photo, HDR combines multiple photos taken at different exposures to create a single picture that looks more like what your eyeballs sees. The great thing about the HDR feature is that it preserves the original photo along with the hopefully new-and-improved version, so it doesn't cost you anything to experiment.
  • I’ve deleted every single image editing app on my iPhone with the exception of 3 which are VSCOcam, Afterlight and Snapseed. That’s all I use for post-processing although lately Afterlight has been falling behind in usage. I start off utilizing VSCOCam to establish a specific mood in the photograph and conclude any find tuning with Snapseed and subsequently publish to Instagram.

This workflow is not written in stone. It’s merely a guideline I follow. If I’m not aesthetically satisfied with a photo using these particular steps then I clearly experiment with other options. Is this behind-the-scene information going to completely transform your photographs into a work of art? I don’t even think this workflow instills that into my own photos because the most important aspect of photography is that you’re ultimately satisfied with what you shoot as you’re holding the camera regardless of what you may apply to it afterwards as a form of enhancement.

Another reason I was reluctant to share how I post-process my photographs in general is because there’s really not always one specific preset that one could apply to a photograph to make it look better. There’s always some tweaking involved. The one preset you may cherish dearly could potentially make a photograph look horrible simply because it wasn’t shot under proper lighting conditions to begin with so you have that variable to deal with.

Have I experimented with other photo apps? Of course. although I try not to because then you become susceptible to this downward spiral of thinking that the reason your iPhone photos may “not be any good” is because you haven’t found the finest photo app out there. There’s no such thing. An app is only as good as you wanted it to be. I know people who completely dislike VSCOCam and yet here I am writing about it for the exact opposite reason. I love it and see no reason to put in the effort see if the grass is greener someplace else.

Bottom line is to focus more on what you’re shooting because people are likely to be more attracted by what you photographed and not by how well you applied presets to the image.