How I Process Most Of My Instagram Photographs

When I worked as a retail supervisor, I had a great working relationship with all my co-workers including peers who I didn’t necessarily worked with 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 regardless of where I was situated, there would always be this recurring habit of peers reaching out to me for assistance on software we used which for them seemed esoteric or maybe just a random question regarding any other operational aspect of the business. I always made myself available but I continaually had this clamshell approach to open when when I needed to but seldom share specifics steps I took to resolve resolve their inquiries.

I was told they respected me for how much I knew but a part of me felt they took offense to how reserved I was to teaching people what I knew since in my mind, I felt that by doing so, I would devalue myself as part of the team because in the long run most people would eventually catch on to what I knew and they wouldn’t see me as valuable anymore. Needless to say that was a detrimental metality to have which I no longer do even after I’ve moved on from that job.

What does this have to do with photography? Well, very often I get Tweets or emails from readers 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 story I disclosed 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 I edit my iPhone photos is because even though you may opt to follow the same steps I do, there will always be a dissimilarity between our work because you and I both think differently, we see things differently and what may seem appealing to me photographically may appear inconsequential to you. With that said, I chose this photograph of a homeless man reading his morning newspaper while sitting a bench at The Brooklyn Heights Promenade overseeing the Manhattan skyline.

Here’s what the photograph looked like when I took it:

Original Photograph Taken Before Post-Processing

Here’s what the photo looked like after post-processing:

Final Photograph Taken After Post-Processing

Here’s the apps I used:

  • Camera+
  • Instagram

Here’s screenshots of the workflow with specific filters applied to it:

Storyboard of Post-Processing an Instagram Photo

  • I shoot all iPhone photos using Camera+ because I find it to be much faster than Camera.app
  • I apply Clarity effect in Camera+ located under Scenes
  • Then I go to Effects/Color and applie the Magic Hour preset and adjust it to 25% and save the photo to the Camera Roll.
  • Then I launch Instagram and import the photo I just processed. Scale it to the appropriate size and then I apply the Amaro preset and on this particular case, I also applied the Lux effect which works its magic by making your photos more vibrant and bringing out details you couldn’t see before.

Is this behind-the-scene look 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 good lighting conditions to begin with so you have that variable to deal with.

The simple post-processing workflow I just shared is definitely 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. For this specific photograph of the homeless man, it seemed to work pretty good, hence uploading it to Instagram and even writing about it now.

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 Camera+ 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.