In an ideal world,  DSLR pictures would magically transfer to your phone without any complications and apps would have Photoshop like features to create wonderful Instagram feeds and themes and so on. But in a world where I use a Samsung Galaxy S4 (ahmm yeah, I'm an android girl - soz, no IPhone) I had to learn a few tricks to better the quality of my Instagram Gallery, and since lately I've been gaining quite a few followers out of nowhere (but thank you if you follow me for my blog!) I thought why not share some tips that have worked for me when it comes to editing pics for Instagram?

Sure, I'm no Instagram celeb with millions of followers, but even I noticed that there are some type of pictures that are quite popular, and no it's not de #NoFilter type, I'm talking about #Flatlays.
So..What are Flatlays? Ehm, when you casually  organize a bunch of "pretty" things to make a sort of collage and take a picture from bird's eye view aka  from above, that's a Flatlay. (Picture yourself arranging something on a table or floor, standing up, holding your phone flat and parallel to the floor and then taking a picture, et voila, have your flatlay!

Well, Flatlays are so popular, that there are a bunch of accounts dedicated just to them. There's something everyone seems to like about that perspective, I mean #FromWhereIStand is a popular hashtag that is used primarily to show what you're wearing waist down, and what about those #FoodPorn pics that are mainly neatly arranged tables with delicious looking dishes? Yes dear friends, we love BIRD'S EYE VIEW.

So now that I explained what this is all about, let's continue with some other technical stuff. When you see popular (with lots of likes) flatlays on Instagram, you notice they have something in common, or a few things actually (btw, I'm talking about Fashion & Beauty Flatlays, because ehmm... this is a fashion & beauty blog). One of these is, they have a minimal background / nothing too busy, so it is no distraction for the items that are displayed on the actual flatlay. They also fill out the space, as in you can't put 2 or 3 items in one corner and leave the other 3 empty, this is not what flatlays are about. You can either follow a symmetrical or a random distribution, the key is not to overlay to many items or place them on one side (remember that Instagram pictures are square. Actually, they're not anymore, you can upload almost any ratio now, but in your gallery when you see the grill, it'll still looks square, so I'm sticking to the traditional 1:1 ratio).

Also, before we start I want you to know that I don't use any Instagram filters for my flatlays. To edit them I use 2 apps. The first is the oh so popular VSCO Cam (who hasn't heard about it?) and SNAPSEED, which I use only to brighten white backgrounds in my flatlays (which is the background I usually prefer).

Also, when you take a Flatlay picture keep these things in mind: 

a. If you don't have an IPhone and can't take pics in square mode, try to visualize it (imaginary squareeee), so certain items won't be out of frame when you take the picture.
b. Keep in mind the lighting, and avoid harsh light or shadows, they don't look very pretty..
c. Don't simply put a bunch of random things together... If it's a fashion & beauty themed flatlay, limit it to clothes, accessories and makeup. No need to place some random object over there, unless it's cute and adds interest, ORRRR it speaks about your personality. For example, if you're an artist, add a watercolor palette, or if you're a little geeky, why not place your tablet WITH your blog casually as the homepage, right? Have fun, but not too much. Too many items can make it look busy or even messy. Also add a personal touch & little branding by displaying your business card if you have some.
d. Make sure the surface where you place your items is clean. Stains or dirt doesn't look pretty on flatlays.

Now let's begin with the Editing:

1.       Open your picture in VSCO CAM app and crop into a Square (1:1)
2.       Apply +7 HB2 filter
3.       +1 exposure +2 contrast
4.       +4 sharpen (this comes always last, to avoid any graininess) 
5.       Export to Gallery and open that picture in SNAPSEED app.
6.       Brighten white spaces by using the "brightness" tool -B- (you can control how much & how wide the range is) and make colored items pop by using the saturation tool -S-.
7.       Save & upload to Instagram.


Easy peasy, now you don't have to follow the exact same steps, because not all pictures are taken with the same camera or same light. You have to play around and see what adjusts best to you. Here another example with a slight variation of what I've shown you:

  1. Open pic in VSCO and crop it into a square (1:1)
  2. Apply + 7 HB1 filter (it makes your image look slightly icy)
  3. Apply +1 exposure (to brighten a little bit)
  4. +2 contrast (to define the items and make blacks black again)
  5. -1 temperature (it is proven that images with a blueish hue get more likes over images with reddish undertones)
  6. +4 sharpen, save to gallery & upload to Instagram

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See? It is not the same, but it didn't change drastically. The main difference is that I didn't need snapseed since the background wasn't white.
There is no exact formula, I'd say the most important step is pre-production aka how you arrange your items, and what you feature in your flatlays. Some like girly ones with fresh flowers, some prefer makeup only, others want to see food. Pretty items, with bright colors are the key. But I hope you found this helpful! Let me know in any case.

See ya soon, and don't forget to follow me on Instagram. I'm @AlinaModeBlog  <3

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