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My Favorite Apps for Curating the Perfect Instagram Feed

Posted on Location: 3 m read

I’ve learned over the many years of blogging that curating an Instagram feed to reflect your personality and a certain theme takes a lot of meticulous work and dedication! Achieving consistency is another story, and something I’m still working on these days. While I have my ups and downs, I think I’ve finally found a style that speaks to me. Using certain phone applications have helped make planning and creating consistent content much easier. Since I get so many questions about photography and the tools I use to create my content, I’ll start by sharing which phone apps I use often!

Pinit
Most of these apps are free and if not, cost just a couple bucks. Familiarizing myself with these have definitely helped me up my Instagram game. For all those wondering – I do not edit most of my photos; my boyfriend is a professional photographer & retoucher, so I usually leave that responsibility to him. However, we do have differing editing styles and tastes, so sometimes I’ll tweak the photo a bit to “fit my feed” so to speak. I’m no Photoshop master though, so these editing apps are game changers!

Snapseed

David isn’t a big fan of editing apps because he always prefers editing on the computer, but this one gets his approval. He even uses it when we travel and want to quickly get a photo up. Unfortunately, editing on a computer usually takes more time and effort, and isn’t convenient when you just want to post something on-the-go. Some of my favorite tools on Snapseed include “Tune Image,” “Selective,” and “Grainy Film.”

Pinit
Used “selective” tool to brighten Rolly’s face so you can make out his facial features.
Pinit
Applied a “grainy film” overlay, reasonably adjusting filter strength & grain amount to give this photo a more film look.

Tune Image – Use this to bring up or tone down brightness, contrast, saturation, highlight, shadow, warmth, and ambiance. I wish I had a special recipe to share with you guys, but I really just play with the dials until I reach something I like. In my older days, I loved saturation, contrast, and cooler tones a lot. These days I prefer a softer look, but not too muted to the point where there is no color. I’m also no longer afraid of experimenting with warmer tones. I generally prefer brightness over darkness, but am always careful about not brightening my skin because… well, that million dollar tan though. πŸ˜‰

Selective – This tool is useful when there’s a specific part of a photo that’s too dark that you want to brighten. Whenever I take pictures with our pugs, I use this tool to brighten their faces specifically because otherwise they just look like black blobs (lol literally). You can also play around with contrast and saturation, but I personally mostly use this for upping the exposure on a darker part of a photo.

Grainy Film – Lately, I’ve been obsessed with that grainy film look. It’s like what they say – film is not dead, right? Snapseed surprisingly has a good variety of presets available and I love using the B and X series the most. I don’t have a particular one that I use across all my photos, because depending on the lighting conditions and what kind of photo it is, a certain filter may look better than another. It’s all about experimenting until you come up with something you’re content with. I love that I can adjust the amount of grain and the filter strength on the photo too. For grain, I usually keep it around 10-15 and filter strength at around 50-70 on average.

VSCO

Pinit
Ran a VSCO filter over this photo to achieve a light, airy feel. This was shot during the day, so it wasn’t too dark or anything to begin with. But, I also used some of the basic VSCO functions to adjust brightness, highlights, contrast, shadows, and warmth.

This was the first app I ever downloaded for filtering photos. It has similar features to Snapseed where you can tune the image but I prefer to use Snapseed for that. I mainly use VSCO for its filters, if none of the Snapseed filters seem to do it for any given photo. VSCO comes with a fair amount of free presets, and some available for purchase. I’ve done pretty well just using the free ones available. Sometimes if you’re lucky, they’ll have a special where you can download certain presets for free, that usually otherwise cost a few bucks. I pretty much use VSCO interchangeably with Snapseed.

Afterlight

Pinit
Added dust overlay to give a more retro film look to this iPhone capture.
Pinit
After making some basic adjustments on Snapseed, I added a final touch of dust on Afterlight.

Unlike Snapseed and VSCO, Afterlight is not a free app, but it is reasonably priced at $2.99. I mostly use this app to add special effects to my photos after editing on Snapseed or VSCO. That “dusty” look has really become popular on Instagram and I like using it on some of my photos, especially landscapes. David doesn’t like me adding this overlay to photos he edits of me because there’s no way to isolate the dust to only hit certain areas of the photo (or at least this is the case for the version I have). So, for photos with me in it, he adds dust in Photoshop where he feels makes sense. Otherwise, this app is great if you’re looking to add that dusty look to your photo on-the-go.

Facetune

Ahhh, look what we have here. David’s most frowned upon app — Facetune. I have to admit that when I first downloaded it, I definitely had my days of overdoing it. It’s so easy to go overboard, so you definitely want to learn how to use this one wisely. If you aren’t familiar with this app yet, it also costs $2.99 but I’d say that it’s totally worth it for flawless skin and pearly whites. There are plenty of features on this app that others rave about, but I stick with two. Just trying to keep it simple because you know, gotta keep it real to an extent — without sacrificing aesthetic!

Pinit
I rarely post selfies on my feed, but when I do, I lightly smooth the skin wherever needed (i.e. over a pimple, uneven skintone, etc.) on FaceTune & add some grain in VSCO to bring back some texture. This photo is by no means high resolution or of the same quality as my photos taken on David’s DSLR, but when it’s small on an Instagram feed it doesn’t look so bad occasionally πŸ˜‰

Whiten – Use this tool to whiten teeth, blonde hair, or any white area in a photo that you want whiter. It works wonders getting rid of yellowish tones!

Smooth – If I’m editing a rare photo I got of myself on my phone, I’ll lightly smooth over troubled areas of my skin. Like I said, it’s super easy to overdo it and takes practice for your eye to finally adjust to what’s enough. Looking back at older photos from late 2016-early 2017, I definitely overdid it. When did I think that plastic, 100% poreless skin was ever attractive?! Yes, my boyfriend told me so but I refused to believe it. Luckily, people who have met me in person say I look just like how I do in photos, so I think it’s safe to say that I’ve gotten better about keeping things realistic (lol!).

UNUM

Now that we have all my favorite editing apps out of the way, let’s talk about my favorite app for planning my Instagram feed! This one is a GAME CHANGER. UNUM is really similar to Planoly which I know many others love to use. However, I like that UNUM is free and easy to navigate. I haven’t had any complaints or a reason to pay monthly for an app just for planning my feed, so I’ve stuck around on the free plan. Long story short, you can pre-upload photos onto what would look like your feed on this app. This way, you can see what your feed would look like ahead of time, and you can move photos around like a puzzle until you find a happy medium. You can even write your captions out in advance, but I use it for feed planning purposes only.

Pinit
The top three photos are examples of my “planned” content. I am able to place pictures in empty squares to see how they’d potentially fit into my existing feed and how they’ll look with future photos… and rearrange as needed!
Pinit
I am on the “free” subscription plan and it has done me pretty well so far. This plan allows users to plan up to 18 photos in advance which is plenty to work with. You have the option to upgrade to get more.
And there you have it — the top 5 apps I can’t live without when it comes to curating the perfect Instagram feed. I was going to go into some more detail about the things I keep in mind when I actually plan my feed on UNUM, but this post is getting a bit long. If you would like to learn more, let me know and I’ll do a follow-up post on that!

Do you use any editing or planning apps? Which ones do you love or hate? I’d love to hear about them πŸ™‚ XO

What do you think?

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44 Comments
  • Natalie
    April 13, 2018

    Definitely going to check some of these apps out! Love VSCO and I also really like the A Color Story app!

    • Sharon Wu
      April 15, 2018

      Ohh! I will have to give A Color Story a try. I’ve heard about it and seen it around but haven’t tried it for myself. Thanks for the rec!

  • Mariann Yip
    April 13, 2018

    I am obsessed with unum! I also use snapseed a lot. My other two go to apps are Lightroom and photoshop πŸ™‚

    • Sharon Wu
      April 15, 2018

      I love Photoshop and Lightroom too but I use those on the computer! I find that the functions on the mobile versions aren’t as extensive. Glad you also enjoy UNUM and Snapseed!

  • Eileen
    April 13, 2018

    I love the dust feature on Afterlight too! And β€œa color story” is another fave πŸ™‚ great shares darling!

    • Sharon Wu
      April 15, 2018

      Yayyy! I’m glad you Afterlight’s dust feature too. I just wish I could isolate the dust in certain parts of a photo!

  • Kileen
    April 14, 2018

    These are all great apps for editing! & will definitely need to check out the UNUM app, it sounds like an awesome tool!

    Kileen
    cute & little

    • Sharon Wu
      April 15, 2018

      Thanks! UNUM is a game changer for sure πŸ™‚

  • Cassidy
    April 14, 2018

    I Struggle with this so I really appreciate this info! I will have to try UNUM as it would help tremendously for me to visualize my feed. Thanks so much!

    • Sharon Wu
      April 15, 2018

      Ohh! UNUM will definitely help you visualize your feed! Hope you’ll like it xx

  • the eye traveler
    April 14, 2018

    I love this post! As a blogger editing photos are key. I literally use all of those apps.

  • Briana
    April 14, 2018

    I so love these! I have to try these new ones!

    Briana
    https://beyoutifulbrunette.com/

    • Sharon Wu
      April 15, 2018

      Let me know which ones you love most! xo

  • Stephanie
    April 14, 2018

    I literally use all of these except for Facetune! Though I mostly use Lightroom to edit my photos now, I still sometimes pop them into Afterlight for the dust effect and I use UNUM for my photography page! These are all great suggestions!

    • Sharon Wu
      April 15, 2018

      Haha you don’t need Facetune! πŸ˜‰ Your photos lately have all been so on point girl, I also love how they have a consistent theme/feel to them too. Keep up the awesome work!

  • Kenzi || Life of a Sister
    April 14, 2018

    I have loved using VSCO for so long, it’s great for when I want a certain look. I’ve been looking at Afterlight and for only $2.99 it’s not bad for the app!

    • Sharon Wu
      April 15, 2018

      Yesss! I love VSCO πŸ™‚ And totally agree that Afterlight is worth the money!

  • Christina
    April 14, 2018

    These are great! I’m always looking for great apps to use for social.

  • Nicole
    April 14, 2018

    Ok! Heading to the App Store now to download UNUM!! I have been wondering about this, thank you!!

  • Gita
    April 15, 2018

    I live by Snapseed and VSCO!

  • Taylor Mobley
    April 15, 2018

    I love this! I use VSCO and Lightroom Mobile and love them for making my feed look cohesive.

    • Sharon Wu
      April 20, 2018

      I still have yet to figure out Lightroom Mobile – it seems so different from the computer version that I’m used to!

  • Jenn Linds
    April 16, 2018

    i love snapseed, but haven’t tried unum yet. going to give it a try right now!

    • Sharon Wu
      April 20, 2018

      It was a game changer for me when I discovered it!

  • Suzanne Cox
    April 16, 2018

    Wow, hadn’t thought about doing any of these things with my photos. Tend to just keep it natural, but will bear it in mind.

  • Megan Elliott
    April 16, 2018

    Snapseed and Afterlight are definitely two of my go-tos! Love this.

  • Deborah
    April 16, 2018

    I use all of these! UNUM is seriously my favorite!

    • Sharon Wu
      April 20, 2018

      I’m glad you are a fan of UNUM too!

  • Helen
    April 16, 2018

    These are great apps. Will definitely check these out. This is very helpful. Thanks for sharing this to us!

  • Emily
    April 17, 2018

    I’ve only heard or two of these apps before so I’ll have to check out the others!

  • Jasmine Vargas
    April 17, 2018

    FaceTune and Snapseed are my favorite. I use to use UNUM but I use PLANN now.

    • Sharon Wu
      April 20, 2018

      Oooohhh what’s the difference? I will have to look into PLANN!

  • Jessi Malay
    April 18, 2018

    Such a great post babe! I use a few of these and they’re great!!

    XO, Jessi
    https://jmalay.com/coachella-2018-recap/

  • Samantha Mariko
    April 19, 2018

    I also use Afterlight and Unum as well!! Really great apps for Instagram photos and planning πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your picks!

    • Sharon Wu
      April 20, 2018

      Yay! That’s amazing girl. Thanks for reading xx

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