Photo Editing Tips From A Professional Photographer

Technological advancements from film to digital and the introduction of smartphones enabled the world of photography to evolve at incredible lengths. Today, just about everyone has a professional-quality photography device in their pocket. And although it’s effortless to point and shoot any subject, the most common question is, “How can I make my pictures look better?”

Smartphones have pre-loaded filters and tools to amp up captured images, and the results can be beautiful, but some photos require a little more attention to make them stunning.  If you have an eye for photography but need help taking your images to the next level, the VSCO app delivers.  VSCO is a membership-based photo and video editing app that combines premium-quality filters and tools to transform your pictures.  While there are several free apps and filter settings to consider, this app offers inspiration from a global creative community and provides time-saving resources unlike anything else.

So, the next time you wish your pictures were better, try these tips and pair VSCO with your existing camera settings and filters to take every shot from good to great.

1. Nature

Photographing nature is a top favorite among both professional and amateur photographers. Interests range from photographing plant life and wildlife in familiar locations to capturing beautiful moments in nature during once-in-a-lifetime travel journeys.

With the VSCO app, you can easily use the nature filter feature to achieve desirable results. To improve the shot, leverage HSL (hue, saturation, and lightness) to illuminate nature’s colors, such as the blue sky and green trees. Many plants and birds have a distinct bright coloring that can be lost when photographed. You can revitalize those colors with HSL, bringing more authenticity to the captured image.

2. Portrait

Photography allows us to capture life’s special occasions, enabling us to reflect on our past and revel in fond memories. The better the image, the more likely you’ll share it with others and perhaps even frame it for hanging on the wall.

Most modern smartphones offer a portrait option within camera settings, and if you haven’t discovered this feature, it’s worth experimenting with it in various locations.  The portrait setting gives you a depth-of-field effect similar to professional lenses and focuses primarily on the subject while blurring the background.  Using this mode will instantly up your game.

3. Animals

Did you know that dog photos are among social media’s most popular and liked subjects? We humans love looking at pictures of our furry friends. Animals are favored so much that pets often become social media stars, and world-class photographers participate in competitions such as the national wildlife photo contest from the National Wildlife Federation and the Comedy Wildlife Photography awards. The winning photos are definitely worth checking out for enjoyment and inspiration.

Snapping a sweet photo of your pet is fun, and the results are adorable and heartwarming. Pick your favorite image, upload it into VSCO, and play with the highlights and lowlights to reveal finer details. Depending on the color of your pet, it can help bring out their eyes or the sheen of their fur.  Are you planning a safari vacation?  Try using these tools when photographing animals in their natural habitat.

4. Retro

While we are grateful for how technology has transformed photography throughout the years, we miss the aesthetic from decades that have transpired. Even though our devices and tools have advanced, we can still achieve that feel from the past.

You can make your photographs look retro with simple tools like grain, lightness, and fade.  You can also add unique light effects that were popular in film photography. My simple tip to try is upping the grain to nearly the total percentage to achieve that retro-detailed effect.

5. Black and White

Black and white photographs are simple, timeless, and elegant.  The absence of color allows the focus to be on the subject, the tones of grey, the quality of light, contrast, composition, and texture.  Unlike colorful imagery, a black-and-white photo directs our attention differently and appeals to our emotions. So it’s no wonder why this remains a preferred wedding photo selection.

Changing the effect in your black-and-white setting options will make those photos pop. The best way to do this is to contrast the image enough to give the shadows more depth. Alternatively, you can soften the contrast on a photograph to lighten the shadows.

Memories are priceless, and with these tips, the photographs you take will be timeless. Digital photography with our smartphones is incredible, and the tools to improve your images are seemingly endless.  Once you’ve mastered your skills, print your favorite photos and enjoy your work without looking at your phone.

Shannah Lauren is a Lifestyle, Portrait, and Wedding Photographer from Florida and has worked in the photography industry for over fifteen years. You can see more of her work at

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Shannah Lauren

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