Hellooo my friends! Hope you’re having a wonderful week so far. It may be Wednesday, but I am just now getting into the groove of things after a very rowdy birthday weekend. My room is a mess, I need to unpack my suitcase and I’m 99% sure I’m down to my last clean pair of undies… but more on that later because I want to jump straight into the good stuff.
I get a lot of questions about how I edit my photos so I’m going to give you a detailed break down of the process. When I started my blog, photo editing and filtering were topics I wanted to know about as well and it’s taken a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for me. Hopefully this clarifies things a bit for those of you who have asked and please feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments and I’ll get back to you. :)
Step 1: Facetune (Free)
I feel like back in the day (read: like a year ago) people were embarrassed to admit they used Facetune. Now, as you probably know from following me, I am a pretty open book and relatively difficult to embarrass. As far as I am concerned there’s nothing wrong with using it.. assuming you don’t over do it. I’m going to say this again for emphasis: do. not. overdo. it. Everyone knows *that one girl* who smooths her face to be completely flat and enhances her eyes and teeth to be scarily white. Treat Facetune the same way you would no-makeup makeup. Less is more.
Ok, now that we’re past the necessary disclaimer… Facetune has a lot of useful features many of which are great for things other than editing your face. Sometimes I even use the tooth whitening tool to brighten white walls. (Hey! Whatever gets the job done.) I don’t use the app on every photo, but when I do use it here are some of the specific tools I like.
- Patch: Let’s be real, I do the best I can but sometimes unsightly things still make it into the picture. Zit? Patch. Gum on the sidewalk? Patch. Person in the background? Patch. Whatever it is that made it into your photo that you wish weren’t there? Patch.
- Smooth: Great for *lightly* smoothing arms and legs. Also useful if you patched a zit but the light still isn’t quite hitting the skin right.
- Details: Sometimes I’ll use this to darken my eyelashes. It can create a nice contrast.
- Reshape: Sometimes the baggy sweaters and loose mom jeans don’t quite photograph the same way they look in real life. Rather than embracing that I look like I have the body type of a potato, I’ll do a little reshaping. I know I’m beating the “tread lightly” theme to death, but use the reshape tool with care.
- Picker: I didn’t really appreciate this tool until relatively recently. Sometimes when you use the patch tool, you get rid of the object you’re removing, but color that remains looks like two water colors that bled together. Picker can help prevent this. Use the tool to pick the color of the background you want to end up with and then color over the object you’re removing prior to patching. Game changer.
If your photo doesn’t need Facetuning, l̶u̶c̶k̶y̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ skip step 1.
Step 2: Photoshop Express (Free)
I really got this app for the Dehaze tool which can be found under effects. The purpose of the dehaze tool is to combat fogginess/washed out photos. (Fogginess is frequently a result of bad light so it’s important to set yourself up for success by making a conscious effort to shoot in good light.) This tool essentially adds a richness of color to the objects in the photo which in turn makes them more receptive to your filter. Sometimes the highlight tool can get the job done, but for more extreme cases there’s dehaze.
The reason I think it’s important to mention this step is because I’ve found one of the biggest reasons people aren’t satisfied with how J5 works for them is because J5 is a green based filter and if your photo is foggy or washed out, the filter will not stick to the color the way you want and you may find yourself looking slightly green/gray rather than tan. If your photo was taken in good light and has decent color already you don’t need this step.
Step 3: VSCO (Free, but filters cost $)
The moment you’ve been waiting for… the filter. I’ve tried a lot of different filters since I started blogging, but I strictly use J5 now. I like J5 because it works well with my skin and hair. I also like the crispness of the whites. For photos that I’m in I usually put J5 between 6-8 and for filler pictures between 8-12. (Filler pictures are things like tablescapes, restaurants, or scenery.) I also usually turn exposure down to between .5 and 1. I like the richness of color it adds.
A note on cost: You can buy packs of filters with varying prices or you can get a VSCO X membership for $20/year. VSCO X gives you access to every filter and every feature they offer.
If you followed the instructions but aren’t happy with the results, here’s what could’ve gone wrong:
- Order of operations does matter. Certain apps diminish the quality of your photo so bopping back and forth between multiple photo editing apps without taking this into account will leave you with a grainy, pixelated photo. I know a lot of people put their VSCO filter onto a photo then catch something they should have Facetuned and try to do that step second. Don’t do it.. it’s lazy and the result won’t be as good.
- J5 isn’t the right filter for everyone. Not all filters work on all hair and skin. (Consider trying J6.. it’s warmer and I think works for more people, but is still in the same filter family.) If there’s interest, I can do a separate blog post on how to find the right filter for you.
- Make good light a priority. I realize it isn’t always possible to have perfect lighting, but for the times you can control it, you should. By shooting with good light you are saving yourself a huge headache while editing. I can’t even tell you how many photos ended up never making it to the gram because bad light made them an editing nightmare.
I hope this shed some light (ha) on how I edit and please feel free to reach out if I missed anything or you have questions!