How to edit instagram photos in a vintage style

how to edit instagram photos

Looking back at my instagram feed from 1 year ago compared to how it is now - a lot has changed. (in a good way) I will post a screenshot of the differences below so you can see for yourself - then I will take you through the whole process of how I have been editing my pictures in a darker vintage style recently,  which is more me.

When I moved to London I started focusing a lot more on instagram since I saw so many photo opportunities and I was more inspired by my surroundings than I ever was in the small villages I lived previously. (though now I find inspiration everywhere!)

I was following a lot of accounts that were using the ''bright, saturation, whiten all parts'' style for their feed and so I automatically thought that was my style too - because I wasn't actually thinking about it, I just did what everyone else seemed to be doing.


1 year difference between these screenshots


I love looking back at my feed and see how I am improving my photography and editing techniques. It is good to look at your own development and see the process of how you are getting better every day!


How I improved my editing 

Last year I used many different apps to edit my pictures; snapseed for brightness, then VSCO filters to try and stay consistent and sometimes facetune to make white backgrounds even whiter. I knew I didn't like the overall look and it didn't really sit well with me but this is all I knew and it was how most people were editing their photos, so I stuck with it.

Until a few months ago when I signed up for the monthly Lightroom plan. I wanted to teach myself how to edit photos in a more professional way - so that I would have more control over the outcome and didn't have to rely on some standard filter.

Using Lightroom can seem very daunting at first and I was quite overwhelmed when I first started but being patient was sooo worth it. I watched A TON of youtube tutorials to know and understand all the ins and outs of the programme.

Many bloggers now have their own presets for sale which is worth purchasing if you don't have any time to invest in editing and learning Lightroom - or maybe you just love the look of their account and want yours to look like that! - I however wanted to create something that was more me and more personal and none of the accounts I followed had the style that I was going for.

It was all trial and error for me but I finally have a saved preset that I now use on every single photo for my blog and insta!

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Lightroom settings for a vintage style

I was thinking of releasing the preset I created but I didn't know if anyone would be interested in this (if you are please let me know and I will start working on this) - I do get asked a lot of questions about the ''vintage look'' of my latest photos so I thought a blog post would be helpful if you want to go for think kind of look as well!

First of all, to have the most control over your editing ensure that your camera settings are set to RAW - the file will be huge but the outcome in Lightroom is much better!

For mobile users; you can download the mobile version of Lightroom which is completely free - you won't have as much control as on the desktop version with a camera, but you can still create beautiful edits! (better than vsco filters in my opinion)


As you can see on the screenshot on the right here, I always put down the highlights (and most of the time the whites too) to get rid of any overexposure and to make the photo darker in all the light places.

I also up the shadows to 100, what this does is bring back detail in places where it might have been lost - for example in the white jumper on the picture below. I have to say that I change the blacks depending on the photo and the settings of the camera at the time.

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What I love about Lightroom is that you can edit the colours all individually, (hence why I am more tanned in all my photos - even bondi sands doesn't do enough for me)

To create the vintage vibe for photos, what I always do is turn down the luminance. I do this a lot for red and green, a little for orange and yellow. For yellow it is important to turn down the saturation - a lot. This helps take out the brassy tones (what you would do for your hair with purple shampoo). To really finish off with that vintage ''old camera'' style - turn up the grain. I usually go for 40-60 grain.

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Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 14.06.59

Vintage finishing touches 


When all the editing is done in Lightroom, I love adding a finishing touch to the photos to give that old school effect with white splashes, cracks and a dusty overall vibe. You can do this yourself in photoshop - there are many tutorials on this but I personally use an app called Afterlight.

Afterlight is used by many instagram users to give their summer photos those sunshine rays and create strange light streams on their final pics. I used to do this too but I don't use that option anymore. I now only use after light for their ''dusty'' settings.

You can choose from many different ones, my personal favourites are 10 and 12 - I always turn it down a bit so the splashes are less harsh on the photos.

Final thoughts

To help keep a consistent feed, I recommend downloading an app such as Planoly or Unum where you can see previews of how your photos will look like together. I also highly recommend going out shooting photos frequently - with new photos to edit you will learn to use Lightroom to your best ability a lot faster since you have to work with different lighting and colours.

I hope this post has been a little helpful in any way - my dm's are always open for questions but I have most information and knowledge shared on here!

I can't wait to see all your beautiful insta feeds!

Love, M x