Photo Editing: How to make your photos pop

Mirella B

Ever take a picture that you really love but wish it was more Instagram worthy? There are actually options that someone with little to no experience can work with to improve their photos!

There are many apps that can help you accomplish this. VSCO, one of my favorite apps, has a lot of different filters that can really enhance the photo. These improvements can range from subtle to drastic. 

One way of elevating a photo is by making it black and white. Making the image black and white can express different moods in a few different ways, either to focus on the subject of the image or create intensity. 

These next three photos are an example of my editing progression. 



As you might be able to see, I was originally planning on leaving the picture in color. After editing the original, I wasn’t satisfied. Once I made it black and white, I loved it. I have found that sometimes when I feel part of the image isn’t the way I want it, changing the image to black and white can really help it feel complete. 

There are a few adjustments that can be made to create impact or evoke a mood. One editing tool I use regularly that helps me to create vibrant colors is contrast. This can give the photo a softer vibe or intensify the image. This variation will diversify your options to convey a different type of mood. Saturation and exposure are also useful tools that can be used to adjust the feeling the image evokes. Saturation changes the value of color, including skin tone, background, and foreground. Generally, using saturation is better suited when taking outdoors photos or objects though, it’s sometimes fun to alter it even when editing portraits. 

Another popular tool is exposure. Exposure impacts the amount of light present in the photo. This really depends on the angle and amount of light in the image but it can be really helpful when taking landscape or objects. 

Shooting landscape and city photography can be laborious but once you figure out what a photo needs, you can take it to the next level. Take, for example, the first image below, it’s very bland and has low contrast. This could use some edits. 

The second image is actually the same photo with a filter. As you can see, the image is improving and becoming more visually appealing by using editing tools. When I first started out, I would stop editing and assume it didn’t need anymore edits because I didn’t want to overdo it. I then realized that increasing the contrast even more can enhance the photo to make it more interesting. 


Now, after further edits, it’s sharper. This is something that I would consider posting although I did tweak it a little more to improve the sky. 

Now, after increasing the contrast, I am done. This image went from a bland image of a road to a more dramatic sunset. 

With the use of editing tools and apps, photos can evoke different moods and energy with a click of a few buttons. Happy editing!