How To Edit Photos Like Instagram Stars

how to edit photos like instagram stars

Ever seen a photo on Instagram that takes your breath away? Every week, we receive dozens of queries from clients about how to achieve a certain aesthetic or editing style they’ve seen on social media and in this series we want to focus on one in particular – street style minimalist.

If you love fashion, then chances are you've seen style icon Erica Hoida's stunning feed (@fashionedchicstyling). Her impeccable style, combined with highly editorial photography, really sets her images apart and (needless to say) we’re big fans! Her feed is one of the few accounts that truly nails the minimalist editing style.

While we don’t know how Erica edits her images (hey, everyone has their secrets!), we do know how you can create a similar aesthetic quickly and easily. This end-to-end editing process draws on a combination of Lightroom presets with some simple editing tweaks for that finishing touch.


Step 1. Establish The Color

The key to recreating any aesthetic is to establish the right color and tone for the image as a whole. In this photo, we’ve used the New York Lightroom Preset Collection (specifically Mood Filter #3 with a slight exposure adjustment) to achieve a high-contrast and desaturated minimalist look. This provides a solid foundation for the rest of your edits to build on and should always be the first thing you do.

minimalist lightroom presets

Step 2. Sharpen The Details

To help bring out the details in this outfit, we used the Clarity Adjustment brush to paint over certain areas of the top where we wanted the details to really “pop”. This creates a sharp and finished look that focuses the viewers' attention on the fashion. If you’re new to Lightroom Adjustment Brushes, the red areas only indicate where the effects are applied. They’re not part of the image and you can turn it off anytime.

how to edit like an instagram star in lightroom

Step 3. Enhance The Skin

The Soft Skin presets we incorporate into all of our preset collections are ideal in most situations for a smooth finish. But to achieve a highly stylized and airbrushed effect that's seen in glossy fashion magazines, we used a custom Soft Skin Adjustment Brush to further enhance the skin areas.

how to airbrush skin in lightroom

Step 4. Boost Light & Shadow

To give the skin a 3D look, we used a custom Exposure Adjustment Brush to strategically enhance the light areas of the skin. We simply painted over the areas we wanted to highlight, then softened it so that the changes blended in perfectly. The key to blending is to use a highly feathered brush. If you want to make the dark areas of skin darker, you can use a Burn Adjustment Brush, but we didn't need to in this photo.

how to boost light and shadow in lightroom

Step 5. Add A Spotlight

Add a vignette or spotlight so that the edges of the image will be darkened, leaving the subject highlighted in the center of the photo. This is easily achieved by applying a Spotlight preset to the shot. This last step is really up to your discretion and taste, but it’s a characteristic effect in this type of aesthetic.

It’s as simple as that! Just five easy steps to refine your images and take your minimalist aesthetic to the next level. While our New York Lightroom Preset Collection was inspired by the minimalist look, you can tweak any element to add your own personalized touch and create a look that is completely your own. If you’re in need of inspiration, be sure to check out the distinct look created by some of our dedicated clients using the New York Lightroom Preset Collection here.

minimalist lightroom presets

edit photo like instagram stars

Photography: Dreamy Presets // Model: Okasana Klimashkina

We have included all of these customized Adjustment Brushes in the latest version of the New York Lightroom Preset Collection. If you have previously purchased this collection, please contact us to receive this upgrade for free! 



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