I get so many people asking me on my Instagram photos (my user id is danoah, add me!), how I make them pop the way I do.

Every photo is different, but today I want to show you the full process on one image. If you follow these instructions all the way to the end, you will be able to really fine tune your own images however you like.

before-after

love photography. And I will tell you that my Instagram is so different than my professional photography. I like dramatic looks and feels, bright colors, and more. I just think it’s so much more fun on social media.

Awesome images are all about the time you put into making them look good after you take them. This process will seem very tedious the first time you do it, but once you’ve done it a few times, you just load up whatever image you’re wanting to edit and it is fast and snappy. This whole thing took me less than 2-3 minutes when I shared it on Christmas Eve.

Remember. You will not copy this step for step and setting for setting on any of your own images. I am teaching you a process. So…

Start with my image. Save this image to your phone (tap it to get the full resolution image if you like):

Before-Image

Okay, you have the image saved? Let’s jump in.

You’ll need two apps for this. They cost a little money, but they are the two most powerful photo editing apps, and I REALLY recommend them. Keep in mind that these are done on an iPhone, but both apps are available on Android as well.

The first app is Snapseed. I use this app for 95% of my photo editing. Easily. It does take a bit of learning though, and that’s what today is about.

The second app is Facetune. This is a touch-up app and is a buck. We’ll get into it later. For now, let’s jump in.

You have the image saved on your phone. Now… Open Snapseed and let’s see if you can make the image look the same way I did when you’re done. You’ll be amazed just how much you’ll learn by following this step by step. HAVE FUN!

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1. Open the Snapseed App
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2. Open the image from your phone’s camera roll using the + button.
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3. First, I like to try the “automatic” adjustment to see if it improves the image on its own. Usually it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.
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4. While using the “automatic” adjustment, I adjust the contrast a bit to make the darks a bit darker and lights a bit lighter. You do this by swiping your finger left and right on the screen.
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5. After I save the automatic adjustment, I head over to the “DRAMA” filter.
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6. There are many options for the Drama Filter. I often use Drama 1, but for this picture, I really like the way Drama 2 looks. You should note that in a lot of photos, Drama 2 is usually pretty extreme. This one is so dark already, though, that it looks good. To see the different drama filters, tap the star and select Drama 2.
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7. Swipe your finger up and down on the image until the adjuster is on “Filter.”
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8. Now crank up the drama filter a bit to make things start to pop (you adjust all these by swiping left and right on the image with the adjusters).
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9. Now I’m going to bring some more color to the image since the drama filter often drains the color with its initial settings. Let’s go with a +6 on this one. To get to saturation, swipe up and down while in the drama filter screen. It will let you choose what you’re adjusting.
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10. Now let’s crank up the contrast. Swipe down 0n image to select contrast. For this image, I want higher contrast because it makes things pop more, something I really want in this particular picture. When you’re done with the contrast setting, tap the check mark to save the image and go back to the main image editing screen.
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11. At the bottom of the main image editing screen is a button that says, “Tune Image.” Click it. Here you can adjust brightness. Ambience. Contrast. Saturation. Shadows. And warmth. You should note that this adjusts the entire image. I like to use this after I add whatever filters I want to add so that I can fine tune the photograph. Now let’s adjust each part. I’m going to turn the brightness up a bit to liven the image. Remember, don’t hit the checkmark until we’ve adjusted all of these settings.
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12. Next (by swiping down to the next adjustment), I am going to turn up the ambience setting a bit. This brings highlights down, shadows up, and neutralizes the photo a bit. This is very helpful if you have a photo with different parts at clashing exposures.
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13. Next, let’s make the image pop even more with color. Turn up the saturation. Be careful with saturation settings. The more you turn up saturation, the more it can damage your image. Use it to make your image pop, but don’t push your limits trying to get one area to pop at the expense of other areas. Further down, I’m going to teach you how to do a single spot on the image.
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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with more than 1.4 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!