It would be naive of us to think any picture we see on Instagram is unedited—even the #nofilter ones. (I mean, it’s not like anyone is fact-checking that hashtag.) But apparently it would also be naive of us to think all the pictures we see in our feeds are only edited within Instagram. Even though the photo app has added a slew of new filters and editing features over the past year or so, it’s not enough for those who take their selfies seriously. And we have proof.
Lifestyle blogger Marianne Hewitt of Life With Me has more 450k Instagram followers who jones for her pics of her clothes, makeup, food and travel. Recently, she let the cat out of a bag with a YouTube tutorial on how to edit Instagram photos—and none of the editing actually takes place within Instagram.
Editing a seemingly simple selfie is so much more than slapping on the Rise filter and calling it a day. First, Hewitt scrolls through no less than 15 options—which look pretty much exactly the same to the untrained eye—before selecting the winner. Then, she opens an app called facetune, where she spends a few minutes eliminating fly-aways, volumizing her hair, smoothing out her skin, eliminating shadows, and brightening her eyes. (She does warn through all of this to not “go overboard.”)
Hewitt then moves on to a different photo-editing app, Faded, where she fiddles around a bit before deciding she doesn’t like any of the filters and opens her other go-to, VSCO Cam. Hewitt takes about a minute before settling on one of her pre-selected favorite filters, and then opens the fourth app of day, Picframe, where she quickly adds her signature white border.
Before uploading her completed picture to Instagram, Hewitt makes sure to upload the fully edited version back into VSCO Cam where she can see how it looks next to her other recent pictures, in a feed that resembles the one on Instagram. Only after she decides the newest addition works well with the others (there aren’t too many selfies in a row; there’s a good mix of light and dark), is this “casual selfie” ready for the world to see.
Hewitt’s video also goes through a more condensed tutorial for scenery and food pictures, both of which also require outside editing apps before they’re Insta-ready.
The amount of editing going into just one Instagram photo is something to think about for those of us who envy the oh-so-perfect lives of beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers.