How to Use VSCO for Food Photography Edits + Gorgeous Foodstagrams

Eats Leeds VSCO for Food Instagram - Image

Use free apps like VSCO for food Pics that are even more beautiful

This is part 2 of my #Foodstagram series. you can catch part 1 here, part 3 here and
part 4 here.


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So, recently I posted my guide to taking more beautiful foodstagrams, which included a bunch of simple tips that that will make your Instagram food pictures way more beautiful, for free (because who, in real life, wants to spend their hard-earned cash on social media?*). Today though, I’m sharing some of my top tips for using free photo editing app VSCO for food pictures that will make your Instagram followers drool!

If you’re finding my Beautiful #Foodstagram guides useful, tag me @zpickburn or #eatsleeds in your new + improved Instagram food pictures.

This post isn’t going to tell you how to TAKE pretty pictures on your phone – you’ll need to check out my Ten Steps to Beautiful Foodstgrams for the full deets on that. This is working under the assumption that you’re taking decent pictures of some pretty food, and you just want to up your #foodstagram game with a little help from VSCO cam (just FYI, I have literally no affiliation to VSCO, I just think that it is an AWESOME free tool for anyone into phone photography)

Righty-ho! Lets leap into my step-by-step guide to having prettier #Foodstagrams by using VSCO for food image editing:

1. Download the VSCO App

Go to to access the VSCO app. The app is available on the App Store for iOS; and on the Google Play Store for Android (I use the Android version on my Samsung Galaxy S5). Download the app, create an account and log in within a few minutes.

2. Take a Picture…

Obvious, right? In my previous post, I mentioned two points that at particularly important here you should a) take photos directly in your phone’s camera app (this gives you more flexibility later) and b) set your phone’s camera to capture a square (1:1 ratio) image, instead of having to crop later (on a Samsung, open the camera app, then use the settings gear (  icon-cog ), to select ‘picture size’ and 1:1)

3. …and Open it in VSCO

Now you can take your picture. Then press the ‘share via’ icon ( icon-share ) and scroll down to select VSCO. Your image should now be open in VSCO. Tap the image to select it, then click the slider icon at the bottom of the screen to being editing.

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4. Apply Any Filters

Here you can choose a filter, if you like. I don’t use any pre-set filters because I prefer the control of being able to manually adjust the image (which we’ll get to in the next step, don’t you worry), but if you are using filters, I think that the options in VSCO are just a bit more subtle than the options in Instagram.

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5. Manually Adjust the Image

Once you’ve made a decision about filters (and when you first start using VSCO for food photography editing, I know how addictive it can be to just scroll through the filters trying them all out), slide upwards on the arrow at the bottom of the screen and select the slider icon again to access all the adjustment options. Being honest, the best way to get a feel for them is probably to spend a few minutes trying them all. I go into a bit of detail below about the key ones I use, but if a more extensive post about exactly how to use each adjustment would be helpful, just give me a shout in the comments:

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For each of the settings I look at below, select the relevant icon, and adjust the level by moving hing the slider at the bottom of the screen right or left. When you’ve got that particular setting adjusted to the right level, click on the circle in the bottom right of your screen to save, or the x in the bottom left to return to the image before you made that adjustment. The key settings that I adjust go in pairs, as follows:

a) Crop + Straighten

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Though they are different things, I’ve grouped crop and straighten together because the adjustments they make to the image are fundamentally different to the other ways I use VSCO for food photography image editing, in that they physically change the composition of the image, rather than adjusting the makeup of it (to use a flimsy simile, cropping and straightening are like going on a diet and losing weight to make yourself look different and the rest of the edits I’m using are like changing your clothes to make yourself look different. Kind of. I did say it was flimsy).
As mentioned in point 1, take all your images in 1:1 ratio and you shouldn’t need to crop unless a sneaky finger or shoe is just visible in one corner, in which case crop as little as possible (sticking with the 1:1 ratio, of course). Similarly, try to line your images up to the ideal angle before you come to editing, but if your image has very clear straight vertical or horizontal lines, then a little straightening may be called for.

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b) Exposure + Contrast

I’m lumping these together because, 9 times out of ten, they should be used in exactly the same way: Adjust the exposure up to +1 or +2 (occasionally +3 or +4 if the image is very dark, but any more than that and it will just look overexposed), then save, and adjust the contrast by the same amount or sometimes +1 less (so if the exposure is adjusted to +2, the contrast will be adjusted to +1 or +2)

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c) Saturation + Temperature

Again, these are bunched together because they serve a similar purpose and I tend to use them in tandem: Increase the saturation to +1 or +2 to make all the colours in the image a bit more bright and vibrant, then adjust the temperature to anywhere between -1 and +2 to balance out the artificial look of an over-saturated image.

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d) Sharpen

The sharpen function is in a class all of its own, and is usually the last adjustment to make in VSCO for food pictures. It adjusts the definition of the image – a tiny adjustment, but it gives images a little boost that just makes them that bit more pretty. Adjust the sharpness to anwhere between +6 and +12 to make your foodstagrams really stand out.

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6. Save the Image + Upload to Instagram

Once you are happy with your Foodie Instagram Picture, scroll up on the arrow at the bottom of your screen and select the circle on the bottom left of the screen to save the image.

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In the home screen, tap the image to select it, the tap the three-dot ‘more’ symbol in the bottom right of your screen.

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From this menu, you can either choose ‘Share’ to send the image directly to Instagram or ‘Save to Gallery’ which I usually use, so that I can share to Instagram later.

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That is the way I use VSCO for food pictures, but I massively encourage you to have a play with all the adjustment options and find a combination that suits you and your style. Eventually you’ll get into a routine, and know what adjustments an image is likely to need, almost before you’ve even taken the picture.

*Unless you use it as part of your marketing strategy for you blog, brand or business, in which case it is definitely worth budgeting something for automation, analytics and maybe even professional images to use across social platforms. Even with that in mind though, a little time, thought and effort can definitely make a great business or brand social media strategy.

BONUS! Here’s a little GIF of the process:


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4 Comment

  1. Layla says: Reply

    Hi, Zoe, Layla here! x

    This is a very handy guide, and thanks for sharing it to us! 🙂 🙂 I love VSCO, but I’m still figuring out how to properly use it–and what better way to use it on! 🙂

    1. Hi Layla!
      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the guide 🙂 I love VSCO too, I think, like with anything, just having a go and messing around with it helps!

  2. […] is part 1 of my #Foodstagram series. you can catch part 2 here. […]

  3. […] This is part 3 of my #Foodstagram series. you can catch part 1 here and part 2 here. […]

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