How to edit your mobile photos in 4 simple steps

Are you as well blown away by all the stunning photos circulating our social and digital channels? But at the same time a little put down by that fact that you never seem to manage to capture them yourself? It’s easy to forget that these photos are captured and produced with professional camera gear and advanced programs for editing. But nevertheless, the fact is that you can create quite a lot of magic directly with and in your iPhone. To show you how to, we’ve put together a guide on how to edit your mobile photos in 4 simple steps using exposure, contrast, colour and crop.

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To guide you through it all we’re exemplifying 4 different ways to work with the 4 steps (exposure, contrast, colour and crop) in order to inspire you in creating different looks and feels, depending on the original photo and/or your own preferences. We show you how to add a soft tone to create a dramatic black and white look or how to use the crop tool and rethink composition. All photos in the article are captured and edited with an iPhone 8 Plus.


Example 1: Add a softer tone

Before vs. after editing

Before vs. after editing

Every now and then it can be really nice to desaturate colours and pull down contrasts to create a softer vibe in your photos. When carefully using your editor, magic happens.


Step 1. Increase exposure

To add a softer vibe we’re increasing exposure a little even though the photo is pretty well lit already. This is to erase a little blacks and shadows in a simple way.


Step 2. Pull down contrasts

To bring out even more softness we’re pulling down contrasts in order to make the photo a little less sharp.


Step 3. Desaturate colours

We’re desaturating the colours to enhance the softness in the blues and voila, a desaturated, soft and stylistic photo has taken shape.


Step 4. Straighten the horizon

If you’re photographing with a horizon in the background it’s almost always necessary to straighten it. In this case we do no further cropping since composition already is on point.


Example 2: Enhance contrasts and blacks for a solid vibe

Before vs. after editing

Before vs. after editing

Sometimes the smallest of adjustments are enough to create a change. And even the smallest of change may create a great difference for finale results. Have a look:


Step 1. Increase exposure

To enhance the lightning in the photo we’re pulling the exposure bar up. But be careful to not overdo it, creating a big bulb of white light instead of an interesting lightning effect.


Step 2. Enhance contrasts

To bring out the blacks and making the photo more sharp we’re adding a bit of contrast. But as with exposure, don’t overdo it so that your image looks too hard and too edited.


Step 3. Add some colour

To enhance the vibe of the photo and differentiate the light soaking the upper part from the black water in the bottom we’re adding some more colours by saturating it. This will also bring out the warmth from the evening light a bit more.


Step 4. Crop to get a little closer

It’s always a good idea to crop your photos if you didn’t nail composition when capturing. In this case we’d like to get just a little closer and crop to make it happen.


Example 3. Create a dramatic black and white look

Before vs. after editing

Before vs. after editing

Did you take a photo that you really like but that unfortunately got badly exposed (too dark and too bright at the same time as in this case), or a photo that just does not reflect the colours as you wished them to? Make it black and white!


Step 1. Pull up the exposure

As in this case the sky is already over exposed and can not be saved, so instead we increase exposure even more to create a solid white sky instead.


Step 2. Desaturate completely

In the next step we’re making the photo black and white by desaturate it fully. By doing so it’s easier to adjust contrasts.


Step 3. Increase contrasts

To create more drama and to increase the difference between the whites and the blacks we’re adding more contrast. But do so with care, we don’t want our photos to look unnatural.


Step 4. Remove objects

To get a cleaner look we’re cropping the photo to get rid of the house. At the same time we’re placing the sheep in the bottom left corner for a more interesting composition.


Example 4: Rethink and redo composition using crop tool

Before vs. after editing

Before vs. after editing

Sometimes it’s fun to create something new from something old, right!? By cropping your photo drastically to redo composition you may end up with a completely new photo, almost.


Step 1. Increase exposure

In most cases a little more light can create a softer and more airy vibe to a darker photo. To enhance the softness in the evening light we’re pulling the exposure bar up a little.


Step 2. Soften the contrasts

To bring out the milky evening tones we’re decreasing contrasts. But just a little, we don’t want the photo to fade away completely.


Step 3. Enhance colours

We still want the colours of the beautiful sunset to be present so we saturate s little. In combination with more exposure and less contrasts this helps us creating a colourful yet soft look.


Step 4. Crop the photo drastically

Now, to create even more depth we’re taking full advantage of the crop tool going from a landscape shape to portrait, creating a new photo from the old one that will pull in the onlooker even more.


So simple to create such big difference, right!? We hope you’re inspired enough to start playing around with the editing tools on your own. Maybe you breathe new life into a photo you thought had nothing more to give?


Don’t have the app yet? No problem: