(All images Copyright Mark Lohde 2016 - They may not be reproduced or modified in any way without explicit permission directly from Mark Lohde)

This informative text is in response to all the bad photos that I see on Instagram daily. I hope you can learn something from this to help you improve your images.

Background about myself:

I have been a professional photographer for almost 7 years now. I have traveled around the world just to take pictures, and have worked with many very large corporations for their media needs. I have taken pictures of sports, professional athletes, corporate advertisement campaigns, weddings, contributed to companies like RedBull, Coca-Cola, Quiksilver, DC Shoes, VANS, SURFER, Surfing, Surfline, and much more. I have personally edited tens of thousands of images, so I have the experience and know-how to create an image that is very impactful. I also have won several international awards for my images over the years for areas of fine art, landscape, and portrait photography. 

Part 1: Taking the Photo

When taking the photo, you have to focus on the grand scene of the photo. You have to focus on what is important: 

Subject, Lighting, Composition

Subject is the actual thing that you are shooting. Make sure it is something interesting, and not your Starbucks triple shot macchiato extra soy that they spelt your name wrong. Go out and try and capture something that many people cannot see, or something very important to you.

Lighting is the luminance value of the scene, AKA how bright or dark the actual image is.

Make sure that you have nice light when shooting. This normally occurs at the beginning or the end of the day, where the light is nice and soft. Try and avoid taking pictures at mid-day

Composition is the action of positing your subject in the frame. It is the action of combining a good subject, in good light. 

Interesting Subject, Good lighting, and focused on framing

Untitled photo

When composing an image, try to remember "The Rule of Thirds". The rule is demonstrated by the image to the right and how if you take an image and divide it into thirds both horizontally and vertically you come up with that pattern. Try and position your subject right at the area where the lines intersect, and keep your horizon at one of the horizontal lines. This generally creates better images, but not always. 

In the example to the right, the boat (the main subject of this picture) is placed right at the intersection of the lines. The horizon (represented by the mountain line) is placed at the top 3rd of the frame. 

Rule of 3rd's Grid

Rule of 3rd's Grid

Edited - With lens corrections too

Edited - With lens corrections too

Part 2: Editing

Editing is where a picture is processed in a way to optimize the best features of the photo

The example to the left is a before and after the editing process. Mind you that this is taken with a professional camera, but the principles are the same with a phone or regular camera. The goal is to add as much "punch" to the image, while not making it look fake, or overdone. The images that you produce should look nice, not fake.

The editing is where you can take a sub-par photo and make is excellent by maximizing what the file can do. Better and more expensive cameras can push the luminance and colors more than a cheaper cell phone camera. 

Methodology to Editing

There are several apps that make editing images easier.

Here is a basic flow of the apps and the costs associated with them.

Pro-Level: Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

Cost: $10 a month subscription for students

Lightroom and Photoshop are industry standards for editing complex photos and optimizing the look. It is the most versatile and between the two programs, almost anything can be done.

The benefit of Lightroom and Photoshop is that they can do so minute local adjustments and can be used to finely tune the areas that you want the viewer to focus on. 

The photo to the right was created with a combination of Photoshop and Lightroom

Edited - Made from 5 different photos at different times

Edited - Made from 5 different photos at different times

Advanced: Dedicated Phone Apps

PS Express




Cost: Free to a few dollars

Dedicated phone apps can create some basic edits on photos to enhance the images. On these apps, it is VERY easy to overdo it though. I would recommend doing adjustments and not "filters" on these. Of corse it all depends on what you are actually taking photos of in order to edit it well. 

Basic: Included Instagram Editing Tools

While this may be the easiest editing tool, Instagram has a lot of very useful editing tools included that I personally use a lot. The following list is some of the best included filers and how it can be applied to certain types of photos. 



The following is a gallery of the different types of built in Instagram filters. Use them sparingly, but can add an effect to the photos. Source

Part 3: Applying the Filters and Adjustments

The key to creating a well-edited photo is to make many steps in order to come up with a final product that looks good.

The following slideshow is the steps that I normally go through to edit a photo. 

1- Original Photo

1- Original Photo

Notice how all the small adjustments add up to create a better looking image. It is all about the subtleties. 


Editing a photo can be a process than can take days, or be a quick Instagram filter. Overall, editing is there to enhance an image for display online or in your home. I hope that this instructional post can help you create a better looking Instagram and attract more followers and fans. Take everything that has been said here as a guide, not a rulebook, to editing because there is an endless amount of ways a single photo can be edited. Never the less, take this as a tool book to help you create and capture more memories to share with the world.

By: Mark Lohde 2016 for ENG 306 Final Project

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