How to Use VSCO for Food Photography Edits

Take better food photography with VSCO app

This blog post about using VSCO for food photography originally appeared on my old blog, EatsLeeds.co.uk, but has now been republished and redirected here to ZoePickburn.com.

Use free apps like VSCO for food photography that is even more beautiful

This postteaches you how to edit your food photos on my favourite free app, VSCO. Check out my other food photography posts to learn:

 So, recently I posted my guide to taking more beautiful foodstagrams, which included a bunch of simple tips that that will make your phone-based food pphotography way more beautiful. 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!

This post isn’t going to tell you how to TAKE pretty pictures on your phone – you’ll need to check out my phone food photography guide 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 food photography game with a little help from VSCO (just FYI, I have literally no affiliation to VSCO, I just think that it is an AWESOME free tool for anyone into phone photography).

How to Use VSCO for Food Photography

    1. Download the VSCO App

      Go to VSCO.co 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). 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, 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 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.

How to Use VSCO for Food Photography Edits

    1. 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.

How to Use VSCO for Food Photography Edits

    1. 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:
      How to Use VSCO for Food Photography Edits
      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:

      1. Crop + StraightenHow to Use VSCO for Food Photography Edits

        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.

How to Use free app VSCO for Food Photography Edits
How to Use free app VSCO for Food Photography Edits
How to Use free app VSCO for Food Photography Edits
How to Use free app VSCO for Food Photography Edits
      1. 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)

Using VSCO - the free app for photo editing
Using VSCO - the free app for photo editing
Using VSCO - the free app for photo editing
Using VSCO - the free app for photo editing
      1. 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.

VSCO for food photography
VSCO for food photography
VSCO for food photography
VSCO for food photography
      1. 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.

How to use VSCO for food photos
How to use VSCO for food photos
How to use VSCO for food photos
    1. 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.
      Free Android app for food photography
      In the home screen, tap the image to select it, the tap the three-dot ‘more’ symbol in the bottom right of your screen.
      Free Android app for food photography
      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.

Free Android app for food photography

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.

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