Photo editing trends move fast on Instagram. Remember when the feed was full of heavily-filtered, square-cropped photos?

That was only a couple of years ago, but in 2020 that style looks so dated that you might as well be posting a daguerreotype.

What seemed like an interesting and original photo composition can quickly become a tired cliche.

Your average Instagram user spends almost half an hour each day on the app, which means photos that looked fresh a year ago have already lost some of their sparkle. To hold their attention, you want to keep up with the latest Instagram photo editing trends.

Below, we’ve rounded up the top X styles for 2020!

10 top Instagram photo editing trends

“No edit” editing

Instagram used to be the spot for flawless, curated images: pristine brunch plates, airbrushed beach photos, and glossy interiors. But that aesthetic is over.

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Want to get started running outdoors during this uncertain time but not sure where to begin? Join us tomorrow morning (4/29) on our Instagram Story for a Q&A with @vagabondhearts. ????‍♀️

A post shared by REI (@rei) on Apr 28, 2020 at 9:40am PDT

In 2020, users prefer photos that look real. Images with a little texture are more interesting than flawlessly edited landscapes or portraits.

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Dreams are not cancelled. #lojeltravel

A post shared by LOJEL (@lojeltravel) on May 4, 2020 at 4:54pm PDT

You don’t need to abandon all editing to make this trend work for your brand. You can clean up your photos by removing blemishes or dirt with an app like TouchRetouch.

Adjusting brightness or contrast will also subtly improve your images. Learn more secrets to editing your photos while retaining their natural look.

The throwback selfie

Not to be a downer, but the early months of 2020 have been characterized by isolation. Almost everyone is at home, many without an Instagram husband to shoot their looks.

That makes it tough to seek out an attention-grabbing backdrop and stage the perfect photoshoot.

As a result, the humble mirror selfie is on the rise again. These images feel a little more intimate and natural than staged photos, and as a bonus, you can shoot them without a tripod.

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sand storm marble ☁️ • For 15% off @idealofsweden use discount code; Demicharis – valid until May 15th • • • #idealofsweden #selfie #staypositive #sunshine #mirrorselfie #boredinthehouse #fitness #homesweethome #happy #moods #ootd #smile #fitnessmotivation #friday #fridays #gymmotivation #mood #instafit #fitspo #fitgirl #girlswholift #fit #weekend #weekends #motivation #fitnessaddict #happiness #phonecases #weekendvibes

A post shared by DEMI CHARIS | fitness x health (@demicharis) on May 8, 2020 at 11:32am PDT

Even retail brands are turning to self-portraits for a fresh angle. The spring campaigns by fashion brand Aritzia feature models at home taking selfies on their phones, resulting in some charmingly lo-fi looks.

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New favourite spot in the house. @adragomir_ in the Sculpt Knit Tank by Babaton. – #aritzia #babaton #styleinspo

A post shared by Aritzia (@aritzia) on May 3, 2020 at 11:05am PDT

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Meet with video — your breezy new suit demands attention. The Babaton Summer ’20 Collection. – #aritzia #babaton #summer20

A post shared by Aritzia (@aritzia) on May 7, 2020 at 2:57pm PDT

To maintain the throwback appeal of this format, consider enhancing the graininess in a tool like Adobe Lightroom to add the kind of texture that’s characteristic of film. Or use Afterlight to add subtle dust and light leak effects to photos.

The maximalist food photo

For a long time, food images on Instagram were tidy and refined: a square of avocado toast on a pastel plate, an artful cappuccino, a perfect Momofuku cake.

Now, that aesthetic feels a bit stale, like a day-old doughnut. Instead, viewers are craving food that looks vibrant and messy.

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@clarkbar's highly-riffable recipe eggs for dinner: Skillet Greens With Runny Eggs, Peas and Pancetta. Swap the greens and the aromatics for whatever you have, and leave out the pork for vegetarian — recipe link in bio. (Photo: @conpoulos, food styling: @simoncooks)

A post shared by NYT Cooking (@nytcooking) on May 14, 2020 at 5:25pm PDT

Instead of being perfectly plated, these food shots are dynamic or close-up, and — excuse the pun — look good enough to eat.

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there’s a #girlmeetsfarm marathon happening right now on @foodnetwork! it features one of my all time faves, this bagel salad that has tiny balls of cream cheese rolled in everything bagel seasoning! ???????????? (omg i miss bagels so much right now ???? but hey this would be good with some fried matzo croutons!!) get the recipe on the @foodnetwork site and tune in all morning to gmf!!! ????????????

A post shared by molly yeh (@mollyyeh) on Apr 13, 2020 at 7:09am PDT

To achieve this look, you want to edit your photos for high contrast and saturation, to achieve a crisp, vivid look.

The photo editing tool VSCO is great for food photos, with a ton of filters that enhance your images. Use a filter like G3 to add vibrance, or A3 for clean, bright tones.

The imperfect beauty portrait

Running parallel to the “no edit” trend is the widespread embrace of imperfect beauty portraits.

This trend celebrates diversity and authenticity, showing real faces and bodies in all their glory. Instead of removing wrinkles, blemishes and other “flaws”, those details are emphasized.

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✨real skin. Ft an SPF moustache ✨ #realskin #imperfectlyperfect #texture

A post shared by Mariah (@mariah.x.o.x) on Apr 15, 2020 at 8:57am PDT

This trend is great for brands that want to build their reputation for honesty and trustworthiness. Gillette Venus has done an awesome job of sharing unretouched images of women that include stretch marks or body hair with their #MyHairMyWay campaign.

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Things to appreciate: ✅ Sundays ✅ Stretch marks #MySkinMyWay

A post shared by Gillette Venus (@gillettevenus) on Dec 8, 2019 at 7:37am PST

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Running late but notice some hair where you don’t want it? Take a tip from Veronica: “I don't dry shave… That was the biggest no-no that I'd done as a kid—when I'm rushing, I STILL grab some type of lather.“ ????✨ . #Facts: armpit hair grows in ALL directions, so you might need to shave down, sideways & back up for the smoothest shave!

A post shared by Gillette Venus (@gillettevenus) on Feb 27, 2020 at 6:50am PST

Other skincare, beauty and self-care brands are also leaning into this trend, perhaps realizing that models with perfect skin probably do not resonate with customers looking for acne treatments or eye creams.

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"Oily acne prone skin gals, where y'all at? Thought I'd share a raw, unedited skin pic because my skin has its good days and its bad days. This is a good skin day. Dark spots, lil breakouts and all, I love the skin I'm in!" ⁠ ⁠ We stan with @christineleeee and love all the ways she celebrates skin, all skin! Currently on her skin: our all-natural Meltdown acne treatment oil. ⁠

A post shared by BLUME (@blume) on Apr 24, 2020 at 11:13am PDT

These photos often look unedited, but they’re usually still refined for Instagram. Often that means increasing brightness and contrast to reveal more of that imperfect texture that makes them so interesting.

The “G” series of filters in VSCO is great for subtly enhancing your portraits, gently flattering all skin tones while keeping things natural.

The vertical shot

We’ve come a long way since Instagram launched in 2010, baby. Remember when the platform only allowed square photos?

Even after Instagram loosened restrictions to allow other image formats, it was a long time before vertical photos took off. Now, they’re finally having a turn in the spotlight.

Vertical photos give your images more impact, by filling the screen and eliminating distractions. They also give you new opportunities to play with composition and framing to create amazing images. And for serious photographers who hated cropping their images to fit in a square format, they’re a gift.

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Photo by @babaktafreshi | A summer night in the Sierra Nevada, California, far from city lights at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000m). From here, the bright core of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius is seen through passing clouds in this single-exposure photograph. Down on Earth is Hurd Peak. Explore more of the World at Night photography with me @babaktafreshi. #saveournightsky #twanight #sierra #astrophotography

A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on May 14, 2020 at 9:39pm PDT

This long format is particularly well-suited to nature photography, where you want to give a sense of scale and majesty.

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Take 20% off our Fall/Winter Collection this weekend only using code: WINTERBEGONE20 ⛄️❄️???? // **all sales final **

A post shared by Selva Negra (@selvanegra_) on Jan 17, 2020 at 7:55am PST

It’s also great for fashion shots, allowing you to share plenty of details without awkwardly cropping your model.

Before posting, make sure that the square version of your image that appears on your grid still looks good! Even in a full-length photo, the center of the image should be compelling.

Vertical photos should have an aspect ratio of 4:5, ideally 1080 x 1350 pixels. Find a complete guide to Instagram image sizes here.

The monochrome photo

Images that stick to a single color family look clean and crisp on the feed, standing out like towering Rothkos in a crowded art gallery.

This monochrome look is dramatic and interesting, giving a straightforward product photo an editorial feel

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For comfort + more :: the 'Affect T-Shirt' in Coral :: online at @fshnbnkr ⁠ ⁠ #wewearaustralian #cmeocollective #athomewithcmeo

A post shared by cmeocollective (@cmeocollective) on May 2, 2020 at 4:55am PDT

And pops of bold color or a bright background stands out in the Instagram feed, which is exactly what you want to do.

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@ayakhnina providing a much-needed dose of color joy in our leelee dress in copper ❤️???? #aceandjig #textilelove

A post shared by ace&jig (@aceandjig) on Mar 29, 2020 at 12:23pm PDT

Different colors evoke specific moods and emotions: red is energetic, orange is happy, purple is creative, pink is romantic. Choose a color that reflects how you want your audience to feel about your brand.

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Thanks to @vitadaily.ca for featuring our lotus pink rattan bag, available for retail and #wholesale

A post shared by Vancouver Brand & Vintage (@folkfortune) on Oct 3, 2019 at 10:18am PDT

To enhance your images, clean up distractions like dirt or shadows from your backdrop with an app like Touch Retouch. It helps you remove unwanted objects from your photos while retaining a natural look.

A more multipurpose tool like Adobe Photoshop Express can also help you dial up the saturation of your featured tones while keeping your photo balanced and beautiful. Or try Darkroom, another feature-heavy photo app for adjusting the colors in your photos.

The neon edit

Another trend with a retro kick is neon, glowing brightly all over Instagram. Also known by a sexier nickname, it seems like everyone is bathed in neon light these days.

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Happy Monday! I’ve been playing with light and looking to music videos, tv shows & movies for cinematic inspiration lately. I would watch MTV’s “Making The Video” when I was in middle school and dreamed of directing music videos. I loved the process from concept to production to editing to the final product. Maybe one day I’ll be making music videos since social media has given Video a new life! I like to watch movies/tv and study the lighting. I’m working on taking my own photography aesthetic more cinematic. When I shot only natural light I had a more cinematic approach to my photos, now I’m ready to create those feelings within the studio and environments. I love a classic studio light but I want to have clients that trust me for something different too. Thanks to @keithwebb for working with me on this shoot where I played with lighting and color!

A post shared by Travis Curry (@radtrav) on Jul 30, 2018 at 1:22pm PDT

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sweet home alabama!!!

A post shared by euphoria (@euphoria) on Oct 30, 2019 at 7:46am PDT

Projecting an active and energetic mood, It’s a good fit for cinematic shots, dramatic portraits, or fitness brands.

You can achieve this sultry vibe through your photo set-up, by positioning pink and blue lights on either side of your subject. But an even easier method is through the aptly-named Neon app, full of colorful filters.

The artful still life

Not every photo on your Instagram feed needs to be a product shot, or even directly related to your brand. You can build your following and engage your audience through beautiful photos and videos that create a mood, develop your aesthetic, or offer visual inspiration.

Glossier built an enormous following even before they launched their first product by treating their Instagram account like a mood board, posting over 125 photos of dreamy landscapes and objects in their signature pink palette. They still excel at the art of the still life:

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???? Ingredient to Know: Rosewater ???? An essential water with toning and pH-balancing properties. Not just any rose can grow up to be in Glossier’s rosewater—we use a special type called rosa damascena. The pink blooms go through a steaming and condensing process to create a pure, gentle rosewater that conditions, soothes, and leaves your skin feeling fresh and energized. You’ll find it in Milky Jelly Cleanser and Soothing Face Mist ????

A post shared by Glossier (@glossier) on Feb 3, 2020 at 7:32am PST

In 2020, stunning your audience with arresting images is a way to cut through the noise. Instagram users are overloaded by content; a dreamy photo is a great palate cleanser. If you can make your product shots look like art, all the better:

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I love you ????Flower Friends???? use code FLOWERFRIENDS for free ground shipping on everything in the @loriasternshop ! Valid from now until Monday 4/20 at noon PST // swipe to see what flower is what + where they came from???? // ???? : @kateberryberry // #local #artisan #flowerfriends #edibleflowers #cookies #cookiesofinstagram

A post shared by Loria Stern (@loriastern) on Apr 18, 2020 at 2:19pm PDT

Good lighting is the foundation of an artful still life. But skillful editing takes it to the next level. Pixlr is an easy photo-editing app with a ton of pre-sets and tools like Color Splash, which enhance the featured colors in your photo to striking effect.

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lagoon-y marg glasses, i love u. ????????

A post shared by Quinn Poer (@qpo) on Jun 7, 2018 at 5:45pm PDT

Apollo is another great photo editing app for tweaking the lighting of your images, to create dramatic shadows or compensate for limited natural light.

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A post shared by Silk Laundry (@silklaundry) on Jan 22, 2020 at 11:40am PST

Or try an app like AfterFocus, which lets you gently blur the background of your shot to emphasize your subject.

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???????????? A thing I made w/ @carl.ostberg back in 2018.

A post shared by Helen Anna (@helananas) on Mar 6, 2020 at 4:32pm PST

Creativity pays off here—download a few new tools and play around!

The colorful collage

You can always count on Gen Z to put a twist on an Instagram trend, and 2020 is no different. This year, teens have taken up a wholesome hobby: creating collages to celebrate high school graduation and sharing virtual yearbooks on Instagram.

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@cate_mayo – “My favorite Stoga memory is playing lacrosse with my friends and winning the district championship junior year!”

A post shared by ‘Stoga Senior Destinations (@stogaclassof2020) on May 13, 2020 at 7:25pm PDT

Collages started popping up on Instagram over the past few years, and this trend shows no signs of disappearing.

Combining photos, illustrations and text, collages bring a friendly, casual vibe to your Instagram posts. They’re a great way to add variety to your feed, enhance word-based images, and add fun and creativity to your account.

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Let’s use this time apart to come together. In response to the global pandemic, we’ve created a series of free templates to help you connect with your loved ones, support those in need, and urge everyone to stay home to help slow the spread and flatten the curve. The Stay Home collection is now available on iOS and Android. ‎ ‎ We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during this uncertain time ????

A post shared by Unfold (@unfold) on Apr 2, 2020 at 3:58pm PDT

There are a ton of apps for creating fun collages. Canva is one of our favorites: it’s easy to use and has a fantastic free version, though you can pay for expanded options. Unfold is another popular option, with plenty of gorgeous templates. Or try out Adobe Spark, which is simple, clean and optimized for social.

The flash-on photo

After testing out hiding the number of likes on posts, Instagram is moving to make likes private across the platform as part of their strategy to make the platform a more connected, community-driven place.

Without each post displaying its relative popularity, many influencers and brands feel freer to experiment with their posts, sharing content that’s interesting and genuine rather than what they think will perform best.

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????

A post shared by emma chamberlain (@emmachamberlain) on Feb 6, 2020 at 1:29pm PST

If you want to show off your authentic and experimental side, try playing with flash effects. They’re crisp and high-focus, but not polished. Instead, they tend to look a bit gritty and raw, with lots of grain and texture. They make portraits more interesting, and lend a sharp editorial vibe to product shots.

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Had a lot of fun with this beverage promo for a casino group. Major props to @kathleen0py for designing the background! Shot pre-Covid ????‍♂️ . . . . . . . . . . #coolbackground #foodphotography #foodstyling #beveragephotography #cocktailphotography #drinkstyling #commercialfoodphotography #flashphotography #broncolor #profoto #strobephotogrqphy #bluemoon #studiofoodphotography #f52grams #epicurious #bonappetit #foodporn #foodie #instafood #foodstagram #nom #photosoffood #feedfeed #forkyeah #ralphsmithphotography

A post shared by Alex Crawford (@alexcrawfordphoto) on May 12, 2020 at 11:10am PDT

To achieve this effect without any extra equipment, try David’s Disposable, an app that lets you emulate the disposable camera flash effect with your smartphone. For more precision, invest in an external flash unit and sync it to your iPhone camera with a device like Tric. This will give you more control and quality than just using the built-in flash on your iPhone.

Or you can always use a real DSLR and upload your images to Instagram from there. (We won’t tell anyone!)

Ready to bring your photos into the next decade? Remember, trends are supposed to be fun— if you enjoy the content you’re creating, chances are your audience will too.

Save time managing your Instagram presence by using Hootsuite to schedule and publish posts, grow your audience, and track success with easy-to-use analytics. Try it free today.

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