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Sometimes you’re about to post a photo when you realize it’s not quite what you wanted to convey. The mood is off; there’s a rogue cable or blemish in there. It can be time-consuming, expensive, or just not practical to return to the original site and shoot it again. So what can you do?

While many businesses and creatives use tools like Photoshop to perfect and alter their images, most folks don’t have the time, skills, or even the inclination to become Photoshop experts. However, your audience still expects a high-quality photo. While viewers love honesty and authenticity, they also want your photos to be engaging, to tell a story, and to be high-quality. Think of it like running a visual equivalent of spell-checking on your photos.

Improve Your Photos

Maybe that’s why such a high proportion of users edit their pics. One survey in the UK revealed that 71% of people edit their selfies before uploading them to social media platforms.

Luckily there are plenty of apps, strategies, and hacks you can use to make sure you’re only posting picture-perfect content for your loyal followers. Here are five ways to save your less-than-ideal photo after the shoot happens.

1. Adjust the Mood With Filters

Let’s say you put on an amazing outfit, nailed the perfect pose, and got the ideal backdrop. But when you look at the photo you just snapped, the vibe you were going for just isn’t there. The fastest and easiest solution is to apply a filter.

There are filter options pretty much anywhere you look. Instagram has a set of native filters you can use for your photos (although one study found that selfies without any Instagram filters get more likes than those with Instagram filters applied). If you want to go further afield, you can use apps like Snapseed, Lightroom, or Filtertune to really make your content stand out.


With so many filter apps out there, there’s become a discoverability aspect to them. You might not know how to take your shoot from dreary to delightful, but it’s possible someone else does. Filtertune offers its own solution to this issue, surfacing trending filters that other users have been loving recently, while instantly previewing you how your image would look with that filter applied.

You can also save any of the filters you use in the app to your personal in-app library or even create custom ones for reuse based on your on-the-fly photo edits.

Related: The Best Photoshop Actions for Editing Your Photos

If you don’t want to use a whole filter, or if you want to fine-tune any filter you do end up using, you can alter the mood with just a few alterations of the photo settings instead.

Again, you can use native options like Instagram’s filter options, or use an external app to edit the photo. This is a really accessible option for anyone, which might explain why 90% of young women have used a filter on their pictures, according to research from the City University of London.

Sometimes you’ll find that even your edits don’t make my image perfect. If you desperately need a professional finish and your photos just aren’t playing ball, you can always outsource it to an expert. No matter what your industry is, there will be someone who specializes in photo editing, with the highest level of tools and skills.

Obviously, for cosplay, it’s critical to really get the mood correct, which can be hard to do when cosplayers are embodying fictional characters in magical worlds. That is a great reason to hire an editor to take your photo to the next level.

For example, @uhohburns is a popular cosplayer who relied on @kp11studio to edit her photo. While the first version is great, you can clearly see how the edits made the photo more the vibe that fits her project and cosplay.

Sometimes, there’s no filter or photo retouch you can do that will fix your photo, no matter how much money you throw at an editor. There’s something in the photo that just can’t be fixed, like a stain, a rogue photobomber, or just that your friend had her eyes closed in every photo you took together.

The best option here is to go for a tasteful crop. Almost every photo tool, including the camera on your phone, has a way to crop images. Play around, try different perspectives and image ratios, and see if the easiest way to fix your photos is simply by cutting out the offending element.

The Company Folders put together a great guide featuring some classic examples of how to use crops effectively.

Take a second look at your photo. Maybe it’s not perfect, but that might be what your audience wants from you. While audiences and viewers appreciate when you put in the time and effort to make your photos an enjoyable viewing experience, they don’t expect you to always be flawless. Sometimes, they might even appreciate a little honesty or behind-the-scenes info.

According to a Stackla survey, 86% of respondents said that authenticity matters when deciding which brands to support. For instance, actor Blake Lively posted a picture of herself with a pair of shoes very poorly painted on when she regretted appearing barefoot in the original shoot.

When her eagle-eyed followers spotted the shoddy edit, she opened up: “Can you tell I was so happy to get outta a onesie and vote. Sure it was an absentee drop-off ballot with a mask covering my look. But dammit I exercised my right to vote. And to not wear shoes that ruined my outfit.”

It’s tempting to try to make everything perfect, but sometimes you have to trust that your viewers want to see the real you – or at least a funny attempt at addressing a potential photo blip.

There’s nothing worse as a creator than successfully completing a photo session and noticing an error after you’ve finished all your hard work. Luckily, there are tools, apps, and professionals that can help you fix your photo after you put your camera away.

And when none of those options work, you should feel like you can share your ups and downs with your audience with a less-than-flawless snap. While your viewers deserve for you to put care and work into your content, honesty and authenticity matter too.

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