Getting light bright photos through editing

There’s nothing worse than planning a huge photo taking session only to wake up that morning to a dull cloudy day, or to take a load of photos and realise that they just didn’t turn out as bright as you thought they had on your viewfinder. I used to resort to deleting the photos and starting from scratch but this doesn’t always have to be the case, this is how i salvage the photos that lack a little bit of light. (hint: its really simple too!)

how to edit instagram photos how bloggers edit photos blog photos light bright photos

To do all the editing in this case i use the colour story app, i do use other photo editing apps as well but when I’m trying to add light to photos colour story is my go to. 

The three steps i take are seriously simple and the full edit takes less than a minute, it’s just a matter of adjusting the curves of the photo and using my go to filter. 

how bloggers edit instagram photos light bright photo editing

1) The first step is to adjust the curves, when you first enter the “curves” section (under tools > adjustments > curves) you’ll see the line is completely straight; to get used to how the tool works i’d recommend playing around with the line and seeing how the look of the photo changes when you move the middle dot. Once you’re familiar with how the photo changes depending on how you move the curve you can decide what level is right for you.

2) I like to just pull the centre dot in an upward motion towards the left corner of the photo, as you can see from the second photo the line is now slightly curved. I don’t like to adjust the curves too much because i still want it to look natural, but like i said once you’re used to it you can decide which level of lifting is right for you. 

3) Photo editing wouldn’t be photo editing without a filter so the last thing i do is apply the “pop” filter (under filters > essentials > pop) in the colour story app. Although you’ve already brightened the photo using the curves tool, the pop filter helps to add vibrancy to the colours and add even more light to the photo without sacrificing the contrasting colours. 

This is the photo from the original file to the final edit:

how to edit instagram photos blogging editing photos blog photos editing light bright

and another example because why not.. 

how to edit instagram photos blogging editing photos blog photos editing light bright

I often find using a standard brightening tool to brighten photos washes out the photo and makes details appear less sharp, but this method means all the colours are retained but they still don’t appear over edited. 

Okay so i know it’s only a short one but it’s just a little method i wanted to share, there’s nothing worse than taking a perfectly positioned photo only to have the light let you down, so hopefully this might help if you ever find yourself in that situation! – Maria x





  1. March 31, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    Might be a stupid question but is this app on your computer or phone? This looks like such a handy way of brightening photos 🙂

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    • March 31, 2017 / 1:04 pm

      Not a stupid question at all! It's on my phone x

    • April 2, 2017 / 2:12 pm

      Aw im so glad to hear its helpful! Thank you!! x

  2. March 31, 2017 / 3:23 pm

    This is such a helpful post! I'm downloading the app now 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • April 2, 2017 / 2:13 pm

      Thank you for reading, i hope its useful for you!! x

  3. March 31, 2017 / 6:01 pm

    Hey such a useful post! Was just wondering if this was for Instagram or blog or both?xx

    • April 2, 2017 / 2:14 pm

      For both when I'm taking photos of products or i just need to brighten the image x

  4. Anonymous
    April 1, 2017 / 4:01 am

    Really helpfully post, thanks for sharing.

    If you don't mind me asking what app do you use to get the arrow and numbers on your photos?

    • April 2, 2017 / 2:15 pm

      Thank you for reading, it really is a very helpful app! x

  5. April 1, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing! This looks an amazing app/technique…I'm downloading it now ��

  6. April 2, 2017 / 10:03 am

    You're such a lifesaver for sharing this, it's so frustrating when you take a whole load of photos and they don't end up how you want them to be. Currently downloading the app now! Thanks for sharing this again hah

    Dalal .. Monochrome Daisies

    • April 2, 2017 / 2:18 pm

      aw great I'm so happy its helpful! I know, its so annoying when you get a good picture but its just that little bit dark, hopefully this will help you out! x

  7. April 3, 2017 / 10:33 pm

    Hey Maria! I love these photo tips!
    I also have another blog related question–how were you able to add your Google AdSense banner to your layout? I've tried for hours to set mine up but I can't seem to figure it out! If you could explain the process I'd appreciate it so SO much!
    xo Amanda
    Affordable by Amanda

    • April 4, 2017 / 12:35 pm

      Hi!! Are you using blogger? If you could send me a twitter or instagram DM @mariajblogs – they're linked at the bottom of the post, i'll help you out with it! x

  8. April 5, 2017 / 9:43 am

    I've been using color story but never have I ever thought of using only one apps to make a photo great. Do you buy any of the extensions pack or only use the default filter?

    • April 9, 2017 / 6:23 pm

      Its such a great app to explore, i only use the free options i never pay for any apps really when you can do so much with the free options available! x

  9. April 5, 2017 / 6:12 pm

    Thank you for this! I often see very very bright photos with no color or contrast.
    also, I've already told you on Twitter that I love your blog, but I really do. And your instagram. also, this photo you have here is just great, I love the outfit. (do I sound like a crazy fan? haha)

    xo Honey – blog Royal LifestyleTwitterInstagram

    • April 9, 2017 / 6:25 pm

      Yeah that seems to be a popular look at the minute for photos but I'm not keen on really editing out the contrast thats why i love this filter! Thats so kind thank you, i really love to get positive feedback it makes my day! x

    • April 9, 2017 / 6:26 pm

      aw thank you so much thats so lovely, thank you for reading! x

  10. April 29, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Never heard of this app before but it does amazing things! Will definitely need to give it a go x

    • May 2, 2017 / 1:53 pm

      Definitely give it a go, it works really well! x

  11. April 30, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    Love this post & can't wait to try it! Thanks Maria J.!

    • May 2, 2017 / 1:53 pm

      Thank you for reading, i hope it works well for you! x

  12. May 5, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    Thanks for this post! I'm always looking for ways to improve my photos, and this seems like an amazing app!

    Joanne |

    • May 9, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      No problem, i hope the app is helpful for you! x

    • May 9, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      Aw great! No problem, thank you for reading x

    • May 9, 2017 / 12:51 pm

      aw so happy you found this, glad it's helpful! x

  13. May 12, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    Amazing post! The examples are great, I'e always admired your beautiful pictures xx

    Elle du Jour

    • May 12, 2017 / 10:10 pm

      Aw thank you so much lovely, glad you found it helpful! x

    • May 17, 2017 / 11:40 am

      Aw great to hear, i really hope it works well for you! x

  14. May 19, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    Thanks for this! I've never heard of A Colour Story app before, but I'm going to give it a try!

    Holly |

    • May 24, 2017 / 4:20 pm

      It's such a great app and really has some advanced editing tools for a free option! x

  15. May 29, 2017 / 10:45 am

    Love this! I've been looking for an app like this, I've just downloaded it now & I'm already converted! Fab post thanks chick!

    XO //

    • June 24, 2017 / 5:47 pm

      aw great! Thank you so much for reading, i hope the app works well for you!! x

  16. June 13, 2017 / 6:13 am

    I love this app. Been using it for a little while now and I love it. So easy to edit pictures without making them look over edited. Lovely post.
    xo Maria

    • June 24, 2017 / 5:48 pm

      Yeah it's such a great app isn't it! One of my favourites for photo editing x

  17. July 3, 2017 / 6:11 am

    I'm always editing photos on Photoshop, because my old camera didn't take very good photos, even in the brightest lighting possible. My new camera arrived today so it should be a lot easier. On Photoshop I would increase the exposure, deepen the blacks, brighten the whites, lower the contrast slightly, and then use the white dropper tool on Curves to correct the white balance so that it was a true white.

    I rarely take pictures on my phone, but when I do, I use the Snapseed App. I could never figure out Colour Story. I might try again now that you've explained how to use it!

    Stephii xx

    • July 13, 2017 / 9:30 am

      Photoshop seems like something i could never get my head around haha! Definitely try the colour story app for when you're looking for a quick tool! Thanks so much for reading x

  18. July 10, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    Just downloaded this app and it's amazing! Thanks for sharing

    • July 13, 2017 / 9:30 am

      aw amazing, i'm so happy to hear it's helpful! x

  19. July 20, 2017 / 6:37 pm

    You have no idea how much you have helped me. I always struggle to take good quality photos and currently don't have enough funding to purchase a high end camera, but I still want my photos to look good! I am still learning how to edit my photos and usually end up with photos that have nothing to do with each other… Such a struggle!
    Thank you for this article it was amazing! I am just starting out as a blogger so I am looking for as much help and advice as possible. I visit your blog regularly and I think you are doing such a great job!

    If you ever find time, please visit my website at , it's not as amazing as yours, but I am working on it!

    • July 21, 2017 / 5:05 pm

      Omg that's so good to hear, it's so lovely to get a comment like that i'm so glad it's helpful. Good luck with your new blog, i have loads of blogger help posts on the "blogger help" tab so it might be helpful to check those out too! x

    • July 28, 2017 / 3:29 pm

      aw yay thank you!! Hope it's helpful for you x

  20. July 22, 2017 / 9:42 pm

    Really enjoyed this! I always take obscured photos.

  21. September 18, 2017 / 6:53 am

    Honestly, the more I learn about Color Story the more I want to make it my go-to app. (How have I never tried out the curves before????) Thanks so much for the tips!

    Sinéad | Sincerely, Sinéad

  22. September 19, 2017 / 10:31 am

    Thanks for The handy dandy tips! I have officially downloaded this app!

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