I Made My Photos “Insta-Worthy” With This One Hack

This week, social media made me do this.

Social Media Made Me Do It

This is an excerpt from Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about influencers and internet culture. You can sign up here. In our new column, Social Media Made Me Do It, we try a new trend, product, or tip from the feed.

There have been a lot of photo hacks going around on TikTok — the rise of the 0.5 selfie, the nightcore photo aesthetic, and now the high-exposure “Insta-worthy” photo edit.

The premise of the hack is just turning up the exposure and brilliance to the absolute max, and then playing around with the photo edits while your photo is incredibly overexposed. Everything related to light (contrast, shadows, highlights) is turned down, and color aspects are turned up. So when you turn down the exposure again, you’re left with a slightly luminous, technicolored finish that makes it Insta-worthy. It’s the “my lips but better” lipsticks of the early 2010s, but for your Insta feed.

Downloading Dazz Cam after it went viral on TikTok was a hack I continue to stand by — it saved me the money of buying a disposable camera or a Polaroid. Tricks for the casual Instagram blur effect are also rampant on TikTok and also involve downloading a separate app. I think the virality of this new editing hack is due to the fact that it’s just done in iPhone’s standard Photos app.

Most of the raw photos used in the Insta-worthy edits I’ve seen involve a sunset or a variety of color that makes the edit really pop, so I tried to choose a photo that fit the bill. But seeing my photo before and after, I’m almost inclined to choose the before. Maybe I’m old-school! The colors seem too saccharine to be real life. Maybe I need to try it again with a sunset?

This photo edit parallels the contrast happening right now between social interaction and media consumption (BeReal vs. Instagram, Close Friends vs. in-feed), where some are more curated. The colors post-edit do not look real! Because they aren’t! And maybe that’s OK. The Insta-worthy hack is for people to ingest as entertainment.