September Instastories Round-Up! Shop the Posts You May Have Missed!

September Instastories Round-Up

I’m taking a little blogging break this week to get some other stuff done but I wanted to do a quick, Instastories round-up for y’all before September is over! All of you are so sweet to be interested in what I’m doing on the daily, but since I currently have less than 10k “followers” on Insta I don’t have access to the handy-dandy, “swipe up to shop” feature! As a result I get dozens of inbox messages asking me for links to the items I post about, so I’m linking everything in this blog! I’ll try to do this every month until I get to 10k and can link in the story for you to click on! I honestly don’t care if I never reach 10k though because it’s not the numbers, but the engagement, that matters to me, and y’all are the BEST followers I could ever ask for! So bear with me if we never get the swipe feature! I think you deserve to have it, no matter who you’re following, but you’ll have to take that up with Instagram!

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How to Get Perfect Blog Photos Using Your Smart Phone!

The most frequently asked question I get on social media is, “how do you edit your photos?!” I get asked this a lot because I’ve mentioned several times that I take all my blog photos with my phone! I’ve been doing this for years because I’m a one-stop-shop kind of girl! I like being able to take, edit and upload my photos all in one, easy-to-use place — and that place has been my phone since 2010. Below I’ve outlined details on my favorite apps, editing tricks, set up tools and more! I hope this answers some of your questions and gives you a little more confidence when it comes to creating your own photographic masterpieces! {this article contains some affiliate shopping links. All opinions are my own}

Blogger Tips For Taking Perfect Photos with Your Phone!

Below is a little “behind the scenes” peek at what setting up the perfect shot typically looks like. My must-have elements for the perfect photo are:

  • Light source (I prefer natural light, usually near a window)
    • I prefer a natural light source usually near a window
    • Or, THIS light kit from Amazon
  • Clean background (my favorite is a small, white, faux fur rug like THIS one)

Must - have props for setting up the perfect photo

Before I take a photo I enhance the exposure value in my camera settings to compensate for low light conditions. This option can be found under the “light balance” option.

Set your phone's White Balance to get a perfectly lit shot in a dark room

After getting the perfect shot I use a combination of 3 different apps to get them publish-ready.

Most Used Apps for Photo Editing

If I’m sharing a photo straight to Instagram I use Facetune to rotate, crop, brighten and edit out slight imperfections, then I share straight to Insta.

Steps to editing the perfect Instagram

If I’m taking photos of myself, or need to take photos from a distance for some reason (usually to avoid my shadow showing up in a photo!), I’ll use the following tools:

If I’m taking photographs where both my hands need to be in the shot I set a 5-10 second timer so I can get into position and have my hands free for holding objects.


If you already have a tripod you can just get one of these screw-on attachments that hold your phone like a camera. I found a bundle on Amazon that includes a tripod, bluetooth remote and phone attachment if you are just starting out and don’t have a camera tripod yet. Otherwise, I’d suggest shopping for the phone attachment and remote separately because they will probably be compatible with whatever camera tripod you already have.

Tools to Take the Best Photos with Your Phone

I’ve mentioned this selfie ring light before, but I can’t stress enough how useful it is!

Tools to Take the Best Photos with Your Phone

To keep my phone’s memory clear I upload everything from my camera roll to, so I can access photos from my laptop, and edit on

Tips for Using PicMonkey to Edit Blog Photos

These are the tools I use most in each app:

Facetune: (phone only)

  • Whiten (highlight nose bridge and cheek bones on selfies)
  • Smooth (naturally blur minuscule imperfections like pores)
  • Refine (reshape things like flyaway hair)
  • Patch (erase an unwanted object in a photo)
  • Blur (take focus off unwanted stuff in the background)

PicMonkey: (phone or desktop)

  • Brighten (whiten an entire photo)
  • Highlight (enhance the amount of natural light)
  • Eye Brighten (enhance detail on the edges of objects)
  • Clone (erase an unwanted object in a photo)
  • Dodge (bring white light only to a specific area)

The screenshot below illustrated a use for the Eye Brighten tool.

Eye Brighten tool in PicMonkey

I use the Clone Tool for “erasing” elements in an image I don’t want.


Dropbox: (phone or desktop)

  • Store all raw photos and videos from camera roll as well as all edits

Camera app:

  • Take all photos and video

All of this equipment and editing is useless though if I don’t have something of quality to take photos of. When choosing my subject I follow my own “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” rule and include at least two of those elements in every photo! For example, you will rarely see any photo of mine without something organic because I’ve noticed flowers, food and textures lend eye-drawing element to photos, and help boring things (like a laptop and a few makeup brushes) seem luxurious and interesting!

For example, Let’s say I’m blogging a review about the makeup brushes in the photo below — imagine how boring they would be all alone on the white fur background. But, add in a “mineral” (sparkly “diamond” necklace!) and a vegetable (okay, the roses are a plant, but you get the picture!) and suddenly you have a fresh, colorful, interesting and eye catching composition!

Pins of the Week

I hope those tips and tricks helped you get some inspiration for your next photo shoot! Leave me a comment below if there’s anything else you would like me to dish on! I love sharing my finds and discoveries!


P.S. Yes, I even shot every photo in this blog post on my phone and everything was edited between PicMonkey and Facetune 🙂

As of Late {On Instagram}…

As of Late {On Instagram} |

Instead of doing weekly Instagram round-ups this month I decided to do an end-of-the-month round-up and talk about my July faves at the same time!

{This post contains affiliate links to items I’ve purchased — this means if you like the product as much as I did, and buy it, I may get a thank you commission from the company — which is nice for them because I’ll most likely turn around and spend that $ on their site!}

{Above} Prosecco Mimosas with my best friend while we binge-watched through the Netflix show, “Stranger Things!” Have you seen that show yet? If so, what did you think?

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Brand Rep Instagram Spotlight

I absolutely love seeing my sequin hangers shared on Instagram! Recently I’ve started working with two of my favorite bloggers and one of my favorite Etsy shops as reps for the Glitter & Bow brand. Today I wanted to tribute a little shout-out for all the lovely photos they have posted on Instagram featuring G&B sequin hangers. I think the best advertising for any product is showing potential shoppers how an item can be used in real life. Below you’ll see Lexie (J’adore Lexie Couture) using her sequin hanger to display her and her daughter’s favorite clothing, Oksana (Foxy Oxie) using her sequin hanger as a decoration piece and Katie (Sass & Cloth) using her sequin hangers at a pop up shop! Thank you ladies for being such fabulous brand reps and sharing the glittery goodness!

A photo posted by ♡ Rachel ♡ ( on

A photo posted by ♡ Rachel ♡ ( on

A photo posted by @sassandcloth on

A photo posted by @sassandcloth on

A photo posted by @sassandcloth on

Instagram FAQ – How I Edit My Photos

Happy Saturday morning, loves!
Today I wanted to answer a frequently asked question I get on Instagram:
Q: What apps do you use to edit your photos and which filters do you like best?
A: I use a combination of 4 apps: Aviary, VSCOcamRhonna Designs and A Beautiful Mess. These apps are available for OSX and Android systems. I also try to take my photos with as much natural light as possible. This creates a much brighter, more professional, clean looking photo.

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My favourite filter in Aviary is ‘Underground’. It anchors curve points and gives the photo a lightened matte effect. I use this effect on 95% of my photos.

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My favourite effects in VSCOcam is the amazing quality from taking the actual photo within the app. I also love that you can choose from a dizzying array of filters and control the intensity of each filter.

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My favourite effect in Rhonna Designs is the ability to re-size the photo to fit into a square for uploading to Instagram, plus the confetti stickers under the ‘Insta Patterns’ pack and the fonts in the ‘Rhonna’s Faves 4’ pack.
There is an insane amount of editing you can do with this app. Check out the free video tutorials on Rhonna’s website for instructions on use and more add-on packs than you’ll know what to do with!

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My favourite effects in A Beautiful Mess are the borders in the ‘Essentials’ and ‘Bonus’ packs, plus the ‘League Script’ and ‘Reenie Beanie’ fonts. Also, there are some adorable hand-drawn doodle stickers and phrases like ‘Fancy!’ and ‘yum!’ that I use on occasion.
On Instagram itself I really like the “Valencia” filter. It gives photos a warm, glow-y look, perfect for outdoor shots.

I hope this answered your questions and gave you a little insta-inspiration!

With Love, Rachel