8 Photo Editing Trends That Will Be Popular on Instagram in 2021

By Jillian Warren

Published January 26, 2021

7 minute read

Keep your feed fresh with the latest and greatest apps! Here are the Instagram photo editing trends that will be big in 2021:


Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

Photo editing trends quickly come and go, especially on Instagram.

And with new photo editing apps popping up almost daily, it can be hard to keep up with trendy effects and filters.

To help your feed stay fresh and up-to-date, we’re sharing 8 Instagram photo editing trends that will be popular in 2021:

#1: Black and White Photos

The black and white photo trend has been gradually building momentum over the last 12 months, and we’re tipping it to be a huge trend for 2021.

An influx of brands and creators are now peppering their feeds with black and white photos, creating an eye-catching juxtaposition between monochrome and full color.


Ready to jump in on this trend? Most photo editing apps have a range of black and white presets, but the Adobe Lightroom app (available for iOS and Android) is a good starting point. It has 10 different “B&W” presets to choose from, each with a slightly different aesthetic.

You can also take it one step further by pairing black and white edits with other vintage-inspired trends on this list, such as heavy grain, glitches and blurs, or scrapbook collage compositions.

Once you’ve got your black and white edits down, it’s a good idea to think about how they will look alongside the other posts in your Instagram feed.


One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a free visual planning tool to experiment with different feed compositions before you hit publish!

Later’s Visual Instagram Planner shows you exactly what your Instagram feed will look like with your future posts in it, so you can achieve the perfect grid.

You can easily rearrange or swap out photos from your media library until you’ve found the best composition for your feed. Plus, you can now use Later’s Visual Instagram Planner straight from your mobile!

#2: The “No-Edit” Edit

Long gone are the days of harsh edits and pumped up saturation — the “no-edit edit” is the trend everyone is lusting over in 2021.

We’re talking tiny tweaks, a hint of color change, and saying goodbye to unrealistic edits. Check out how creator Aysha Harun has adopted this minimal style in her feed:

Even the most natural-looking Instagram photos probably have some edits happening behind the scenes, but the trick is to keep them subtle — make minor edits to your contrast, brightness, and color corrections.

This minimal edit trend goes hand-in-hand with the rise of authentic content over recent years, which has seen a shift in the way brands interact and engage with their communities. Once upon a time, brands strived for a picture-perfect perception. But in 2021, more brands than ever are embracing being open, honest, and vulnerable.

By sharing a more realistic portrait, brands are able to connect on an authentic level — and build a stronger, longer-lasting rapport with their audience.

#3: Heavy Grain Effects

Vintage camera-inspired edits are a huge trend for 2021, and heavy grain filters are rising in popularity across Instagram.

This gritty, grainy texture can work on almost any photo or video, but it’s extra effective on a slightly desaturated palette.

By pairing down the vibrancy and adding layers of grain, the result is reminiscent of an old Polaroid or Kodak print — which can serve to bring a touch of nostalgia or romanticism to any feed.

The easiest way to recreate the amped-up grain effect? Simply turn up the grain settings in a photo editing app like Over, VSCO, or Lightroom (all available for iOS and Android).

#4: Text Overlays

Adding text to Instagram posts is a great way to tell a stronger story through visual content — and it’s definitely a growing trend for 2021.

From asking questions to sharing product details, text overlays are a great way to communicate information at a glance, which can be a powerful engagement technique.

The best part? You don’t have to sacrifice your visual branding! There are tons of creative and aesthetically-pleasing ways to incorporate text on images.

For creative font inspiration, check out sites like Typewolf and Future Fonts. They’re full of great references and recommendations. When it comes to application, the Canva desktop app allows you to easily rotate and reposition text elements to create a fun, waved text path.

Similarly, Over has the option to add custom fonts to any color code background or image. You can experiment with resizing fonts, duplicating text, opacity, and composition all within the Over app (available iOS and Android).

#5: Video Glitches and Blurred Images

This year, brands and businesses are turning away from picture-perfect feeds.

Instead, we’re seeing deliberate imperfections being placed front and center — from eerie video glitches to out of focus photography.

This trend is a nod to when technology was less advanced, and getting the “perfect shot” was no mean feat.

For LaterCon, Later’s design team used a glitching effect to add a low-fi quality to their video content:

The result is eye-catching, memorable, and slightly nostalgic.

To recreate this trend, try an editing app like Filmm (iOS and Android) to apply vintage camcorder effects to videos, or the Tezza app’s Prism feature (iOS) to amp up the blurred effect.

Instagram Stories face filters have also come a really long way since their launch — and the “chromatic pulse” filter is a favorite to help you achieve a cool “glitchy” look.

TIP: Pair this trend with some retro yellow subtitles (also available in the Tezza app) for an extra nostalgic hit.

#6: The VSCO App’s M5 Preset

Every year, there’s one filter that seems to take over Instagram — and this year, it’s the VSCO app’s M5 preset.

This preset is part of VSCO’s M Series: Subtle Fade pack, which is inspired by vintage hues of the 70s.


These desaturated and mellow presets are ideal for urban environments and portraits, and are available in the VSCO app (iOS and Android).

Other popular choices for 2021 include Tezza’s INSPR and VSCO’s A6 preset — both of which also have subtle, analog-inspired hues.

Looking for more creative inspiration? Discover the most popular Graphic Design Trends for 2021.

#7: Scrapbook Style Photo Collages

Collages have been trending on Instagram for years, but the most recent sub-trend includes scrapbook-inspired elements.

Think paper textures, annotations, and layers of Scotch tape for an extra handmade aesthetic.

Fortunately, there are tons of free editing apps to help recreate this cool collage effect.

Storyluxe (iOS) has a dedicated Collage template category, while Unfold (iOS and Android) has Moodboard and Scrapbook categories.

For an even more creative application, you can use an app like SCRL or Content Drips to create a collage that connects across all of the images in a carousel post.

As you scroll through the post, each image continues into the next, creating a memorable and engaging photo experience that keeps users hooked.

Ready to get started? Discover 8 Trendy Apps To Create Collages For Instagram.

#8: In-feed Color Blocking

If you’re hoping to attract new followers in 2021, this is one photo editing trend worth trying.

In-feed color blocking can make your Instagram grid look more professional and cohesive, which is a great way to encourage people to hit the follow button on your profile.

Color blocking can be achieved by using harmonious tones alongside one another, or by having a strict color scheme that ties all your posts together.

For example, Blume follows a navy and blush color palette:


You can even go a step further with this trend and find visual ways to connect your grid posts together vertically — as the same posts will always sit above and below one another once published.

The Later team used this visual tactic to promote the TikTok 10 Day Challenge, creating a fully connected and visually striking grid:

As we’ve said before, creating a cohesive Instagram aesthetic for your feed is super important if you want to attract more followers and engagement. But don’t be afraid to try something new!

If you’re not sure how new photos will look on your feed, try editing them ahead of time and using Later’s Visual Instagram Planner.

Ready to create the perfect Instagram aesthetic for your brand? Design, curate, and plan your feed with Later!

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