Black, white, gray(and occasionally with a dash of gold, rose & teal): these are the colors dictating my Instagram feed and some of Instagram’s most popular fashion accounts. Black and white has its certain & distinct charm- it’s almost impossible to resist its sophistication which has got people, including me, obsessed.  In truth, staying committed to a “color-free” and “minimalist” theme actually requires maximum effort.  If you’re chasing a similar aesthetic, then this read is for you.

In my past tutorial on achieving “Stark White Photos”, I had recommended VSCO’s Street Etiquette filter or SE3. I’ve received good feedback regarding the edit but also had people asking what could be an alternative to SE3 since it was either already unavailable or wasn’t for free in VSCO’s Filter Shop. Lately I have been using VSCOCAM’s A6 from the Aesthetic Series but knowing what filter to use usually isn’t enough to achieve this high-maintenance feed.


STEP I: Shooting Your Image

Lighting is key! You can’t expect an artist to paint in the dark(unless that really is your form of art). I usually shoot where natural light is abundant and when the sun’s light is not too warm or yellow. When light is sufficient, your smartphone will suffice. I use an iPhone6 and the photo quality is usually spectacular with proper lighting.

If lighting is not reliable, use a proper camera instead of a smartphone. I had recently discovered the wonders of the SAMSUNG NX 300, which I had been using during our trip to Japan. I was much impressed with it’s photo quality, more so when I tested it at work when I had to shoot a flatlay indoors with almost zero natural light. The photo below shows the test image I shot inside our new office around 5pm. As you can see, the original photo is dark. Upon editing by adding brightness, the photo still looks crisp and details aren’t washed out.  If I had taken the photo with just my iPhone6, most likely increasing brightness would trigger grain formation and wash out details. What I’m trying to say is, using a proper camera goes the extra mile. 

STEP II: Editing Your Image

Lately I have been using VSCOCAM’s A6 from the Aesthetic Series.  By default settings, A6 usually makes a photo look warm and yellowish but I still adjust the settings to achieve the treatment I want.

There are six adjustments I usually make:

1. Exposure– increase to desired level.
2. Temperature– decrease it to the cooler tones to balance the warmness of the preset of A6.
3. Contrast– increase to maximize the difference between the darks and the lights of the image.
4. Tint– increase to the purple-ish tint to remove the green tint or the remaining yellow tint of the photo.
5. Saturation– decrease since A6 usually adds saturation the original image.
6. Sharpness– increase to define the image.

Here is a sample on how I adjust my settings:

stepsCompared to SE3, the photos are not as desaturated. With A6 photos look more effortless than “washed out” as natural tones are maintained with only subtle color shifts and slight dimming. I’ve been avoiding photo effects that are forced to look minimal by over desaturating the image.  The Aesthetic Series is free for a limited time on VSCO’s Filter Shop.




I use Snapseed to target specific parts of the image that I feel still needs refining. I just use the “SELECTIVE ADJUST” feature to brighten a specific area without affecting the entire image. The saturation adjustment option of this feature would have to be my favorite though; it enables me to remove unwanted tints or tones on the image.

Here you have it! This is how I achieve my Winter White edit. Be sure to follow me on Instagram at @andiej_. Hope this tutorial convinces you the power of black and white!



Have a question in mind or any other tips you want me to share?
Message me at: Ask.fm/andieJ_ or simply leave a comment below.

Follow me on Instagram: @andiej_

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