You can make a white background for Instagram in your flatlays and overhead photos in a few simple steps using just your phone camera and free apps available on iPhone and android. Scroll down for instructions and the best free apps to use in 2022.


To make a background white for Instagram, the most important thing to know that your phone camera has automatic settings for exposure. It chooses how light or dark to make your photo. This works well most of the time, but when your photo has a large light or white area, it will try to make it darker i.e. grey (if you want to know why, this article explains it well). So you can blame science for your grey photos – it’s not your fault.

The good news is you can override your phone camera’s auto settings. You do this by touching the screen while taking your photo. A yellow box with a sun on the side should appear. Simply slide your finger along the sun side of the square to increase light in your photo – and no more grey!

Use your phone camera's own tools to brighten your Instagram photo white background.


Your light source is important in getting clean white backgrounds. Where possible, use natural, indirect light from a window or glass door.  This may mean timing your photos for when the sun is out and taking over a piece of floor or kitchen table in a good location. If there is too much light or it is too direct, sheer curtains can work wonders to diffuse and lessen the light. To remove shadows, you can reflect light into the shadows using white cardboard, aluminium foil from the kitchen or a shop-bought reflector. Just move the board or reflector around so that it bounces light from the window into the shadow. This usually means putting the reflector opposite the window or door letting in light and tipping it down slightly. Just try moving your reflector or board around while you watch the shadows to see when it’s working.


Light will look different colours in our photos depending on its temperature. Photos taken by candlelight for instance, will look yellower than ones taken with a flash. It’s one of the main reasons why you might want to take your photos during the day with natural light from a window or a door – your photos will have ‘white’ whites.

But if you haven’t been able to take your photos in those perfect conditions – and all of us have been there – some apps will help you correct that.  Snapseed (free for iPhone and android) is my favourite app to do this in its tune image/warmth adjustments.

How to change your white when it looks orange or blue using only an Instagram app.


The final step in how to make a background white is retouching and sharpening. The Retouch app (TouchRetouch – free for iPhone and android)  is perfect to remove any dirt or smudges from your background. The app is called TouchRetouch in the app stores and has a green swirly logo on a black background. It removes smudges or dirty marks on your background in an instant.

You can whiten your background more using Snapseed in a couple of ways. The first is to go to Tools and Tune image (top left). Swipe your finger up the screen and a menu will appear: choose highlights.  This is going to edit the brightest part of your photo, which is likely to be your white background. Slide your finger to the right to lighten.

The second way you can lighten your background is also in Snapseed. Go to tools and click on the Selective tool, which looks like a circle with a dot in the centre. This makes adjustments in a selected area for brightness, contrast, saturation and structure. It defaults to brightness, so use the slider at the top of your screen to slide further to the right to brighten your photo.

Once you have one area as white as you want, you can create another area to adjust by clicking on the plus sign at the bottom of the screen or tapping your finger on the original dot (which is probably showing up as a B after your brightness adjustments). A pop-up menu will allow you to copy this adjustment and paste in another area of the screen. Continue adding adjustment areas until your background is just the way you want and click on the tick on the bottom right.

When you’ve finished your adjustments, the last touch is to add a small amount of sharpening in Snapseed. In Tools, select the Details tool, which has a triangle icon. Slide your finger up the screen to see the menu and choose Sharpening. Slide your finger across the screen to the right to sharpen a little.  This will give your photo an extra ‘pop’.

So there you have it – how to make a background white for Instagram using only your phone. I hope this makes your Instagram photos easier for you.

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