Your Guide to iPhone Photo Apps
With Instagram being all the craze these days, the world of iPhone photo apps has completely exploded. Being a photographer and a blogger, it's important that the photos I take on my iPhone are presentable and well-edited. There are tons of ways achieve this, but it really all comes down to the editing app you use! There are so many apps out there and it's overwhelming all the features they all offer. To make sifting through it a little easier, I've polled my friends to see what their favorite photo apps are and why. I'm also including some of my tips and tricks, plus I'll let you in on which iPhone photo app is my favorite!
Photo App #1: iPhone
I thought I'd start out with the actual iPhone editing software that's already provided for you on your phone. The iPhone editing software has five main options. The first is a crop, rotate, and align tool. Super useful when you didn't quite get everything to line up when you originally took the picture and great for if your iPhone saves the picture the wrong orientation (landscape instead of portrait or vice versa). It also has 8 saved effects or presets. I wasn't impressed with any of them. It's almost like they are trying too hard to achieve this vintage look that I'm just not a fan of! I used one of the presets that was sort of oversaturated and higher contrast than the others.
Then there are options to adjust things like brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, etc. This was all fine and good, but I found the more adjustments I made, the lower quality my photo seemed to be. The iPhone editing software also has a button to auto-correct your image to make it pop a little more. This is helpful when you're on-the-go and don't have the time to give your photo a good edit. The coolest thing about the iPhone software is the mark-up section, where you can draw and add text to images. I like this for recreational use (aka drawing on pictures of my husband or siblings and sending it to them), but wouldn't ever use it for my social media sites.
Photo App #2: instagram
Speaking of social media, Instagram has definitely stepped up their editing game in recent years! There used to only be a handful of filters you could use, all geared towards "film" photography. Now, there are tons of adjustments you can make to photos in addition to those original filters and frames that we all came to know and love five years ago.
While Instagram still has some of those crazy (and hideous) filters for their photos, they have added some that are more simple. There are some with low highlights and others with high contrast and definitely a few good options if you still want a normal looking photo. I opted for a more "normal" filter with cool tones called Clarendon, but I also really loved Lark (think faded and washed out) and Juno (think bright whites and high contrast). One really great thing about these filters is that you can bring down the intensity on a sliding scale to match your preference. This gives you maximum control over the filter. They also have a range of options as far as adjustments you can make to your photos including fade and tilt shift.
I definitely appreciate how Instagram has maintained it's integrity while still rolling with the changes, but I think this photo app is best left for photos that need minimal editing!
Photo App #3: snapseed
I had never used this photo app before so it took a bit of getting used to. The first thing that stood out to me is the way the app is set up for you to choose different adjustments and make them. You swipe up or down to choose between adjustments (brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.) and left or right to increase or decrease them. It makes for really fast and easy editing.
However, this app has a lot going on. There are tons of options, maybe even too many? And for someone who doesn't know a lot about editing (like what dodge/burn is or what tonal contrast adjusts), this app could totally be overwhelming. It also has an abundance of really bad filters that remind me of something an emo middle schooler might use. Overall, this photo app could be useful for some things, but I'm not all that impressed.
Photo App #4: a color story
This app was created by bloggers Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess. A Color Story was created with the intention of offering an app with filters for whiter whites and brighter brights. It definitely delivers on that promise. The app is easy to use. The first screen you come across offers features to let you transform your image by cropping, rotating, etc. Then it takes you to a screen with handful of filters (more available for $$$), effects, and things to adjust.
I personally really like most of these filters. They are great for getting a clean, crisp look. One other thing I really love about this photo app is the fact that there is a tone curve feature, which allows you to manipulate highlights, midtones, and shadows just like in photoshop. However, I did stop using this app a while back because if you make too many adjustments, the photo starts to look overworked and the shadows become grainy and saturated quickly. I have found that this isn't the case with all apps, so there are other apps I prefer more. Liiiiike....
Photo App #5: VSCO
Let's be real, VSCO is the bomb diggity. VSCO is plagued by minimalism and clean, crisp colors. I love this app so much that I bought all of the filters available. It cost me like $40 or something ridiculous, but this photo app is just THAT GOOD. You can hide filters you don't like or don't use often and you can rearrange them so that the ones you use most are most accessible. You can make just about every adjustment in the book, but my personal fave is the skin tone adjuster to make those super saturated skin tones a little less red and a little more orange. This app also has a split toning effect where you can adjust what shade the highlights and shadows are. Unfortunately, your options are limited in the split toning department, but it normally still get's the job done.
To me, this app is easy to use and it's a social network all on it's own! You can post to your VSCO "grid", which is similar to your Instagram page. People can follow you and you can follow them back. VSCO also makes Lightroom Presents which are ahhhhmazingly beautiful! Overall, this is a GREAT photo app and definitely one of my favorites for editing.
Photo App #5: ADOBE PHOTOSHOP LIGHTROOM FOR IPHONE + PHOTOSHOP FIX
Last but not least, we have Adobe's iPhone editing apps, Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop Fix.
Lightroom is meant for for making those simple adjustments like brightness, contrast, saturation, etc. It has several adjustments that other photo apps don't have, like tone curve, split toning, + lens correction. I am not a huge fan of the filters on the app, but the editing capabilities + ease of use make up for it! They do have grain filters which I really like, but no way to adjust the intensity of them. This app is designed with all the same features as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, but everything is catered to the mobile device. I love the huge range of options it has and none of them are cheesy or overdone. Since this app is affiliated with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, you can connect your iPhone photos and the photos on your computer by signing in with your Adobe Creative Cloud account info. Pretty neat, huh!?
Photoshop fix is awesome as well. It is meant for healing, cloning, and smoothing aka it's made to get rid of any unwanted blemishes and make your skin look beautiful and smooth! I also like using this tool if I got something in the picture by accident, like a less-than-appealing light post or a glare that I can easily edit out. The healing tool is made to erase and replace those blemishes or unwanted things in your pictures and the smooth tool is used to smooth large areas, like your whole face.
Heyyyyy blemishes on my chin.
That's much better.
...I look like a plastic Barbie doll.
As you can see, the healing tool does a great job of masquerading those small blemishes (that honestly might otherwise go unnoticed). It doesn't leave any evidence of editing behind and you still look like you. The smoothing tool seemed like a little much for me. You can tell my face is overly edited and there is no depth to it at all.
IN CONCLUSION, MY FAVORITE IPHONE PHOTO APPS ARE...
VSCO and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for iPhone. They are a must-have for any avid iPhone photo-taker/editor. They are easy to use, come with lots of options for filters, effects, and adjustments, and they produce awesome quality photos that don't look or feel over-edited (except in the case of the Barbie doll face tool...lol). Overall, I like VSCO's filters a million times better than Lightroom for iPhone's. I have used just VSCO filters on my photos before without making any other adjustments because they are just that good. But I like Lightroom's adjustment capabilities better. They have more options as far as split tonight and a tone curve adjustor, which VSCO doesn't have.
what is your favorite iphone photo app and why?
Let us know what you think about the ones we reviewed, too! And good luck on all your iPhone editing ventures!