Monday, October 14, 2013

iPhoneography: 5 Favorite Photo Apps

It's no secret: I love me some Instagram. It's perfect for sharing those memorable moments when the closest camera is our trusty iPhone. I also love following my favorite bloggers, musicians, and style icons to get a sneak peek into their everyday lives. It all feels very off-the-cuff and exclusive, and it's fun to see everyday shots you would otherwise never see. 

When if comes to sharing my own photos, the only beef I have with Instagram is that the filters are terrible. There are really no other tools (besides the tilt-shift and "enhance" buttons) to help you make any adjustments, so you're left to do a little pre-work before. Now, I know what you're all thinking—this is supposed to be "instant" and of-the-moment, and you shouldn't overthink this. And for most of us, you're totally right. You can put up your photo with no filter, or filter it...who cares. But there is a camp of visually-obsessive people out there who want to give a good shot the attention it deserves, so this post is for you. This is especially true if you're a blogger, creative professional, or business owner who relies on social media to establish a brand or grow your network. It's true that image is {almost} everything.

In my opinion, the extra steps are totally worth the result and don't take much time. And the editing apps are great for more than sharing purposes—if you ever send your photos to print directly from your phone, these will add the final touches.

There are hundreds of iPhone photo editing apps out there, but these are five of my favorite and most-used (and range from free to $1.99). 

Useful features:
- Can adjust brightness, exposure, contrast, temperature, highlight/shadow color, and more in great detail. This is probably my most commonly used photo editing tool, because of its versatility and range of functions.
- Nice built-in filters, which are all adjustable
- Crop, rotate, add borders

The bottom panel contains the master navigation, and the buttons on top are your options within that set. Shown here are the slider adjustments for brightness, exposure, contrast, etc.

A brief look at some of the filters available
VSCO CAM (free)
Useful features:
- Can adjust brightness, exposure, contrast, temperature with simple interface
- Limited (but nice)  built-in filters, which are all adjustable
- Crop + rotate tools

 A glimpse at the filters—there are only 8 or so, but they keep the interface simple.

A slider bar allows you to control how strong you'd like the filter to be. 

Simple adjustment options: brightness, temperature, contrast, rotate and crop.

CAMERA+ ($1.99)
Useful features:
- A collection photo-enhancing presets that provide a more natural look than standard filters—these are great for when you already have a great shot, and want to preserve the color or other elements of your photo.
- Wide range of filters and effects, if you're looking for a more highly-edited look
- Crop, rotate, add borders
- Adjustable self-timer—clutch!

PIC FX ($1.99)
Useful features:
- Wide range of filters and effects—including textures, light filters, and bokeh arranged in "album" sets to keep things organized
- Crop, rotate, add borders
- Can layer multiple effects on top of each other

PICLAY ($0.99)
Useful features:
- This app is funky and gives a highly-edited output. It has two basic functions: Overlay and Mirror. Mirror is self-explanatory; Overlay allows you to select two photos to make a composite shot. The two layers are adjustable, and you can apply effects to change the look of the overlay.
- Can layer pre-set light effects and textures over your image

 Mirror Mode: You can use this bottom row of buttons to add different types of lighting and texture enhancements.

Overlay Mode: Adjust the look of your overlay with a few pre-set filters.

There are a few other photo apps that I use sparingly, but these are my favorites. Do you guys pre-edit your photos before Instagramming? What apps do you like?


  1. I have a few of those apps but usually just end up editing in instagram... i really should try some of them out more.

  2. I totally agree about the quality of the pictures, especially if you're a blogger or trying to promote something. This is really helpful, I love reading about new apps.


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