Whether you're an advanced, professional content creator, or you're a beginner looking to up your social media game, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite photo editing apps. Most of them are FREE, but ALL of them are apps I use daily (or almost daily).
VSCO was one of my favorite original photo editing apps and has been around since 2011.
This is probably one of the most common apps because it's free and super easy to use. You can capture photos directly within the app, or you can upload from your camera roll.
You can use a ton of their free presets, or you can even make your own. The presets it comes with are pretty basic, but are great for people who are just starting out and want to throw a filter on their photos to help their feed(s) look more consistent (if you care about aesthetic).
These presets are great, but they aren't as great as a Lightroom or Photoshop edit (more to come on those) due to the amount of information and data that is stored in each photo and how the app processes that data. In short, it's a great app to have on-the-go and I'd highly recommend this for beginners.
I use this app a lot for client accounts, especially when I'm reposting UGC (user generated content) because you can bulk-edit, which makes it a time-saving HACK. If you don't need to do a ton of corrections on the photo and you're fine with using basic tools like exposure and contrast adjustments, VSCO has everything you need (and more).
VSCO is available for IOS and Android - link is here.
A Color Story is one of my favorite editing apps!
It's similar to VSCO, but it has a few more features and even has some overlays and text options.
You can buy preset packs, but again, they aren't going to be as good as Lightroom or Photoshop, due to the info in the photo and the way it's processed within the app. They DID however, just do an awesome update that allows you to adjust certain colors within your photo (I believe this is an upgraded/paid feature, but if you're using this as your main editing tool, I'd highly recommend upgrading).
There is a preset pack for everyone. Most of them start at 99 cents and a few go up to about $4.99 per pack, but they come with quite a few presets per pack, which makes it a great value. I recently purchased the "all store pack", which is every preset available to ACS. This is 100s of presets, which is great for people who manage social media accounts for others and need to keep up with multiple different aesthetics. It's cheapest to subscribe and pay for the YEAR, which was around $40.
A Color Story also just upped their game and is offering their software for DESKTOP, which is amazing for people like me who like to edit on a bigger screen (specifically because I like using my trackpad on my laptop).
You can find more info about A Color Story here.
Pixaloop is cool if you want to create moving images with your still photos. For example, you can import a photo of a waterfall and use Pixaloop to make the waterfall look as though it's flowing (like what you'd see IRL).
Why not just shoot a video? It's cool because you can keep everything else entirely still. You can make just about anything move, too, not just water. You can download for a free trial and play around with some fun, still images lying around on your phone. It's pretty user-friendly.
They just added a feature where you can actually download your image (with the moving parts) as a GIF and it's compatible with iMessage - so you can send your friends HQ GIFs made by YOU.
Learn more about PIxaloop here.
Snapseed is one of my favorite apps and has also been around for quite some time! I use Snapseed for quick edits when I'm too lazy to pull out Photoshop. Their healing tool is AMAZING. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not a Photoshop replacement, but if you're looking to get rid of something small on one of your images (like a man standing off in the distance), you can easily edit him out with one touch of the Snapseed healing tool.
Snapseed also comes with a ton of features like "auto correct" and has preset filters you can use, but honestly, Snapseed is my go-to healing brush when I just can't quite pull myself to bust out Photoshop for that content aware feature!
More on Snapseed here.
PicMonkey is $7.99/mo or billed annually at around $70.
I don't use PicMonkey often, but it's a good tool to have if you're trying to add stickers or fun overlays to your photos.
The reason I think some people might be hesitant to buy this app, is because it's very similar (in my opinion) to what you can already do on Instagram within the story feature. There are GIFs and stickers (although different) that are very similar to Instagram's abundance of always-updated packs, which makes it hard to justify spending the money.
It is* however, really useful to have an app where you can edit your photo offline and not have to worry about accidentally posting OR being "done" and not being able to go back and edit, like on your Instagram stories directly.
I haven't played around with all the features yet, but from what I've used, it's pretty user-friendly and has a lot of tools that even beginners can use. There is a free trial, so I'd at least recommend trying that out to see if it's something you'd find useful.
More on PicMonkey can be found here.
Filmm is more for videos, but I use this often, too.
This is great for on-the-go editing if you want to upload something to your story without spending too much time editing the video.
They also have packs and presets you can buy (some are free), which gives each video a different flare or effect.
My favorite is the VHS camera setting. You can edit the sidebar to say whatever date/time you want, or you can remove it altogether. If you're editing for a retro or vintage feel, this is definitely something that would be useful for you!
Filmm doesn't seem to have a website, but they share a lot of cool edits from users on their Instagram account, which can be found here.
The app I use THE MOST is Adobe Lightroom.
I use both the mobile version, as well as the desktop version. I typically edit ONE photo using both - starting with one of my presets on my phone. I use the preset to get the photo to the aesthetic I like/use on my feed and then I drop that (preset) edited photo into Lightroom on my laptop and edit with further detail from there.
Applying a preset changes the entire photo and sometimes makes it look worse than when it came out of the camera. I think this is why a lot of people give up after trying a few different presets that didn't seem to work for them. Keep in mind, each preset is different and depending on the types of photos you take and the locations/lighting styles you use, not all presets will work for you.
If you have a "white and bright" aesthetic, the presets I use on my photos (warm hues, higher clarity and more contrast) aren't going to work for the aesthetic you're going for.
If you ARE looking for those warm hues, you will soon be able to purchase my presets I use on my own photos. If you're curious to see how they'll look on yours, feel free to send me a DM on Instagram and I'd be happy to show you, using one of your photos as a sample! If you don't like it, you don't have to buy it - there's no commitment involved :)
Using both versions of Lightroom isn't necessary and I feel like I should point that out. If you're just getting started, the mobile version will be more than enough. Adobe has an abundance of great tutorials, as well, which all walk you through step-by-step processes on how to tweak and edit using different tools.
[Note: the mobile version of Lightroom CC is free and you don't need an Adobe account to use this. You do* need an Adobe/Creative Cloud account to be able to use Lightroom on desktop and there is a monthly subscription involved. I believe for a single person on 2 devices, it's $9.99/mo - totally worth it, especially if you're looking for more advanced photo editing features!]
If you're interested in Adobe Lightroom, or any other Adobe products, you can find more info here. (The tutorials can also be found in this link!)