The Best Photo Editing Apps for a Killer Instagram Feed

By: Ali Sakr

Whether it’s for an aesthetically pleasing Instagram page, touching up on some blurs and blemishes, or just experimenting with how weird and artistic you can make photos look, here are a few apps I think can help. Who doesn’t want their feed to look cool for the summer anyway?

First off, we’ve got my personal favorite – Snapseed, a photo editor developed by Google. Aside from all your standard tuning; brightness, exposure, saturation, highlights, shadows, and much much more, this app offers a few special features. 

These include the ability to edit ambiance, which can really change the mood and realism a picture conveys, selective editing, where you target specific areas of the photo to apply all the standard features to, and double exposure, where you merge two photos on to each other and play around with which areas appear where. 

There are even a bunch of niche features like changing a head’s orientation – yes, a head – applying vintage, retro, grunge, and many app-specific filters, blemish healing, and finally adding text, frames, and gradual lens blur.

I will, of course, not be able to address every single feature an app provides, so there will definitely be things I missed out on for Snapseed, and all the apps to come. I’ll just be stating all the characteristics of an app that make it unique, or make me like to use it.

Next up, Adobe Lightroom, the app I used to use before Snapseed. This was only when I changed phones and decided to try something new, though; Lightroom definitely has its advantages. 

This app is serious. When you first download it, you’re greeted with a feed of interactive tutorials which you can scroll through, and select some to play based on their difficulty and time. Yes, it’s a photo editor. You also have the option to use a “Pro Camera” built into the app, which allows you to adjust exposure, white balance, ISO and all sorts of other properties in the middle of your photo capturing process.

Lastly, and this was my favorite feature, color toning. You get the ability to select a certain color, and edit its individual hue, saturation and luminance, as well as swipe around the image where you want these features to be amplified. It might not sound like much, but the effects you can get with just this attribute are incredible, and can have a great aesthetic.

And if you want to be even more of a geek, you can toggle on a histogram which appears when you’re messing around with colors, displaying your changes on a very satisfyingly animated graph. What its significance is? I have no idea, but I love it anyway.

To contrast the past two, relatively professional/feature-dense apps, we’ll end this off with a few lighter apps that still manage to pack their own charm.

 Enlight Pixaloop for repeating animations on some areas of a picture, as well as a light leak overlay to give your pictures some artistic feel.

Adobe Photoshop – Mix, Cut-out, Combine, Create for when your friends’ faces need to be elsewhere, or you actually need this kind of photoshop power on your phone. 

VSCO for presets that actually look good, and a full feed of pictures posted by other users which you can follow. You can also publish your own edits and explore all sorts of unique ones in the app’s Discover tab.

That’s about it. There’s probably no need to mention that pretty much all these apps come with your standard adjustments, as mentioned when introducing Snapseed, and that a “premium” or “pro” membership is probably going to attempt to persuade you with most apps on the list. 

All features I mentioned are free, though, but still, you can get even more overlays if you buy the premium versions (I don’t think you should do that). Any of the first two apps will have you covered with pretty much everything you need for regular use anyway, it’s just a matter of preference.

Oh and, I forgot to mention one. You can edit photos with Instagram.

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