The age-old question. Amateurs and pros alike can all agree that tweaking imagery is a step in the right direction towards a good photograph. Perhaps you're adjusting so that the details of a dress can be seen against black fabric, maybe all something needs is to be softened to fit a brief. Maybe you're looking to jazz up a selfie. Who are we to gatekeep your image editing desires?
Call us a fan of the classics, but as someone who has been taking photos professionally for some years, nothing goes past Photoshop and Capture One. For those who aren't interested in the time investment (or financial investment), we've put together a guide to the best photo editing apps for a breezy editing experience.
Best for: an all-purpose and intuitive experience.
There is little that can't be done on Photoshop, and you'd be pressed to find any professional photographer who doesn't use it in one way or another. Photoshop Express supplies everything you need to quickly edit and transform images without the learning that is often involved in the desktop iteration. Offering an option to add premium features, you can make advanced edits from the freedom of your iPhone.
Best for: fine-tuning levels of colour and exposure.
A champion at controlling images with selective adjustments. Lightroom is a great standard-editing base that allows users to focus on the fine details. Remove almost anything with a touch of the Healing Brush. Local Hue Adjustments as part of selective edits let you alter hue and saturation with precision and elevate your photos. Advanced colour grading lets you have more control over colour editing and achieve the desired effects. The in-app phone camera lends well to having control over images as they are taken. Choose from exposure, timer, instant presets, raw, and more.
Best for: all-purpose image editing with added creative.
With a fairly comprehensive editing offering, Afterlight offers standard editing tools like colour, exposure, sharpness, and cropping, alongside more advanced tools like curves and selective colour, allowing the user to adjust small details of imagery.
Best for: everyday photo editing.
The Snapseed app is complete with most imaginable features one would look for in a photo editing app and is very popular amongst many users. This can be put down to its full array of expansive editing tools, like selective edit brushes, collections of film-related filters for those who want to cheat, and non-destructive editing functions.
Best for: adjusting imagery with presets.
Preset royalty must fall in the court of VSCO, a widely-known app beloved for its extensive range of presets that polish imagery in mere minutes. With adjustable filters to control the strength and a basic line-up of editing tools, this is a go-to for Insta-girls everywhere.
Best for: retouching objects on the go.
While TouchRetouch isn't a comprehensive retouching app, it's a good one to have in the bank for its sole purpose, which is removing objects from a photo. Remove unwanted elements like blemishes, misplaced objects, and exes at the tap of a finger.
Best for: small, pre-sharing adjustments.
Ordinarily, this would never cut the mustard, but Instagram is handy when you're about to share an image on the app and notice a small but necessary adjustment. Ignore the dated filters and work with the basic editing tools to bring brightness up or down, etc. etc.