The ultimate guide to photo editing on your phone


Every day, over 95 million Instagram photos are shared. Whether these photos are for personal or business, you want them to look absolutely unreal. Apps can help with that. Photo editing apps have come along way in the past couple of years. When Instagram first started, it was all so simple- take a photo, add a pre made filter. Now- there’s incredible apps that are specifically dedicated to editing your photos on your phone. Whether you’ve shot them on a DSLR or shot on mobile; these apps make photo editing not only beautifully done, but simple and quick to do.

Here’s a short guide on the best photo editing apps and how to use them to make your photos look stunning.





Start with a base

Before you start tweaking your exposure and brightness, or any other photo attribute- pick a filter for a base. Ideally, you’ll have 3-5 go-tos to make your photography look consistent. This is great for showcasing your style, and making your overall Instagram grid look well-balanced- not just one great photo. Two of our favourite apps for filters? VSCO Cam and A Color Story.
VSCO Cam: There’s a reason why #vsco is the most popular branded hashtag on Instagram. This free photo editing app is made for Instagram, with a set of beautiful free filters as well as photo packs available for purchase. Not only does it support a number of tools and presents, it’s also a great photography community where you can publish images on your VSCO journal to share with followers.
A Color Story: With over 40+ “Effects”, A Color Story has built their app with an aim to enhance whatever color you’ve chosen to feature. Similar to VSCO, the free app comes with a set amount of presets and additional ones that you can purchase if you like how it works. We especially love the added tools- with light leaks, flares and color fogs all available to add in to make your photographs truly pop. 


Color Story

Shutterstock Custom Suggestion! With any filter, bring the intensity down to about 50%-60% for the best result and minimizing the risk of “over-editing”

Fine-tune with tools

Sometimes, a photo just needs a little touch-up to be exactly what you want. Once you’ve added your filter for your base, you’ll want to start tuning up the photo adjustments. Here, you’ll be touching up your brightness, saturation, contrast and even your curves to get that perfect setting for your photo. While there are a ton of apps that incorporate tools, our top pick for this specifically is Snapseed.

Snapseed: Google-owned Snapseed has 25 tools perfect for all your needed touch-ups including crop, rotate, perspective and brush. It can also support RAW files, similar to Priime. What we love most about Snapseed? Their simple layout makes editing fuss-less, with clearly marked labels and a great how-to guide when you first download the app that’s a must see if you’re just starting to edit photos on your phone. 

Final fixes

Last but not least, you want to get rid of those blemishes and unwanted areas. Maybe you had a stain on your shirt, or a person walked behind your focal subject into your shot. These apps make it easy to get rid of any unwanted attribute that may have snuck it’s way into your otherwise perfect photograph.
FaceTune: FaceTune is designed to help you improve portraits and selfies, and is a must-have photo editing app for anyone shooting people. It can widen smiles, brighten teeth, remove pimples, and add contour where needed. But this app isn’t just for facial features- it can also replace grey hairs with colour, or fill in bald patches where needed. Basically, it does it all and is a fantastic tool for any portrait photographer or beauty blogger. 

Touch ReTouch: TouchReTouch is the app if you want to remove any unwanted content from your photos efficiently and cleanly. It’s simple and easy to use, with a magnifier that lets you really zone in to whatever aspect you need to remove. Though this app isn’t free, we can confidently say it’s well worth the purchase for anyone who shoots at any hot tourist locations, busy streets or event photographers. 

As photographers and videographers, you are constantly on the go seeking new inspiration and shooting new content. This guide is meant to help make your editing process quick and efficient, even when you are travelling and don’t have access to your laptop. Or maybe the only tool you have is your smartphone. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a killer photo, and use these tools to make it even better. So get out there and start shooting!

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- Shutterstock Custom Contributor Community Team