Whether you’ve been running your social media channels for years, or you’ve just started to get into content creation for your business, keeping on top of the latest tips, tricks and tools is never easy. When your average tweet lasts in the eye-line of your viewers for less than 15 minutes and Instagram is pulling in over 600 million active users, then crafting the perfect content, quickly is crucial to your social media efforts and standing out from the crowd.
We don’t think that editing your images should be hard work, so we’ve pulled together our top 7 favourite photo editing apps that are sure to make your life that little bit easier.
Use it when: you just want to get posting.
You just can’t go wrong with the original! Chances are that if you’re editing photo content you’re likely to post it on Instagram at some point. The days of adding the lo-pro filter are long gone and Instagram has definitely upped their game in both filters and editing features. Filters are easy to apply and for a more subtle look the editing features are more than adequate. One of the benefits of editing directly in the platform is the easy workflow. Instagram does a great job at making their platform intuitive to use and the workflow for selecting, editing and posting is seamless.
The one downside to some of the editing features on Instagram is on stories. Whilst the editing capabilities on stories is great for a personal account, if you want something a little bit different or wish to do some minor retouching before you post, it sadly doesn’t comply. Additionally, finding some of the advanced features on stories requires a fair bit of swiping to discover all of the things it can do. We’d recommend taking your photos first, editing them outside of Instagram for stories and then use the add from camera roll feature instead. From there you can continue to edit with all of the great features it gives you such as stickers and polls. We’re a fan of the ‘Paris’ filter for a quick clean up of your stories!
Quick tip: to keep consistency on your Instagram grid, always use the same filter and percentage, e.g. Lark 50%.
Use it when: you wish to edit in one place.
We had a hard time whittling down our favourite photo editing apps, but this one has such a great interface and usability that it had to be on the short list. Snapseed has a wide range of filters but its real strength is combining the usual editing features with the ability to spot retouch, heal or remove parts of your photo you don’t want.
When first getting started it may feel a bit difficult to get the hang of but when you realise how much you can do with simply a swipe, it becomes one of the most flexible and comprehensive apps on the list. Definitely one of our favourites for ease of use with the broadest set of features.
Our resident Head of Brand, Vic, recently went to a talk at Google, so we thought that we'd demonstrate the power of these apps using a photo of her looking fabulous whilst taking a selfie.
We cropped and then used the curve function to reduce the exposure and up the contrast slightly.
Quick tip: practice swiping on each screen - a lot of their features appear when you start swiping and it’s really easy when you get going!
Use it when: you’re after some of the best subtle filters around
We have a soft spot for VSCO. One of the original editing apps, the wide range of subtle filters removes the need to edit an image’s saturation and clarity by hand, making editing incredibly easy.
One key to building a strong brand identity on your feed is to keep a similar look and feel to the images you post. VSCO is so customisable - it’s easy to crop and apply the same pre-set to your images so that they are ready to post quickly. You can pay for more filters if you want and they’re quite reasonable. The only downside is that if there are lots of people posting to your social media account, you can’t collaborate on one account. this means that you will all have to know how to apply the same filters and pre-sets to make sure your feed has a single look and feel even if lots of people post to it.
Quick tip: less is more. If you’re using their preset filters, try to reduce the percentage from 100% to about 20-30%. It gives you that great edit, but without feeling over processed.
Use it when: you do a lot of photography.
Get ready for the premium app in our list. You can use it as a free tool and it’s just as effective as most of the free tools on our list. But if you want something a bit more special, then this app really shines when you also have invested in the paid desktop version of Lightroom and are signed up with the Adobe Creative Cloud. Lightroom is a tool used by lots of professional photographers and sits in the Adobe Creative Cloud alongside such tools as Photoshop. Having the full paid version means that you can sync your photos and work across the app and the desktop version. This also means you get access to the full suite of tools available in the app, such as the ability to build your own post production workflow or create your own photo editing presets - perfect for that consistent brand look and feel.
No one will disagree that Lightroom is a powerful tool, but to get the most of it you really have to dedicate time and build your own workflow to it so it is perhaps best for those who are really looking to invest time and energy into their image editing at a professional level.
Quick tip: Workflows on this are everything! It can feel hard to start using this tool but spend a bit of time managing your workflow and it will save you a lot of time later.
Use it when: You need to retouch an image quickly
Whilst we’re not fans of retouching images of people here at Bright, sometimes you need to remove that pesky sign in the wrong place or the dirty napkin in your food shot. That’s where TouchRetouch comes in. At the swipe of a finger you can remove these things from your image and it does a remarkably good job. Whilst it may not hold up if you blow your image up to a bigger size, for your social posting it’s perfect.
Here we removed the person going into the building as well as the lines behind her. It wouldn't hold up very well on a hi res image, but for social, it works really well!
Quick tip: zoom! You can use pinch and zoom to really get into the detail of the picture so that your editing is as accurate as can be.
Use it when: You’re trying to create a vintage feel to your stories
Who doesn’t love a bit of a retro filter sometimes? Thankfully we seem to have recovered from the early days of Instagram when we overdid the border or fade function a little, so sometimes adding a retro feel to your photos can be a nice touch to bring some creative flow to your feeds. If you don’t wish to mess around with your brand’s main feed, this function could be a great option for stories.
Whilst using the free version is annoyingly filled with ads, the range of functionality they offer for free is pretty brilliant. If you’re a fan of a bit of burn to your photos, this might be the app for you. Sadly, if you're not an iPhone user, you'll be disappointed as at time of writing, we can only find it on the Apple store!
We kept applying filters until we found one that emphasised Vic, the focus of the image.
Quick tip: Great for Insta Stories for that vintage feel! Use across a few different images in a flow so that it feels like you’re telling a story.
Apple Store: download here
Use it when: you want to create great ads
Who doesn’t love Canva? If you’ve not discovered this app yet, then go go go! Canva is a social media marketer’s best friend - you don’t have to worry next time Facebook changes their image sizes because it’s all set up in the app as presets. No more waiting on your design team for your next ad campaign - you can build beautifully designed ads, banners and cards using your own images, logos and fonts in minutes. Get the pro version and you can even create your own sizes and basic templates so you can ensure that you’re always on brand and you’ve always got something on hand for your next social post.
Using Canva, we can swap images, colours and fonts to meet our brand guidelines. We could easily use this on Instagram stories to promote our current vacancies.
Quick tip: having photos and your brand materials at your fingertips for this tool is a timesaver. Keep a ready series of images together somewhere that’s easy searchable, like your Digital Asset Management system. We’re biased, but we find a tool that is simple and easy to use, like Dash is great for us; it’s fast, easy to use, and the AI tagging function means that searching for images is even faster.