5 Best iPhone Photography Editing Apps
You don't need a fancy computer and expensive software to edit your pictures!
You actually don't even need to wait to get home to start editing.
There are tons of tools sitting in your back pocket and they are (mostly) free or a fraction of the cost. It can seem overwhelming when trying to find the perfect one that fits your needs.
You feel like you scroll forever looking at the reviews on the App Store and get lost in the sea of comments. Is simple always better? Or is an app with complex features better suited for you?
In order to make these apps seem a little less daunting, we’ve broken down the top 5 best photo editing apps for the iPhone.
We’ll use a usability scale from 1-5, 1 being the most difficult and 5 being the easiest. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned professional, you’re bound to find the perfect app for you down below.
5. Focos: A post shoot magnificent ♠️
Focos has more than just color and light adjustments. It gives you the power to change the focus of your photos.
Under the ‘Focus’ option, you can change things like ‘aperture’ and ‘lens’ which allows you to pinpoint the exact subject you want the main focus to be on. When using this feature, you can change the far and near intensity of the focus and the app even tells you what aperture it’s using. You can even separately adjust both the foreground and background in the ‘EFFECT’ option, increasing the depth where you need it. You can add things such as ‘bokeh,’ ‘motion blur,’ ‘soft glow,’ ‘noise,’ and ‘tilt-shift.’
Focos offers a bunch of different lens effects, but unfortunately you have to purchase most of them. It has so many tools to choose from and even can break down your photo into a 3D pixelated layer. It will take you some trial and error to figure it out, but the time spent on it is definitely well worth it.
Playing with aperture:
3D pixelated layer:
App Store Rating: 4.8/5 stars and 24K ratings
- Analyzes the depth of field and allows you to manipulate the focus of your image, thus giving you the power to change the meaning of your photograph
- The ‘lighting’ feature allows you to see how the intensity of the light would affect each of the image’s pixels
- Only one type of lens effect is free, the rest you have to pay for in order to use them
- Understanding the different tools takes some time to get use to since none of them has titles/labels until you select one (aka you forget where something is located and have to search through everything to find it🥴)
4. Afterlight: The dare devil in you needs this app 😈
Afterlight has over 100 filters to choose from and gives you the option to fine-tune color with its ‘Selective Color,’ ‘Color Shift,’ and ‘Advanced Curves’ tools. It offers cool effects like ‘plasma,’ ‘leak,’ ‘haze,’ ‘prism,’ and ‘light’ if you’re looking to add a little something extra to your photo. If you feel like experimenting, Afterlight even has tools to play around with things like double exposure and layers. You can even add on some ‘glow’ or ‘dust’ if you’re looking for a classic hazy film look.
Afterlight breaks down their tools into ‘Adjustments’ and ‘Touch Tools.’ Keep in mind that the ‘Adjustments’ affect the whole image. However, if you have to edit a very specific area within your photograph, zoom into that portion and click on the ‘Touch Tool’ feature that you need. This app offers a 1 year full access free trial. After that, the monthly subscription is only $2.99 a month! That’s only 1 of your daily coffees.
It’s overall pretty easy to use but definitely takes some time to get used to. I love how moody you can make your photos and transform them into works of art with just a few taps.
Playing with Color Shift:
App Store Rating: 4.7/5 stars and 10K ratings
- A large variety of filters, effects, and color enhancements to choose from
- The ‘Curves’ graph focuses on color which gives you the options to manipulate the RGB tonal range
- The endless possibilities with double exposure…’nough said
- A majority of the cooler features (ie: double exposure and dust) are only included in the membership (pls note the annoying notification constantly popping up in the screenshots below reminding us of how this is only a free trial 🙄)
3. VSCO: The get it right every time kinda app 😎
VSCO is the quintessential app for the influencer. Their tagline is literally “Photo and video tools for creators by creators.” It costs no money and all you have to do is make an account. I don’t know about you all, but I definitely feel like an Insta baddie when I use VSCO.
VSCO allows you to compare presets, accentuate color, and add effects like frames and a vignette so your Instagram grid flows together in the most perfect way. You can easily adjust exposure, contrast, saturation, and tone with simple slide features. It even offers a white balance option so you can tweak the temperature and tint of your photo making sure the color is exactly how you want it.
Sometimes with so many color enhancements, the people in your photo start to look like aliens with blue or orange skin and we don't want that! VSCO offers a ‘Skin Tone’ tool that helps smooth the skin as well as color correct your subject so the person in your photograph doesn’t start to look as green as the grass beneath them.
If there’s a certain look that took you literally forever to get, save it under ‘Recipes’ so you can use it in the future. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve edited a photo on my phone, only to forget how I got there, SMH. This prevents that exact dilemma and helps anyone looking to easily edit your photos so they all look the same.
VSCO is definitely your best friend when it comes to making sure your Insta feed looks on point. It’s pretty simple to use and there are tons of tutorials online that teach you how to maximize everything this app offers.
Playing with presets:
App Store Rating: 4.3/5 stars and 37K ratings
- Not much else you can do other than add some presets and do some simple editing like exposure and contrast adjustments
2. Snapseed: Best place to start when you have no idea where to start 💎
Snapseed is a hidden diamond in a sea of photo editing apps. This free gem of an app may just become your new best friend. This simplified editing tool offers a lot of great features for the beginner editor.
With 12 presets and over 20 tools available, you’re able to find the perfect tone and temperature for your image. What’s cool about this app is the array of style choices you can make. Want a vintage look that’s reminiscent of the ‘70s? They have an option for that. What about giving it that grainy film look that’s super popular nowadays? They have a tool for that too! Even something that brings me back to my grunge tumblr days? Yup, they have that as well.
It even offers easy background blurring effects that are pretty similar to the portraiture mode on your iPhone. Use their ‘Portrait’ or ‘Head Pose’ to make someone the main focus of your image. You can also play around with things such as brush, text, and frames if you’re feeling a little fancy one day.
Snapseed is incredibly user friendly and it doesn’t take long at all to figure out the way it operates. I’m a big fan of Snapseed since it offers an endless amount of color and style choices that will bring your photo to a whole new level.
Playing with adjustments:
Look at all those tooools:
App Store Rating: 3.9/5 stars and 5.5K ratings
- so. many. filters. Really though, you have a filter or effect for every mood you could possibly imagine
- Totally free! Seriously, we can’t find one thing in this app that you have to pay for
- Can there be no cons? 🤔
1. Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor: Fancy pancy 💃
Our personal favorite and go-to app is the Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor. This app is free with a Adobe CC subscription. Just sign in with your Adobe username and password to access its features. It offers easy slide adjustments for light, color, effects, detail, and geometry. It even has the ‘Curve’ button available under the ‘Light’ section. It has my 2 favorite tools under ‘Optics’: ‘Remove Chromatic Aberration’ and ‘Enable Lens Corrections.’ These fix those pesky color fringes and undos any distortion your lens may have caused when snapping a photo. It even offers ‘Selective Edits,’ the ‘Healing Brush,’ ‘Crop & Rotate,’ and ‘Profiles.’ Basically, anything you might need is somewhere in this powerful app.
Need some help or inspiration? Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor even has ‘Learn’ and ‘Discover’ pages available. Find easy tutorials to upgrade your editing game or explore the thousands of shared photos other creators have posted. You can even search for something specific and or click on one of their many categories at the bottom of the ‘Discover’ page if you’re looking for anything from nature to sports to weddings and so much more.
Adobe did a great job at making an app version of Lightroom. It’s a perfect match for any beginner or expert. You’ll be a pro at navigating this app within a few uses. Don’t forget, explore the ‘Learn’ page if you get stuck!
Manipulating the exposure:
Manipulating the tint:
Healing brush tool:
App Store Rating: 4.8/5 stars and 119K ratings
- It’s Adobe Lightroom for your pocket. Everything you could ever need to do on the Lightroom on your laptop, you can do just as well on this app
- The ‘Learn’ page is a huge helper when it comes to tutorials and inspiration
- You do need an Adobe account to use this app, which unfortunately is pretty pricey depending on which one you choose 💸
One (or all) of these apps will be the answer to your photo editing prayers. Don’t be afraid to mix and match too! Edit a photo in one app and try another one to see if it can enhance what you already did to it. There are endless possibilities at your fingertips. You’re in good hands with these apps whether you’re looking for an extreme photo makeover (Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor) or just adding in some touches of dust and light leaks (Afterlight) to give your photo that specific look or mood.