My last tutorial shared my top 10 tips for taking better photos with your camera phone. Today, I’ll share my favorite photo editing apps and how I use them.

There are two primary apps I use to edit my phone photos: VSCO & Snapseed.

VSCO is free, but it offers in-app downloads for specific presets. Its presets are designed to mimic specific films or photography styles. They are more classic and subtle than most Instagram-style filters.

Photo Editing App: VSCO

For the edit above, I used VSCO preset K1.

You can adjust the strength of each preset after applying it. In addition, VSCO offers the following edits for any photo:

  • Exposure
  • Contrast
  • Straighten
  • Horizontal Perspective
  • Vertical Perspective
  • Crop
  • Clarity
  • Sharpen
  • Saturation
  • Highlights Save
  • Shadows Save
  • Temp
  • Tint
  • Skin Tone
  • Vignette
  • Grain (add)
  • Fade (matte look or contrast reduction)
  • Shadows Tint
  • Highlights Tint

And you can save your favorite combinations of adjustments as presets of your own.

Snapseed (iOS or Android) is a photo editing app that offers an easy-to-use format for basic photo edits and offers a few filters as well. Its basic photo editing tools are here:

snapseed corrections

I use the Tune options most frequently for quick & clean edits. Below are the adjustments you can make using Tune:

  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Saturation
  • Ambiance (like Clarity in Lightroom)
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Warmth

Snapseed also has a healing brush to remove blemishes. This is a useful but not very common tool for a photo editing app to have.

Its filters are good too. Here’s a photo of all of them:

snapseed filters

One filter that I use frequently (for photos that don’t contain people) is Snapseed’s HDR Scape. It doesn’t combine multiple photos or exposures like a true HDR, but it does do a good job of creating an HDR look.

Photo Editing App: Snapseed

There are several options to choose from when applying this filter.

snapseed hdr

In addition, you can swipe down on the photo to adjust its subsettings:

snapseed hdr adjsut

You can see some of my other Snapseed edits here:

Photo Editing App Tips

There are a few things to keep in mind as you edit with photo editing apps.

First off, our phone displays are usually brighter and more saturated than paper. If you are going to print your images, add a touch more Exposure, Contrast & Saturation than you would add for photos that you only share digitally.

Also, don’t spend money on an app that doesn’t let you adjust the strength of its filters or edits. There’s no way one filter can work for every photo.

Finally, be very careful with Clarity/Ambiance/Sharpening edits. They look too strong very easily, especially if you view them somewhere other than your phone. See what I mean? Look at the grain in this photo:

snapseed too strong

Photo editing apps are quick & easy to use additions to your camera phone photography. Make sure not to go overboard with your edits and you’ll create some masterpieces in no time.