Remember when the Instagram app first debuted, featuring (*gasp*) built-in photo filters? Taking a selfie, slapping on a filter such as X-Pro II or Valencia, posting it and reeling in tons of likes and comments was all too easy, not just on Instagram but across all social media platforms as a whole.
Today, it's a little bit different. It's not just filters—mobile phones, camera quality and app technology have developed over time to offer more and more people access to literally millions of photo-editing apps. Now, anyone with an internet connection can easily access and utilize a ton of creative and professional-quality editing tools—which now also means you have to do a little more than simply cropping and placing a filter on a photo to make it really stand out and depict the message you're trying to portray about yourself or your brand.
So say goodbye to boring, typical photos that won't make people look twice—here are six apps to take your selfies and #OOTD pics to the next level.
Afterlight—now Afterlight 2—is technically an OG app that was actually created not too long after Instagram itself. Like Instagram, it has greatly developed over the years and now features tons of expertly crafted filters that can suit any photo's color palette or tone. You can basically create your own filters by building off the preset ones and adjusting aspects like color fill, curve and vibrance, as well as putting multiple on top of each other. Additionally, the app offers useful photo adjustments like adding grain, a color gradient, selective color hues, blurs and creative tools like chroma and double exposure.
VSCO is very similar to Afterlight in that it's a surprisingly old app that has grown over time to offer tons of unique filters, detailed customization and tools like white balance or split tones. You can stack filters and adjustments to create your own in this app as well. VSCO has a decent amount of free filters and tools, but if you want to invest some money, users can access literally hundreds more.
Snapseed is an app created by Google that offers an impressive gallery of editing tools. Be warned, though—Snapseed isn't just for the casual user but for serious content creators who want to fine-tune every single photo past filters and basic adjustments like brightness. With this app, you can use a selective brush tool to edit whatever part of the picture you want, no matter how small or out of focus. You can also make unique edits to a photo by changing its perspective or adding an HDR scape effect or double exposure. Snapseed is free on the app store.
A Design Kit
With A Design Kit, users can edit photos and really let their inner artist fly. The app is packed with tons of brush-like elements that can paint multitudes of colors, gradients and textures on photos in whatever design you want. Not only that, but A Design Kit offers a huge library of artistically designed stickers and features like lines, arrows and shapes that can be placed and fitted to any photo. The app is free, with some features that have to be purchased.
Meitu is very similar to A Design Kit as it lets you paint over a photo to add different colors and brush strokes, but it offers a ton more textures and design options. You can use their "magic brush" feature to add strokes or layers of glitter, emojis, hearts or even textures like pixelation or a "sketch" effect. It's definitely an app for those who want a ton of personality to shine through their pictures. Meitu is free, with some in-app purchases.
Lightroom is actually a professional software for photographers, available for purchase within the Adobe Creative Cloud. The professional desktop version has an extremely expensive subscription fee; however, there is a free version available to download off the app store for mobile devices. The controls to edit contrast, tonal adjustments, highlights, etc. are classic yet very effective due to their fine-tuned and detail-oriented nature, as are the more complex features like detail sharpening, noise reduction, chromatic aberration and lens corrections. Lightroom has a free version available to download from the app store, but the full version is paid.
Many modern editing apps can seem overwhelming or daunting at first due to the sheer amount and abilities available, but they can be easily mastered by just spending some time messing around with features. It takes time to figure out how to edit a photo to portray the exact message, color or vibe you want it to, but it's well worth it if you want to start being creative with your content and make your profile stand out from the billions upon billions that already exist. So happy editing and, most importantly, have fun!