Getting that perfect snapshot used to be a once in a lifetime occurrence that was cherished forever. Not anymore. Today, between camera-loaded mobile devices that we keep in our back pockets and a little help from a photo editing app, that thrill can happen multiple times a day. Rather than cheapen the experience, users are taking advantage of their newfound “talents” to maximize their photo opportunities and create masterpieces that bring them and others joy in amazing, new ways.
If you want to make the most of your photos and photo ops, just download an app, and get busy. Not sure which photo editing app is the right fit for you? Here are some key features to pay attention to for the ultimate app selection.
Feature #1: Color Correction
This is a pretty basic feature that comes with most quality photo editing apps out there, and if it doesn’t, skip right over the app because it’s pretty essential. Color correction includes the ability to change the brightness of a photo, play around with the contrast, and even tweak the highlights or shadowing within the shot. Good tools like Google’s homegrown Snapseed will also let you add exposure or light to your images and sharpen the shades and hues within. Another great choice, Adobe Photoshop’s Lightroom has incredibly advanced color correction tools, with superb tonal details you won’t find anywhere else.
Feature #2: Filters
For most people, filters are really where photo editing is at. It’s where all the real fun is hiding, and this feature gives you plenty of opportunities even if you aren't an actual photo editor or professional photographer. The variety of filters an app has will usually determine its popularity, and in this case, the more, the merrier. Users can apply these effects as subtly or as heavily as they’d like, to enhance or totally transform their pictures.
Some tools like Instagram have fun and zany, creative effects textures, glow, glitter, blurring, and gradients, while other options like VSCO (pronounced Visco, by the way) offer more elegant options to choose from. Prisma also has a sophisticated array of filters that let you transform that scenic photo into a Manet-esque painting. PicsArt’s Magic Effects blows everyone out of the water, though, with some of the most advanced, artistic, and creative filters and design options available today.
Within this category, you’ll also find a list of editing tools like paint brushes, pens, shapes, and frames that allow you to put a more personalized stamp on the photo you’re editing.
Feature #3: Image & Detail Enhancement
This is a particularly fun tool that allows photoshoppers to hone in on a specific element in the photo, bringing it more into focus or closer to the foreground. You can also remove elements from a photo with these tools.
So, if, for example, you had a massive zit the day you took your otherwise flawless selfie, you can eliminate that blemish from your new profile pic. This is also a good feature for those annoying photo bombs that ruin an almost perfect shot. These tools generally offer means to maximize contrast to really bring out the best elements within a photo. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom invites users to enhance various elements of a photo, even to the most minute detail, with amazing clarity and precision.
Feature #4: Preset Filters
Preset filters have really put photo editing into the hands of the average Joe, and millions of novices the world over are grateful for them. Giving inexperienced photographers the ability to choose prefab looks and enhancers, preset filters allow anyone to create stunning photos without any photo editing know-how whatsoever. You can simply pick a theme or look off the list and apply it for fab results. The more impressive photo editing applications like Adobe Photoshop Express will also let you adjust these cookie cutter templates to fit with the style or mood of the photo even better. What’s even more impressive about Express, is that it has a feature called Smart Filters. This tool will automatically correct common photo flaws for you without even being asked, so you get already enhanced and more attractive pictures before you even begin the editing process.
And, since this app works directly with your camera, you can snap and apply a filter instantaneously.
Feature #5: Cropping, Rotations, and Other Edits
Once again, these are basic editing tools, but they’re essential to your photo editing toolbox. Things like being able to crop your picture, rotate the image, and edit it in other ways are the standard options that make your photos come out just right. Aviary is a good option for this because it comes fully loaded with so many editing tools including cosmetics tools that are easy to apply. PicsArt also boasts more than 100 editing tools, so you can’t go wrong there.
Feature #6: Sharing
Of course, the 2017’s Schrodinger’s Cat Theorem is if you ate a meal and didn’t snap a photo of it, did you really eat it? In today’s sharing-hungry society, a photo editing app that doesn’t have easy sharing capabilities is nothing more than wasted space on your hard drive. Luckily, the better apps come fully equipped with fast and easy sharing buttons for that instant gratification you get when you know your friends are drooling. Of course, Instagram is king of photo sharing with more than 700 million users to attest to that fact. If Instagram isn’t your scene, though, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Prisma, and VSCO also have simple to use social media sharing channels.
Feature #7: Ease of Use
Finally, an application can have the best tools and features out there, but if they’re too hard to understand or implement, they don’t do anyone a stitch of good. That’s why you want to find a photo editing app that’s easy-to-use, has a smart, clean UI, and offers intuitive menu structures. Helpful instructions or how to guides are also welcome. Photoshop Express is known for being particularly user-friendly, as is Snapseed (no surprise there). Surprisingly, the more developed PicsArt is also incredibly flexible and easy-to-use. What’s nice about this specific app is that it's so easy to use, so anyone can, but it actually caters to more advanced photographers, giving them a smooth platform to do amazing things.
Feature #8: Price
One last feature worth mentioning is price. While there are some photo editors out there that will cost you an arm and a leg to create the perfect snapshot, this is not necessary to get the results you want. Instead, there are plenty of free or almost free options available within the app stores today that offer the same flexibility, feature sets, and creative resources as the paid for versions. So, put away that wallet, and save your greenbacks for another day of fun (that you can photograph of course). Snapseed is one of the leading photo editing apps on the market, and it’s totally free. Photoshop Express is also free and cloud-based for easier access to your photos anytime, anywhere, and from any device.
Other apps like VSCO and Prisma are free to install but do have in-app purchases if you want to upgrade or access certain features. By the way, Adobe Lightroom is free to anyone with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
There you have it. These are 8 of the most important features to look out for when choosing a photo editing app. The rest, as they say, is up to you. Happy editing!