Top Five Photo Editing Apps for Instagram

Instagram is a top choice for many bloggers and creative entrepreneurs to build their brand. The beauty of Instagram is that it’s a free medium and you don’t need to spend a fortune to grow your audience. However, there are hundreds of apps capable of providing similar functions.  And how do you know which is best? Well, my friend, you are in luck! Here is my list of top five photo-editing apps for Instagram.

Top 5 Photo Editing Apps for Instagram

Top Five Photo Editing Apps for Instagram

1. Snapseed

When I first started posting on Instagram back in 2013, Snapseed was my go-to app for editing my shots. I used it mostly to convert my mobile shots to black & white and also to fine-tune the image.  With Snapseed you can adjust brightness, saturation, contrast and more.  You can enhance the details and structure, crop the shot, straighten images (important for getting ocean horizons spot on!), selectively adjust areas, and add a wide range of filters and frames.

In 2015, Snapseed added a new “stacks” feature, which means that the edits are shown in a stack and you can go back to any previous point of the editing process rather than having to revert back to the original image and start editing all over again.  You can also apply the stacks to another image to save time.

Snapseed is free and available for both iOS and Android devices.


This is definitely one of the most popular apps for photographers. The VSCO cam is a great alternative to the native camera on the iPhone.  It is straightforward to use and it gives you the flexibility of being able to separate the focal point and exposure which is especially beneficial when shooting sunrises/sunsets and also in low-lighting.

The editing tools are easy to navigate once you get familiar with the icons (they contain no words under the icons but list the description once you click on the icon). It doesn’t take long to learn and you will soon recognise that the sun icon is for exposure, the triangle is for sharpening images, and the thermometer is a temperature gauge etc.

The stylish film-like filters are probably the most favourite part of the app.  Have you ever seen those feeds that are bright white (check out filters HB1 and N1) or the ones that look heavily faded (T1)?  My personal favourites are HB1 or N1 for brightening a flatly shot, the E-series or M5 for landscapes, and F1 for a mellow / faded look.

Top 5 Photo Editing Apps for Instagram

Not all filters come with the app – some are free and the rest are available for purchase.

The great news is that VSCO cam is available for both iOS and Android users.

3. Camera+

This is another great alternative to the native camera on your phone.  You can control the focus, shutter speed, exposure, white balance, digital zoom and more.  The separate focus and exposure lock allows you to control how dark or light your photos come out.

Camera + is packed with features including a range of filters, advanced editing features including controlling the white balance, removing red-eye from your shots, adjusting the sharpness or blurring and much more.

Top 5 Photo Editing Apps for Instagram

4. Mextures

If you like applying textures to your images, film grains, light leaks and gradients, then this is the app for you!  Mextures has a non-destructive flow, like Snapseed, whereby you can make changes to your photo at any time during your editing process.  Included are 150-plus original textures plus over 200 beautiful formulas created by some of the top iPhone photographers in the world.

Top 5 Photo Editing Apps for Instagram

5. Instagram

Back in 2013, Instagram was lagging behind the other photo-editing apps in terms of its capabilities.  Today, it is proving to be more popular and used in conjunction with the other apps.  These days, I usually edit my shots in Lightroom as most of my shots are taken on the DSLR and then I do final adjustments on Instagram.  Even my mobile shots taken using the VSCO cam or native camera will receive final tweaks (e.g. straightening, contrast, brightness, highlights) in Instagram.

Instagram has 23 filters to choose from. According to a study conducted by Canva earlier this year, the most popular filter across the globe was Clarendon followed by Juno, Sierra and Valencia.

Top 5 Photo Editing Apps for Instagram

Whilst it can be lots of fun playing around with all these amazing filters you have to step back and decide how you want your brand to look.  Pick one or two filters and stick to them in order to create consistency and to create a bigger visual impact for your followers.

If you need a refresher as to how to grow your brand on Instagram, read my recent article titled 12 Ways to Grow Your Brand on Instagram.

What are your favourite photo editing apps?

Feature image sourced from Unsplash (Jordan McQueen).

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