What smartphone applications do you use to improve your Instagram photos?


What smartphone applications do you use to improve your Instagram photos?


We’ve seen it before. Just taking a photo with a smartphone or a camera and posting it as is on Instagram isn’t the best way to get the maximum number of likes. Now retouching is an integral part of user habits, even those of the most novice. It’s clear that smartphone applications have placed retouching techniques in the hands of the masses, just by how simple they are to use. But you need to know what are the right applications among the thousands that are out there. Here are my favorites and the ways I use them.


Snapseed / Afterlight / Magic Hour / Pixl-o-romatic / VSCO cam

I always and invariably start by retouching a number of my picture parameters in the Snapseed application. This free application offers a number of functions, but I just about always use the same ones. I retouch luminosity (I increase it for a photo with a white background, but I often lower it to highlight a sunset). Next, I play with the atmosphere, which brings out the colors as well as saturation. Next I might touch up warmth to reduce the yellow effect of photos taken under artificial light, for example. To finish, sometimes I move the ‘dark tones’ cursor, which is really useful for brightening up the darkest spots in my photo.

There are other more advanced parameters available, like the possibility of adding grainy quality, blur, texture effects… the combinations are infinite, and you can easily spend hours retouching a single photo. The Pixl-o-romatic application offers the same type of functions. It’s up to you to try them out and see which application best suits your needs!

The Afterlight application offers the same type of parameters, as well as a series of more or less subtle filters. As for Magic Hour, it has a little something extra: it lets you save your own filters. What that means is if you like to retouch photos in very precise ways, you will no longer have to readjust each parameter every time. You just have to save your settings once and for all!

I always conclude with running my pictures through the very popular VSCO application. It has the absolute best filters, and I especially like using the A5 and the F2.

On the photo below, with VSCO, I added a grainy texture to give the photo a retro feel, and I used the A5 filter:


Typic / A Beautiful Mess / Label box / Rhonna designs

Sometimes, you feel like delivering a message directly on your photo. For that, there’s nothing better than Typic, Rhonna, or A Beautiful Mess, which offers a vast choice of typographies and colors for your texts. Typic lets you add a shadow to your message, which is really practical when you want white text on a white background! As for Labelbox, it lets you add messages in the form of labels of different shapes and colors. This is useful for really getting your text to pop!

In the photo below, I used Rhonna to add a little ‘hello’ bubble to my picture.


Typic and A Beautiful Mess also let you add frames to your photos as well as Doodles (little drawings).  I also often use Typic because of the effects it offers. On the photo below, for example, I used the sunshine effect, at the level of 50%, in the upper left corner.


Photosynth / Fyu.se

Now the iPhone lets you take panoramic photos, but what the Photosynth application lets you do goes way beyond that. That’s right, it lets you immortalize everything around you. The user then serves as the pivot point, and you simply need to take a number of shots all around you to reconstitute your environment and then admire, in the same photo, the sky, the ground, east, west, etc. I totally recommend using this application when you’re on a trip and standing before a beautiful landscape! Only this application will let you capture the global ambiance of a place.

Recently I discovered Fyu.Se, which lets you do the same thing, but the result is delivered differently. On Fyu.se, you move your phone to scan the photo, just as if you were turning your head to see what is on your right or your left… it’s sort of difficult to explain, so I recommend just trying it out!

Meitu Pic

Other applications let you improve your work yourself. Photo retouch can help you address physical imperfections. Meitu lets you remove a blemish, erase dark circles under the eyes, show the twinkle in the eyes, but also…to make them bigger, or even make the legs longer! With this, anybody can transform himself or herself into a top model! Before / after photos can really be astounding sometimes!

Pic Stitch / FotoRus 

Sometimes, you need to show several photos within a single image. The best way to do so is to create a collage. Pic Stitch and FotoRus offer different compositions depending on the number of images you want to show. You can also play with some of the parameters, like the width of the edges, their color…

Below is an example of a very simple collage I did with FotoRus:


Photocandy / Tiny Faces

To increase the kawaii potential of your published photos, try out Tiny Faces and PhotoCandy ! The first application lets you add cute faces anywhere on your photos. Have you ever wanted to add eyes to your orange juice?

Below, I added eyes to my Mason Jar with Tiny Faces, and a black label with Labelbox.


As for Photocandy, it lets you add many different graphic elements to your pictures, from the simplest to the craziest (lines, shapes, but also icons, like clouds, lightning bolts…) When you superimpose copies, you can achieve really surprising results!

In the photo below, I used Photocandy and I added this green confetti background, while putting a copy on my hand so that the confetti didn’t cover it.


Now it’s your turn!


Slanelle is a 28 year-old woman from Paris. She’s been a fashion and lifestyle blogger for 13 years. You can find her on Instagram (@slanelle)

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