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There was a time when only professional photographers with the highest-quality equipment could capture and edit high-quality professional images. Often, this had to be done using clunky desktop software. But now, with the ever-changing development of new technology, more and more of us can access affordable smartphone cameras and free photo editing apps, taking their photography to new heights.
Now you can achieve fantastic photography using smartphone cameras and free photo editing apps. You can edit on-the-go while travelling, at an event or simply sitting at home in front of the television. We’ve compiled a list of the best free photo editing apps around. That means you can snap, edit and share; all at the click of a few buttons.
Often with editing, less is more. It will take time to master your editing techniques to perfection, but these easy-to-use apps make it easier than ever to learn over time. Read on to find out more.
Long-hailed as one of the most advanced photo editing programs out there, the Lightroom mobile app is easily one of the (if not the) best free photo editing apps available. Not only is it intuitive and allows you to perform complicated edits quickly and easily, but it’s also a photo manager. It enables you to store, move and manage your files or upload to the cloud, all in the one place. Lightroom features RAW photo support, the ability to upload and save presets (previously-saved edits), as well as exposure adjustments and more.
The preset tools can be very handy if you’re mass-editing photographs from the same shoot. Once you’re happy with the way you have edited one image, you can save those edits as a preset and simply apply the exact same editing functions to photos from the same series, making any additional adjustments as needed along the way.
A quick Google search can also help you find presets created by others. It has become quite common for Instagram influencers or photographers to save their presets and sell them to others, so their photographs can have the same look. For a beginner wanting to share the same look as other high-quality, this can be handy when just starting out.
While Lightroom is free to download, to sync photos across devices and access advanced features, you’ll need to pay an additional fee of $10/month, but for most users, the free version is more than worthwhile.
Google’s Snapseed has been around for a long time and has improved a great deal over the years. As well as all the usual features like cropping, rotating, straightening and adding vignettes and other effects, Snapseed has a huge range of presets. You can make adjustments to these presets as needed, or create your own from scratch, unlike many other free photo editing apps.
Snapseed is one free photo editing app which allows you to use precision masking, which enables you to change the depth of field, a technique often used by photographers to bring the foreground into greater focus. The “selective adjust” tool also comes in handy, allowing you to select a certain portion of your image – say, an area that is darker than the rest of the image – and make adjustments only to that area.
Snapseed saves your edits every step of the way, which means you can not only see the process (similar to Photoshop’s various layers) but you can go back one step or more to previous editing steps.
3. VSCO Cam
VSCO started with an editing app but morphed into an online photo-sharing community like Instagram. This free photo editing app has all the standard editing tools, but the best part about it is the filters. VSCO has a range of subtle filters, which can gently enhance your photos, giving them a vintage appeal, a romantic glow or a film-noir edginess.
Once you have edited your image you can share it with the VSCO community, or browse images in the community to see how others have used filters in a multitude of creative ways.
4. Afterlight 2
If you’re looking for an easy to use, free photo editing app with the ability to edit, add filters and textures and be creative, Afterlight 2 is your answer. This app really is an all-in-one.
As well as all the normal editing features you’d expect, Afterlight 2 gives you the ability to get creative. It offers options to add text, frames and filters. It also allows you to add textures, including things like light leaks, grainy effects or dusty film overlays, to get truly unique effects.
Best free photo editing apps for portraits
When you’re editing portraits, you often need slightly different features. As well as making adjustments to the image itself, you might want to use a free photo editing app built specifically to make adjustments to the face and body.
These apps can be combined with Snapseed or Lightroom to achieve the best result. What you choose will depend on which look you’re trying to achieve and the level of editing required. With editing, less is more and that is particularly relevant when it comes to editing portraits. You want to make adjustments slowly, one at a time, ensuring that your portraits still look natural.
Another great free photo editing app, Visage allows you to quickly and easily retouch portraits or selfies.
Visage enables you to smooth your skin, whiten your teeth or remove bags under the eyes or acne when desired.
Unfortunately, the free version of the app exports your image with a branded logo in the corner, however, you can upgrade to a paid version for $4.99 per month or $9.99 per year to access ad-free, logo-free edits.
6. Beauty Cam
If you’re looking for a free photo editing app with advanced portrait editing and a multitude of features, Beauty Cam is the one for you. Beauty Cam allows you to perform adjustments to portraits including red-eye corrections, whitening teeth, removing blemishes and even slimming down the body.
Again, these apps should be used with caution, otherwise, your subjects may end up looking too fake!
There we have it; the best free photo editing apps. You may need to experiment with various apps to find which apps work best for you. Once you get the hang of them, you’ll benefit from being able to edit and upload on-the-go, achieving stunning, high-quality images quickly and easily.