I preach it often–the best, most well-received photos across platforms are going to come from your actual camera. (I use this camera, and just upgraded to this lens (it’s ridiculously good)–but used the stock lens that came with it and a 50 mm lens for YEARS and did just fine. This wireless SD card is also nice to have because it sends photos taken from your camera, directly to your phone!) All that to say, I still take and post pictures from my phone occasionally. I have an iPhone 7+ and the quality of the camera is really good. Not as great as a Canon, but good. Not to mention, convenient. So, many times, I’ll use my phone to capture a moment–whether it’s photo or video–to share. But whether you’re using an actual camera or phone, there’s a few apps I love that I use before posting almost anything on Instagram!
1. A Color Story: This FREE app, created by the talented girls behind A Beautiful Mess, slid into my most-used, favorite app this year because all the tools and filters can be used for both photos AND videos. It comes with a few free filters, but the free tools are really where it’s at. I use the curves tool (definitely take some time to learn about it!) to brighten even the darkest photos. There are so many valuable tools (the same ones you’ll find in photoshop!) available in this app for free.
I’ve purchased a few of the filter packs, too. My most used are the Gentle preset from the Organic pack, the Seasons pack, and the Fawn pack (Wool and Cashmere forever!) is on repeat these days. You can layer filters, and adjust the opacity. Which is probably my biggest tip! I have never used a filter at 100%. I turn them down–sometimes to just barely 20% even–to look more natural. I also love the Flare & Bokeh options for outdoor photos.
The above is a recent example of the app in action. On the left is the original I took with my phone one morning. The right, I brightened with the curves tool just a little bit and then applied the March preset from the Seasons pack at about 70%. I love how the photo looks a lot cleaner and the colors from Willow, the brick and even the trees and snow are more true to life.
2. VSCO: I used to be VSCO or bust and still consider a few of their filters to be my favorites: A6, J6 especially, but also HB1 and HB2 occasionally, are my tops. Again, I never use the filters at full strength. VSCO has a cult following and its own social platform for good reason–the filters are clean and just enough to amplify photos without drastically changing them. Interestingly enough, I like to apply a light VSCO filter even on photos from my camera before posting to instagram because they pop off the feed more.
In the photos above, the top is the original out of my camera. The bottom has the A6 filter at +7.8 on it. It may seem subtle, (as it should) but the bottom just pops a little more with richer colors and deeper darks and lighter lights. Another great thing about VSCO is you can copy the editing steps you took for one photo and apply it to another, or every, which will really help your feed look uniform.
3. Flipagram: Before Instagram had the swipe feature, I used Flipagram to showcase before and afters (see more at #cljtransformations) and I always received so many questions on what program I used. I still used it for stories and occasionally in my Instagram feed, because it’s just so darn satisfying to quickly see a before and after that way.
I uploaded the before and after photo (making sure it was cropped the same way) and then duplicated the photo twice so there was three of each photo and ordered them in a before and after sequence x3. You can speed up, or slow down the “flip” as well. My last tip! Pay the $1.99 to remove the Flipagram logo in the corner–it’s worth it!
4. Whitagram: Whitagram is a free app that makes displaying photos in their original format possible by adding a white background around landscape or portrait photos. This is nice if you really don’t want to crop something out. You can also adjust the size of a photo in this app–which comes in handy for instagram stories. For instance, in stories, a normal landscape photo loaded into stories will zoom in on the center most part. But zooming out in Whitagram (or making the photo smaller) and adding white space to it by selecting the white square in the bottom center and then sliding, you can now upload a whole photo to stories, landscape or portrait!
Some Instagrammers curate their entire feed using this tool, switching back and forth from a portrait to landscape photo with white edges, so when you look at their profile it looks, like whoa! Case in point: @sarashermansamuel
5. Continual: This video app is not free, in fact it’s $8 (might as well be $1K in app land) but it’s worth every penny. It’s one job? To make videos continual in Instagram stories by taking any video you upload or film with your camera or phone and breaking it up into 15 second increments for you! I can’t tell you how much I love this app. I can share house seamless house tour videos, videos of our kids, or even tutorials or talk without having to cram everything into 15 seconds. It’s also a lot more enjoyable for viewers–I know, because every time I upload one using the continual app, I get a load of messages asking about it with praise.
6. Splice: This free video app is made by the GoPro peeps and it is simple, yet powerful! You can fully customize videos on your phone. Like, fully! Trim clips, adjust transitions, add slow motion effects, music, put movies together and more. It’s a great tool to have in my photo/video app arsenal.
7. KiraKira+: This last one is just for fun and I’ve only used it once or twice, but you’ve probably seen it everywhere lately. This is the app that add sparkles to light in videos and photos. You can adjust the sparkles to be really intense or just barely there. Truth: I bought it after watching this Julia Roberts instagram (Can I be her?!):
I see a lot of fashion bloggers using it for jewelry, but it’s very nice for Christmas trees, too, turns out. :)
Any other favorites I’m missing out on? Sound off in the comments!
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