A Social Media Pro’s Fave Photo-Editing Apps

When we wanted to get the lowdown on how to create a truly picture-perfect Instagram feed, replete with dreamy landscapes, vibrant outfit photos, and overall style swag, we knew just who to go to: our Social Media Strategist, Jess! Below, she shares her favorite photo editing apps with you, so you, too, can be an Insta-star…

By Jess Cole

Ah, the iPhone. When it comes to capturing and sharing life’s memorable moments, it’s my miracle device of choice. And as a Social Media Strategist at ModCloth, I use mine every day to edit and post directly to our Instagram!

Between that impromptu snapshot of your morning coffee to carefully setting up the best background for your #OOTD, I’m sharing a few of my favorite editing apps (+tips and tricks!) to make your phone photography as Instagram-ready as can be.

A Color Story

This fun app from our friends Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess makes for the most outstandingly vibrant iPhone images yet! With over 100 filters and 40 effects (like ‘light flare’ and ‘color fog’), you can really play around with personalizing. My favorite features of A Color Story include its wide range of filters, along with the app’s robust selection of editing tools. ‘Curves’ allows you to fine tune the tones of your image by controlling which areas of the photo to affect. Genius!

Once I open the app, I usually begin editing by cropping my image into a square. From there, I turn up both brightness and contrast — an easy way to give your pic a quick boost! Then, things can get a little crazy. If I decide that my imagine is a little too dreary, like this shot from inside a museum where lighting wasn’t ideal, I usually up the warm tones to make it a bit more cheerful, and then up the saturation. Don’t be afraid to experiment!


This is the first photo editing app I began using consistently. If you love a dreamy, whimsical aesthetic, then download this app right now. My go-to for landscape shots, Afterlight’s effects allow you to achieve a sort of retro, over-processed look. Use the ‘Dusty’ effect to add some intentional grunge to your image, and the ‘Wander’ and ‘Instant Film’ effects to really nail that boho feel. ‘Relic’ and ‘Bright Fire’ are my other favorite filters!


Ideal for achieving that film-quality feel, Snapseed is a wonderful tool for those that want to manipulate their photos with precision. I use its ‘Selective’ tool most often because it’s super handy in tweaking small areas. For example, if you want to brighten just one section of your image, tap on the spot, adjust the range you want to control, and then slide left or right on your screen to adjust levels. I also get a lot of use out of the ‘Tonal contrast’ filter to add depth.

Finally, don’t hesitate to use these apps in conjunction with one another! Apply the filters and effects that you love most from each. It can be as easy or as involved as you’re comfortable with. Above all else, have fun with it!

+What photo editing apps are you currently using?

About Natalie

As the owner of three small, fluffy dogs, Natalie has accepted the fact that dog hair being everywhere and on everything is just part of her lifestyle now. She cannot stop decorating (and redecorating) her home, and lives by Robert Venturi's words, "Less is a bore." Fresh flowers, floral print dresses, and a good gin and tonic are just a few of her favorite things.

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