BreakingModern –Most Instagram photos are pixelated selfies or close-up shots of what you had for breakfast. You can do better. You probably have at least one friend who regularly posts the most-ridiculously-perfect Instagram: you know, subtle artistic filter, cool typography, dynamic contrast, the works.
Well, it’s time to join the ranks of the Instagram masters. Below are five apps that will revolutionize your knowledge of smartphone photography and help you make Instagram-perfect photos. Watch.
Start with the Basics: Snapseed
Before layering on the filters and typography, every respected smartphone photographer needs an app with basic settings to correct exposure, contrast, saturation and sharpness. Play around with the adjustments until the finished product is eyecatching but still looks natural.
Snapseed for Android is the best editing app out there. It makes good use of a smartphone’s touch screen and allows you to adjust multiple settings by sliding your finger on the actual photo. It also has a cool hidden feature that shows you two versions of your picture, before and after editing. Just press and hold your finger on the picture and the unedited version will appear. When you let go, the fully edited version reappears.
As if that wasn’t enough, Snapseed also has a selective adjustment function that lets you only adjust the settings in one part of the photo. Oh, and it’s free at Google Play. There’s a free Apple iOS version of it, too …
Square It: InstaSize
Instagram is famous for its compact, square-framed images. But a beautiful moonlit Manhattan skyline is not going to be contained in a square. To create beautiful images you have to know how to place your subjects in a frame so they draw the eye. Moreover, our smartphones don’t normally take squared photos.
InstaSize has a simple function for a simple problem: fit all your rectangular photos into a square frame. InstaSize exports directly to Instagram so you never have to cut off that beautiful skyline again.
Free on Apple iOS and Android.
Add Subtle Filters: VSCO Cam
After fixing the basics, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff. Skip those distinctive Instagram filters and layer on some more subtle color effects in VSCO Cam. This app’s designers thought every photo should have its own unique filter and they planned accordingly.
Not only does VSCO Cam have a wide range of filters, but you can also combine multiple filters and choose how intense you want your filter to be. That potent combination makes VSCO Cam a gold mine for finding just the right look, turning your previously mundane photo into a masterpiece.
Free on iOS and Android.
Layer on the Details: Rhonna Designs
Sometimes a filter will be enough to complete your image. Sometimes you need that extra oomph. Rhonna Designs has a veritable treasure trove of pre-made designs, typography and frames to layer over your image, making its $1.99 price completely worth it.
Though you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices, the trick is to never use a busy design with a similarly busy picture. Adding cool typography with a cool filter with a cool design will not make your photo cooler — it will make it crazy.
So, while you should try dozens of designs and fonts, think about what combination is pleasing to the eye. Play with it until you are satisfied and feel that the end product is not too out of control. And don’t forget to take advantage of Rhonna Designs’ special feature, allowing you to turn any design or typography into a mask.
Available on iOS and Android.
Combine and Repeat: Instaframe Photo Collage Maker
Most people use collages to consolidate three pictures of their Hawaii vacation into one image. While those vacation posts are fun and easy, collages can also highlight a certain aspect of a picture. Next time you take a selfie, take multiple shots with different facial expressions and put them into a collage side by side. You’ll get a nice repeating effect, which will draw the right kind of attention to your most-striking features.
There are hundreds of collage apps out there, so choosing the right one can be a bit of a hassle. Instaframe Photo Collage Maker trumps many other apps simply because you can control the border size between pictures. It’s free on Apple iOS and Android, too, which always helps the decision.
There you have it — five types of apps to improve your smartphone photo-editing process. My last tip? Combine these apps. Start with your basic settings, sprinkle on a filter, and finish with some typography. As you experiment, you will develop an eye for what looks good and what doesn’t. Pretty soon, you’ll be an Instapro!
Have a great app you want to share? Email it to apps@BreakingModern.com.
All screenshots: Andrea Lim