How I Edit Photos Cover

5 Easy Apps to Edit Photos on iPhone

The Evolista may look like a one person deal but it’s definitely a partnership with Jenifer in front of the camera and Guy behind the camera. Since Guy has a full time career, writing blogs and editing photos falls on my (Jenifer’s) shoulders. Today I’m sharing how I edit photos on an iPhone.

The fact that I edit photos on an iPhone will be the first giveaway that I’m not an expert. That’s also the reason I wanted to share my process with you. What I do is possible for anyone. It doesn’t require a bunch of technical knowledge or expensive software as I mostly use free apps.

This post is for people like us that started out taking pictures with zero experience. It may be a hobby that has turned into something bigger but you aren’t ready for the leap info a DSLR. Or you may just be taking family photos that you want to edit for a holiday card. Our goal is to share some basic steps to take your photos up a notch. You should also check out our Easy Photo Tips for Better Vacation Pictures.

Edit Photos on an iPhone

How We Take Our Photos

We take 90% of our photos on an iPhone XS Max so it makes sense that we do our editing on the same device. For higher quality photos and editing you would use a DSLR and edit on the computer. Eventually, we will go that route but for now, the iPhone is so much easier to carry and we love that we can see the photo we are getting immediately.

2 Main Reasons You Should Edit Your Photos

  1. Most edits are to fix bad lighting. Good light looks amazing on a photo and you should do your best to get good light. That said, it is often difficult to get perfect light. In good light people look better than real life. In bad light, people look worse than real life.
  2. Photos look better when they have somewhat of a uniform look to the colors. That’s where a preset comes in. It’s basically adjusting the colors in the same way each time. Each person has a different aesthetic. Some like the photo to look as close to natural as possible where others like it to be very stylistic. I fall in the middle.

Why You Should Edit Photos on iPhone Apps

Some of the best and expensive editing options are on the computer. These programs also require a bit of know how. But most people don’t transfer their photos to a computer so it’s easiest to edit photos on iPhone apps. It’s also the cheapest because some are free or a reduced rate.

Most photos don’t look great before they’ve been edited. Seriously! Every person you follow on Instagram with amazing photos uses editing tools. The average person isn’t going to start editing every family photo but there are some easy editing tips you can put to good use to upgrade the quality of your photos.

iPhone Photo Editing Made Simple With the Apple Photos App

It will be good news to a lot of people that you should try to edit your photos first in the Apple Photos app. It won’t give you the most professional look but it’s a fast way to make your photos look better. When you have the photo on your screen, just tap Edit on the top right. Try clicking the magic wand icon that comes up first to see what it does. If you don’t like it, tap Revert. If you do like it, tap Done to save your changes.

I also use the Apple photos app to crop photos. One of the best things you can do to edit your photos is to adjust the crop to frame it best. I have a detailed explanation on how to use the grid view in your iPhone camera app to crop your photos in this Photo Tips post. You will be blown away at the difference this simple hack will make.

The Apps I Use to Edit iPhone Photos

Here are the photo editing apps that I use in order of how much I use them. I use Lightroom for almost everything now that I have a paid membership. I used to use Snapseed before I paid for Lightroom.

Lightroom Mobile is the Best Free App to Edit Photos on iPhone

Lightroom is my favorite and pretty much the only app I use these days. Here’s the process I use to edit my photos. You can download the mobile version for free in the App Store. It’s free or $10 per month for more features.

1. PRESET – I apply a preset that looks the best from my preset library. If I don’t have anything that looks good, I’l try clicking AUTO on the bottom and see if I like the changes Lightroom does.

2. LIGHT – If the photo is overall too light or too dark, I adjust the exposure slider. If the shadows looks too dark, I will try using the Shadows slider. I will sometimes adjust the whites or blacks too.

3. COLOR – Adjust for colors. I click the Mix button on the top right of the color menu. There I will adjust the colors that need help. There are 3 adjustments per color. The best way to understand the color adjustments is to play around with the sliders and see what they do.

Here’s an example using the blue adjustments for sky or ocean:

  • Hue – it changes the type of color like a teal blue to true blue. In the photo above, the preset made the sky really turquoise so I adjusted the hue back to a more normal blue.
  • Saturation – adjusts the amount of the blue overall.
  • Luminance – changes the lightness and darkness of a color. It can make the sky a very strong blue with lots of cloud definition to the left and a pale blue where you can’t see the difference between sky and clouds to the right.

4. EFFECTS – I typically adjust CLARITY and DEHAZE here to the amount that looks good to me but not more than 15%. VIGNETTE is also nice to add a little definition to the outside edge of your photos.

5. DETAIL – A lot of presets turn up the SHARPENING and I don’t really like it unless there are no people in the photo. So I usually move this back to zero. Adding a little NOISE REDUCTION will make the photo smoother.

6. SELECTIVE – This is the paid tool so you will only be able to use it if you are paying the $10 per month. If you don’t want to, you can make similar adjustments for free in Snapseed (not as good but it’s free). If you do pay for this, click SELECTIVE, then the plus sign at the top left. You need to pick the paint brush, circle or square. Once you have selected an area, you can adjust the shadows, exposure, highlights, or color of that one area.

Here’s how to use the you would use each selection tool:

  • Paint brush – use your finger like a brush to select the area you want. To do a precise job of selection, zoom in and use the eraser to deselect any spots.
  • Circle – This allows you to adjust a part of your photo. You can highlight a person or object that you will adjust the lighting.
  • Square – this is great when a part of the photo is really dark. Lets say, you take a photo and there’s a hard line where one part of the photo is in the shade and another part is in the sun.

Once you’re done making changes, export the photo to your camera roll with the arrow tool at the top. If you don’t like how the photo looks, you can always tap reset and start over.

Snapseed is the Best Alternative to Edit Photos on iPhone

Snapseed is an awesome free app if you don’t pay for the extra features in Lightroom. Once I started paying for Lightroom, I stopped using this app. It’s great to fix the whites in photos and to fix photos with an area that is too dark or hazy.

The Brush tool is the most useful. It allows you to make changes to an area of the photo without touching the rest. You can make an area of your photo lighter or darker, sharper or more saturated. There is a tool called White Balance that works pretty well but the white balance of a photo can be fixed in almost every app. I also apply the pop Filter sometimes if I’m trying to get the photo to look brighter. The Selective tool is nice but gives inconsistent results.

Lighten photo, fix white and saturation

  1. My first step was to use a preset in Lightroom but there were a few things that still needed work. The shirt had a dingy blue cast to it with a strong blue patch on the shoulder. My hair was really dark and shadowy. Lastly, the preset made the roofs of the houses look almost white.
  2. In Snapseed, I used the brush tool in exposure mode to lighten my shirt and hair. Then the brush tool in saturation mode was used to take some color out of my shirt so it would be white. I again used the saturation mode to make the rooftops a little darker.

The Best Tools to Edit Photos on iPhone Using FaceTune 2 Aren’t Free But Worth it

I still use Facetune a little because it’s useful for editing faces. You can easily remove a blemish or scar. If someone is squinting (my son is always squinting), you can sometimes open their eyes a little.

If there is not great focus or definition on the face, you can also up the reflection detail in the eyes to make the photo look better.

The smooth tool is great for softening wrinkles or toning down dark bags under the eyes. I’m not a fan of the filters people use to smooth out their whole face because it looks overly retouched.

I like the wrinkles under eyes because they’re part of someone’s smile but in bad light they can be exaggerated In good light, they’re minimized. With Facetune, you can minimize a little without removing them.

In this bike photo, I added a preset in Lightroom and I removed the cars on the right with the Patch tool in FaceTune 2. The patch tool allows you to select part of the photo and replace it with a different part of the photo. That’s why the bushes look repeated. Unless someone is looking for it, they probably wouldn’t notice but it’s also not ideal. It’s time consuming to fix so I found a new tool that I used in the photo below.

Retouch Me – Pay per edit

Retouch Me is an app where you upload your photo and tell them what you want them to change. They charge different amounts for edits and they are generally inexpensive.

I’ve tried them for a few different edits that didn’t go well but they are great at removing objects out of a photo. I paid $1.60 to fix the photo below and it was so worth it to me. I could have paid $1.00 if I used them more frequently but I rarely need it. If I had just remove one item like only the people on the stairs, it would have been $0.55.

I sent this photo to Retouch Me to remove the crowd of people and then I applied a Lightroom preset to lighten the shadows. In a million years, I could not have removed all these people by myself.

VSCO – yearly cost $20

Before I made the jump to Lightroom Mobile, I used VSCO a little. In my opinion it pales in comparison to Lightroom mobile which is free. I know some people love VSCO but I don’t use it at all anymore.

Top 3 Problems to Look for When You Edit iPhone Photos

1. Is the subject really dark compared to the rest of the photo?

Sometimes a dark park of the photo can be fixed by adjusting the shadows. Always try that first. If that doesn’t work or fix it enough, I make an adjustment in Snapseed using the Brush tool exposure setting.

2. Does the white look blue or blah?

I think I combat this more than any other photo issue. In a perfect world, all the whites of your photos would be crisp and match all your other photos. If you can get all the whites to be the same in your shots, consider it a huge win. First, try Lightroom and bump up the white. Or try Snapseed and use the brush tool to lighten the exposure then go over it again to decrease the saturation.

3. Edit photos to get rid of the yellow tint from bad iPhone lighting

This can sometimes be fixed in iPhoto by changing the cast (in the color settings) towards blue. Lightroom has sliders in the color settings between temperature and tint. There is also an eyedropper tool you can try. Lastly, Snapseed has a White Balance tool. You click a spot on the photo to change the color balance. It usually works best to click on something light grey to get the right color.

Some small edits can make a huge difference in your photos overall. On all my photography posts, I try to make them applicable to bloggers or just someone editing family photos. If you have any questions about the things I have mentioned here, please put them in the comments and I will answer.

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  • Reply
    Nancy Weiss
    March 4, 2020 at 1:58 am

    Thank you for this helpful information on editing photos. I first became acquainted with your blog through the midlife blogging community. I’ve read some of your other travel blogs and always admired your photos. Been using Snapseed for awhile but I might just have to try a few others and upgrade my photo’s.

    Enjoyed reading this,

    • Reply
      March 4, 2020 at 7:19 am

      I’m glad you found it helpful Nancy. I’m mostly using Lightroom now that I’ve finally upgraded to the Adobe photography plan. So glad to have you reading and enjoying the blog.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2019 at 4:13 am

    I used to use photoshop for editing photos from my DSLR camera but from the looks of things, it seems like Lightroom is wayyyyy better. I might give these tips a try although I don’t have the recent iPhone. Wish I did… so much easier for carrying around like you mentioned –

    • Reply
      August 6, 2019 at 4:55 am

      I still use Photoshop a little for some retouching but Lightroom for overall editing of most photos. I think you’ll love it and the mobile version is free.

  • Reply
    Rosemary Davis
    July 31, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Amazing tips for use on the iPhone.
    Thanks for sharing the information!

    Rosemary xoxord

    • Reply
      August 1, 2019 at 11:59 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    aditi oberoi malhotra
    July 31, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Amazing tips. Thanks for sharing!
    Adi xx

  • Reply
    July 28, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    This article is so interesting.
    There is a lot of app I never heard about it before.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      July 31, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you Margot! I love apps that make the editing process easier – especially when they are free.

  • Reply
    Missy May
    July 25, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I know some of these apps. I mainly use vsco and facetune. I recently downloaded lightroom.

    • Reply
      July 26, 2019 at 3:41 am

      Some people really love VSCO but I found Lightroom to be more helpful. Would love to hear what you think about the two if you feel like sharing.

  • Reply
    Julie | This Main Line Life
    July 24, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Great editing. You’re photos all look beautiful. That’s the phone I have too. It takes great photos doesn’t it?

    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      Thank you! Love the iPhone! It makes it hard to want to lug around a big camera when the phone works so well! 😉

  • Reply
    July 24, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    These edits are so nice! I love lightroom and VSCO as well!

    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      Thank you!!

  • Reply
    Barbara Eskowitz
    July 24, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    What a great post! Thank you so much for sharing your photo editing tips with us! This will be so helpful.
    xx Barbara

    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      I’m so glad it’s helpful!

  • Reply
    July 24, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    What awesome tips! I am definitely trying them out!

    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 5:25 pm

      I’m so glad. Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Reply
    Barbie Holmes
    July 24, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your tips. I have started using Lightroom with some presets I purchased but the presets often need adjusting, too. Valuable tip about the whites. So much to learn! I really enjoy all the photos you share on your feed 🙂 Definitely one of my top fav accounts!!

    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 5:25 pm

      If you notice that you are making the same changes to your presets all the time, after you make changes, you can save it as a new preset and it may work better on your photos. Thank you for the kind words!!

  • Reply
    Nikki Living Life
    July 24, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Wow, I am blown away with your editing skills. I do fix bad lighting so I have a more uniform look and I use Photoshop. It takes a longer time. Really need to try these presets you mentioned. The before and after lighting in your pics are amazing.
    Have not heard of “Retouch Me” but will be checking it out. They did an amazing job with removing all the people from the stairs. Thank you so much for sharing.


    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      So glad it’s helpful Nikki. I started out using presets that I bought for Lightroom and then developed my own because I realized I make a lot of the same edits to every photo. If you use Photoshop, you probably have access to Lightroom too. Retouch Me has definitely helped me save a ton of time.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    These are great tips! I usually just shoot on my camera but would love to shoot more on my phone.

    Effortlessly Sophisticated

    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 2:26 pm

      That’s great that you use your camera. The iPhone has a lot of capability when you get used to using it and you can’t beat the size. Most of our photos are when we travel so we have to think about how much we carry. We’ve been using a mix of iPhone, GoPro and Drone.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2019 at 7:16 am

    I don’t know what I would do without lightroom lol. I love this editing app and there’s so much you can do to enhance the shot. I tried VSCO too in the past but I wasn’t satisfied enough with the feature. Your pictures look all very amazing Jenifer!

    xx Simone

    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 2:30 pm

      Thank you Simone. Lightroom is so helpful and has so much more capability than VSCO. It was hard for me to learn at first but presets help the most novice user get started.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2019 at 12:49 am

    These are great tips. I like how you edit your photos.

    • Reply
      July 24, 2019 at 1:27 am

      Thank you Nina!

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