I've clicked through on many a blog post titled "how I edit my iPhone photos," or something along those lines, expecting to read about an app I hadn't tried before, only to be disappointed. I like playing with different tools to make a basic phone photo pop, but most of the posts I read offer the same handful of suggestions. I'm looking at you, VSCO.

I do use VSCO, but it's not my favorite. I don't have a favorite. I use a handful of different apps interchangeably. If Afterlight (another popular option that works well but will not appear on this list because it's popular) isn't setting the mood I'm looking for, I'll try the Photoshop app. If that's not working I'll play with Lightroom Mobile's editing tools, and so on and so forth. The list below is in no particular order. It is small, but it is mighty, and none are necessarily better than the other. They're just different. Oh, and they're all FREE (!).

Note: the snaps below are rough examples of the various editing options within each application. Heavy emphasis on the word rough. Even heavier emphasis on the word various. (direct links to the iTunes product pages are marked with an 'x')

Aviary x

I first discovered Aviary on Rebecca's blog a few months ago. The filters here are very distinct, and they can really transform the whole look of your picture. It doesn't always fit my personal editing style, but I love how you can revamp the atmosphere of a photo with a single tap.

EyeEm x

I've been using EyeEm for a few years. It's a social platform similar to Instagram, but you can edit photos without publishing to your feed. This is my favorite tool for really bright and vibrant edits. Once you've finished making your changes, all you do is hit "next," and it automatically saves to your camera roll.


RNI stands for Really Nice Images, and this is probably my favorite editing app at the moment. I own their film presets for Lightroom, which are my some of my favorites for editing DSLR photos. Many online forums say their presets are comparable to the VSCO Film presets (they're also less expensive). When the RNI team sent an email about their new iPhone app, I downloaded it right away. Definitely give it a try. The filters are great for photos of people (especially darker skin tones).

iOS Native

The Photos app has pretty decent editing tools. I'm not a huge fan of the filters, but the light, color, and B&W options are solid. This is my top pick for a quick black and white transformation. Below are two examples.

*Sends kisses through the screen*

Thoughts? Suggestions? Feedback? GIVE ME ALL YOUR TIPS!
(by tips I mean knowledge, but I don't turn down gratuity)