The 7 Best Photo Apps to Up Your Instagram Game

You may never look as good as Gigi Hadid, but these apps will get you closer.
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You may never look as good as Gigi Hadid, but these apps will get you closer.
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What makes a good Instagram feed? It’s not rocket science: Exotic locations, scantily clad women, and funny captions, will do the trick. But above all, it's the quality of image that sets the great apart from the good.

Whether you want to dedicate your feed to goofy memes or offer your followers a unique view of life through your eyes, here are 7 apps that can perk up any Instagram feed:



1. ProCamera 8$4.99

ProCamera 8 is as close as you’re going to get to turning your smartphone’s camera into an actual professional camera. Not recommended for complete novices, the app affords its user complete control of just about every aspect of a photo—from its composition and focus, to its temperature, exposure, and even things like ISO sensitivity and shutter speed.

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With several additional in-app purchases, like the popular Vivid HDR add-on (an additional $1.99), the possibilities for photo creativity are endless.



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2. Afterlight — $0.99

Whether you’re uploading photos from your DSLR or film scans, or you’re just posting everyday moments, Afterlight can be your go-to photo editing app. Comprehensive and inexpensive, this app provides users with a ton of control over the look and feel of their photos. From basic contrast and saturation controls; to high, medium, and low tones; adding grain; sharpening; adding a vignette; adding a low-contrast fade; and adjusting temperature, this app is the best for people who know exactly what they want out of their pics.

Afterlight's bread and butter, however, is its wide array of customizable filters. Film and lightleak settings give it a retro look, while the “fusion” function allows users to create and save their own custom filters. 



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3. VSCO CamFree

If you write a photo-editing app roundup and don’t include VSCO, you’re doing a great disservice. This app is a photo-editing powerhouse, and allows users complete control over the editing of their photos.

Where the app really shines, however, is its in-app, purchasable presets. The app (pronounced VIS-koh, by the way—you can stop sounding like an idiot now) was developed by the folks at Visual Supply Company, who are widely regarded as the developers of some of the very best photo filters for Adobe PhotoShop’s LightRoom. The app’s filters are subtle, situational, and often times perfect, requiring little or no touch-ups.

If you want to look like you know what you’re doing, VSCO is an excellent tool to have in your box.

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4. Camera+ $1.99

Much like ProCamera8, Camera+ allows users the ability to control aspects of their photos like ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, exposure, white balance, focus, etc. It’s super intuitive and a little easier for novices to navigate than ProCamera8. It also offers users shutter burst mode, an exposure lock, and different situational/scene filters.

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5. Snapseed Free

Snapseed is making quite a splash for its incredibly interactive touch-based interface, which allows users to alter and tweak every aspect of their photos. The app offers all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a photo editor (adjustments for contrast, exposure, white balance, etc.), but its strengths are in its beautiful brush tool, selective adjust too, spot repair tool, as well as a handful of very interesting (but sometimes cheesy) filters.

It is still 100 percent free, without any of the clutter that comes with in-app purchasing options.

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6. Layout from InstagramFree

This app is for the weirdo in all of us. Modify your boring selfies or static landscape photos into some truly wild works of art, using PicStich-esque collage tools, as well as mirror and flip filters that really kick things up a notch. There are a variety of handy layouts that make sharing multiple photos in one post a breeze. Or just use it to take excessive mirrored images of pizza and cats—that’s bound to get the Internet’s attention.

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7. PicsArt Photo StudioFree

Please don’t misinterpret me when I say this app is basically the Microsoft Paint of photo editing apps, as I don’t mean that with even the slightest shred of malice.

Aside from the typical photo editor stuff (crop tool, filters, etc.), this app allows users to select from and apply a bunch of customizable pieces of clipart, and also utilizes a really awesome touch-sensitive brush tool. The in-app drawing suite allows for the application of a slew of “stickers,” clipart images, overlays, artistic brushes, and even features layer editing, like in PhotoShop.

Photos by Instagram/Gigi Hadid