Advanced photo editing is no longer limited to graphic design pros with fancy software, anyone with a smartphone can become master at editing. Picture: Screenshot.
Advanced photo editing is no longer limited to graphic design pros with fancy software, anyone with a smartphone can become master at editing. Picture: Screenshot.

Photo editing apps to improve your Instagram game

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Apr 7, 2020

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In a visual world run by aesthetically beautiful pictures primped and preened with filters galore, here are ways to get your Instagram feed up to standard.

Instagram is your daily life documented in a virtual photo album. But it’s not much like the ones you page through when you’re feeling nostalgic from the days when our parents or grandparents pulled out a disposable, pointed and clicked. 

Hair, makeup, clothes, backdrop - everything has to be perfect if it’s going online. From scenery to selfies, all photos are receiving the ultimate Insta-treatment, even people’s lunch pics have a certain devised aesthetic about them.

Since advanced photo editing is no longer limited to graphic design pros with fancy software, anyone with a smartphone can become master at editing. 

Here are three apps to get you started: 


Imperfections are a part of life. From the mole on your nose to gaps in your teeth, they make us uniquely beautiful and should be embraced. But there’s no denying that now and then we want to look our very best. Whether it’s for a graduation ceremony, birthday or wedding, pictures boasting stubborn pimples or red demon eyes from the camera flash can definitely ruin an otherwise stunning picture.

Airbrush is a free photo editing app for Apple and Android. It doesn’t require any prior editing knowledge. With a user-friendly layout and step-by-step instructions that offer guidance whilst you explore the various tools, you’ll be transforming your pictures in minutes.   

Often, “free” means compromising on a fresh and smart design with simple, clear navigation for flashy ads that crowd your screen and disrupt the user experience. Not in this case. Everything you need is at your fingertips and handy icons help differentiate the purpose of each tool so there’s no getting confused. 

Downloading apps is always a gamble and there’s nothing worse than being drawn in by all the hype, using precious data to download the app, only to find out that the most exciting features have to be “unlocked” with assistance from your credit card, of course. Although Airbrush does have a few minor features that require payment, the most important tools are available for use. 

Uncomplicated, but still very complex, the magnifying feature allows you to zoom in and target specific areas and application brushes can be adjusted when making use of their tools that include teeth whitening, shine removal and concealing eyebags, to name a few. If you aren’t interested in doing all the work, there is also a “magic” button that can edit your entire picture for you. 

As you edit, you can monitor your progress with the “before and after” button. If you’re passionate about editing, you may find it fascinating to view all the subtle alterations come together to create an Insta-worthy picture. 


Much like other editing apps, A Colour Story has the usual filters, effects, and fine-tuning tools.

Taking things up a notch, this app assists with efficiency as editing photos can be painstakingly tedious. A Color Story has the ability to batch edit photos, allowing you to apply the same list of edits to many photos at once. Ideal for when you want to post multiple photos from the same shoot and you want them to match visually. 

If you’re a planner and are really invested in your Instagram game, the most useful feature is the Instagram grid. You can connect your Instagram to the app, which will import your existing Instagram Grid. No, you can import other photos from your personal library to their grid that mimics Instagram’s. From here you can then edit new photos and see what they would look like if they appeared on your actual Instagram page.

It also includes some more advanced features like the overlay tool. This allows you to merge two pictures together, making the top image transparent over the original. Then there’s the Healing tool which retouches specific things in your picture. Unappealing scratches on a wall can be removed and the space left will take on the colour of the background.


This app literally launched one year after Instagram and has since built a loyal online following. Since they practically evolved together, you’ll find that this app has everything you need when it comes to editing and perfectly complements the editing tools offered on Instagram. 

VSCO has a plethora of filters that rival even that of Instagram’s, you get a few with the free version but upgrading expands the variety. 'VSCO X,' the premium subscription service costs about R366 a year and includes a massive range of filters emulating classic and modern films. 

Using this app gives you more creative control over your pictures. You get access to all of the filters, additional editing tools, tutorials, and the ability to add stunning frames and borders to your photos. It also features the 'Studio'. This is a place where imported pictures are stored. You can return there at any time to re-edit them, and decide to either to save them to your phone's camera roll or post them to VSCO's social feed. 


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