8 of the best apps to edit and retouch your travel photos

May 10, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information. 

These days, you can’t just pop an Instagram filter on your photo and upload it — the horror! It’s better to use an editing app first. If not, how will all your friends know how very blue the Mediterranean appeared, how incredibly chic your hotel seemed or how those clouds really popped over the Bangkok skyline and river? With so many ways to edit your travel photos, it can be hard to know which apps to use — or even how to use them.

Related: 7 useful apps to organize and store travel photos

Whether you want to edit those meals captured in Italy or your favorite plane snaps, selfies or sweeping beach panoramics, this TPG guide to photo retouching apps can help, whether you’re a professional photographer, absolute beginner or anything in between.

1. Snapseed

Best used for shots of landscapes, Snapseed has some very intense pre-set filters in the “looks” section, but the fun really starts when you play with the tools. If you select “tune image” you can edit things like brightness, warmth, ambience, highlights and shadows. In the “details” section, you can edit the structure and sharpen your photo.

The “selective” button allows you to edit just one part of the photo, like increasing the brightness in only one area that seems a little dark. Playing around with the app is the best way to learn how to use it, so practice on some photos pre-trip until you figure out the perfect balance.

Download for free on Apple or Google Play.

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
Snapseed. (Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

2. Facetune and Facetune2

Ever wondered why influencers look so perfect among stunning backgrounds? If you want to look like a boho-chic beachy goddess or muscled Abercrombie model traveling the world, Facetune is your app. A favorite of the Kardashians, the app allows you to completely edit your look. From teeth whitening to wrinkle and skin smoothing to reshaping your waistline, you can become a much more glamorous version of yourself. You can also patch any spots to cover tattoos, scars or other imperfections. You’ll look so hot, no one will even bother to notice the Taj Mahal or the Statue of Liberty behind you. Just don’t go overboard.

Download Facetune for $5 on Apple. Download Facetune2 on Apple or  Google Play for free but expect to pay additional subscription costs for access to premium features.

Related: 20 best travel apps to download

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
Facetune. (Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

3. VSCO

You may notice a lot of #VSCO hashtags on Instagram. You can join in the VSCO fun by using this editing app, which also has its own camera. You can share all your edited photos to your own VSCO grid, which is the app’s photo-sharing platform, similar to Instagram. Photographers will be a fan of the manual camera options, where you can edit the shutter speed, white balance, focus and ISO before snapping. Small icons at the bottom of the editing screen are options for changing the skin tone, contrast, sharpness, exposure and more. You can even edit raw images within the app.

Download for free on Apple or Google Play, which gives you access to 10 free pre-sets and most editing tools. For access to additional pre-sets, advanced photo editing tools and video editing options, you’ll have to pay additional costs or a subscription fee.

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
VSCO. (Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

4. A Color Story

This app has a simple, geometric interface that makes using it a pleasant experience. Upload your photos and edit them with many different tools for adjustments such as clarity, contrast, grain, blur and vibrance plus pre-set filters and effects you can download for free or purchase at an added cost. The app, similar to VSCO, has its own grid where you can view all your edited photos, and you can connect this section directly to Instagram for easy uploading and sharing.

Download for free on Apple or Google Play. Extra filter packages come at an additional cost or pay for a yearly subscription that offers 400 filters.

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
A Color Story. (Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

5. Prisma

A little different than some of the other apps on this list, Prisma turns your photos into works of art (literally) by making them look as if they were paintings. Using styles from artists such as Munch, Picasso, Van Gogh, Levitan and more, your photos won’t stay photos for long — they’ll be turned into sketches, paintings and creative combinations of ornaments and patterns.

Download for free on Apple or Google Play, but if you want to save the photos in HD or have access to more artistic photo styling options, plan to pay for a monthly or yearly subscription.

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
Prisma. (Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

6. Foodie

Aptly titled, this app was created specifically for shooting and editing food photos. If you’re the kind of person who needs to document every single morsel you eat on social media or feels like photographing your lunch is more important than eating it, this app will make your meals look extra enticing. Search from over 30 different filters, titled to match what kind of food or dining moments you’re capturing, like a picnic, chewy, BBQ, sweet, fresh and tropical. Foodie is especially useful when dealing with bad lighting in restaurants, ensuring you’ll get the perfect mouthwatering shot despite all odds.

Download for free on Apple or Google Play.

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
Foodie. (Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

7. Enlight Quickshot and Enlight Photofox

Budding photographers will love Enlight Quickshot, which allows you to do things like replace the sky in your photos with a new one or add special effects. The editing tools are easy to use but cover a lot of ground, including options to adjust color, tone and details, like structure, sharpen, shadows and more. Even if you’re not really a photographer, the app has plenty of tutorials to help.

More advanced photographers will love Enlight Photofox, which is similar to Quickshot but offers further editing options to make your photos more artistic, with ready-made art filters and artistic editing tools like blend and sketch.

Download Enlight Photofox and Enlight Quickshot for free. Unlock extra features with pro subscriptions at an added cost.

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
Enlight Photofox. (Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

8. Afterlight

One of the most straightforward apps for those wanting to quickly adjust or add a filter, upload a photo or take one with Afterlight’s camera. Then, choose from several editing tools ranging from basic to advanced, or select one of the 10 free filter options. For those who want to add stickers or text, the artwork tab has a variety of options. The app is connected to Twitter and Instagram, allowing you to share your newly edited photos directly from Afterlight to other social media feeds.

Download on Apple or Google Play for free, but you’ll need a paid subscription to access some of the coolest fusion filters like double exposure or dust, as well as the 130 pre-set filter library.

(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)
Afterlife. (Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

Bottom line

Regardless of your level of photography or preferred photo style, there’s an app on this list that can help perfect your shot. Make sure to check out our other app posts for further reading on how apps can be useful for travelers.

Featured photo by Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash

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