Tools every Instagrammer needs can be a bit hard to come by, especially with all the apps available on the market. Let’s just get this out here. Instagram has truly become it’s own art form. Between all of the editing, video montages and photoshoots, we all deserve to be able to call ourselves photography semi-pros. There’s a ridiculous amount of apps, programs, and websites all designed to help you make your instagram look better. There’s actually so many that it’s pretty difficult to navigate through the thousands of apps in the app store. Don’t worry, though. We’re going to walk you through the basics, some of the lesser known, but equally amazing tools, and some of the newbie apps on the scene for things like Instagram stories. We’ve tried and tested our fair share of editing apps, both paid and free, so you guys don’t have to worry about spending three dollars on an app that is just plain awful. (We’ve already done that for you).

A quick side note on photo editing:  When we say “photo editing,” we’re talking about everything from covering up unsightly blemishes, to preset photo filters and apps that enable you to make yourself look taller. While editing your photos isn’t entirely necessary, in a platform where millions of photos are being shared every day, it’s a way to make yours stand out in the crowd. From an influencer perspective, it’s especially important to elevate your photos to a marketable level. By tweaking tones and colors, or removing distractions from the photo, (like that guy photobombing your perfect shot), you can easily take your Instagram photos from, say, a low six, to a solid ten.

The Basics

When we say “the basics,” were talking about the commonly used apps with millions of active users. You’ve definitely heard of these apps before, or might even use them already. These are the go-to’s for almost everyone in the Instagram space. If you’re already familiar with the big-hitter editing apps out there, don’t stop reading here. We’re providing you with some lesser known tricks to these apps, just to keep things interesting.

VSCO CAM

VSCO CAM is the Beyonce of editing apps. It’s what gives any and every cool photo you see on Instagram that extra “wow” factor. VSCO has a number of free presets that are, overall, not that bad. It’s the VSCO store that holds all of the good stuff. For $3.99, you can buy “packs” of 8 VSCO filters that all center around a certain theme. For example, there’s a Landscape pack of 8 filters that, obviously, tend to work really well with landscape hues and tones. Say what you want about the price, but I think it’s well worth it. We’ve purchase almost every filter pack VSCO has to offer back when we were trying to nail down the aesthetic for our feeds. We’ve highlighted what we think are the best filter packs for bloggers, containing the most widely used filters out there.

Popular Filters:  J Series (notably J2, J5), the A Series (notably A4, A6 and A9), the C series (notably C1, C2 and C3)

Pro Tip:  Only put the “power” of the filter mid-way, somewhere between 5 and 8, for a more natural look. For a vintage look, head to the color adjustment tab and scroll over to “Grain” to add some texture to the shot.

FaceTune

Oh, FaceTune. How we love you. Let’s get something straight, here. FaceTune is not about altering your face and/or body past the point of recognition. It’s not about making yourself look flawlessly fake or making yourself look drastically different than you do in real life. FaceTune is for smoothing out your skin so you can’t see literally every single pore on your face, for patching over things in the background so there are less distractions, for fixing crazy fly away pieces of hair in the one shot you love.

Snapseed

Snapseed is everything you need, minus the filters. Snapseed is usually our first step in editing a photo. It has so many great tools like the healing brush for getting rid of blemishes, stains, sometimes it even works well enough to remove people from the background. The most valuable features of this app are it’s brushes and selection tool. Get this. You can use the selection tool to “select” similar tones through the photo and adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation and structure (sharpness). You also get most of those features, plus temperature and exposure adjustment with the brush tools. It lets you “brush” areas

The Lesser Known Tools

Instasize Photo Picture Editor

We might be some of the only people using this app, for real. This app has a measly 40.6k downloads and is, for sure, a diamond in the rough. Yes, all of the other apps you are already using, like VSCO and Snapseed, let you adjust sharpness, brightness, all of that good stuff. We get why bringing this app in to make those same adjustments might seem like an unnecessary step, but we suggest you check it out, anyways. We personally use this to make brightness and sharpness changes after you’ve already used Snapseed to make area-specific color and light adjustments, and after you’ve set the tone of your photo with your favorite VSCO filter. We’ve used our fair share of editing apps in the past, and Instasize’s sharpness tool is still unrivaled. For those of you who haven’t gotten the newer iPhones with ridiculously amazing cameras, this tool makes your iPhone photos look crisp, sharp, clear, and most importantly, doesn’t make it look strange like some of the other sharpening tools do. We’re also pretty positive that the brightness tool on Instasize is the most true-to-color we’ve ever seen. If you’re a perfectionist, like we are, check out Instasize for those perfectly refined edits.

FotoRus  

We’re not ashamed to admit it:  sometimes, the angle of that perfect shot is just so unfortunate that something needs to be done about it. FotoRus is our go-to app when the person taking the shot thought it would be a good idea to hold the camera way above your head, making you look pudgy and under five feet tall. Though we use FotoRus for very little else besides the “elongate” feature, it’s a life saver for photos that you thought were unusable. Just to reiterate, these apps aren’t about completely changing your appearance to an unrecognizable point. This is to take photos that have weird angles or lighting, and fix them to make it more true to the reality of your appearance. On that note, FotoRus also has a Beauty tool that allows for everything from the simple stuff, like de-puffing under eye bags, to over the top tools, like lengthening your eyelashes or refining your brows. These tools are incredible useful for photos where you unknowingly knocked your eyebrows out of place and need to fix it afterwards. We don’t recommend that you use these tools to apply a full face of makeup after you’ve already taken a photo. You’re beautiful as is, you best believe it.

For Instagram Stories

Instagram stories came out of nowhere, and quickly became as popular, if not more popular, than Snapchat. People have been getting extremely creative with their instagram stories, turning them into video collages, graphic design animations, creative ways of crowdsourcing information, you name it. As mentioned in previous articles, it’s super important to take advantage of everything that Instagram has to offer it’s users. It not only increases your connection and engagement with your audience base, but Instagram rewards you for using all of it’s features. We noticed a serious uptick in impressions, discoveries through explore pages and overall engagement once we started regularly utilizing Instagram stories, and we know we’re not the only ones.

Between boomerangs, filters, polls and GIFS, Instagram has made it easy and really fun to use their stories, so if you haven’t taken advantage of that feature yet, definitely do. It’s clear that there’s an endless amount of things you can do with your Instagram stories. The tools below help make it that much easier.

Adobe Spark

You’ve undoubtedly seen Instagram stories or videos that look super advanced, design-wise, and look like a professional video advertisement. Most likely, they were made with Adobe Spark. We recently discovered Adobe Spark and couldn’t be more ecstatic about it. Adobe Spark is a part of the Adobe Creative Suite; so it’s a sister to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, and all of the other amazing Adobe programs that help make everyone’s Instagram content as amazing as it is. Adobe Spark is available through their website, which we personally prefer for ease of use, but they also have an mobile app for on-the-go creation.

Adobe Spark is great because they totally understand why we’re all using their program:  for social media use. Right off the bat, they ask you what you’re creating this for, so that they can adjust the size your creation to fit the right outlet. The options are almost endless, ranging from Pinterest post covers, to Instagram stories, to YouTube channel art. Amazingly, they even have size options within each of those categories. For example, if your intent is to create an Instagram ad for your page, it gives you the option of doing a square sized post, or any of the other aspect ratios that Instagram lets you post in. They really let you run wild with whatever it is that you’re envisioning.

Wait. It gets better. If you aren’t the most creative person, or you’re just new to the program and trying to figure out how it all works, don’t worry. Adobe Spark has literally hundreds of templates, ideas and pre-made formats for you to choose from. You can take their already-perfect design, add your own imagery or video, change the colors and fonts to your preferences, and just like that, you have a professional quality piece of content for your page. If nothing else, we highly suggest that you at least head to Adobe Spark’s site to check it out.

Over

“Over” is similar to Adobe Spark, but a little less advanced and a little easier to use. It’s exclusively a mobile app and it’s free to download, at least from the Apple app store. Similar to Adobe Spark, Over has tons of templates and graphics to play around with that make creating super easy, even for those not-so-creatively inclined. You can create “layers” within one photo, which enables you to put a photo over another photo, or layer graphics or text over a photo. They have tons and tons of size ratios to pick from and categorize their templates by social media outlet. It’s super easy to navigate and super easy to use.

We learned about this app from New York City based social media blogger and influencer, Alyssa Lenore (@alyssalenore). Her Instagram stories are among some of the most creative we’ve ever seen and are consistently graphic designed in the most beautiful ways. She exclusively uses Over for her Instagram stories and looking around the app, it’s really easy to see why.

Build-In Instagram Polls

This one isn’t a huge secret, people. Everyone is very well aware that Instagram stories now has a poll feature that lets you ask your viewers questions and vote on the answer. The secret lies in the valuable information can be learned from these polls. Lots of people use the polls to ask hilarious questions or be sarcastic and funny. Less people use them to crowdsource information. Think about it from a business perspective, or a market research point of view. You get the opportunity to ask your direct audience what they like and what they don’t like. Do they like clothing haul videos over Instagram stories or do they prefer YouTube? Do your viewers want to see more street style posts or do they like your lifestyle photos better? All of this is incredible useful information that lets you tailor your content to better fit what your main audience is into. This is extremely helpful in terms of retaining your followers. It’s almost too easy for your followers to unfollow you. Post one photo that they don’t like or where they don’t recognize that it’s your photo and with two clicks, you’ve lost a follower. You can avoid a lot of the drop off in your audience by learning the in’s and out’s of what they do and don’t like about you, your Instagram page, your content and your methodology.

Liking our tips on tools every Instagrammer needs and looking for more help with your social media game? Head to our blog for everything from photography advice to Instagram hacks!