Want to take great-looking photos this Christmas without splashing out on an expensive camera?
Thanks to our mobile phones and the editing apps that come with them, we can take high-quality photos and edit them without too many bells and whistles in comparison to the often labour-intensive process of using a camera and the relevant software.
We’ve compiled a list of our top photo editing apps for mobile that are all free (although they do offer in-app purchases) and top tips for taking photos ready for you to capture Christmas this year.
The best free photo editing apps for iPhones and Android
Similarly to Instagram, VSCO combines a camera and editing tools with an online community.
This free photo app provides a vast range of filters that make your photos look like they were taken on an analog film camera. It will also suggest filters for your specific photo too. These soft and subtle filters add a touch of class to your photos compared to many heavily filtered Instagram presets. And you can also adjust them via a simple slider.
Once you have finished editing your photo, you can share it with VSCO’s community or to another social network.
Google’s Snapseed packs a punch and rivalls desktop photo editors with its huge range of features and an intuitive interface.
This free photo editing app comes with a range of preset filters. However, unlike most apps, you can edit these filters and even create your own from scratch. It also has all of the classic tools, such as cropping, straightening, frames, text, vignettes, etc..
Perfect for capturing all the festive food you’re going to eat over the next few weeks, Foodie helps you take your food photos to an entirely new level.
The editor is somewhat similar to Instagram’s – except that all of the 30 filters and editing features are set up with food in mind.
Plus, it helps you line up the perfect bird’s eyeshot and makes the colours pop.
Want a nostalgic look for your photos without waiting to get the roll of film developed? Huji is a retro disposable-camera photo app for taking photos as if it were “just like the year 1998.”
The app does a convincing job of resembling a shot straight out of an old-school Pentax.
Other tips and tricks for taking photos
Clean your lens
As we touch our phones a lot throughout the day, our lense may get covered in fingerprints, dust and other grime. Before you take any photos, don’t forget to clean your lense. A dirty lens will make photos look blurry and unclear.
Crop, don’t zoom
Zooming in on your smartphone camera will lower the quality of your images. A lot of smartphones now have a fairly high resolution, which means you can crop a photo substantially and still be left with a great looking photo.
Use gridlines to balance your shot
Turning on the gridlines will superimpose a series of lines on your screen when you open the camera. This is based on the “rule of thirds” — a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total.
According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.
Using gridlines will also help to take photos that are straight and not wonky.
If you use flash, only do so during the day
Sometimes, using your camera’s flash can improve a photo — but this is rarely the case at night time, as dark shots reveal a much sharper contrast against your phone’s flash, it can make any flash look invasive.
In already well-lit spaces, however, a flash can help to soften some dark shadows behind or beneath your main subject.