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Photo Editing Tools & Tips for Non-Creatives

Some of the best photographers in the world shoot using only an iPhone and editing apps. Here are tools and tips you too can create professional photos.

21 mins read time
Jeanna Barrett
Jeanna Barrett

Jan 04, 2018

If you’ve attempted to take professional photos for your small business but they’re just not cutting it, you’re probably missing out on the world of iPhone editing. The iPhone is known for its ability to capture high-quality photography because of the technology behind the phone and its apps.

Some of the best photographers in the world shoot using only an iPhone and editing apps. But the great news for you is that it doesn’t take a professional photographer to master the world of iPhone editing. All you need is a great photo editing app and the right tools, and you too can create professional photos.

I’ve gathered some of my favorite iPhone photography apps that are on my personal iPhone, and included some tips on how to utilize common photo editing tools. This is the second part in a three-part photo series. If you missed the first part, you can read it here: How to Take Professional Quality Photos with Your iPhone.


The most important tool in a photography toolbox is the right editing app. We mentioned a few in our last post, but the good news is that the amount of iPhone photo editing apps is endless. Some photographers use a combination of several different apps to alter their photos, but that’s not necessary for all businesses. Depending on the level of sophistication you’re looking for, here are a few of our favorite editing apps:

  • Camera+: I mentioned this one in part one of our series as a great app to take professional photos, but it’s also one of the best apps to edit your photos because of the different filter and photo adjustment options in their Lab. One of our favorite features is the Photo Flashlight which allows you to use your iPhone’s flash as a continuous fill light to improve photo quality so your photos won’t turn out too dark or grainy. For a one-time fee of $2.99, you can have all of these features and more on your iPhone with Camera+.

  • Snapseed: This is one of the most popular editing apps on the market today, and it’s free. It was developed by Google so you better believe it has a ton of basic features, strong advanced features and a bevy of beautiful filters. You can convert photos to black and white, blur the photo and add text within seconds. If you’re a photo editing beginner, this should be at the top of your list.

  • Prisma: You’ve likely seen the popularity of Prisma take over your friends’ Instagram feed. Prisma takes a regular photo and “turns it into a work of art” by changing the photo to appear as if it’s a Picasso painting.

  • Canva: Canva is an awesome photo editing tool to create photos for your brand. They have both a desktop and mobile application that makes editing your small business photos super easy. You can use different fonts, filters, graphics, stickers and shapes to create custom images for social media or other content. And they have hundreds of templates to use and tweak.

  • A Color Story: A Color Story, created by the founders of popular lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess, is a fantastic iPhone photo editing app that allows you to bring intense color and life to your photos. They have a wide selection of lense flares and bold filters, and you can use your favorite combos as a custom saved filter. The best part? All of the beautiful components of this tool are 100% free.

  • Diptic: This is our favorite collage tool for iPhone. If you want to create a photo composition to tell a story or document an event, Diptic is a great app to help you stitch them together. They also recently added video collaging capabilities which makes video creation and styling seamless. The app will cost you $0.99, but it’s well worth the tiny fee to be able to create more advanced visuals.



While each iPhone photography editing app has its own particular functionality, most of the popular apps offer the same basic editing options. These tools allow you to change nearly everything about your photo. Even a low-quality, dark photo can morph into a beautiful, professional photo with the right editing manipulation (in most cases). Here are a few common editing settings and how to utilize them:

  • Rotate & Flip or Straighten: If your photo composition doesn’t look quite right or you took the photo upside down, backwards or crooked, you can change the orientation of the photo with the simple rotate, flip and straighten tools.

  • Tint: The tint editing feature will allow you to play around with the color of your photos. In some editing apps, this is referred to simply as “color.” If you’d like your photo to have a green hue or a blue hue, you can play around with tint effects.

  • Duotone: This editing tool can produce really interesting photos where your subjects are in only two colors. This can be a great tool to use for marketing materials so that photos have an overlay to match your brand colors.

  • Soft Focus: Just like its name suggests, this type of photo editing tool allows you to add a soft focus or light to your photos for a gentler effect.

  • Film Grain: Similarly to Soft Focus, this photo editing tool will add a film grain to your photo to give the effect of old time photos.

  • Sharpen: The Sharpen photo editing tool allows you to make your photos appear crisper. If your photo is too blurry, apply the sharpen tool to get details to pop. This can be great to use with food photography.

  • Blur: The Blur photo editing tool is a more intense version of Soft Focus, applying a deep blur to your photos for a more artistic effect.

  • Saturation: If you want colors to stand out more in your photo, increase the saturation a bit to intensify the colors. The greens will be more green, the yellows more yellow… but don’t take it too far or everything will look unnatural.

  • Temperature: If your photo appears to be too gold or too blue, use the Temperature photo editing tool to adjust the color temperature in your photo to make it more neutral.

  • Exposure: Sometimes your photos come out overexposed (too light) or underexposed (too dark). The exposure tool helps you adjust the lighting in your photo to make bad photos better.

  • Brightness & Contrast: Just like the name suggests, these tools allow you to adjust how bright your photo is and intensify or calm the contrast of colors and light. Use these correctly, and they might be the only tools you need to make your photos post-worthy.

  • Highlights & Shadows: Sometimes a subject’s face might be too dark or you took a photo with the sunshine behind a subject. You can try playing around with highlights and shadows to fix a subject that is overly light or dark.

  • Vignette: Vignette adds an intriguing dark border or frame to your photo that is more of a stylistic choice versus using this filter to fix a bad photo.

  • Tilt Shift: This is one of my favorite photo editing tools — Tilt Shift allows you to add a radial or vertical focus in your photo and blurs out everything else. If your photos feature a lot of background distractions, you can easy pull the focus in on one aspect using Tilt Shift.


Now that we’ve covered the basics of composition, iPhone camera tools and professional iPhone photography apps and tricks, you should feel close to being an iPhone photography pro. Stay tuned for our final part to this three-part series: How to Crop Your Photos Into Eye-Catching Images.


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This post originally appeared as a guest contribution on Hatchbuck.com — a great resource for small business owners looking for a marketing automation tool!


Jeanna Barrett

Jeanna is the Founder & Chief Remote Officer for First Page Strategy, an award-winning, fully distributed marketing agency. Jeanna has a combined 17 years of inbound marketing experience at venture-backed startups, digital agencies and Fortune 500 companies, with an expertise focus on business and tech. She's been named 'Top 40 Under 40' of brand marketers and 'Best in the West' for financial technology marketing. In 2016, Jeanna left the U.S. to lay roots and build her business in Belize, and in 2021 First Page was named #43 in fastest growing private companies of Inc. 5,00 Regionals: California.

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