Best of the best free photo apps and websites

Earlier this week I wrote a post about taking great pictures with your iPhone.  This post is about going one step farther and then editing those photos.  Here are some free photo-related apps and websites.  These resources allow you to make your photos more professional-looking or add entertaining features.  I have also included some of my other favorite photo-related apps that are not related to editing, but very functional nonetheless.

Free Photo Editing Apps: Once you have taken the perfect photo, you may want to play with it a little bit to add some effects, filters, or brighten it up a bit.  Here are some great photo editing apps you can use to do this.

  • Instagram: Well, this is obvious.  If you don’t have Instagram yet, just do yourself a favor and download it.  This is the most popular photo app as it allows you to add amazing filters and effects to your photos.  You can also share it right away.  The following is one of my favorite photos – I took it in Costa Rica a couple of years ago.  Here it is with a few different Instagram filters:

Here is another one of my favorite pictures (of my kids this time) with a subtle Instagram filter:

  • Adobe Photoshop Express: This is a light version of the $700 Adobe Photoshop software, and available right on your phone.  With this app, you can adjust color and light, add effects and borders, and make edits to almost any aspect of a photo.
  • Color Effects: If you want to have fun with color in your photos, this is a must-have app.  With this app, you can add color to just one object of a photo, with the rest in black and white.  You can also play around with the exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, tint, and temperature.  Here is a picture of my daughter when she was a baby, before and after using the Color Effects app:
  • Photonasis 4.0 Lite: Photonasis also allows you to add filters and effects to your photos, but caters to true photographers and artists.  The edits offered in Photonasis add artistically
  • Additional Filter and Effect Apps: If you like the previously listed resources, and you want to experiment with similar apps, I’ve compiled a list of ones to try.  These apps have a plethora of editing tools, filters, and effects.  To expand outside of Instagram, I would recommend the following (from my favorite, to not my favorite but still awesome): Pixlr-o-Matic, Photo Editor by Aviary, Snap Bucket, PicShop Lite, Photo Box, Free Photo Filters, and BeFunky Photo Editor.
  • Fun and Funny Photo Editing Apps: If you are looking to play around with your photos and make them entertaining, rather than professional, there are many apps that will let you do this.  The following apps let you add funny objects and play around with your photos: Frame Your Life (lets users add decorative frames), Lab (lets users add funny effects in a variety of ways such as adding hats or making a rainbow effect), FaceSwap (lets users switch the faces among different people in a photo), CamWow (lets users add funny effects such as twist or mirror), Tattoo Shop Lite (lets users add tattoos to people in a photo), Artist’s Sketch (alters photos so that they look like sketches), and PhotoChop (lets users add parts of one photo into another photo).  Here is the same photo as above, before and after using Artist’s Sketch:

Here are a couple of other Artist’s Sketch photos:

Other Free Photo-Related Apps: These apps do not edit photos, but they are photo-related (and amazing), so it’s important to include them.

  • Photo Arranging Apps: Once you finally have the photos the way you want them, you can then have fun arranging them.  Pic Stitch is an app that arranges multiple pictures into one.  Users can choose from 70 layouts, and then share them on Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, email, or Instagram.  An alternative to Pic Stitch is PicCollage.  Where Pic Stitch organizes pictures in an orderly manner, the overall look to Pic Collage is more casual with the photos tilted and arranged somewhat randomly – although the user is able to create the arrangement and determine which photos go where.  Here is an arrangement that I created using Pic Collage:
  • Self Camera: This app lets you put a timer on your camera so that you can give yourself time to get into a picture.  This is perfect for large group pictures, or pictures of yourself where you would like a lot of backgrounds to be seen.  Self Camera is a great alternative to “selfies.”
  • Walgreens: I absolutely love the Walgreens app.  You can use it for other tasks too, such as to fill prescriptions or view coupons, but I have only used the photo part of the app.  It allows you to choose photos to print and choose a nearby Walgreens.  You will then get a notification when the photos are ready to be picked up – it’s always within an hour, but in my experience, it’s been much faster (about 10 minutes).  They also just upgraded the app so you can print your Instagram photos as well.

Editing online: If you’d like to see a larger version of your photo when you make edits, as opposed to editing on your phone, you have some great options.  First, of course, you’ll have to get the photos from your phone to your computer by USB, email, Facebook, photo sync, or any other method you like to use.  You can then open the photo with one of the following websites to make edits:

  • Pixlr: I’m a little bit obsessed with Pixlr because it makes me look like I use a very expensive camera.  This website lets you do the basics such as cropping, rotating, and auto fix.  It also lets you add professional effects – my favorite is the focal blur, which focuses well on a chosen object in a photo, and blurs everything else (you can choose the level of blur).  You can also add doodles, images, borders, stickers, and text, and adjust the photo qualities (such as contrast and saturation).  Finally, you can use different filters, such as vintage or unicolor, which add a unique appearance to the photos.  Here are a few different before and after photos using Pixlr:
  • PicMonkey: PicMonkey is very similar to Pixlr, but has different types of effects, additions, and editing capabilities.  For the most part, you have more editing options with Pixlr than with PicMonkey (for instance, Pixlr has more additions and photo qualities to change).  However, PicMonkey has more filters from which to choose.  PicMonkey offers an upgrade where users can pay for more editing options.  One feature that I love on PicMonkey is that you can “sharpen” pictures in case they came out a little blurry (this feature is also available on Pixlr).  I use PicMonkey and Pixlr each about half of the time – it always depends on how I want the final photo to turn out.  Once you spend some time playing around with each site, you’ll learn which you want to use for which photos. Here are two pictures of my daughter that I edited using PicMonkey.  The first one I “jazzed up” a little, and for the second one, I wanted to demonstrate some of the fun features of PicMonkey:

If you have a favorite photo app or website that I did not include here, please let me know about it by leaving a comment.  Have fun with these!!

Also, check out this additional reading for more ways to make your photos exciting.