Just as the quality of your smartphone’s camera has improved over the years, so has its ability to edit.
The filters you see on social media are just the beginning – there are a whole host of apps and tools out there to help you produce professional-quality images on your smartphone, often offering many of the same features you'll see on powerful desktop editing software. And, when you're working on your smartphone, you can edit anywhere, be it out in the field or on the office commute.
So what are you waiting for? Check out these free apps to help you unleash the creative photographer inside of you.
Available on: iOS & Android
Snapseed oopens up a wider toolkit for you to use and it gives you access to a standard set of filters. However, once you’ve edited an image, it also allows you to save your changes as a filter to be used again on similar shots.
Beyond that, it gives you access to a few more professional functions, such as adjusting the white balance or the tonal curve. If you open up the edit menu, you’ll see a plethora of options. Some of these are similar to what you’d find on social media photo editors, but Snapseed allows you the option to go in depth, quickly.
To an eager (and very organised) journalist, the ability to save presets will probably be very enticing. What’s to stop you from setting presets for each general shot that you might take to further minimise the amount of time spent working on the road?
Snapseed also offers unique styles of text to apply over an image but these options aren’t as varied and are set to a particular style. You can export your image fairly easily, but this isn’t customisable.
Snapseed will just save the image to your camera roll, unless you tell it to go elsewhere.
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Available on: iOS
Darkroom gives you the same ability to create custom filters for your shots. It opens up tools that you’ll be familiar with if you regularly edit with professional programmes such as Adobe’s Lightroom, such as the fan favourite 'highlights and shadows’.
But you can go a little further with these functions. While you can’t change the white balance, it does let you manually change the temperature and tint as well as giving you the ability to change the colour of your highlights and shadows.
When you’re exporting, you can select a border or inset so that your image is ready to be posted on social media. For instance, you can set it to export as a square with an even border.
Available on: iOS & Android
You can’t go far in the editing world without talking about Photoshop. Adobe have released the programme for mobile devices in the form of three apps:
For general use, Photoshop Express will be a great starting point if you're new to Adobe or photo editing in general. With this app, you can create custom ‘looks’ for future use, as well as coming with a comprehensive list of filters that are a bit more specialised and creative, such as filters specific to portraits, or those that fit a particular series of shots you're working on.
When looking to add text to your image, you have a wide range of styles to choose from, and you're easily able to change the colour, size and location on your shot.
Express also comes with a range of pre-sized crop tools that help you create an image that’s the right size for whichever social media outlet you want to post on. Posting on Instagram? Go square. Creating a YouTube thumbnail? 16:9 is your best shot.
Although Adobe Photoshop is more advanced than Snapseed and Darkroom, it's a fairly intuitive app, perfect for those looking to advance in this field quickly.
Looking to learn about more apps for your mobile journalism tool kit? Head down to newsrewired on 11 July, for a workshop with BBC trainer Marc Settle, who will be letting us dive into his collection of apps for journalists – all designed to make your work easier and more productive.
Free daily newsletter
- Weekly journalism news update: transcription app, journalism students and storytelling
- BBC News uses mobile journalism to attract social audiences
- App for journalists: Voice Record Pro, for transcribing audio interviews
- Getty Images tackles the lack of female and non-binary voices in photojournalism
- Podcasts, student support, and health reporting: here is your weekly journalism news update