A step-by-step tutorial to edit your iPhone photos using Snapseed [+ FREE editing checklist]

Aug 01 2016

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>

Sure some photos need more editing than others, but I truly believe that every photo could use the power of editing to go from a good photo to a great one. When it comes to taking photos on iPhone, the app store has tons of apps that come with hundreds of presets and filters that promise instant transformations for your photos. And yes, filters can help with editing, but its definitely not just that.

Editing is about understanding what is missing from the photo and how to enhance it to make it the best it can be. It is not about transforming the photo to something unreal, but rather making the photo look as close to the scene in real life. I‘ve put together a comprehensive editing checklist to help you step-by-step with editing your iPhone photos. You can download it right here.Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>

For the recent floral photo pack I created with my iPhone, I used just one app – Snapseed – for editing all of the photos. Snapseed is a powerful editing tool with an easy to use interface that can help you largely improve your iPhone photos. Plus its FREE – you can download Snapseed here!

For this tutorial, you can use any editing app ( Here are the ones that I recommend ). I will be using Snapseed and this photo below as an example to navigate you throughout the tutorial.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>

Editing tools of Snapseed:

To bring up the editing tools available on Snapseed, you need to click on the little edit icon at the bottom right corner of the screen. That will open up the full gamut of editing tools that you can use to edit your iPhone photos.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>Step 0: Rotate

Depending on the way you hold your iPhone camera while clicking the photo, the image will be horizontally or vertically oriented. Since this is a vertical photo and I want to hold my phone vertical while editing, I am using the Rotate tool on Snapseed to flip the photo to the vertical position.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>Step 1: Exposure

One of the first steps in editing is to fix the exposure. Exposure refers to how light or dark the photo is. So if the photo is on the darker side, you may want to slightly increase the exposure and vice versa. Make sure not to go over board with the exposure as it may leave your photos too bright and overexposed, making it hard to concentrate on the subject of the photo.

In the photo below, I am increasing the exposure slightly by using the exposure brush feature thats available on Snapseed.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>Step 2: Fine Tuning

Fine tuning involves adjustments made to details like:

Brightness: You may want to alter the brightness of the photo in order to adjust the mid-tones. Sometimes, the amount of light in the photo is perfect, but you may want to brighten the photo a little bit – this is when you use the brightness adjustment instead of the exposure.

Here I am slightly increasing the brightness to add a little cheer to the photo without overexposing it.

Contrast: Increasing the contrast helps bring out the colors and tones of the photo. It helps make the whites whiter and the blacks darker which fills life into an otherwise dull photo.

I am increasing the contrast here to make the beautiful pinks and yellow colors of the petals stand out against the white background.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>

Saturation: If you want to intensify the colors of your photo, you need to increase the saturation of the photo. Again, don’t saturate the photo too much as it can look unpleasant and be harsh on the eyes.

Here, I am bumping up the saturation to intensify the colors of the petals.

Highlights & Shadows: If your photo has strong shadows or highlights, use the shadows/highlights tool to lighten shadows and correct washed out highlights. I am using shadows tool here to lighten the shadows around the petals.

White balance: Depending on what lighting you use for your photos, the photos can be slightly blue or yellow. In order to balance the colors, you can use increase or decrease the warmth of your photo.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>Step 3: Healing

Despite being careful, there can be some unwanted dust particles that may creep into your photos. In order to remove those, you can use the healing tool. Just brush over the dust and voila! it disappears!

In the photo below, I am using the healing brush to remove the black dust particles that are present in the photo.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>Step 4: Crop and transform

If you want to alter the composition of your photo, you can use the crop and transform tools. Use the crop tool to cut out any unwanted parts of the photo that may have entered the frame.

You can use the transform tool to adjust the vertical and horizontal perspectives of your photo. In this photo, I am slightly adjusting the vertical perspective of the photo to make it look more straight and flat.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>Step 5: Sharpen

Lastly, I love to sharpen the photo to increase clarity and definition of the photo. I am using the sharpen tool to increase the definition in the photo below. And then, its time to save. Make sure to always select – Save as copy so you don’t overwrite the original image just in case you need it later.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>Step 6: Filters

Using filters and effects is a personal choice. I do occasionally use some Instagram and VSCO filters, but most of the time I try not to. Some of my favorite presets are the T1 and C1 filters from VSCO and the Juno filter from Instagram.

Of course, every photo doesn’t need every single edit. I have put together a comprehensive editing checklist to help your editing process, in an order that works best. You can download it right here and use it as a reference when you are editing your photos.

Powerful editing techniques can take any good photo to great! Learn how to edit your iPhone photos step by step using a free app on your phone. Click here to read the full post >>

What are your favorite editing tools for your iPhone photos? Lets chat in the comments!

If you are interested in learning more about the course, enter your email address to join the waitlist and be notified when it launches! :)
  • wow! so pleased to read this post. Big fan!
    Engagement Destination Photographers Serving Paris

  • just wonderful as per!

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    • Thanks so much 🙂

      • Sold to Christ

        Hi Chaitra.
        I sent you a mail about one of your templates I bought. Can you reply pls?

  • Such a good and detailed post, Chaitra! I love Snapseed. PS, I was just using photos from March’s Creative Convex. That was my favorite!

    • Thank you so so much Maya – so nice to see your comment! So glad to hear that the March one was your favorite – I cant wait to see how you use them!

  • Great tips! I love that you can do all this in one app! I previously have just used Snapseed for selective brightening.

    – Rachel
    http://www.wayfaringrachel.com

    • Hey Rachel! I absolutely love Snapseed for the very same reason – it is so powerful! 🙂 What other editing apps do you use?

  • Thanks for the guide! I’ve used Snapseed a bit before, but never to this detail, this is awesome!

    • Hey Liza! Glad to hear that – let me know if you use it more. Also what are your go to editing tools?

      • I was using VSCO, but I’ve moved to A Color Story now. But I do have Snapseed and I should give it a try more often!

  • I haven’t heard of Snapseed before – looks like a great quality app! Thanks for the tutorial!

    • Hi Gina! It is one of the most powerful editing tools out there 🙂 check it out!

  • First of all, great post! Second, I have a couple of questions :).

    1. VCSO vs. Snapseed. What’s your take?
    2. Also some people suggest taking the photo using the VSCO camera rather than the iPhone camera. Does that really matter?
    3. Even when I use white foam boards, when I take the photo I get this bluish background. Is that due to the white balance you mentioned?

    Thanks is advance! – Priyanka | socialmediawithpb.com

    • Thank you so much Priyanka! 🙂

      1. Snapseed for powerful editing. VSCO for great filters. But mainly Snapseed.
      2. The default camera app is great. I would recommed Camera+ over VSCO.
      3. Yes the bluish cast can be corrected by increasing the warmth and adjusting the white balance!

      Let me know if this was useful Priyanka! 🙂

  • even i love snapseed for editing. It’s best

    • So good to know that, Rajani! What are your fav features about it?

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  • I have loved and used Snapseed through many updates & iterations. Thank you for sharing how you use it. There are so many features that I am constantly discovering new uses or combinations to try. I especially like the “undo” feature that lets me undo or adjust something I did three steps ago. I also use the “drama” and “lens blur” filters depending on the purpose of my photo. Recently I have found the Selective tool handy, too.

  • The checklist looks very pretty. Thanks for doing it 🙂

    • You are so welcome Mila 🙂 glad to hear that!

  • This is amazing! I learned a lot from this and am currently editing all my blog pictures manually using Snapseed. Best decision ever.

    annewndrs.blogspot.com

    • Awesome 🙂 So good to hear that Marianne!

  • Leticia

    Question? When you say you use the exposure brush, how are you using it? Are you swiping across the entire photo or only in certain places of the photo? Particularly related to the photo you are using as an example. Thank you!! 🙂

    • Hey Leticia! In this case I am swiping across the entire photo 🙂 If you want to brighten only selected parts, I ‘d recommend the dodge tool instead!

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