The great thing about Instagram is that even if you are a photography novice, like me, you can still give your photos a good bit of flare by whacking on a preset filter. But if you want to really ramp up the level of quality of your pics and still share them on Instagram, there’s a myriad of funky Apps out there that will allow you to do just that.

Just about every tool you can think of has been designed, branded and sold in the App Store for our convenience, so why not make the most of them? You can do everything from add frames, text or extra effect overlays to completely edit and enhance your photos from scratch.

Personally I love Bigote as it let’s you add a moustache to any of your photos! Yes it is a bit silly but it can be great for things like thank-you cards, birth announcements, and just generally mucking around with – like making a cheesy Christmas photo collage with all your family members, or drawing a moustache on your friend or baby (she’s so wise).

 

Just be careful though, if your aim is to share your photos via Instagram, not all photo enhancement Apps allow it, so be sure to check first.

But my preferred method of vamping up my Instagram photos is by nipping the flower at the bud, so to speak, and enhancing the individual image at its source before it gets mixed up with other images and filters. If the photo isn’t great pre-edit, think about what makes it not-so-great and fix it! Sounds simple, right?

Well as I’m sure you’ll be aware, there are many, many (many, many, many) Apps for enhancing photos, and you could go on for days searching through them all and sorting the good from the bad and the ugly. So I’ve done some of the work for you and found a couple that are free, high quality, easy to use and highly rated by users. As I mentioned earlier Bigote is a personal favourite of mine and the other is Snapseed.

Snapseed is available on iPhone, iPad, Android and Mac/PC. It was released in 2011, and quickly (and rightly) won the TIPA award for Best Mobile Photo App of the year. The difference between Snapseed and other photo editing Apps is that Snapseed was designed for mobile photography; mobile usability was not an afterthought. This means that the controls are dead easy to use on a touch screen and you never “miss” the button and end up at the whim of your safari browser instead of lightening up the family photo for mum (that could get awkward).

Snapseed gives you the option to tweak separate parts of your photograph, or the photo as a whole. This means you can sharpen the foreground and contrast the background, or saturate an object on the left side of the photograph without spilling into right. And the App is extremely intuitive in this sense – it seems to know where one object ends and another begins. As long as you know what you want from your photo, you can bring it to life.

If you choose to edit the photograph as a whole piece, you have all of the usual editing and enhancement options, like cropping, adjusting the brightness, saturation, contrast, ambience, etc, but you can always keep it simple and just add a filter.

Filters are like packet cake mix. All the hard work has been done for you.

All you have to do is choose the right type, throw the ingredients together and voilà! Cake! Oh… I mean… Photo! OK, that metaphor got a little lost, but I hope the sentiment is clear – filters are an easy option to make your photos come together without putting in the hard yards.

 

Shown above are a few of the filters on Snapseed which includes Vintage Films, Drama, Grunge and Retrolux, all of which are great filters, but the beauty of it is that there are various “Styles” within each filter category. If you prefer your packet cake nice and simple, you can choose a filter and apply, but there’s also the option of adjusting the style and strength of the filters. Because there’s grungy, and then there’s not-that-grungy. (And then there’s totally badass grungy.)

Tip: If your photo is already full to the brim with awesome, don’t tweak/taint/stain it with effects, just crop it to the right size and share it straight to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whichever of the plethora of social media Apps you choose as your weapon.

The “Compare” tool allows you to see what your photo looks like before and after an enhancement, before you get to the “apply” stage. But if I have one criticism, it’s that it is difficult to “undo” changes without reverting to your original image. So you can make a touch up here, a contrast over there, a blur in the background and then… Oops! And you have to begin again.

It’s like I said earlier, if you know what you want from your photo Snapseed can bring it to life. Whether you’re a novice, an amateur, or a mobile photo master, it’s always worth playing around with your photos to see how you can bring it to its best. Different enhancements will bring out different subjects or themes in the same photo, so it does pay to think about what you want from the shot.

A baby with a moustache is funny, but if you’re looking for sentimental, or dramatic or vibrant, best stick to editing Apps like Snapseed. Remember that most photo editing Apps can be shared via Instagram and other social media, so you’re not confined to the choices or locations of the App alone.