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Top Digital Tools Plus Photo Editing Tips & Tricks

By Ken Faught


I began my professional photography career shooting film, and the only option to change a photo after it was shot was to hire someone to manually retouch the image. It was very time consuming and extremely expensive. So, we had to spend more time trying to get the best shot possible when the shutter was pressed because that was most likely the best the shot would be when published. Fast forward to today, and there are so many incredible photo editing apps and software packages on the market that it’s difficult to know which are best.



We have spent the last several years analyzing the latest changes in the digital world, and it’s been a lot of trial and error. Our goal with this story is to provide you with a comprehensive blog on the best photo editing apps and the best photo editing software for desktops. This story also includes the best design apps for iPhones and the best design software for laptops and more-powerful desktops. It also includes our top 10 tips to take better selfies. We also provide links to the best travel cameras on every budget, a detailed look at our travel camera gear, and how to take better photos. These are literally the best photo tips and tricks we have found to date.





Best Photo Editing Quick Search 

The Best Photo Editing Apps 2020

The Best Photo Editing Software 2020

The Best Design Apps for iPhones 2020

The Best Design Software 2020

Adobe Presets – Do They Work and Why They Matter!

Where to Hire Models – Over 50 Places to Consider

10 Ways to Look Better in Selfies

XSplore Media is a news site and may receive compensation from some companies whose products or services are presented on our website and social media. 


Best Photo Editing Apps 2020

Before the internet crippled my business, I owned a calendar company and took a lot of photos of bikini models. I still shoot a lot of fashion and swimsuit photography, and pretty much every model I work with is obsessed with digital photo editing apps, and it’s easy to see why. The right apps can clear up acne, remove wrinkles, slim wastes, add motion, change backgrounds, enhance lighting and otherwise transform an ordinary image into an extraordinary picture for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I also use them for travel photography, landscape photography, fashion photograph and sports photography. So, here’s our list of our favorite, what we think are the best photo editing apps for iPhone and they are not in any particular order.




YouCam Perfect

Cost – Free to download, but includes in-app purchases for $24.99 annually or $4.99 monthly

This is one of the most-downloaded beauty camera apps with over 300 million people have downloading YouCam Perfect for iOS devices, and it’s most definitely one of the top 10 selfie apps and top 10 beauty apps. You Cam Perfect is designed to be an all-in-one selfie camera and editing tool. It has a variety of advanced face beauty tools, special effects, filters, stickers, a blending brush, object remover, watermark remover, blurring tools and much more. YouCam Perfect allows you smooth wrinkles, remove blemishes and make changes to facial features.

YouCam Makeup

Cost - Free to download, but includes in-app purchases for $24.99 annually or $4.99 monthly

If you want to add makeup after a selfie session, then you should check out YouCam Makeup, which is one of the most-unique beauty apps on the market. It allows you to add eyeliner, change or add lipstick, add fake lashes and even try out glasses, earrings and headbands. At this point it really is one-of-a-kind. This is one of the most-popular selfie apps, and people usually edit photos with YouCam Makeup after they have made other adjustments in another editing app. Note that we don’t consider this an all-in-one app, rather a specialty tool for enhancing beauty.




Cost – Free

Google owns Snapseed and has invested heavily in this technology and this is one of the most used photo apps. Snapseed, which has different versions for iPhones and iPads, features 29 Tools and filters including healing, brush, structure, HDR, perspective and many more. It also opens both JPG and RAW files. 


Affinity Photo

Cost – $19.99

Apples App Store calls this the #1 App of the Year for 2020 and it’s a pro-level tool. It’s great for changing color, contrast, saturation, color on individual channels, and all sorts of incredible tools, and it’s optimized for iCloud. It supports pan and zoom at 120fps and allows you to work with PNG, RAW, TIFF, JPG, GIF, SVG, EPS, EXR, HDR and PDF files. It has dodge, burn, clone, patch, blemish and red eye tools. It offers a variety of brush sizes and styles and has a unique swipeable split or mirror screen so you can see your before and after views. Affinity Photo is one of the top 10 photo apps in our opinion.          



Cost – Free, but Premium X version is $19.99 annually

This is a powerful iPhone photo editor and one of the best camera apps for Apple phones. It has photo editing tools for exposure, contrast, adjust (crop, rotate, straight), sharpen, clarity, tone, Skin tone, saturation, white balance, vignette, grain, fade, split tone, hue, boarders and a wide range of filters. The light version is free and the premium version is an additional annual cost.      





Cost – $4.99

This is a full-featured, layer-based photo editor that lets you enhance or touch up images, sketches and paint. It’s also an all-in-one and easy-to-use graphic designer tool and allows for painting. This allows you to combine words and shapes to your images and it works with most file formats, all of which are why we included this as one of the best photo apps.











Cost – Free, but in app Premium version is $9.99 a year

This is one of the best selfie apps for the iPhone, focused on what else, faces. It allows you to clean up imperfections, smooth skin, whiten teeth, and sharpen photos. This is one of the many tools that takes mobile portrait retouching to an incredible level. It also incorporates sophisticated intelligence so it can automatically help you fix photos. It also has a variety of affects and even allows you to alter portraits through the camera’s preview prior to taking the picture. 


A Color Story

Cost – Free, but in app purchases for premium services

This app offers over 400 filters designed by photographers and access to ACS+ which allows you to adjust all the typical things like brightness, contrast, shadows, etc. There are also over 20 advanced tools for including the ability to adjust curves, hue, saturation and a lot of other items you would find on pro digital editing tools. Color Story has over 40 moveable effects and also a huge thing, and that’s batch editing.




Cost – Free with in app purchases for premium services

A quality all-around mobile photo editor that is a relatively easy to use iPhone app to remove pimples, whiten teeth, smooth wrinkles and even out skin tone. Edit your photos with this fast, powerful, and easy photo editor in very little time. Airbrush removes pimples, smoothens skin, allows you to widen or reduce your smile, plump your lips, brighten eyes, enlarge eyes, expand or slim facial features, shift position of facial features, add volume to your hair or stretch objects. There is also a depth-of-field tool to blur backgrounds, controls over light and color, vignettes and a variety of filters for different looks. 


Raw Power

Cost – $9.99

This app is a tool that lets you organize, edit, rate and flag sync to iCloud Photo Library and it also lets you start editing on one device, like and iPhone and continue editing on an iMac, MacBook or MacBook Pro. Raw Power allows you to do batch processing and edits in a non-destructive manner so the original file stays intact. And if you are using a newer iPhone with a dual camera system, this app has what Raw Power calls a Depth Effect. It’s capable of zooming up to 800% for precise adjustments.




Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor

Cost – Free with in-app purchases ranging from $4.99-$9.99

Adobe Lightroom has been the standard for professional photographers when it comes to enhancing colors, and this iPhone photo editor and camera app is a great tool. It allows you to make so many minor adjustment and isolate colors in powerful ways. From a color standpoint, we haven’t found anything better, at least not yet. The app is very intuitive and you can make what Adobe calls Presets  which allows you to story all sorts of data on custom edits that you can apply to other images. Adobe Lightroom provides easy-to-use sliders for editing and you can also crop, rotate, and straighten, in addition to all the color changing options. It has a healing brush to remove almost anything and it has tools that allow you to reshape objects (and people) and has what Adobe calls Sensei that uses artificial intelligence to tag and organize photos. Adobe also has separate Lightroom Photo Editor apps for iPhone and iPad, so just take note. Without question, this is one of the most-popular photo apps for serious photographers.



Cost – Free

Instagram is actually a pretty powerful editing tool all by itself because the company invests a lot of effort into changing its filters on a regular basis. You can also add text and do basic changes to exposure, color, cropping, etc.


Enlight Quickshot

Cost – Free with in-app purchases ranging from $3.99-$59.99

This is an all-in-one photo editor and camera app that will help you help you modify photos and add all sorts of effects. Enlight Quickshot is part of the Enlight Creativity Suite that includes Enlight Photofox, Enlight Videoleap and Enlight Pixaloop. We talk about all except for Enlight Videoleap in this story, because it’s primarily about photography apps, not video. This app allows you to replace the sky in your photos with blue skies, clouds, sunsets and the famous northern lights. You can add all sorts of special effects from light leaks to rainbows to sparkles, hearts and more. It comes with the basic essential photo editing tools that allow you to adjust contrast, light, shadows, vibrance, vignette, exposure, temperature, tint, and hue. It also has filters as you would expect to find on this extremely popular iPhone app.


Enlight Pixaloop – Photo Animation

Cost – Free with in-app purchases costing $3.99-$59.99

This is one of the most-unique iphone photo editing apps and we have been using it since 2018. Enlight Pixaloop allows you to animate your photos and most likely you’ve seen the results on Instagram and Facebook but didn’t know how it was created. Well, now you know. This enables you to animate one element or several elements on any image by drawing attention to the parts of the photo that you want to come alive. This does take a little while to learn, but it is an extremely powerful iPhone photo editing tool. Pixaloop creates short GIF files that keep looping every 4 seconds. It also features sky replacement technology, and what’s known as hypnotic geometric motions which allows you to make things like umbrellas spin. As for video effects, it allows you to mimic cinematic movement with Camera FX. These camera effects and movements include tilt, zoom and dolly effects, and there are also overlays to bring movement, mood & emotion to still photos. Enlight Pixaloop also has a high-end photo editor that lets you modify a variety of things on any photo. Without question, if you want to have the most innovative iPhone photo editing app that will make your work stand out, this is something seriously worth considering.


Enlight Photofox

Cost – Free with in-app purchases costing $3.99-$35.99

This app has a lot of amazing features such as the ability to create double exposures, add cool effects, add text, glitch art, draw, paint and add elements. It also helps heal, offers curves, ability to change color intensity, tonality, color, grain, vignette, fade, structure, and much more. There are also a variety of filter, and it gives you the ability to mask images. 



Filterstorm Neue

Cost – $4.99

This is a good value when it comes to the best selfie apps. Filterstorm Neuevo also provides photojournalists with features like FTP and IPTC metadata with code replacement. It also lets you convert photos to B&W, blur, change brightness/contrast, clarity, clone, channel mixer, curves, hue, reduce noise, change saturation, adjust shadows/highlights, sharpen, levels, vibrance, watermark, tone, levels, white point, crop, straighten, rotate, etc. You can also add effects like Amatorka, Bleach Bypass, Posterize, Vigntte, Sepia, Vintage, X Process, Invert, and much more. This works with JPG, TIFF, PNG and even RAW files using DCRaw.


Adobe Photoshop Express

Cost – Free with in app purchases ranging from $4.99-$49.99

Photoshop is one of the most-popular names in the digital photo lab business, and it’s been around since computer design started to become popular. Photoshop Express lets you edit picture with pro-level tools on your mobile device. It features a full spectrum of free photo effects and editing features and allows you to personalize the pics with boarders and text, enhance color and imagery, create picture collages, and make quick fixes. 


Afterlight 2

Cost – Free with in app purchases of $2.99 a month, $17.99 annual membership or lifetime membership for $35.99

Afterlight is passionate about high-quality filters, real film textures and precise editing tools. It offers over 130 unique filters, over 20 advanced tools, over 60 plus textures and overlays, and also frames, boarders, and over 120 fonts and 150 designs.





Hyperspektiv 2.7

Cost – Free with in app purchases for $2.99 or $5.99 monthly

This app has a lot of affects and is including live filters for videos. It alloss you to isolate and apply filter to a person or their background in real-time. Simply aim your camera at a yourself or another person and tap the glowing “body recognition” button. Hyperspektiv calls this a “experimental” feature, but it’s only works on ARKit 3-enabled devices. It also allows you to instantly turn photos into videos and allows full HD 4k video export and live 60 fps live capture on newer devices.



Cost – $1.99

This is one of the most-popular iPhone editing apps because of the price and it offers you a lot of tools to efficiently remove unwanted content from your photos. You can remove telephone wires and posts, powerlines, surface breaks and scratches, photobombers, pimples, skin blemishes, human-made objects like stop lights, street signs, trash cans and basically whatever you feel is spoiling your photos. TouchRetouch also has a lot of photo standard photo editing features, but the removal tool is it’s highlighted feature.


Superimpose X

Cost – $4.99

This iPhone app has a wide range of editing capabilities including multiple layers, blending modes, masking adjustments, brushes, smudge, warp, effects, clarity and casting. It also has your basic photo editing tools to change a variety of things including cropping, white balance, saturation and much more.






Lens Distortions

Cost – Free with in-app purchases for $2.99 monthly or $23.99 annually

This is a layer-based photo editor for creating cinematic imagery. It offers 400 photo effects and a wide-variety of enhanced editing tools. This features masking capability and a lot of good tools for photo editing on mobile devices.



Cost – Cost is $21.99 annually or $4.99 monthly

This app helps has over 190 live filters, some of which will help achieve a retro look. It’s relatively easy to use, but it seems relatively basic to our users.


Best Photo Editing Software 2020


We Prefer Adobe Lightroom over Photoshop and use it much more extensively even though we have both photo editing options


Taking pictures during your travels is only part of the equation for creating stunning images. The final act is carefully editing them, and there are all sorts of impressive tools on the market. We’ve used a lot of them, including Affinity Photo, but I have found the combination o Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe Lightroom are incredible and pretty much the industry standard for professionally photography. They both inter­­face seamlessly and let you work in a cloud environment called Adobe CC (Creative Cloud).

What is the difference between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Creative Cloud? Well, Adobe has what it calls Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, Lightroom, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe XD, Adobe Acrobat DC and over 20 desktop programs and mobile apps) to edit photos, draw, paint, render in 3D, and much more. The two programs are somewhat competitors because they were both created to edit photos, but the reality is, each was developed for different purposes and operate differently from a post-production workflow standpoint.

Photoshop is basically a digital darkroom that allows you to make detailed changes to any type of file. Lightroom, in contrast, is more akin to a photo studio as it edits, organizes and sports photos. 


Lightroom is generally considered by professional photographers to be the most-comprehensive photo editing tool on the market.


No doubt the difference can be somewhat challenging to understand, especially when you add the fact that Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe bridge were designed to create a workflow resembling Lightroom.

Adobe Photoshop was created in the early 1990s, and the combination of these three programs is impressive. The workflow starts in Adobe Bridge which you use to look at your images in folders after you have dumped your memory cards. Adobe Bridge organizes everything and increases viewing time, and this works really well for those who shoot in Raw format.

Adobe’s Camera Raw program was created specifically to work with RAW files prior to opening in Photoshop. This program lets you adjust virtually everything on a photograph from exposure to curves, and from white balance to channels. Photographers shooting in RAW can expect to spend over 75% of their time using Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Bridge, and less than 25% of their time actually working in Photoshop.



Photoshop is the much older Adobe option, and the company has made a lot of changes to this program including its ability to edit in RAW format, just like Lightroom.


Unlike Photoshop, Lightroom is a stand-alone program for editing, organizing and exporting photos. The heart of Lightroom is its catalog or library, basically the intelligence driving this program. The catalog stores all the images and allows you to create collections, folders and directories. 

Inside the program are seven modules, each one of which serves a different purpose. The Library is the first model you will work with after importing an image. The second module is called Develop, and this is where most of the creative work really takes place. You can kind of equate this to Adobe Camera Raw, but a more powerful version, and it allows you to work with a variety of file types including RAW. There are also Print, Web, Slideshow and Book modules which focus on different formats of publishing your images. The final module is called Develop.

Overall, Lightroom typically takes more time to learn initially, but once you have it down, it’s seems to be preferred by most professional photographers. It should be noted that Lightroom typically uses more computer resources than Photoshop, so that too should be considered if you have a choice.


Best Design Apps for iPhones 2020


Top 10 Graphic Design Apps for iPhone


Instagram offers a lot of features for people to add text, clip art and a wide variety of objects to images, but there are a lot of other tools used by regular people and professional influencers. These tools can be the difference of a cool photo or a scroll-stopping piece of art that will make you stand out from the crowd. We have used a variety of iPhone design apps for a long time, and we think that Canva is the best. We have added links to Apples App Store so you can check them out yourself, but Canva is easy to use, free, with in-app purchases, and is very powerful. 



             Adobe Spark Post-design


             Word Swag

             Over: Graphic Design Maker

             Quotes Creator






Best Design Software 2020

We have used a lot of tools for computer design, especially during my magazine days. It started with Cycle News and Personal Watercraft Illustrated using a Mac IIsi and Quark Express. Then we used a variety of things when I was the editor of Dirt Rider magazine. Then when I co-founded Pole Position Raceway, Fixate Designs and  Pacific Tonic & Spirits we used a mix of Adobe products and a few software programs called Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. 

This story has already run long, so I am going to show you what we feel are the three best tools that any designer needs. For the most part, the graphic world is Apple based whereas the mathematical world is focused on PC. This story also focuses more on the beginner to intermediate level, because if you are a professional, you are probably already using these valuable digital design tools.

The first is something that we have already discussed and that is Adobe Photoshop. Key features are design tools and a lot of features based around the Adobe Creative Cloud system incuding what they call Content-Aware Crop, Face-Aware Liquify, Artboards, synched libraries, a glyph panel, stylus input support and Design Space view. It also provides several workspace layouts including graphic, motion, 3D, painting, photography and Web. Photoshop is available by a monthly subscription price of $33.99.

The second software is Adobe InDesign and this tool is for publishing anything, especially advertisements, brochures, catalogs and magazines. This software has a shallow learning curve and allows users to learn quickly. It also features AI-powered Sensei technology that automatically resizes images and InCopy that allows file sharing of text, colors and graphics. InDesign support HTML exporting and clean coding output. InDesign is offered at $20.00 per month or the entire Creative Cloud subscription costs $52.99 per month.

The other design software we recommend is Adobe Illustrator and it’s an incredible tool for illustrative artwork, corporate logos, page layouts, website mockups and much more. Simply put, it’s the industry standard for vector creation tools. This is highly compatible with Mac and Windows and is highly customizable. You also get access to over 90 million images, graphics, templates and videos from Adobe stock library, which is a huge plus. Adobe Illustrator is $9.99 a month for personal use and $33.99 a month for the Enterprise use.




There are thousands of photographers who sell their Adobe Lightroom presets online and this is just one random source we found by doing a Google Search.


Adobe Presets

One of the most-unique aspects of lightroom is the incredible amount of modification you can make using this program and the advent of presets for sale. One of my close friends and fellow photographers, David Dewhurst, shoots for a lot of the car companies like Toyota and Lexus, and he says that the ad agencies usually spend 2-3 times as much on post-production as they do the actual photo shoot. This means that from a career standpoint, photo editing is becoming more and more valuable. So much so that a lot photographers now sell their Lightroom presets online.

Adobe Lightroom Presets by definition are a unique or mostly unique configuration of Lightroom settings which change editing characteristics of your photo. For example, some people sell lightroom presets for nighttime city skylines, like New York City, which make all the artificial lights pop, whereas others sell presets for oceans that create unique aqua and turquoise colors. Buying presets can be challenging, and the truth is, they are not always each to match up well and require some adjustments, but they can give you a really good starting point. 

Where to Hire Models

There are a lot of places to hire models for photo shoots, and we have found our models in every way imaginable from online to word-of-mouth, to agencies to Instagram and Facebook Connections. Check out our story on best places to hire models online for photoshoots. It will give you a lot of locations like and, as well as professional agencies. This is a great tool, especially if you want to build a portfolio for fashion photography.


10 Ways to Look Better in Selfies

Ever since the advent of social media, the selfie has become part of our culture. Then came an explosion of apps to help people look better. Now, there are hundreds of apps and it can be rather confusion. So, to help, we came up with some simple starter points to help you look better in selfies, separately from the apps themselves. Follow these tips for better selfies:

1. Shoot in natural light or what’s called open shade. Natural light is the most realistic. If you are not wearing sunglasses, open shade will stop you from squinting. 

2. Turn off the flash. Most digital phone cameras don’t do well with the camera and overexpose your face.

3. Don’t do the duck face!

4. Move the camera further away.

5. Adjust the white balance.

6. Find your best angle.  

7.If you have to use artificial light, move around and experiment with shadows. One harsh light can ruin a selfie.

8. Use a tripod and a self-timer

9. Add a filter like the ones listed elsewhere in this story

10. Use a photo editing app or software


People Also Ask

*What are the best photo editing apps for influencers? There is no one package, but we believe the best photo editing apps for influencers are VSCO, Snapseed, Prisma, Afterlight, Adobe Lightroom, Huji Cam and Foodie.

*What photo apps do celebrities use for Selfies? While everyone is different, we believe they use Photowonder, PicsArt, Perfect365, Snapseed and Huji Cam.

*What are the best free selfie apps? Retrica, Camera 360, YouCam Perfect, Candy Camera, Beauty Plus, YouCam Funny, Snapchat, Selfie Cam.

*What does VSCO stand for? Visual Supply Company


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Hi! We are Ken Faught & Vanessa Doleshal. We love adventure travel, photography & share our journey with YOU! Our goal is help you plan that perfect trip & keep inspiring you to take the next one. 

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"Traveling is not something you’re good at. It’s something you do, like breathing.” - Gayle Foreman