The Truth About Editing Software

Certainly you’ve heard of Adobe Lightroom. If not, then of course you’ve heard of Adobe Photoshop. Both programs are some of the most popular editing softwares used by photographers today. When someone says that they use one of these programs, it’s a common thought that the person seems to know what they are doing and are skilled in photography. Hearing about the VSCO phone app, over filtered and tasteless photos might come to mind. Doesn’t seem very professional, right?

As a teenage photographer with little money, I personally do not use Lightroom or Photoshop (but it’s totally awesome if you do!). I only edit my photos on my iPhone with the apps Polarr and VSCO, and in my vision, I see my work as no less than those who use programs that are seen as more “professional,” but of course that’s just my point of view.

Lightroom and Photoshop are both essentially similar to Polarr and VSCO. Both applications (available from the Apple app store) let you adjust the following: color, light, detail, vignette, HSL (hue, saturation, luminance), curves with RGB (red, green, blue) channels, and split toning. This app also includes masks such as radial, gradient, color, and brush which are rather handy. By the way, Polarr is also free, and you can literally produce the same content on this app as you could with Lightroom on your desktop.
As there are VSCO presets on Lightroom, you can use the same presets on the VSCO app.
Using both of these apps is like having an in hand Lightroom!

The assumption that what editing software you use defines your skill set and the quality of your work should be entirely banished, and it’s important that everyone knows that. The same goes for what camera the photographer uses. There’s some amazing phone photographers out there! Two of my favorites are Andrew T. Kearns and Luisa Dörr.

The truth is, your creative process does not completely define the quality of your work. If someone uses an app on their phone or if they are an expert at Photoshop, so be it! In simple terms, use whatever you want to create whatever you want.

Tips for Editing on Polarr and VSCO:
Here I’ll tell you about the main articles I touch on when editing on Polarr (which I mainly learned from Andrew T. Kearns’s Youtube videos) and VSCO.

Before opening any app, I set my phone’s screen brightness to 100%.

Almost every time, I start my editing process with Polarr. What I like about this application is that it’s like an in hand, simplified Lightroom that’s easily accessible!

Here, I play around with the basic color, light, detail, HSL, curves, and toning adjustments. When tinkering with the curves, remember to balance. It is quite easy to distort your photo when using this tool. Usually I’ll go for a warm and bright feeling with hints of green and yellow.

After Polarr, I head to VSCO and add a preset (my favorites are Q1 and Q9). My major rule here is to not overdo the preset! I never set it to over +8.0. Each preset on VSCO has different intensities, so numbers may vary. Following the preset, I usually adjust the temperature, tint, and skin tone since the preset may interfere with the look I’m going for at first. Adding a little grain doesn’t hurt either, especially if you are going for a more “film camera” look. If I’m still not completely happy with my image, I would go back into Polarr for a more in-depth fix.

Asking a knowledgeable friend or two for their feedback on your photo is always helpful.

I can assure you, practice makes perfect!

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