Tag Archives: photo

3 Free Android Photo Apps

top-3-android-photo-appsSo you’re a blogger or aspiring social media juggernaut, but you don’t have Photoshop or an advanced digital camera to take photos with. You know about great stock photo sites, but you want your website and social media accounts to look polished, professional, and cohesive – even when you’re the one taking photographs.

Great! I have compiled a list of the top 3 FREE Android Photo Apps for you to try out to improve your brand, blog, or business. I’ve dropped my list from a top 10 to a top 3 because you don’t want all of the space on your device to be taken up by apps when you really only need one or two to get the job done.

  1. Snapseed – Snapseed, a photo editing app by Google, gets pretty much everything I might need to do done in one deft swoop. Everything from cropping to filters and spot repair, to adding realistic lens blurs and glow effects can be accomplished in this app. This is my go-to app when I need to do some quick editing on the fly.
  2. Phonto – If you need to add text to an image before it’s good to go, such as for watermarking or branding purposes, then Phonto is your best bet. This app could not be easier to use. You simply load the image you want to use, type in your text, and select the font. You can put multiple text boxes on any image, so if you want to put a quote and then add your website url, this app will get the job done in no time flat.
  3. Collage Photo Maker Pic Grid – If you need to combine multiple images, Layout from Instagram seems like an obvious choice. However, if you want to make your images more interesting and incorporate more photos than Layout allows, then you need Collage Photo Maker Pic Grid. It allows you to do all sorts of crazy layouts which incorporate interesting, dynamic shapes rather than the same old boring rectangle-based ones. You can also add text and filters using this app, so if you need to get something posted in a hurry, you can bypass the first two if you need to.

What are your favorite photography apps for Android? Leave the details in the comments and you may be featured in a future post in this series!

Additional Posts in this Series

Introduction :: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop :: 3 Free Android Photo Apps

3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop

free-alternatives-to-photoshopI’m guessing you’re tuning in this week because you’re a blogger or other creative and you’re looking for ways that you can avoid investing in Photoshop, at least right now while you’re not sure how committed you are to blogging or while the income you’re getting from your blog is too small to justify the expense. Believe me, I have been there. The good news is that some of the tools I’ll be sharing in this post series are so great that I still use them, even now that my writing and blogging make a sustainable income.

Today’s focus is on my favorite three free alternatives to Photoshop that you can use on your computer. Two of the three require internet access, but other than that you can create images and tweak your own photos without any cost. Do they have paid features and offer paid services? Of course! However, they have enough features which are completely free to use for as long as you would like to make them perfectly valid parts of your web development arsenal.

1. Canva – Canva.com is by far my FAVORITE free photo editing option. I’ve made everything from blog graphics to printable worksheets using this tool. Another bonus is that after you’ve finished, all of your images are saved in the cloud. (You can change your privacy settings, don’t worry.) To make this tool exceptionally useful, they offer a wide variety of specialty dimensions whether you’re creating letterhead for your blog/business, or a Facebook post. Most of the images you see shared here, as well as on my social media accounts, will have been created in Canva. They also have a design school for those of us who are missing something in either the design savvy department, or in the technology department. (No pressure!) You’re probably wondering – if things are free, how do they make money? Not everything is free in Canva. Some of the templates for graphics are paid, as are some of the images you can choose from. However, if you want something specific and you want to create it cheaply, Canva can’t be beat. Plus, with their Canva for Work options (a subscription based service), you can expand and grow as your site evolves – if you need to.

2. PicMonkey – PicMonkey is my second favorite free photo editing tool. This photo editor is available online, so if you aren’t going to have an internet connection when working on your graphics you’ll need to keep scrolling. One thing that I love about PicMonkey is that it has a tie in with Google Drive, so if you use drive to store your images in the cloud then the transition from editor to file manager and back again is pretty seamless. Honestly my favorite features of PicMonkey are the photo filters (called “effects”) and the cosmetic tools. Whenever I’m tweaking actual photos of humans, this is my go-to editor. (They do have stickers/illustrations to throw onto existing photos and designs, similar to Canva, though.)

3. GIMP – Unlike the other options that I listed, GIMP (which stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a downloadable program that you actually put on your computer. That means that if you happen to be working from your laptop somewhere that doesn’t have wifi, or if your cable goes out, you’ll still be able to get images ready for your blog. GIMP has most, if not all, of the features that Photoshop offers but they have released this open source program for free public download. The program has been around for ages (just check the CNET listing!), so many people will have heard of it already, but I do want to stress that this is a great alternative if buying Photoshop isn’t in the cards right now, but you don’t think that the online offerings are substantial enough for your needs.

Updated: As of 3/24/16, Google made its photo editing suite under the name Google Nik available for free! If you’ve been looking for a cheap alternative to Photoshop and Light Room, this might be the solution for you! It’s another computer program, so be sure to give it a peek from a desktop or laptop to download it and give it a whirl.

What’s your photo editing secret weapon? If you know of a computer program or website which would be a huge help to bloggers who can’t afford Photoshop right now, sound off in the comments or hit me up on Social Media. I’d love to hear what I’m missing!

Additional Posts in this Series

Introduction :: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop :: 3 Free Android Photo Apps

How to Survive Without Photoshop as a Blogger – Seriously

survive-without-photoshopSo you’ve decided you want to blog, but you’re stuck on what to do for all the cool images that you’re SURE you’ll need. You’ve looked at posts like mine which share great places to get stock photos, or you have a great camera to take your own images, but what now?

Now, you learn about the joys of wishing you had Photoshop. No, really. Between Adobe Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Premiere Elements, and Adobe Lightroom, there are very few photography issues which can’t be resolved. (This assumes, of course, that you’ve dedicated sufficient time and energy to learning the software.)

For those of us who either don’t have the time and energy to commit to learning how to use these sophisticated programs or don’t want to invest that kind of money into something that isn’t turning a profit, or that they haven’t tried before – have no fear! There are many low cost and (my favorite price) free alternatives to things like Adobe Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro, and surviving without Photoshop is 100% possible.

I’ll be writing posts about my favorite Photoshop alternatives in the coming weeks, as well as tutorials about how you can best utilize these tools and apps which make photo editing easy. (No one wants to let their pics hit the net before they’re ready.)  I promise that not having Photoshop doesn’t mean that you can’t blog, or that you won’t be able to create some fantastic images like the ones you’ve seen on other blogs and sites like Pinterest.

I know there are a myriad of iOS programs as well. If I cover your device and miss your favorite photo editing tool, let me know! I’d love to let my readers know about it.

Additional Posts in this Series:

Introduction :: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop :: 3 Free Android Photo Apps

Ten Free Stock Photo Sites You Need To Try Immediately

bignews-stock-immediatelyThe fact is, if you want to have a successful website, blog, or other online presence it’s necessary to have high quality images on your posts and page. A great start to that end is finding high resolution photos to use. Your images ultimately attract attention of readers, make your page a pleasant thing to look at, increase the shareability of your posts, and overall improve your marketability by making sure that there are always more sets of eyes on your content. There are entire courses online devoted to creating great photos for Instagram marketing, for goodness’ sake, so it’s obvious that images are important! Occasionally a post can survive on good content alone, but we live in an incredibly visual world.

The bottom line is when you use high quality images, you’re going to get more attention, and every blogger I know has “get noticed” on their website to do list. The problem is, unless you already have a professional grade camera or are best friends with a photographer, finding awesome images that suit your purposes may be hard to get your hands on with the proper licenses for use. Of course no one goes into blogging thinking “hey, I’d like to get sued today”, but that unfortunately doesn’t keep it from happening when they unknowingly use images which don’t belong to them or which aren’t available for free commercial use on the public domain. That is why it’s important to either A: buy stock images/the rights to stock images so that you may use them in the way that you need to or B: find amazing free resources. Now, the free resources may have the option to pay for premium features or photo sets, but they don’t REQUIRE payment. So now, onto the good stuff!

Ultra Convenient:
These first few resources are my favorites because they take a lot of the guesswork out of trying to find photos. They email new images to their members (even free members!) on a regular basis. Sometimes I’m not sure what photo I want to include in my post, but then I’ll get an email from one of these providers and inspiration will strike!

  • http://www.createherstock.com/ – CreateHER Stock is a new resource that I am absolutely in love with, and is the source of the featured image of this post. This website features photographs of black models and by black photographers. I love the fact that it’s more inclusive than some of the stock photo sites I’ve seen which largely feature waif thin models in hipster attire. Granted, I love the hipster photo and have used some myself, but our world is a diverse place and I think we could all benefit if the internet reflected that a bit better. The site just launched, but so far they have fitness images, general images, fashion images, cosmetic images, and writing/tech/blogging images.
  • https://picjumbo.com/ – Picjumbo is one of my favorites from this list! I love seeing emails from them which is pretty rare for me. (Most emails that aren’t about useful blogging things, attempts to get me to interview actors/review films or books, from my editor at Wicked Horror, or a submission for my Splatterpunk Anthology end up getting ignored for a while or trashed. Such is life!) Their periodic emails are always full of a variety of images, from nature to tech to fashion, so there’s always something useful regardless of what posts I have cooking/on my agenda.
  • http://www.unsplash.com – Unsplash is a pretty straightforward concept. They send 10 beautiful, high quality images to your inbox every 10 days. The images are totally random, but are CONSISTENTLY beautiful and sometimes I find the perfect image for my next blog headline or instagram graphic. If you visit the site rather than waiting on their email then you can actually search for things, but I tend to prefer the Russian roulette “what do you have for me this time?” approach.
  • http://deathtothestockphoto.com/ – Death To The Stock Photo is pretty common. They send a pack of high quality images to your inbox monthly, and they come with a pretty cool narrative about where the photos are from, what inspired the shoot, and where you can get more (for a price). Honestly, I have yet to find an image from this site that really speaks to me, but I can’t deny that all of their images are gorgeous and
    perfect for bloggers… Just not me!

Still Convenient, but SansNewsletter:
Although these resources don’t allow me to be superlazy and send new photos to me, I love these because of the quality of the images and the fact that they’re still free for any purpose.

  • http://morguefile.com/ – Morguefile is a very interesting site where you can access a variety of free photos, but also they have a myriad of paid photo sites in their database as well. Before you ask “isn’t that kind of morbid..?” or wonder what kind of photo sites I’m promoting, know that according to their website: “The term “morgueFile” is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues flats. Although the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web’s morguefile.” Neat! Honestly I clicked on this one for the name and stay for the beautiful photos.
  • http://www.freeimages.com/ — Free Images is all about, you guessed it, free images. They have over 391,438 images at the time of this posting and are growing all the time. Their homepage layout groups their images by category (from “textures and patterns” for graphic work to “army and weapons”, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for quickly even if you aren’t sure EXACTLY what the keyword for it should be.)
  • https://pixabay.com/ – Pixabay is another site with an amazingly easy to use, category based interface. I love that you can find vector images here in addition to photographs. (Sometimes that just works better, am I right?) They also have a neat “editors choice” function which allows you to see images handpicked by their editors, but even the ones that have simply been submitted by their editors.
  • http://getrefe.com/ – Refe offers both for sale and free photos, so you have to make sure you’re in the “free” section when you download, but these photos are all beautiful and high quality. From technology and abstract to landscape and lifestyle, this site has a variety of images for every need.
  • http://www.photospublicdomain.com/ – Photos Public Domain is exactly what it sounds like, a database of public domain images that have been released for public use. Like all of these sites, this one has photos in a variety of areas, so it’s fun to poke around when looking for ideas for post graphics.
  • http://cupcake.nilssonlee.se/ – I love the images on this site! The majority of them, from the industrial dials and knitting hands to the woodlands and indoor shots look like they belong on an inspirational poster or quote. The only reason this site doesn’t rank higher on my list (not that it’s necessarily a top ten) is because the site layout isn’t as intuitive as some of the others I like to use. With that being said, the photos are gorgeous and the owner is very personable/loves to see examples of their photos being used. It’s always nice when someone appreciates your graphical efforts!

So there are my Ten Favorite Free Stock Photo Sites! Check them out immediately and add the ones you think are best to your favorites list or pin this post for future reference. Shout out in the comments and let me know what your favorite stock image resource is, or why you choose not to utilize images in your posts. I’d love to hear from you!



Update 11/18/15: Unsplash is running a Kickstarter Campaign to fund a gorgeous photo book. Check out their Kickstarter here and consider backing the project if you support free, high quality photography.