Michelle's Top 10 Favorite Photo Editing Tools

Michelle's Top 10 Favorite Photo Editing Tools

Looking to up your photo editing game this year? With the help of photography and Instagram experts like Michelle of With Chelle, you can! Her gorgeous edits with a vintage feel brighten our day, so we decided to ask her what tools she likes to use. Here's what she had to say:

"With the rise of new technology over the past decade, photography has become accessible to practically anyone. Simple edits can vastly improve the quality of any photo and there are tons of options to help transform your work. 

Photography is one of my greatest passions and I love experimenting with different techniques in order to see what works best for me. I've put together a list of my top ten favorite editing tools for all levels of expertise— from accessories, to computer programs, to phone apps."

Creator Image
Michelle Tirronen
  • Lexar
    Professional 2000x 64GB SDXC UHS-II Memory Card

    Michelle Tirronen

    Before you even start editing, get a card reader! No more hooking up your camera to the computer with all the wires and clutter. A card reader provides high-speed file transfer from card to computer in order to accelerate your workflow. 

    While there are tons of options, I prefer to use the Lexar Memory Card Reader because of how compact and unintrusive it is. It's just like using a USB flash drive and doesn't take up any space. However, it is only compatible with SD cards. If you regularly use CF or MS cards, you might want to consider a multi-card reader hub.
  • Nikon
    Capture NX 2

    Michelle Tirronen

    This is for Nikon users only, but it is compatible with PC and Mac. ViewNX 2 is great for reading RAW files, sorting through photos, and converting files. 

    I mainly use this program to pick out which photos I will potentially edit instead of using the built-in photo viewer on the computer. During use, it will highlight the photo you're viewing on the list, even after you've backed out of the secondary full screen display window. 

    It's just visually easy to follow when you're sorting through files that all have similar names. You simply drag the photo you want into a folder on my desktop and it will automatically copy the picture without removing it from the program. 

    Because I only need the basics, I use the free version. But for all editing and retouching features, the full version is available for purchase.
  • Adobe
    Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

    Michelle Tirronen

    Adobe Lightroom is perfect for advanced color editing and basic retouching. If you're just learning how to edit or only wanting to focus on simple adjustments, this is a great tool to familiarize yourself with. 

    Color grading can vastly transform an image with little effort. Lightroom gives you all the tools you need to make those adjustments and save those settings into Presets that you can use over and over again. While Lightroom is most useful on desktop, Adobe also offers a free version for mobile users with similar features.
  • Adobe
    Adobe Photoshop

    Michelle Tirronen

    Bring your wildest dreams to life with the help of Adobe Photoshop. While it can seem overwhelming at first, it's actually easy to navigate once you understand the basics. You can customize your workspace layout to fit your needs or choose from the provided preset layouts such as Essentials, Photography, or Graphic Design. 

    Photoshop is one of my most used programs due to the fact that I can really focus on the details while also having access to any editing tool I need. It is all available in Photoshop — from color grading, retouching, composting, painting and more. 

    As Photoshop can be quite pricey, Adobe also offers a free version for mobile users called Adobe Photoshop Express. While it provides very limited features, it can help with understanding basic tools if you decide to upgrade in the future.
  • Wacom
    Intuos Pro S

    Michelle Tirronen

    No more editing with a computer mouse! Using a tablet and pen gives you optimal creative control while working on a photo. 

    It makes my whole editing process that much smoother and effortless. Both tablet and pen settings can be adjusted to create shortcuts in Photoshop or any other editing program you use. 

    Depending on your budget and hand-movement style, Wacom offers the Intuous Pro tablet in three different sizes. I prefer the small tablet because it takes up less space and is easy to travel with if I feel like editing somewhere else. However, the medium size is the most favored option among artists.
  • Western Digital
    WD Elements Desktop Hard Drive

    Michelle Tirronen

    RAW photo files take up a huge amount of space, and if you're working in Photoshop, those files can increase the amount of storage being used on your computer. When you're lacking computer storage, your programs may have difficulty functioning properly. 

    An external hard drive is a great place to safely store all your photos that you want to archive but still wish to access later. WD Elements has several options up to eighteen terabytes of space. 

    For a few years now, I've using a four-terabyte hard drive and have barely used any space, so eighteen terabytes seems a bit excessive if it is your first time purchasing an external hard drive.
  • VSCO

    Michelle Tirronen

    VSCO is a free mobile app for iOS and Android devices. It provides several editing tools for color correction as well as adjustable preset filters. 

    VSCO has a numerous amount of presets, and I believe that the subscription fee is worth it to unlock the complete library if you are serious about creating a cohesive aesthetic. 

    The subscription also gives you access to advanced photo editing tools as well as video editing options. I mainly use VSCO to match the colors on my phone to the image I edited on the computer as colors can differ from screen to screen.
  • Afterlight Collective

    Michelle Tirronen

    Afterlight is another free image editing mobile app. However, it seems to be more optimized for iOS users than Android as not all features are the same for each device. 

    Luckily, I only use the app for the light leaks and dust filters whenever I want to give my photo a more vintage aesthetic. 

    Afterlight also has preset filters and purchasable features, but I don't believe those aspects of the app are necessary if you are already using other photo editing tools. It is easy and straightforward to use and overall just a fun app to experiment with!
  • Vimage App

    Michelle Tirronen

    This mobile app is a fun way to add some life to any still image with animated effects. It easily mixes video and photography together with step-by-step tools. 

    You don't need to have any video editing knowledge in order to create a cinemagraph! Select from a set of transparent videos such as coffee steam, weather effects, animals, and more and apply it to your photo. 

    Vimage does all the work for you, but you still have the option to make small adjustments in order to create a cohesive image.
  • Unfold Creative

    Michelle Tirronen

    I use this mobile app mainly for Instagram Stories because of the easy-to-use templates it has to offer. There are tons of different template styles to chose from, whether you prefer a more modern touch, a minimal aesthetic, or an artistic feel. 

    It makes creating stories quick and effortless, so all you have to do is decide which photos you want to use. Unfold also provides both video and photo editing with different photos and effects. It's not the most advanced tool for color editing, but at least there are some options to work with.

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