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Meet the 7 apps that will give your amateur Instagrams professional gloss

Caitlin McGarry | Sept. 15, 2014
If you want to become a world-famous Instagram photographer, or at least boost your follower and like counts, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. There are seven highly effective habits of popular Instagram users, and none of them has to do with Instagram. (OK, one.)


Fashion and lifestyle bloggers recently started posting photos that had that Instagram look, but with text on top. It was nothing extreme, just a word or two, but still a great way to caption a seasonal change or a major life event. I thought it was Photoshop and couldn't be bothered, but it turns out the credit goes to Over. The app lets you add a square crop to your images and then overlay text in a variety of interesting fonts. The text makes your photos more visually interesting, and can replace — or complement — your standard Instagram captions. Over's custom fonts aren't free; you'll have to cough up $1.99. There's a free option, a separate app called Overgram, but your font selection is limited and it slaps a watermark on your photo — no good.

Pic Stitch

Your relatives on Facebook and Instagram love this app, or they will if they haven't discovered it yet. Pic Stitch turns a handful of photos into collages that you can share on social networks or print out. This is useful for before-and-after shots or photos that capture a family event. Simply choose a couple of photos, choose from 232 layouts, and pick from 15 aspect ratios. The app will stitch those photos together on a white background, like a family photo album. Pic Stitch is free, but if you want to take your collages to the next level, you can buy frames, borders, and filters. I don't love photo collages myself, but this app is incredibly popular, so if that's your thing, Pic Stitch is the app for you.


To see Instagram video done right, look no further than New Yorker Kevin Lu's feed, @sweatengine. Lu has attributed the soundtracks for his gorgeous clips to Lumify, a free video-editing app that doesn't require registration and is ridiculously easy to use. Win-win-win. The best part about Lumify, which offers tons of editing tools, is the soundtrack feature, which is particularly great on Instagram. When you shoot or upload a video in Lumify, you can pair it with a song from your iTunes library. You can choose a few different video clips and the app will sync the song to the video, or let you do the work if you want. Then you can easily share the finished product to Instagram, adding a filter to the nearly finished product.


Instead of adding to its in-app editing toolkit, Instagram launched the stand-alone Hyperlapse app on iOS last month for creating time-lapsed videos. Instagram users were already experimenting with time-lapsed videos with other tools, and iOS 8 offers a similar feature when it drops next week, but Hyperlapse makes it easy to shoot, filter, and share those clips quickly. You probably won't use the app very often, but it churns out great clips for specific purposes. For instance, if you're filming crowds of people moving, sunrises and sunsets, or other scenes that change over time, Hyperlapse is a great way to condense that into Instagram's 15-second limitation.


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