Thing #9: Taking and Editing Photos

In 2007, I took a film photography class while I was studying abroad in Spain. I love black and white photography, and enjoying thinking about composition and lighting. And while film photography is pretty much a thing of the past, I really enjoyed developing film and printing pictures in the lab.

My iPhone is now my main camera. I still have a point-and-shoot digital camera hiding somewhere, but I haven’t taken it out in ages. I’m usually very happy with the quality of photos from my phone. However, I’ve never been as interested in the digital editing of photos.

I tried both Aviary and an app a co-worker recommended called Pixlr Express. As you’ll see below, I discovered I have a weakness for focus effects and black borders with rounded corners. I didn’t notice I used them over and over until I put this post together!


Aviary is a general, all-purpose photo editing app. You can adjust the color settings for the photo, add focus effects and filters, change the size or orientation of the photo, add text or stickers over the photos, and more. The free app comes with a base of tools to use, and then you can purchase additional packages of effects if you want. The app interface was intuitive. I edited three random photos pulled from my phone. I didn’t do anything too radical with them, but just edited them a bit to clean them up and look how I wanted. Aviary automatically saves a copy of your edited photo on your device, but you can also easily share it via various forms of social media.

If someone is looking for a general photo editing app, Aviary would be a great place to start.

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Pixlr Express

I didn’t spend too much time with the photo editing features of Pixlr Express. My impression was that the app was also easy to use. The range of effects in Pixlr Express seemed a bit more robust than Aviary, but most of the extras were effects I can’t ever see myself using. I used Pixlr Express to try making photo collage. I’ll admit that I saw these photo collages all over, loved them, and always wondered what app people were using to make them. Clearly, I never looked into it. A glance at the app store shows I had many options.

I’ve creatively named this collage “An Ideal Snow Day.” I don’t get snow days anymore. But hey, a girl can dream, right? This is how I would spend it.

photo of sleeping cat, books, tea, and snowy walkway

Photo Editing and the Library World

I was brainstorming ways libraries could use photo editing apps like Aviary and Pixlr Express. The most obvious connection is to use the apps in conjunction with library social media accounts. You could use collage-making features to create a set of photos/images) of read-alikes of the current buzz book, put together screenshots for a simple tutorial (how to request a book using the catalog), or highlight a few photos from a recent event. Being able to edit the photos and make them look nicer, warmer, or more eye-catching would also help in a social media environment. I saw Aviary also had an option to make a meme. That could be a fun way to interact with patrons.

Does anyone else have ideas about how to use photo editing apps in libraries?


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