The 10 Best Instagram Alternatives

best instagram alternatives

Almost everyone in the world with a smartphone knows what Instagram is, and with close to 1 billion users it is undoubtedly the most popular photo editing and sharing app available today.

But, just because it’s the biggest, it’s not necessarily the best for your specific needs. Maybe you’re a professional or serious hobbyist wanting to seek out inspiration from others at the top of their games? Perhaps you want to try and sell your images in on online community setting?

Did you know that there are dozens of similar apps out there that all have their own selling points? Take a break from endless selfies and hashtags, with our top ten favorite alternatives to Instagram.

10. VSCO

  • Platform: iOS/Android
  • Price: Free
  • Instagram for high quality photography
  • Learn from photographers all over the world
  • Keeps followers hidden to level the playing field

We’ve talked about how great VSCO is before, but it deserves another mention here. VSCO is a community of creatives from all over the globe coming together to connect and share their work. Aimed at people with a keen interest in photography, this platform attracts photographers working at a high level, so the work you’ll see here is of a great quality and is bursting with innovation.

You can capture and edit images in the app, and there are plenty of filters on offer, but the main aim is to share your content. Followers can favorite your images and can also republish them, but there are no options for comments and there is less of a focus on winning ‘likes’. In fact, the amount of followers that every user has is hidden, so it’s a completely level playing field for novices and professionals alike. The ‘discover’ section of the app makes it easy to find and follow photographers, making it a great place to gather inspiration and broaden your photography skills.

VSCO is free to download, but you can upgrade to the VSCO X membership for $19.99 per year. This premium package gives you access to presets, extra editing tools and tutorials which are all designed to up the quality of your images.

9. Oggl

  • Platform: iOS
  • Price: Free
  • Tell stories through your images
  • Similar to Instagram but with a ‘retro’ camera option
  • Easily share your images to social media

Oggl was created by the team that created Hipstamatic which, for those who don’t remember it, was a hugely popular vintage camera app from a couple of years ago.

oggl app

Hipstamatic had its issues, and it was notoriously difficult to get to grips with, but Oggl is cleaner, smarter, and much easier to use.

You can take pictures with the built in camera or import them from your phone, edit them with the Hipstamatic filters, and tell a story with them. You can also discover other users and collect images that you like, which sticks closely to Instagram’s winning formula.
If you’re not interested in manually editing your images, you can quickly improve your shots with the preset filters designed specifically for portraits, landscapes, nightlife, food and sunsets. You can also mix and match to get a custom-made look for your photographs. As well as being able to share to all the usual social media platforms, you can also link back to Instagram.

This app isn’t bringing anything new to the Instagram market, but the sheer variety of lenses and filters are worth a look for anyone that enjoys getting creative with their day-to-day snaps.

eyeem
  • Platform: iOS/Android
  • Price: Free
  • Publish your best shots for brands to buy
  • Participate in challenges set by big brands to win prizes
  • Join a community of more than 20 million users

If you think your images are sellable, EyeEm is the app for you. This smart platform allows you to publish your favorite photos, which image buyers, media outlets and big brands can then browse and potentially buy. What makes this image sharing platform different from regular stock sites is that it still has that Insta-community feel, and it’s an equally excellent place to go for inspiration.

With EyeEm you can take photos in the app or import them from your camera or phone. You can then edit and apply filters, as you’d expect, and add tags to help other users and potential buyers find your work. We love the EyeEm Selects feature, which scans your images and picks the shots that have the highest score according to their aesthetics algorithm. This safe and private tool makes it easier to work out which images are sellable, which in theory makes it easier for you to make money.

We really love the ‘missions’ which are regularly set by the brand. These competitions are set by brands with specific briefs, and prizes range from having your work used in commercial campaigns and exhibitions, to decent cash prizes.

If you’re looking for an Instagram alternative and fancy getting paid for your efforts, EyeEm is a brilliant option and is very user friendly. You’ll need to prove that you have permission from your models and locations, but other than that it’s super simple to submit your images for sale. 

  • Platform: iOS/Android
  • Price: Free
  • Enjoy neat and curated photo sharing
  • Prioritize quality over popularity with no sponsored posts
  • Upload full resolution images and get instant community feedback

With more than 11 million users, 500px has long been a popular app within the photography community. And a community is exactly what it is: this app is all about building a place to share your work and start discussions.

We love the clean and simple layout and the back to basics concept. There are no hashtags and it’s not about collecting heart-shaped likes: the focus is purely on sharing beautiful work with people who appreciate photography. The curated collections are a great place to find inspiration for your next shoot, and 500px actively encourage open and honest feedback with the aim of helping users improve their work. These collections are put together by fellow photographers and are broken down into categories such as people and nature, so you can delve into what you love without sifting through the rest.

Looking to sell your images? Submit your work to the inbuilt marketplace for potential clients to view, or make the most of the opportunity to work with big brands via the assignments feature.

It’s a nice touch to be able to upload full resolution images, and it is thoughtful additions like this that makes this app so appealing to professionals and passionate hobbyists. If you want more than holiday snaps and selfies filling up your feed, 500px is a very good option.

SWNG
  • Platform: iOS
  • Price: Free
  • Add movement in a more creative way than Boomerangs
  • Instagram’s more sophisticated cousin
  • Levels the playing field for novices and professionals

Polaroid may have been around since the 40’s, but the 2016 app under the same name brings the brand to the forefront of modern day photography sharing. The app doesn’t actually belong to Polaroid, but was instead inspired by the brand because of its retro-cool vibe.

The idea behind the app is to bring photography to life by adding subtle movement to stills. Simply drag your finger across your touchscreen or move your curser over the image and you’ll see hair blow in the wind or an eye blink. This makes the Instagram-esque feed feel like something that’s totally new.

The fun thing about this app is that it genuinely levels the playing field. A pro photographer might struggle to integrate movement into the medium that they know so well, whereas an amateur could pick up their smartphone and create a perfectly curated moving image. The fun in Swing is that it’s an unknown entity for you to play around with.

The app has suffered a slow uptake, but anyone who enjoys playing around with their images should seriously give Swing a try: it’s the best app on our list for testing your creativity. 

stellar logo
  • Platform: iOS/Android
  • Price: Free
  • Combining photography with narrative
  • Give your images more of an editorial feel
  • Share images you like across social media platforms

This app is more about sharing stories than photography, but it still deserves a place on this list as its main focus is still imagery.

Users can upload images and videos and use them to tell a story using various layout templates. If you want to tell a story with a series of images, you can then add new videos or images before sharing them. These images can then be seen in the ‘storyline’ feed along with any other stories that a particular user follows. Other users can like and comment on posts in the exact same way as on Instagram, and can also share them to other social media platforms: as can you.

‘Collections’ is designed to help you find new accounts to follow and is divided up into categories such as ‘extreme’ and ‘places’.

We love the way that Steller combines elements to allow you to tell a story, and the way that users can flick through ‘pages’ of that story is really satisfying. The overall design of the app is beautiful and it’s very easy to navigate. If you like an element of design in your visual media, this is the app for you. 

  • Platform: iOS
  • Price: Free
  • Like Instagram but with full-screen images
  • Upload full HD images for a higher quality feed
  • Link your Instagram account easily

Ok, so Dayflash isn’t groundbreaking in its concept, but it does what it does so well that it’s worth knowing about.

Much like Instagram, sharing and inspiring is the concept behind the app. The creators want to provide creatives with a way to reach new audiences. Users can follow friends and also see the feed of friends-of-friends which is a nice way to broaden the variety of images that you see.

The main difference to Instagram is the formatting of the photos that you share. Dayflash doesn’t use the same square photo layout that Instagram favors, and instead immerses you in full-screen vertical HD photos.

As you’d expect, you can import photos as well as taking them through the app’s camera, and you can apply filters and make edits before you post. The HD photos taken using the app camera aren’t automatically stored on your phone either, which is a nice space saving touch.

It’s early days for the app but it already has users from over 30 different countries, and there are thousands of photographers, media managers and content creators using Dayflash to share their aesthetic. We love the focus that Dayflash has on providing creators with a platform for their art, and because you can link your Instagram, the app is a nice way to get extra exposure if it’s still your go-to image sharing site.

  • Platform: iOS/Android
  • Price: Paid subscription required
  • The company recently acquired Flickr
  • Download your imaged to show them offline
  • Several subscription levels available

SmugMug recently acquired Flickr, one of the original and best loved photo sharing sites, and they are pooling their resources to build a mega-community of photographers and creatives.

This platform is aiming to be the best place to show your work on your smartphone either for fun or for business, and it’s doing a pretty good job of achieving this. You can’t create galleries directly on the app, but what you can do is create them ahead of time on your computer and then have them in your pocket ready for whenever you need to show off your work.

Something that makes SmugMug an excellent Instagram alternative is the ability to download entire galleries so they’re available offline for when your signal isn’t the strongest. This can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re using your account as a professional photographer. You can also share images directly from the app via SMS, email and social media, so it’s not limited to face-to-face sharing.

This is the only app that you have to pay for on our list, but according to the creators you’ll be treated as a priority rather than a product because of this. There’s a 14 day free trial available so you can play around with the features on offer, but if you want to be part of their community it’ll cost you between $47.88 per year for the basic package and $359.88 per year for the business package which provides you with all the tools you need to make your account a professional, client friendly portfolio.

  • Platform: iOS/Android
  • Price: Free
  • The selfie app to end all other selfie apps
  • Endless customization options via filters, stamps and more
  • Share images across various social networks.
retrica

If you like selfies, this is the app for you. According to Retrica, 80,000,000 photos are taken with the app each day, and a massive 90% of those are snaps of people’s faces.

There are over 150 filters available and they mostly focus on beauty, so users can always look their best without spending hours on editing. Just like Instagram’s stories, you have the option to add stickers, doodles and text to your images too, so you can really make them your own.

If you’re finding it tough to settle on one image you can use the collage maker to upload multiple images at a time, or use the retro-style photo booth feature to add a bit of fun to your photos. You can also stream live videos if images aren’t enough for you, and you can make GIFs from your collages or videos, too.

With regards to the community, there are currently around 350,000,000 downloads of the app, so there’s a lot of content available for inspiration. The Insta-style ‘discover’ feed lets you browse other content and connect with accounts that you like, and sharing gives you the ability to post on all the usual social media platforms.

1. Ello

  • Platform: iOS/Android
  • Price: Free
  • Created for artists, by artists to allow true creativity
  • Chronological, sponsor-free feeds
  • Discover new creators with over 40 curated collections

We have, in our opinion have saved the best Instagram alternative for last. Ello is that Instagram used to be (and that we wish it still was), and more.

This platform is about the artists that use it, rather than how much money the app can make out of filling your feed with sponsored posts. You know that algorithm-based feed that annoys you in Instagram? It doesn’t exist here, and the feed is chronological and free of recommended posts and business profiles.

There’s more flexibility in this app, too, and you can post text, video, links, and images of any ratio. You can tell your story in more depth and with more flexible creativity, and because the whole caption is indexed you don’t need thousands of hashtags to make your post discoverable.

The discover tab is excellent in Ello, and there are more than 40 hand-curated categories for you to browse and enjoy. You can even become a featured user for a few months if your work is selected by the team behind the app.

If you’re a professional photographer you could even make some money from this platform via the weekly giveaways where Ello buy users’ art and gift it to other members of the community. There’s also the opportunity to collaborate with big brands who use the platform to look for talent.

If you’re looking for a true Instagram alternative, you’ve found it in Ello.

Conclusion

Instagram is still at the top of the game when it comes to social media and image sharing, but with so many awesome alternatives available, how long will it be until another app knocks it off the top spot?

What’s your favorite Instagram alternative? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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