How to Brighten Dark Photos on Your Phone or iPad

If you think that too-dark concert selfie’s fate is sealed, wait! The PicMonkey mobile app is loaded with tools to help that could-be-fab photo escape the clutches of underexposure-dom. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try the following four things on your dark photos. So fire up that app, and stop throwing memories in the trash(can icon).

In a hurry? Follow these quick steps for brightening dark photos:

1. Open your photo in the PicMonkey app.

2. Click Adjust on the bottom toolbar, then click Levels.

3. Use the slider to brighten your image accordingly. That's a wrap!

Four mobile options for brightening dark photos

When you brighten dark photos, it’s tough to lighten them up without making them looked washed out. Here's the full rundown on Levels and two other adjustments (plus one photo effect) so that you never have to sacrifice glorious color in your pics!


This is the adjustment to start with, folks! And it could be all you need, depending on your pic. The mobile version of this photo editing powerhouse focuses on your midtones, so when you adjust the Levels slider, you’re pulling the middle greys in your image lighter. The rest of your colors adjust accordingly, which means Levels does a magnificent job of brightening your image without washing it out. Now put your gorgeous shot into one of our Instagram post templates and share it with the world.

Brightness (duh)

Our Brightness adjustment smacks your image with light. Unlike Levels, it doesn’t cause other tones to adjust, but brightens evenly instead. And once you have your pic just right, why not make it your phone's wallpaper? Or better yet, use your perfected photo as the basis for a Pinterest pin, Facebook cover, or YouTube thumbnail!


Saturation affects the colors in your photo, and it’s pretty useful if your pic is looking a touch washed out after you lighten it. Move the slider left to make them more muted, and right to make them more vivid. After you've got your colors the way you want them, you can put a watermark on your pic and let the world know you are the brilliant creator of this masterpiece.


There are a bajillion reasons to love the Lush effect. Not only does it make the richest colors in your image pop like balloons in a nail factory, but it’s also an unexpected dark photo fixer. Since Lush is pretty great at detecting contrast, it works wonders on those tricky dark-in-one-spot-light-in-another photos.

How to fix your dark photo

Every dark photo is different, so experiment until you find the right editing combo. If part of your image needs a little extra brightening or some color love, paint on any of these right where you want ’em. Tap the paintbrush icon, then use your finger to apply the effect or adjustment to the right spot. If you decide you don’t like something you painted on, tap the Eraser icon to remove it from specific areas, or the X in the upper-left corner to get rid of all edits you haven’t applied yet.

Got a stubborn photo? Try applying an adjustment or effect multiple times. Tap the checkmark to apply your changes, then go back into whichever magic photo fixer you wanna use, and apply it again.

Once your pic is looking spectacular, press and hold to see the transformation and relish in your newfound on-the-go photo editing skills. We've also got some fabulous tips on how to take better photos with your phone.

Get all the on-the-go goodness when you download the PicMonkey mobile app:

A PicMonkey subscription gives you access to a suite of powerful features on mobile & desktop.

This article was written by PicMonkey Staff, a multicellular organism of hive-minded sub-parts who just wanna get you the ideas and information you crave, so you can make powerful images that level up your business.