Heather K Adams
star-svg
687
Storyteller

Once upon a time, photography was hard to get into. You needed special equipment, a lot of technical know-how and, if you were at all serious about your craft, your own personal darkroom. Thankfully, technology has made this a hobby or profession much more accessible to anyone with an interest. These days, you can even try your hand at portraiture, food photography or any other genre right from the comfort of your very own phone before you ever need to invest in a professional camera. 

So, what are the best apps for photography if you want to grow your skills? Check out our list below of 11 fun-for-everyone apps and six apps for anyone going pro.

Apps for everyone.

1. Instagram

Source: itunes.apple.com

Features: In-app filters and editing options, built-in social media platform for showcasing your work and connecting with others

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

Instagram has become a platform for just about everyone with something to promote or a reason to connect with an audience or otherwise engage with the world. But it's still the best app out there for photographers to showcase their work and connect as well. You can upload photos already edited in other applications or edit your work using Instagram's in-app editing tools and filters. Either way, if you're looking for a place to show off your work to basically the entire world, Instagram is the way to go.

2. Camera+ 2

Source: Camera.plus

Features: Complete manual control, multiple editing features, shoot RAW images, longer exposure options

iPhone or Android: iPhone

Price: $3.99

This is one of the best apps for photographers with enough experience under their belts to take full advantage of their camera's settings, from ISO to f-stops and beyond. Amateurs can get their feet wet exploring these options. Serious hobbyists can use the app as a stepping stone into feeling even more comfortable shooting in manual mode. They can also use it as a way to decide if they want to invest in an actual professional camera since Camera + 2 is as close to using a DSLR as you can get on your phone.

3. Adobe Lightroom

Source: Play.google.com

Features: Filters and presets, tools for either simple or more advanced editing

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

Lightroom as an app allows for in-depth editing controls that are still fairly intuitive to learn. And you can buy presets for different looks similar to Instagram or film-look filters, among many others. A lot of professional photographers use Lightroom (which is a streamlined version of Photoshop) for editing work on a computer, but the app is pretty accessible to even the most amateur hobbyists out there.

4. VSCO

Source: Apps.apple.com

Features: Presets that mimic the older look of film development, basic photo editing tools with some more advanced manual options

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

Digital photography and cell phones have been revolutionary, allowing anyone with the energy and a phone with a decent camera to grow their photography skills and experience. But the looks of vintage films are deeply loved by many a picture taker and viewer, so a lot of photographers are still seeking to reproduce or at least emulate those styles. VSCO lets you do this using simple filters and editing tools that you can apply to either pictures or videos. You can buy an optional subscription for even more filters as well as more advanced editing tools.

5. Snapseed

Source: Play.google.com

Features: Basic and advanced editing tools, automatic settings, over a dozen filter choices

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

Snapseed is one of the best free apps for both new and more experienced photographers. Newbie shutterbugs can jump in with both feet because it offers very basic filters and easy-to-learn editing tools. More advanced options like shooting RAW photos and more in-depth editing tools give experienced photographers the hands-on options they usually crave. Either way, this app is pretty intuitive to learn and easy to use from day one.

6. TouchRetouch

Source: Apps.apple.com

Features: Retouch photographs to remove objects from the shot or improve imperfections on portrait subjects

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: $1.99

This is the best app for photographers looking to make easy and minor corrections to their work. You can do everything from removing a pesky phone pole or line to smoothing out a portrait subject's complexion. Being able to remove unwanted elements from photographs is especially useful for real estate, landscape and portrait photographers.

7. Lens Distortions

Source: Lensdistortions.com

Features: Add special effects to photos including lens flares, natural light, rain, snow or fog

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

This is one of the best apps for photographers who like to be a bit playful with their work. You can take an existing shot and overlay anything from lens flare effects to sunlight, from rain to snow or fog. Choose from a number of different types of each effect, and even layer them over each other to create high drama and big moods. Effects can also be applied to videos.

8. Pixlr

Source: Pixlr.com

Features: Add effects, overlays, filters or create montages, share directly from the app to social media, edit on your phone or on a laptop through the website

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

Pixlr has a variety of editing and special effects options to enhance your photographs, including the ability to replace backgrounds. Adding this app to your toolbox means you'll get to explore the depths of your photographic creativity in a way that's fun and also easy to use. Pixlr lets you add stickers, icons, texts and more to your photos for a more graphic arts vibe as well.

9. Fused

Source: itunes.apple.com

Features: Create double exposure for both images and videos, save high-resolution files

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

Speaking of exploring your creative depths, Fused is one of the best apps for photographers looking to move in a more experimental direction. It allows you to create double exposures right on your phone, layering images or even videos together, offers and a ton of tools to further edit your work as well. Double exposures, layers and masking elements mean you can take your photography to the level of fine art, right on your phone.

10. Google Photos

Source: Photos.google.com

Features: Unlimited online storage you can access from a phone or a computer

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

The problem with becoming a photographer is what to do with all those pictures, right? While printing them out is of course awesome — who doesn't want to see their art on the wall? — you're still going to want to keep all those digital files. But photos take up a lot of room, so having an app that allows for unlimited storage is definitely a must-have for any photographer.

11. Bacon Camera

Source: Baconcamera.com

Features: Shoot in manual mode, shoot RAW

iPhone or Android: Android

Price: Free

As your photography skills and confidence increase, you'll probably want more control of different settings like white balance, exposure and more. Bacon Camera is one of the best apps for photographers looking to go more hands-on with their work and try something a little fancier than shooting in a basic auto mode. Consider this an introduction to manual.

Apps for pros.

Just because you've made the leap and bought a professional DSLR camera doesn't mean your phone can't still be a useful accessory. From helping you scout locations for portrait sessions or night photography to helping you out on the business side of things, these are some of the best apps for photographers working at a more professional level.

12. Yr Weather App

Source: Yr.no

Features: Reliable weather forecasts for outdoor shooting almost anywhere in the world

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: Free

Created by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, the Yr app is in English and is also touted by many professionals as one of the best apps for photographers who need to know for sure if their shoot is going to be a washout or not. Nobody wants to go ahead with a shoot only to get there and get soaked. Keeping a reliable weather app in your pocket is useful for everyone, of course, but especially for natural light photographers.

13. The Photographer's Ephemeris

Source: itunes.apple.com

Features: Calculate available natural light anywhere in the world

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: $2.99

Speaking of natural light, this is one of the best apps for photographers who love shooting outside and need to know exactly how much light they're going to have available to them. It's a map-oriented light calculator that shows you where either sunlight or moonlight will fall nearly anywhere on the planet. This is invaluable to anyone trying to time a portrait session to make the most of the golden hour or who wants to find the best night to do a little astrophotography.

14. A+ Signature

Source: itunes.apple.com

Features: Add text in a variety of fonts or watermarks with hand-drawing tools, add copyright information to a photo's data, edit images

iPhone or Android: iOS only

Price: $1.99

Anyone interested in sharing their work has probably had the same concern: What if someone uses my work without my permission — or work, takes credit for it? A+ Signature is one of the best apps for photographers who want to make sure this doesn't happen. Not only can you watermark images right on your phone, but you can also embed that copyright information directly into your work.

15. Easy Release

Source: Apps.apple.com

Features: Create custom model release forms, save and send forms as PDFs

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: $9.99

Model-release forms are essential for anyone who photographs people to have on hand. From street photographers to portrait artists, having signed releases means you're free to use the images you create on your website or social media and list them anywhere for sale. The Easy Release app lets you create customized model releases on your phone, and people can even sign them right on your screen. You can then save and send the forms as PDF documents.

16. Pocket Light Meter

Source: Apps.apple.com

Features: Digital light meter, simple to use, reliable exposure readings

iPhone or Android: Both

Price: $10.99

Anyone still shooting on film knows the value of a reliable light meter. Some can be clunky, however, and all of them are just one more thing you need to remember to pack in your camera bag before you head out on location. Forget that one piece of equipment and you're left with few options save a guessing game. With the Pocket Light Meter app, you have everything you need to set an accurate exposure for your photographs, without having to remember to bring any added equipment.

17. Dark Sky Finder

Source: Apps.apple.com

Features: Find areas free of light pollution, including designated "dark sites"

iPhone or Android: iPhone

Price: $2.99

Night photography is a genre many photographers at least dabble in and some develop quite a passion for. Using a weather app will help you find a clear night to go out for a photo session, but being able to find an area also free of light pollution can be more a challenge. Dark Sky Finder shows you where the light pollution in your area is weakest. It also gives the addresses and further information on designated dark sites, where light pollution is exactly zero.

Shutterbugs in the digital age.

When it comes to photography, cell phones are definitely a major plus. Built-in cameras mean you can grab killer shots and video on the fly, and the best apps for photographers offer help with everything from light metering to editing to showing your work to the world. With all of these options at our fingertips, wannabe shutterbugs can now develop pro-level skills with more ease than ever before.

We’re navigating the new normal, together. Join us for support.