If I had to guess one thing that you’re likely to have on you at all times, odds are your mobile phone would be a safe bet. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just a hobby photographer, you can take your photos to the next level with the best apps for photography. The best apps for photography will help you plan, shoot, and edit your photos to make your portfolio or Instagram feed the envy of your friends and colleagues.
If you’ve read about my process for taking my Instagram photos, you’ll know that planning usually takes up the most time. From scouting beautiful locations to planning your shoots based on the light direction, these photography apps will help you plan when and where to take photos.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris is easily one of the best apps for photography. It is an app that allows you to plan your shoot locations by simulating how the light will fall on the surrounding landscape. Within TPE you will also find tools such as The Photographer’s Transit which gives you detailed information on sightlines and field of view to help plan specific spots for your shoots, and Skyfire, which gives you a forecast for “photogenic light”. Better light leads to better shots and less wasted time.
The TPE Bundle is available in the App Store for $19.99 and the Skyfire subscription is an additional $2.50/month.
Magic Hour is a free photography app that gives you information about photographers’ favorite times of day, golden hour, sunrise, and sunset. It also tells you about the moon phase and the angle of the sun/moon in the sky to help with planning your lighting.
If you were going to download just one app from this list of best apps for photography, it needs to be PhotoPills. PhotoPills is the best app for photography planning because it has so many different features. You can see where the sun will rise and set along with the current position. You can calculate proper exposure. PhotoPills has a really great augmented reality feature to show you where the sun, moon, Milkyway, etc. will be at any given time. PhotoPills is a must for any photographer that wants to be more intentional about planning outdoor shoots.
Photopills is available in the app store for $9.99.
Google Earth and Google maps are great resources for scouting locations. I use google earth and google maps to “fly around” my next destination looking for epic scenery and landscapes. Pair this with PhotoPills or TPE and you have a recipe for beautiful unique images.
Both apps are available in the App Store.
Skyguide is my favorite app for planning astrophotography shoots. While I definitely don’t get out to shoot the stars and the milky way as much as I’d like. When I do get out, I use Skyguide to determine where the milky way is and identify any other bright stars or planets I see while shooting.
Skyguide is available on the app store for $2.99
The technological and quality improvements we have seen in phone cameras over the past 10 years is astonishing. The phone you’re likely reading this on has a camera that is more powerful than some professional-level DSLRs were not too long ago. While the cameras on phones have drastically improved, and are completely fine for most users, photographers are really missing out on one specific thing, shooting RAW. Luckily some brands such as Samsung, Google, and Huawei have begun giving the option to shoot RAW in their native camera apps, but us iPhone users will have to use one of the following best apps for photography to take RAW images on our phones.
I tested out several different camera apps on my iPhone and really only 3 apps are worth the investment. ProCam gives you control over all of the camera settings except aperture. There is even the option for manual focus and automatic focus peaking so that you know what is in focus before you shoot. ProCam also offers different “modes” such as Portrait, Night Mode, Long Exposure and video, but manual settings are not available in all modes.
ProCam is available in the App Store for $5.99
Halide is another great app for photographers looking to shoot in RAW on their iPhone. Halide’s interface is clean and easy to use. It can take a little getting used to but once you do, you can produce some stunning images.
Halide is available on the App Store for $5.99
The camera app that I use most often on my iPhone other than the native camera is Lightroom CC’s camera. Lightroom CC’s camera gives you four different modes to shoot in: Auto, Professional (which allows you to adjust settings like the other two apps above), HDR (which takes a photo then automatically adjusts the settings to reduce highlights and enhance shadows), and Long Exposure. The best part of using the Lightroom CC camera is that photos are automatically added to your creative cloud library giving you access to them on all of your devices for editing.
Lightroom CC is available in the App Store for free, but some features require an Adobe subscription.
I can’t tell you how many times the Canon Connect app has saved my butt when I forgot to bring a remote shutter. The best part is you can preview the photo to make sure it’s in focus, composed the way you want and exposed correctly. All of the major digital camera manufacturers now have an app that allows you to remotely trigger the shutter, so it’s one less thing you have to bring along if you shoot photos of yourself while traveling!
Available for free in the App Store
Now that you have used the best photography apps for planning and shooting your epic photos it’s time to get to editing them. The reason we ALWAYS shoot in RAW is because of the extra information that is saved giving us full control over our colors and exposure. This list of best apps for photography wouldn’t be complete without a few good photo editing apps.
The king of all photo editing apps for your phone, Adobe Lightroom CC. Over the past 3 years, Adobe has been all-in on improving the user experience and functionality of its mobile suite of photography apps. Now the mobile apps have nearly the same functionality available on the full desktop version of Lightroom. I use Lightroom CC on my phone for quick edits using my Lightroom Presets and other minor edits. If you’re trying to improve your photography and editing, but don’t yet have a camera, I suggest you learn how to use Lightroom because the skills are the same once you upgrade to a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Adobe Lightroom CC is available for free in the App Store, but some functions are only available with an Adobe CC subscription.
Prior to Lightroom presets becoming so popular VSCO was the easiest way to get a beautiful consistent Instagram feed. VSCO is still a great app to easily achieve a certain look and to get inspiration for editing styles.
VSCO is available in the App Store
Snapseed is one of the most comprehensive apps for photographers to edit their images. With 28 different editing tools, the possibilities are endless for creating that unique look you’re going for. Snapseed also has filters for automatic retouching of portraits or adding grain to achieve that popular vintage film look.
Snapseed is available on the App Store for free
Focos has both camera and editing capabilities, but what I am really impressed with is the apps ability to separate the foreground and background and change the perceived aperture after you take the photo. Focos also allows you to change the look of the photo based on some famous lenses. Each lens gives a slightly different bokeh and softness effect. I plan on playing with this app a little more to enhance the creativity options when editing photos on my phone.
Focos is available on the App Store for free or $12.99 to unlock all features
When it comes to editing capabilities outside of Adobe Lightroom, the Darkroom app may be the next best thing. It has all the standard slider adjustments, split toning, presets, but if you want to be able to adjust curves or colors you’ll have to splurge for the full version. One unique thing about the darkroom app is that it allows you to edit the foreground and background separately for a portrait mode photo, which can really come in handy if your background is too bright or your subject too dark.
Darkroom is available in the App Store for free, the full version is $9.99
If I am going to replace a sky in a photo, I prefer to do it myself, so I can have full control over it, but if you are looking for a quick solution to enhance the sky in any photo, then Enlight Quickshot is the best app for photography for you. With one tap you can replace skies, add lens flares, or create a look with a filter. It pretty amazing how well this works, but sometimes trees or other objects in the foreground might trick the app a little bit. The full version is a whopping $59.99 for a one-time purchase or $1.66/month for 12 months. You can definitely get by with the free version though.
Enlight Quickshot is available in the App Store for free
So we have covered the best photography apps for planning, shooting, and editing your photos, the last part is getting them ready to share on Instagram or Facebook. These are the best photography apps that will give you a unique look to share photos or videos on your Instagram feed or Story.
Easily one of the coolest photography apps that was released in 2019, YouTuber Sawyer Hartman built FilmFrames from real film stock so that your series of photos can look like it came straight off of a roll of film. I used FilmFrames to recap my year in travel on my Instagram stories at the end of 2019 and got a lot of questions asking how I did it. There are several different frame packs available for purchase within the app, but also plenty of frames that come with the free app.
FilmFrames is available in the App Store for free
Another great app for creating curated Instagram stories, or sharing multiple images on a single story slide is Unfold. The free photography app allows you to seamlessly share multiple images in different frames including polaroids, ripped paper, and others. I’ve used unfold in the past to recap trips to Hawaii and the Turks and Caicos.
Unfold is available for free in the App Store
The final app on this long list of best photography apps is Canva. Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without Canva Pro. I use Canva daily to create Instagram stories, Pinterest Pins, Blog Post Covers, pretty much anything that requires photos and text can be done with Canva. A lot of bloggers even use Canva to create a beautiful media kit that they send out to find potential collaborations. Canva Pro comes with tons of templates included, and it’s very easy to use, you basically just drag and drop images on the page and it does the work of resizing and cropping. You can try Canva Pro for free for 30 days then it’s just $9.99/month, but the free version is great too!
Canva is available for free in the App Store
There are honestly so many different apps for photographers out there that I couldn’t include them all. Adobe recently released an update for the iPad version of Photoshop that has nearly full capabilities, there are about 300 different “camera” apps out there, and more editing and effect apps than I could name. If I didn’t mention an app that you think belongs on the list of best photography apps then let me know in the comments! I love finding new apps that do something unique or streamline my workflow!