Mobile Photography 101 {Part 3}: Mobile Apps

When it comes to using your cell phone to snap pictures, do you snap and go, or do you like to take a few extra steps to get it picture perfect? There are definitely two camps on this topic...some folks swear by untouched photos and others swear by giving their pics a little extra help.  I fall into the latter camp, so today, as we continue with my mobile photography series, I'm sharing a bunch of my favorite apps for sprucing up your images and taking your mobile photography from ho-hum to beyond awesome!

I have been SO excited to put together this post for you!  I love trying new photo apps and last summer, I took a 3 week workshop specifically on the art of mobile photography.

I was introduced to a bunch of apps for all kinds of creative editing and creating pieces of art with a mobile photo.  While I don't use all of the apps I learned in that class, I fell in love with several of them.  Since then, I've discovered a few more that I love and as a result, I have a nice little toolbox of different apps to go to for whatever I need or want to do!

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about mobile phone lenses and in Part 2, we talked about various accessories.  While those can help you take better or more interesting photos, adding in a little post processing can really take your photos from just okay, to wow!

I'm not generally a fan of over processed photos, but adding in a little oomph can not only be fun, but really set your photos apart!

For each of the apps below, I’ve included links to where you can buy or download these.  I use an iPhone, so all of these are available through iTunes.  If you don't use an iPhone, not all of them are available for Android phones, but I did a little research and it seems that most of them are (With that said, I’m not familiar with Android phones, so I only checked on Google Play - if there is another source for Android apps, feel free to check there for those where I failed to find the app via Google Play).

Apps for Taking Photos

The first thing you have to do is take the photo!  I use the camera that is native to the iPhone for 98% of my photos.  I generally have it set in the square mode and find the quality to be just fine for most situations.  

VSCO Cam

Available for: iPhone  |  Android
VSCO Cam is crazy popular and I love it for editing.  It also allows you to take photos right from the app.  The benefit is the ability to have it automatically available within the app for editing.  I don’t use this app for taking photos, but just wanted to mention this is an option if you don’t want the extra step of importing those that you want to edit.  That’s particularly handy if you’re taking a lot of photos (for example, when you’re on vacation or at an event).

Camera+

Available for:  iPhone  |  Android
I used to use Camera+ before I got the iPhone 5s.  It was a little better with options.  But, since upgrading to the 5s two years ago, I've found the native iPhone camera to be just as good and a lot easier to use, so I don't use Camera+ anymore.  I wanted to mention it, though, in case you're on an older iPhone or you don't like the camera app with whatever phone you currently use.

Apps for Editing

My general rule of thumb is to try to get the best shot possible right off the bat to limit the amount of editing that I need to do.  Why do I do that?  Two reasons… 1) It saves time - the less editing I need to do, the more time I save 2) Too much editing can lessen the quality of the image, so it’s best to not go overboard with editing!

VSCO Cam

Available for:  iPhone  |  Android
This is my main app for edits.  After taking photos, I import the ones I want to edit and share.  VSCO Cam comes with a nice variety of preset edits and you buy more from them, if you so desire.  

While it’s fun to play around with all of the different styles, my suggestion is to figure out one or two that are somewhat similar and stick with those.  

For a cohesive look, both for Instagram and for your brand, you want your photos to have a similar editing style, so don’t go crazy with using a ton of different styles. 

I tend to use C2 and C3 for my photos.  Depending on the photo, I will either use the full strength or I’ll dial it back a bit.  I then go into the manual editing mode to adjust exposure, shadows, matte-ness, etc.  Again, don’t go overboard, just tweak it enough to get your look.

Mextures

Available for:  iPhone I love Mextures!  
Mextures allows you to add textures, light leaks, radiance, and more.  As with editing, use a light hand and don’t go overboard.  While you can layer on numerous textures and looks in this app (and adjust the intensity of each), I suggest not going crazy.  Pick a few that are your faves and stick with those.  While I have fun playing with these, I only use one of the Radiance options for all of my photos that I share on Instagram.  That helps to give it a consistent look and brand.   I use this app after I do my edits in VSCO Cam and it’s my final step before I share it on Instagram.

Mextures - Before

Mextures - Before

Mextures - After

Mextures - After

Note: this is a very subtle example of Mextures.  They have a TON of options for doing a lot of cool things!

Tadaa SLR

Available for:  iPhone
Tadaa SLR attempts to mimic the wide aperture of a dSLR.  Using a wide open lens on a dSLR camera gives you crystal sharp focus on your subject with the background nice and blurry. This allows you to isolate your subject and minimize the distractions in the background.

This is very difficult to achieve on a mobile phone and with just a standard camera app, it’s impossible because the aperture of the phone isn’t wide enough to allow for the blurry background.  

That’s where this app comes in handy!  While it’s not quite the same as a dSLR camera and wide lens, it helps you achieve the affect rather nicely.  

You can either snap the pic right from this app, or after taking your photo with your preferred camera app, just upload it into this app and go to town! 

You have the option to apply the blur either in a linear fashion or circular.  You can modify the intensity of the blur, the size of the area in focus and exactly what in the frame you want to be in sharp focus.

Tadaa - Before

Tadaa - Before

Tadaa - After

Tadaa - After

Pretty cool, right?!  My one piece of advice…don’t go too heavy on the blur or it’ll look too overdone!

Other Editing Apps…

As I mentioned, the vast majority of my editing is taken care of in VSCO Cam.  For the rare occasion where I need to remove something in the photo (like something distracting in the background), I use one of the following apps (which one depends on exactly what I need to do):

Apps for Photo Fun

Sometimes you just want to have a little fun with your photos!  These two apps fit the bill perfectly.  I’ve used these for various photos, even though I don’t typically share them via Instagram or online (hey…not everything you take photos of has to go online!).

Waterlogue

Available for:  iPhone
This app is SO much fun!  When I first discovered it last summer, I was Waterloguing everything.  This app allows you to convert your photos into watercolors!!  My goal is to actually print a few of these out onto a textured card stock to mimic an actual watercolor image.  Maybe a few travel images in a small series!

Waterlogue - Before

Waterlogue - Before

Waterlogue - After

Waterlogue - After

Note: Image provided by Waterlogue app.

Glaze

Available for:  iPhone
This is another app that is a ton of fun.  It’s somewhat similar to Waterlogue in that it can give a painted effect, but there are a lot of options to play with.

Glaze - Before

Glaze - Before

Glaze - After

Glaze - After

This is another subtle example, so be sure to check it out to see all of the many different cool things you can do!

Apps for Adding Text

Sometimes you want to add a label or a fun quote to your image and there are a lot of options out there that will allow you to do this.  These three are my favorites!

Word Swag

Available for:  iPhone
Word Swag is my favorite app for adding text!  I only recently discovered it, so I may be way behind the times on this one, but just in case this one is new to you too, you have to check it out!

This app allows you to either use your own photos, or pick some free images from pixabay.com.  Then, you enter your text and you have a ton of options for how it displays on your image.  The available options allow you to create a very professional looking image in just a few quick minutes!

Check out these two quick images I created this week…

WordSwag app

WordSwag app

WordSwag app

WordSwag app

A Beautiful Mess

Available for:  iPhone  |  Android
This is a fun app…it has a nice variety of text overlays, but I don’t think they’re quite as ‘professional’ as Word Swag and you’re only limited to your own images (which may not be a bad thing if that’s the only thing you want to add text too!).  

They do have some ‘background’ options but they’re not photos, they’re graphic elements.  One thing I love about this app, though, is the doodles!  The heart I’ve added in the example below is definitely one of my faves!

A Beautiful Mess app

A Beautiful Mess app

LabelBox

Available for:  iPhone  |  Android
I don’t use this app that often, but I wanted to include it since it is a lot of fun.  This app allows you to add a label to your photo with custom text.  It’s super easy and there are numerous options!

LabelBox app

LabelBox app

Check out the Rest of the Series

If you'd like to learn more to up your mobile photography game, then be sure to read the rest of the series before you go!

Part 1:  Mobile Lenses
Part 2:  Accessories
Part 3:  You're looking at it right now!
Part 4: Tips & Tricks

Your turn friends! What are YOUR favorite apps for editing mobile photos? I'd love to hear, so leave me a comment and let me know!!