It’s an undeniable fact that Apple changed the game for photography, not just in putting a quite-fine camera in it’s mobile devices but by getting the whole App phenomenon seriously underway. From photo apps that let you shoot, edit, prepare, or simply cope/process what the moment is doing abound, and are contributing fundamentally to how many approach their photography.!

With that, some of these apps have helped me immensely either as a photographer or as Photo Tour Brugge, click a name to check it out on the Apple Store.

(Updated October 2015)

Taking Photos

Especially in the last couple of years, the camera in pretty much any Apple device is at least quite good, often in fact quite great. Since the most important tool to a photographer isn’t the quality of their gear but the care in their story (like using composition and lighting that says something interesting), it’s certainly sufficient if either the big camera isn’t at hand or you’re just grabbing a moment on the go.

Camera+ – tap tap tap Think of Camera+ like the default ‘Camera’ app… on steroids. And with a better interface… and lots of control, manual to auto with everything in between.

Camera Awesome – SmugMug – A very fine (and free) app provided by the good folks at Smugmug, this app has plenty of options for the budding photographer on the go. I especially love the composition guide options, finally easy way to put composition overlays that go beyond the grid of thirds!

645 PRO Mk III – Michael Hardaker – With the goal of emulating a more advanced/flexible camera with options that appeal to pros, 645Pro adds some serious options to your iDevice camera. Basic features available include simple but handy custom choices for White Balance or Exposure locks and such, but this app gets the nod for built in gradient filters and film types that offer up DSLR-level options in a clean and logical interface.

Camera – The default app included with every iOS device with a camera, the aptly named ‘Camera’ app is certainly not bad, if sometimes a little over-simple for serious shooting. Getting to know the HDR setting for high contrast settings is somewhat worthwhile (I find it a bit underpowered and underwhelming personally), and I’d say get to know these tricks to control things like overall brightness is a must if this is your only shooting app.

Editing Photos

Adobe Lightroom – Adobe – A major player in the photo editing game, Adobe released this app to let you synchronize your home computer based Lightroom collections (groups of photos) so you can do a hearty range of edits on the go via your mobile device. As of October 2015, Lightroom is now available without needing a Creative Cloud subscription, interesting!!!

Snapseed – Google – A powerful (and free) photo editor so good that Google bought the company! Thankfully getting gobbled by the big G actually led to this app just getting better and better, check it out for near-photoshop levels of editing options.

Photo Editor – Aviary – Another powerful photo editor (this one so good that Adobe bought it up), Aviary is comparable to Snapseed for the range of features on hand. Optional extra filters available via in-app purchase, thankfully not required to make this app a must.

Pixlr-o-matic – Autodesk Inc. – More suited for adding an overall effect in a few clicks, this app is superb for on-the-go edits without bogging you down in options in customization. Enjoy the limits, if the effect really grabs you feel free to work it out properly on your favorite photo editor.

Photos (formerly iPhoto)  Yup, that default app for viewing and editing your photos is not too bad at all. Explore it fully, this MacWorld tutorial could well help. 

Viewing Photos

The default ‘Photos’ app for viewing photos on your iDevice is pretty damn capable, especially if you use iCloud to manage your photo library between devices and/or family members. Saying that, here’s some apps that offer you options that beat, bypass or perhaps complement the built in photo browser.

Web Albums  – Pixite LLC (via Picasa/Google+) – Started by former Google employees, this beautifully minimal app lets you view your Picasa and/or Google+ galleries on your iDevice without dealing with Google+. 😉 What makes this app especially nice is that you can download images to your device, a feature that made this my go to app for showing photos when touring as Photo Tour Brugge.

Foliobook Photo Portfolio – Architek Ltd Kind of like the name suggests, this app is great to turn your iDevice into a walking portfolio or self-contained sample website. Highly customizable and easy to use either as builder or viewer (and with a wealth of social sharing options), well worth a look if you want a custom and offline option to make that lasting impression.

Photo Manager Pro – Linkus – A very flexible photo manager that can be used to manage the on-device photos, or even better a private library only accessed through this app! Moving files is theoretically simple with iTunes or FTP transfer options, I say “theoretically” because lately nothing transfers and my emails to support remain unanswered (and I’m not alone on that last one sadly). 6 months ago, no problem. Now… Wish I could tell ya! Still recommended.

Supremely Useful Photo-Related

Sun Surveyor – Adam RatanaThis is my go-to app to find out where the sun is going to be, so many options it would be scary if the interface wasn’t so easy to use! Use the compass, map, Street View or even fire up the camera and see where the sun and moon are going to be.

Nikon Lenses  / Canon Lenses – If you partake of one of these brands for your changeable lens camera needs, this app helps you by listing every lens from the respective manufacturer. Not only that, because a list is handy but info is handier:  Choose a lens to see a healthy list of links of reviews from trustworthy sources!

CamRanger: Wireless DSLR Camera Control – CamRanger – A beast of an app (and this one requires a hardware purchase), Cam Ranger lets you use your iDevice to control your Canon or Nikon Dslr, pretty damn cool if you ask me!

Pocket Light Meter – Nuwaste studios Simply reads the light of the scene and offers you the best settings for a correct exposure. Accurate and easy to use.

Easy Release Model Release App – ApplicationGap If you’re a working photographer you might well know this app, designed to simplify the legal side of taking photos as far as written consent to publish the content of your photo if the face (or even place) is owned by someone you need to sign off on things. If you don’t, just download this app and have it ready, you never know!


Hope these suggestions help you iOS fans, let me know in the comments if there’s a must-have photo app I missed or share your experiences of how any of the apps listed above worked out for you!

  • Pieter Claerhout

    Andy, you’ve forgotten Arthur, the portfolio app 😉 (shameless self promotion alert!)

    • Andy McSweeney (author)

      The self-promotion is worthy and approved Pieter, I’ll have to reload Arthur (got moved around after a pad reset) and see what you’ve been up to there!

  • Noel Chenier

    Hey Andy
    If self-promotion is okay, I’d love to mention my Learn Photo365 photo assignment app. 🙂
    Thousands of potential ideas/inspiration for anyone taking part in a Photo365/52 week/Selfie365 challenge!
    And tons of photo tips for anyone looking to improve their photography.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.