Say Cheese! + iPhone Photography Apps

Today, people are OBSESSED with capturing every photo op. Some might argue that people are more interested in capturing life’s moments on camera than they are with actually LIVING life’s moments. Is it simply just EASIER to take photos these days because our mobile phones double as cameras and are therefore always with us? Or is it a result of the unquenchable desire for more likes, favorites, comments, and retweets on social media? Maybe it’s some combination of the two, but it’s clear that there truly are ZERO boundaries when it comes to what people capture and share on the internet – gorgeous sunsets, mouth-watering food pics (guilty as charged), sleeping babies, adorable pets, staged moments pretending to be candid shots, and lots and lots (and lots) of selfies taken anywhere and everywhere.

Now, I’m not necessarily complaining, because people take some super awesome photos. And combined with my Instagram obsession I THOROUGHLY enjoying scrolling through this awesomeness every single day. But along with all of this photo taking and social media posting, there’s another interesting phenomenon at play. Filtering. God forbid that we actually show ourselves “au naturel.” Nope. Forget it. I often wear sweatpants in public, I have ONE good side of my face, and makeup only happens if I’m not running late (ha!). In other words, if I’m not in full prom-mode, don’t you dare post and tag me without a filter to hide all my blemishes and blotches. If things are REALLY dire, sometimes it’s even necessary to bring in the #filteronfilter reinforcements. Let’s face it, there’s more filtering going on in people’s pictures than in the stories I used to tell my parents about my college days. Also, we have no idea what anyone REALLY looks like anymore.

Anyways, seeing someone with an actual digital camera – not one of those fancy SLR cameras, but a pocket-sized, point-and-shoot Canon Elph or something similar – is like spotting a unicorn. My coworker actually BOUGHT a digital camera a few weeks ago to use at corporate events and asked me my thoughts on which one was the best. Trouble is, I know about as much about digital cameras as I know about applying eye makeup (read: zero – it’s a constant struggle). It literally felt like she was researching VCRs.

Basically, unless you’re a photog or need “professional” looking photos for your line of work, or you just have a burning desire to carry a 20 lb. free-weight around your neck while out and about, then your primary (and maybe only) camera is most likely your mobile phone. For MOST people, it’s enough. Problem is, there are literally dozens, and dozens of photography apps available for your iPhone. How does one choose which to download and possibly even (gasp!) PAY FOR? Well I’ve saved you the trouble and have listed my favorites below, along with a short description, the cost (if any), and an example of what it can do to your photos.

I’m going to focus on iPhone camera apps because I rock an iPhone – so these are the only apps I have actual experience with. However, many of these are also available for Android, and Rebecca may be able to chime in with some of her faves at some point as well.


Things to note:

  • Some of these apps offer a multitude of features, I’m just highlighting what I personally use the app for (which may only be one small feature that the app offers).
  • Most of the apps allow you to take photos directly within the app, but I typically just take photos with the native iPhone camera and then upload them into whichever app I want to make edits in.
  • Some of the paid apps offer free versions (with ads) as well; I tend to pony-up the small cost so I can be ad freeeeee.
  • You can click on each app’s name to check the full app descriptions and reviews in the iTunes store, and get more details about the complete functionality of each app.
  • This list is by no means comprehensive – just the ones that I use most often. I know there a TON of others so feel free to leave your favorites in the comments!


Fun Edits 

*click on any of the photos to enlarge (or click Ctrl + “+” to zoom in through your browser)

  • ToonCamera – turns your photos into cartoons ($1.99; works on iPad too)

140803 Camera Apps 1

  • Color Splash – allows you to convert a photo to black and white, and then “paint” color back into whatever detail you want ($0.99)

140803 Camera Apps 2

  • ColorStrokes – this app essentially does the same thing as “Color Splash,” but there’s one feature in this app I like – there’s a quick “FX Effects” that allows you to add an HDR-like effect to your photos without having to spend time adjusting every little aspect (like you can in the full HDR apps below) ($0.99) * I’ve had some issues with the user-interface in this app – it almost seemed like they stopped updating it – but overall it still works

140803 Camera Apps 3

  • YouDoodle – allows you to “draw” on your photos; add silly doodles, stickers, text (Free; works on iPad too)

140803 Camera Apps 4

  • My Sketch – turns your photos into (lots of different variations of) hand-drawn “sketches” ($1.99; works on iPad too)

140803 Camera Apps 5

  • Finger Focus – allows you to create “blur” effects on your photos just by using your finger (you select which area to focus on, and the rest blurs) ($0.99)

140803 Camera Apps 6

Add quotes/text/captions

  • InstaQuote – lots of stock quotes/words/phrases – you can also create your own and then choose from a bunch of different types of fonts (Free)
  • Word Swag – same idea; choose from “stock” stuff, or create your own and the app will turn your words into cool photo text designs and captions ($2.99)

140803 Camera Apps 7

HDR Apps (what is HDR?)

  • Pro HDR – this is my personal favorite ($1.99; works on iPad too)
  • Simply HDR – another popular one ($1.99)

True replacements for the iPhone Camera App

  • VSCOCam – nice looking, intuitive interface; lots of editing options; if I wasn’t using the iPhone Camera App this would be my app of choice (Free)
  • Camera+ –  gets mentioned everywhere; also a good option if you’re looking for a  true replacement ($1.99)

Others I Love

  • TimerCam – pretty straightforward – a self-timer app (Free)
  • Slow Shutter Cam – allows you to capture “slow shutter speed effects” ($0.99)

140803 Camera Apps 8

  • Pic Stitch – allows you to create collages from your existing photos (Free; works on iPad too)

140803 Camera Apps 9

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