photography tips


Smartphones, especially the iPhone, have created a huge boom in photography and consequently in the development of iPhone camera apps. In fact, an estimated 85 percent of all photos are taken with a smartphone.

Hardly surprising. Having a camera in your pocket everywhere you go makes it a lot easier to capture moments as they happen. But if you want to take your “iPhotography” to the next level, you’ll need these apps.

Let’s look at 10 of the most useful iPhone camera apps.

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#1: Camera+ 2 – the photo editor for more control

A woman photographs a graffiti wall

The built-in iPhone camera app has come a long way since its first few versions but still lacks a lot of useful features. Camera+ 2 will help fill in those gaps.

It adds advanced features like a continuous flash, timer, and a bunch of preset filters. As well as this, you also get more control over your focus and exposure settings. Camera+ 2 supports multiple lenses on the latest iPhone models and shoots RAW images if you want the ultimate control over your pictures.

P.S. Social distancing forcing your photography indoors? Try out these unusual indoor photoshoot ideas.

#2: Halide – king of iPhone camera apps for beginners

A person photographs the sea with his phone

Halide is another third-party camera app that adds a lot of extra features beyond the built-in camera. Halide is great for beginners who want everything to be as automatic as possible. However, it also gives you a bunch of manual controls if you just want to have total control over your pictures.

It offers advanced tools like focus peaking and RAW shooting as well as letting you use the bokeh effects in portrait mode in any situation. The built-in camera app only supports portrait mode for people shots in many cases.

If you are a beginner, check out part one of our ultimate guide to (travel) photography from beginner to advanced.

#3: Afterlight 2 – photo filters galore

iphone with camera apps held up in front of bridge

Recent versions of iOS added editing features in the camera and photos apps but they’re still relatively limited. If you want to take your pictures to the next level, you need a more powerful editing app.

Afterlight 2 adds a bunch of powerful editing options including curves, hue and saturation adjustments, overlays, and grain. It also lets you apply over 130 unique filters to your images automatically, meaning you can produce photos for any occasion.

#4: Adobe Photoshop Express – a classic among iPhone camera apps

Adobe Photoshop is the 800-pound gorilla of photo editors and Photoshop Express puts a lot of that power in the palm of your hand. It lets you fix basic problems like red-eye and photos that aren’t quite straight as well as fix contract, exposure, and white balance with one touch.

You can add text to your pictures, correct perspective distortions, and apply filters to your images all in one place. And the Collage feature lets you create collages of several pictures that you can post to Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else you want to share your photos.

#5: Facetune 2 – the app for perfect selfies

a woman poses in the sun in the woods

Facetune 2 is a selfie editor that lets you fix blemishes or wrinkles, smooth the look of your skin, get rid of shine, and more. You can make your selfies look as if you spent several hours getting prepped for your photoshoot.

It also lets you replace backgrounds and add creative light effects to your photos. It’s even possible to easily change your eye color if you want to see what you’d look like as a blue- or green-eyed version of yourself.

Not selfies so much as portraits you’re interested in? Here’s our tips on coping with (amateur) family photography and producing the perfect photo.

#6: Instasize – The toolkit for social creatives

Find the perfect filter according to your colors and lighting of your image. (Source: Instasize)

Looking for an editing app that’s easy on the phone memory but won’t skimp on the artistic tools? Instasize is your answer to getting visually engaging content with minimum effort. The free and basic version goes a long way with 50+ borders, 25+ fonts, 10 original filters, including ‘Recommended Filters’ based on your image colors and lighting if you’re on an iPhone. Instasize combines more than 10 professional editing tools for polished contrast, grain, and saturation levels with creative layouts, patterns for borders, and stylized text for your captions.

Creators should give the Premium version a go with its hefty collection of 100+ filters, unique borders, advanced beauty tools, and other exclusive content for creators.

#7: VSCO – iPhone camera app for video effects

the iPhone camera app VSCO is open on the wooden table

VSCO is another photo editing app that also lets you work with video. It includes a bunch of presets that let you make changes quickly and easily. Presets also let you make the same changes to several pictures if you want them to have a consistent style.

Like most editors, it lets you adjust things like contrast, saturation, and grain, crop and rotate your photos and various other adjustments.

The unique thing about VSCO is that it also lets you share your pictures with the VSCO community. It’s a little like a smaller version of Instagram. Additionally, you can share your photos and explore pictures and videos created by other people around the world.

#8: Snapseed – one of the most powerful free iPhone camera apps

Snapseed is a free image editor from Google that includes a lot of powerful features. It supports RAW photos as well as JPG, giving you even more control over your photography.

Snapseed offers a “selective” adjustment feature known as Control point technology. You can choose up to eight points in your photo. When you choose an adjustment, the apps algorithm will magically adjust the entire photo at varying degrees to give you the best possible overall result.

#9: Color Splash – the photo app for complete creativity

Person holds phone against creative background

Color Splash is a unique image editor that will convert your photo to black and white and then let you “paint” the color back into certain spots.

It’s touch-based and is smart enough to identify the edges on parts of the photo. So it’s a lot easier to make the adjustments than you might think, even if your picture has some small details in it.

If you’re interested in black and white photography in general, here’s how to take better monochrome photos on your smartphone.

#10: Instagram – the ultimate share platform

iPhone Instagram account held high against high rise building

What list of best iPhone photography apps would be complete without the biggest social media platform for sharing photos? Instagram lets you share your photos with your friends and family or the entire world.

It has some basic photo editing features and a good selection of filters built in. This means you can make adjustments to get your pictures looking as nice as possible right in the app.

While we’re thinking about Instagram, here’s the best Instagram creators around to inspire your photography.

#11: MyPostcard – the app for convenient printing and sharing

Square photos lie on a white table

Like the above, our app is all about sharing your photography – but this time on a more personal level. You can have the most professionally edited photo ever, but you need people to appreciate it too. Bonus: A lot of people find their photos look better in print too.

MyPostcard lets you take your images, use its classic editing features and order them on the app. While you can take photos directly in the app, you can also upload them from your phone gallery or social media. It then prints and sends them anywhere worldwide, either as photos, postcards, greeting cards or professionally framed photos – your choice.

Bonus: The only iPhone photo app you truly need

AKA the built-in camera app! Apple has added a lot of great features over the last few versions of iOS and it has become a pretty powerful app in itself.

When Apple releases new iPhones with better cameras and new camera features, the built-in app is often the only one that supports them at first. It might sometimes be your only option for new features while you wait for your favorite third-party app to be updated.

But the biggest reason the built-in camera app is on this list is its convenience. Swiping left from the lock screen puts you into the camera app and ready to take a picture. Few other iPhone camera apps can be opened as quickly when you need to catch a moment.

Do you have any iPhone camera apps you can’t live without?

Do you have iPhone camera apps downloaded on your phone that you swear by?

We’d love you to add them in the comments to help us keep this post up to date!

Hello and welcome to our Photography Guide Part II. In our Travel Photography Part I you learned all about the preparation, gained a feeling about what makes the Travel Photography so special and what to do or not to do when you are on location. The Tips 1 – 6 helped you understanding the basic rules.

Today we want to talk about different techniques on different sections of Travel Photography and general thoughts about this topic. So why we are so excited about making pictures while discover new destinations? Because we want to communicate what makes a place truly special. We want to fix things which suprise, intrigue, excite and inspire. Good travel photography doesn’t just confirm what we already know about a place, rather it challenges our preconceptions, making us question what we think we know.

Technique and Approach
Tip #7 – People

Travel Photography - Taking Pictures of People

First off, as with any genre of photography, shoot in RAW format if your camera will permit it. There’s little point in taking great travel photos if they are just low-quality JPEGs. With RAW you can have JPEGs any time you want. But you’ve also got the higher resolution files too in case you should ever need them.

Shooting people means meeting people. Or at least having some kind of rapport with them, no matter how fleeting. Yes, you might be able to get away with shooting in a more fly-on-the-wall documentary style too. But unless you have some kind of “in” to your host country, shooting documentary photos on the streets will mean you only get images of pubic life, not more intimate and surprising scenes from within the confines of peoples’ homes, workplaces and sites of worship.

Having said this, if street life is your thing, be sure to research potentially interesting areas of each major city you visit: in some countries a lot of life is lived out in the open and visiting the right neighborhood can produce plenty of great material. Also check for things like local festivals, holidays and major events, and plan your visit to coincide.

Tip #8 – Natural Landscapes

Taking photos of Landscapes in Travel Photography

If you’re into shooting landscapes, it can seem difficult to find truly unique and little-known subjects that are also genuinely stunning. But you can, and will, if you make a little effort to venture beyond the standard tourist spots.

You might also want to look into apps such as the Photographer’s Ephemeris or Sun Seeker to help you plan your landscape shots. These are handy tools that will help you to arrive at a chosen location at precisely the right time to catch the sunrise, sunset and the golden hours.

Tip #9 – Cities and Architecture

Cities and Architecture is one field of Travel Photography

Buildings make great travel photography subjects. Just seeing a certain style of architecture can immediately transport a viewer to that place. Look for distinctive buildings that have something to “say” about the location. Sometimes it’s all about the contrast between different kinds of building: old and new; tall and small.

Cities can be great to shoot at night, or just after sundown when the electric lights have come on but there’s still a lingering trace of daylight in the sky. Try to get all vertical and horizontal lines nicely parallel to the side of the frame when shooting buildings (this isn’t always possible without specialized equipment though).

Tip #10 – Sunsets

Sunsets should be not a big topic in Travel Photography

Sunsets are nice. Everyone likes sunsets.

Everyone takes pictures of sunsets too. Do we need any more pictures of sunsets? What makes yours different? Maybe just put the camera down and enjoy the sunset.

Tip #11 – Instagram Trends

Instagram Trends in Travel Photography

Want to be the next Instagram travel photography “influencer”? This means becoming an instantly recognizable “brand”. In the same way that all the world’s biggest companies tend to provide one type of product or service that everyone knows them for, you’ll need to hit upon an idea that will keep people coming back to you, certain that you won’t disappoint.

Here the product is your photography. Just as there are better burgers to be had elsewhere than McDonalds, you don’t need to be the most technically accomplished photographer in order to become an Instagram star. What you need is an idea. A fun, simple idea that you can repeat in every location you visit.

There’s nothing particularly complicated about the #FollowMeTo, #LensBetweenUs or #GirlEatWorld photographs. And the heavy-handed use of filters on some of them wont be to everyone’s tastes. But there’s no denying that these Instagrammers hit upon great ideas. You’ll need one too if you want to achieve the same degree of social media success.

Here are some Inspirations for Instagram Trends:

The #FollowMeTo Pose

The #GirlEatWorld Trend

The #LensBetweenUs Style

And our Instagram Photography Accounts we follow!

General Travel Photography Tips
Tip #12 – Go Solo

Travel Photography - Go Solo

You might not want to hear this, but if you really want to excel at travel photography, you should probably travel alone. Or with just one other person, if you really must.

As a solo traveller you are more approachable, less threatening. This makes it much easier to meet people. Meeting people will open doors to exciting places, and exciting photo opportunities. Even traveling as a couple (romantic or otherwise) will make you a little less approachable. Meanwhile, in a group you’ll find it almost impossible to get access to anything but the most superficial and stereotypical views of a destination. Travel photography is sometimes a lonely profession.

Tip #13 – Get a Fixer

A Guide or Fixer as a Tip for successful Travel Photography

Whether traveling alone or with a friend/partner, it can help massively if you have access to someone with insider knowledge of the location: a “fixer” in journalism-speak. If you already have a local friend, great, they’ll likely be able to provide all the help and insider info you need.

If not, then you should seek out someone who can assist you. This could be a professional guide, or a friendly and helpful taxi driver (maybe offer to pay a daily rate if they’ll take you around). Even a bored hotel receptionist with plenty of time on their hands could be a wealth of local info.

Tip #14 – Be Open

Travel Photography - be open

Naturally, it’s always going to be easier to enlist the help of others if you are friendly and outgoing yourself. Even if it’s the thousandth time today that you’ve been offered a taxi/rikshaw/tuk-tuk/massage/ping-pong-ball-show, keep smiling.

Learn as many words of the local language as you possibly can. Expecting people to speak your language in their country will not win you many friends.  “Your language” means English, even if it’s not actually your mother tongue, as in many parts of the world it’s assumed that all foreigners are English speakers.

Even just a few basic words in the local language, such as hello, please, and thank you will go a long way. Most people are flattered when a foreigner takes sufficient interest in their culture to ask intelligent questions about it, so requesting the help of a local to teach you how to say a more difficult phrase in the language (“Hi, I’m a photographer, can I take your picture?”) can be a great way of getting to know people.

And once you know people a little, they are usually very happy for you to take their photo.

So, yes, smile, and talk to people.

A lot.

Tip #15 – Choose Your Destinations Carefully

Travel Photography - Pick your Destinations carefully

Tourism brings money. But it often also has many much less agreeable consequences for local people. People who may or may not actually see very much of the extra money that tourism injects into their local economy.

In hugely popular tourist destinations, you shouldn’t be too surprised if you discover that local people aren’t very friendly, and have precisely zero interest in either you or your photography.

Think about it though: imagine that you’re just trying to earn a basic living, leading a normal life, when suddenly you find your neighborhood overrun by a lot of people – many of whom are also rude, culturally ignorant, and already drunk by midday – then you’d likely have little time for foreign photographers either.

Conversely, in areas that see little tourism, the inhabitants are usually very curious about foreigners: a category of person they may have only ever seen in movies or on the news. Clearly, this situation is going to work out better from everyone’s point of view.

Tip #16 – Become Invisible

Travel Photography - become invisible

You’re a Traveler, right? Not a tourist.

Wrong. As far as the locals are concerned, there’s little difference between you – the intrepid travel photography adventurer – and some loudmouth dude in a hawaiian shirt who has barely ventured further than the poolside bar the entire week. Effectively, you’re a tourist anywhere that you don’t speak the language or permanently live. Perhaps even if you do speak the language and live there. Never forget this.

Having said that, getting good photos often requires becoming as invisible as you possibly can. This means behaving like the locals do, which will not necessarily be how you behave at home. Sure, in some places, you may be the first outsider anyone’s seen in living memory, so expect to be mobbed by the entire village school in friendly excitement. This may produce many great shots. But generally, the more you can blend in and remain in the background, the more “undisturbed” daily life you will be able to witness.

Tip #17 – Wake Early

Wake up early when Travel Photography

Are you on vacation? Or a hardworking travel photographer? There’s no reason why you can’t do both of course, but if you want to improve your travel photography skills, then you’ll need to dedicate at least part of the trip to doing it seriously. This means getting out of bed when the light is good and few other travelers are around.

Perhaps you’re not much of a morning person? Get up anyway, spend an hour or two shooting, and then go back to bed. Midday light is flat and boring anyway, better to take a siesta.

Tip #18 – Get Lost

Travel Photography - Get lost

Pick a direction and just walk. Lose yourself. Make sure you have the name and address of your hotel in the local language though (i.e. pick up a business card from reception). This way if you really get lost you can just grab a cab and head back without a problem.

Check first with locals, though, to make sure that you’re not about to wonder off in the direction of a notoriously sketchy neighborhood.

Tip #19 – Take Your Time and be prepared

Travel Photography - be prepared

Good things come to those who wait. Good travel photographs often come to those who wait all day. Just make sure there’s a shady tree nearby.

Have your camera ready to hand at all times. Always keep one eye on the light: take meter readings frequently and adjust your camera settings when necessary. This way, when a photo opportunity presents itself, click: it’s yours!

Stay safe
Tip #20 – Be sensitive

Travel Photography - Be sensitive

Don’t flash conspicuous bling (i.e. cameras) in a place where the cost of a single lens might be equal to several months’ wages for the lowest paid members of society.

If you’re from a wealthy, industrialized nation and traveling in the “developing” world, the average person is going to assume that you are filthy rich, even if this is very far from the case. Many people will be curious about your (perceived, or at least relative) wealth, and be on the lookout for exciting signs of these expected riches. Cover your cameras in gaffer-tape, taking particular care to hide the Nikon, Canon, Leica or whatever logo. Make it look beat up, ugly, and, above all, totally worthless. This way you’ll likely find that inquisitive eyes (and, most importantly, hands) soon lose interest.

Put all this ugly gear into an equally ugly bag. Not some high-tech pro camera bag with all the bells and whistles. Instead, line a sturdy but nondescript shoulder bag or rucksack with foam and fill it with all the padded dividers out of your regular camera bag. This way people will more likely expect you to pull out your lunch than some state-of-the-art photography gear.

Tip #21 – Be Aware and be sure

Travel Photography - camera bag for a save camera transport

This bag stays with you at all times. Never let yourself be persuaded to part with it under any circumstances. It does not travel in the hold of a plane as checked baggage, only as carry on. It does not sit on luggage racks at the far end of a train carriage. It does not go in a rear locker or on the roof of an intercity bus. If it absolutely must be stored down by your feet when using public transport, then pay special attention that no one crawls through under the seat from behind and helps themselves to its contents while you’re distracted.

However, even these precautions cannot guarantee that you will not be the victim of theft. Get good camera insurance and regularly back-up your RAW files, both to external drives (preferably carried separately from your computer) and to the cloud.

Let’s summarise the Travel Photography Guide
Now enjoy yourself

  • Shoot in RAW
  • Meet the people on local Festivals, Holidays and Events
  • Try to show contrasts (especially in Architecture Photography)
  • The time of day is important
  • You need a funny, simple Style, which is stringent in any locations
  • Travel Photography is a lonely profession
  • Grab a Fixer with knowledge of the Location
  • Learn a little bit of the local Language
  • Be patient
  • While Traveling always adjust your settings constantly

Walking around in a paranoid funk thinking every local is out to fleece you for your precious camera gear is not going to result in too much quality travel photography. Nor, for that matter, in much quality travel. Assuming you even dare take the camera out of its case, you’ll be so defensive and strung-out that most potential subjects will steer well clear of you anyway.

Relax, it’s just a bunch of molded-plastic and microchips. Now get out there and start shooting!

By the way: When you have your portfolio full of beautiful and breathtaking Photos – Show them to the World!!! Do you want to get your Pictures noticed? My simple Tips for getting more Followers and Likes will give you the Attention you deserve.

All the Best,
Nadja from MyPostcard.