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!

Family portraits can be a real challenge if you’re taking care of it yourself. Whether you take your photos on your phone, or you’ve made this passion into your career, what you’re attempting is big: stopping that shared moment in time and making sure that in a few generations time, your grand-grand-grand-kids could be looking at it! Which is reason enough to use these tips to take impressive and authentic photos… and to capture a wonderful moment!

The perfect family portrait begins with good communication

Family having a walk at the beach in sunset for perfect family portraits
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / conrado

Most people don’t pose for professional photos on the daily. So they’re not necessarily used to doing it and this can cause a little bit of tension 😉 Because if you’re not just looking to shoot a technically perfect but also a natural-looking family photo, then you need to make especially sure that all the participants are feeling comfortable during and after the shoot. Even in the model industry, a good chemistry and bit of communication goes a long way towards creating the perfect picture.

Which explains the tip: Having fun with the kids or chatting about relaxed topics like traveling, vacations or hobbies with the adults before the photo shoot avoids things getting tense. Equally, it makes a lot of sense to agree on a plan in advance. Who’s going in front? Is this going to be a laid-back photo for the album or a group portrait which wants to be a little more serious? How many people are in it? Get yourself caught up.

Step 1: What’s in Vogue?

Two families with tailored clothing for perfect family photos

Before it begins: one of the most frequent questions asked before a photo shoot is… what do we wear? The idea being that the whole family is dressed at least mildly coordinated. And by that we don’t mean that you try rocking the twin look, but rather, that the whole style of clothes should fit together – preferably without anyone feeling like they’re wearing a different person. So is a laid-back closet required or should everyone wear something a bit more on the elegant side? Are we going for similar colors, a set of patterns or perhaps channeling a certain decade?

One more thing to avoid where possible: Big images or slogans on shirts which take up too much of the limelight.

Step 2: The equipment

Person standing head-on with camera in hand in the city

It’s not just your camera which has earned a place in your photography bag. There’s also your lenses and tripod just to start with. Here’s a list of essentials you need to have before you get started:

Lenses: zoom or a fixed focal length?

Find out what works for you – a zoom lens is obviously not a must for a family portrait (given that you can zoom in and out on your own two legs!) But a zoom function would allow you to be more flexible, especially if the little ones are still quick to wander away and you need to catch the moment in a hurry.

A lens with a fixed focal length (where the focal distance cannot be adjusted) is usually characterised by a better image quality, allowing a larger aperture.

The largest possible aperture: what is clearly a massive advantage in some photography areas, is perhaps not as important for a family portrait. A slightly more closed aperture is always advisable here (more on this later).

Need more on mastering the zoom? Look no further!

Wide-Angle Lens

A family can be made up of just a few members, a small town, or anything in between, so… obviously you’ll need a wide-angle lens for a bigger family so that you can fit everyone in the shot. Especially if there’s not a whole lot of space available. This is a good reason to get out a wide-angle lens. But remember: some distortions may appear in your photo when using a wide-angle lens.

Long-focus lens

Lenses with a longer focal distance are more flattering. While wide-angle lenses can lead to distorted photos, this doesn’t happen to photos taken using a longer focal distance lens. They also handily capture a blurry background (which can be very useful for portraits). But even for this – make sure to check out the location in advance, as there may not be enough space at the location to use a long focal distance.

Your tripod

When you’re not working with an assistant (which most of us aren’t) then you absolutely need a place to set up your flash. The best tripod for a family photo will be portable and robust, just as it is for wedding photos. As a family photographer, you don’t need to have a tripod for your camera, since you’ll mostly be working with short shutter speed.

Other accessories for the perfect family photo

The camera, lenses and lighting equipment are obviously the main things you should think of. But there’s also a few smaller accessories which belong in your camera bag, if you want the shooting to go off without a hitch.

Memory cards: Check (and then double check) that you have more than one memory card in your bag. If one gets filled up, then you’ve got access to a spare quickly. Check before every shoot that you have enough memory available.

Batteries: Less is more? Not in photography! Always take spare batteries or a replacement cable with you, just to be sure.

Reflectors: When photographing a group of people in backlighting (more to come on this too), it makes sense to use a reflector for help. A plus? You look really cool too. 😉

Need more advice on lenses? Find the necessities right here.

Step 3: The Timing

Two mothers with babies in their arms

For a family photoshoot with little kids, the timing could hardly be more important. This might make the organization slightly more complicated, but keeping up with the natural cycle of your children is absolutely vital – sleepy, exhausted or hungry children do not make for smiley subjects of a photoshoot!

Try to keep their natural rhythm in harmony with a time frame full of natural light. That means arranging the photo session to start ideally early morning.

However – every family is different and their time schedules are never the same. Which is why you should probably take a second to check what works for them.

Step 4: The lighting

Family standing in the back light on meadow as a perfect family portrait

From the off we need to make it clear that this paragraph is no in-depth introduction to light settings. It serves better as a short summary to help make sure your family photo shoot goes to plan.

Some schools of thought think that photography in back lighting is not the ideal, and that a group of people should always turn to face the light directly instead. But imagine this scenario for a second: the family members turn to the light … upon which the light gets in their eyes which begin to tear up. Let’s not even get started on an unflattering set up in the shadows 🙂

Here’s some tips on taking photos in direct sunlight if you do decide to stick to your guns.

Step 5: The right aperture

Father and child walking on the beach

Try to focus completely on the models. You can do this through the composition of the image (more on that later) but also through your camera settings: the aperture.

By using an aperture, you can regulate the amount of light and the depth of focus in the photo. A higher aperture means that not only will the models in the foreground be in sharp focus, but also the background. For a portrait, this is (usually) a negative.

But be careful – an open aperture doesn’t ensure the perfect photo. The depth of focus isn’t enough to bring everyone in the group into focus. Instead, try to find the happy middle ground with a middle aperture.

Step 6: The Location

Mother and child in a Christmas atmosphere for a perfect family portrait
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / Tanya Nekrasova

Before you press the trigger on the camera, you’ve got to take a look at your camera settings, checking the exposure time and flash as well as filter settings and so on.

In the middle of all of that, it’s easy to forget the set up of the photo. Don’t just pay attention to the technical details and good communication with the models, but also to the background (even if it’s going to be unfocused).

You should try to avoid dark or cluttered backgrounds, since these can distract from the scenery in the foreground. But other surroundings work well too – so feel free to find a spot of nature and make use of the greenery.

People photographing indoors will find it harder to achieve a natural looking light as well as a nice location. Make use of the aperture! An open exposure may be key.

If you need to go for an indoors scene, then make use of it – here’s how to brighten up any space.

Part I: Advice for the perfect family portrait

This first part is all about the planning, technology, lighting and having the right attitudes for the perfect family portrait. We’ve learned that communication and fixed arrangements with the ‘models’ are massively important, especially when it’s all going to hook on timing.

As well as this, you’ve got to know what belongs in your camera bag. Do you need a zoom lens or a separate flash? What does the lighting situation look like? Equally, you need to take a reflector with you. Check out the photo location and the right time of day.

You’ll learn more about the correct settings so that you can achieve the perfect family portrait. Want to learn more about the perfect family portrait?

Continue to part of our family portrait photography guide here.