This past semester break Alex and I traveled to Kerala, India – our first holiday in India after living in Asia for the past five years. It was an amazing trip in every way: people, food, sights, sounds, smells. India is definitely incredible. (Oh, and thanks to the wonderful Dana Watts, currently teaching at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, I have a great travel agent to recommend if you’re interested).

While we were there, I realized just how fantastic the iPhone 4 camera is, and how many fun photography apps are available (for free, mostly). This was the first trip that I didn’t just save all my pictures for “the big upload” after we got back, but instead started to share some highlights of our travels along the way.

Not only was it more fun to share some of our favorite experiences right after they happened, but I also ended up with some great travel advice for our trip, along with a mini-album of the more interesting moments – thanks to my handy iPhone camera and a few fun apps.

Since I’ve been discovering these apps over the past few months, I thought I’d share my favorites, along with a photo from each, here:


It’s not only the photo editing on Instrgram that I like so much (though it is fast and simple), it’s more the community I can see developing there that I’m really enjoying. It’s almost like a combination of Twitter and Facebook, except specifically around photography. There’s even a growing weekly challenge centered around photography tips – kind of puts a slightly different spin on all of the 365/dailyshoot projects.

There are a few standard filters and borders you can put around your pictures when you share, then you can set them to automatically upload to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, and of course you can follow (and comment on) other Instagram users. There’s also a “popular” gallery, constantly updated, to inspire you.

I’ve started following my Twitter and Facebook friends when I find them on Instagram and I love the way I’ve started to see a different piece of their lives – sure they might have also been shared on Twitter or Facebook, but in here it’s all photos all the time!


Thanks to Wes Fryer for raving about this app a few years ago (and for using it at Learning 2.010, which reminded me about it!). I remember buying it right after I saw one of his tweets, but never actually opening the app until this trip. I’m so glad I had it! Taking beautiful panoramic photos could not be any easier. You take one picture at a time using a small panel of the previous picture to add then next frame in the panorama and then Pano compiles the whole thing. The perfect way to capture those stunning vistas that never seem quite right in just one frame. And it’s so easy to use!


I downloaded Diptic immediately after seeing one of Darren Kuropatwa’s pictures using the app (thanks Darren!). I love the way you can capture many facets of a single subject within the different geometric framework designs available. Basically you choose what style you want and how many pictures combined into one design. There’s something about the panels that helps you think more creatively about your subject.

It’s super easy to use and provides a few basic editing options for each individual frame within the picture, as well as the color and width of the frames.  Because the finished image is also in a square shape, you can easily share via Instagram. There’s also a Diptic community on Flickr for inspiration.


Everyone loves Camera+ apparently. I didn’t realize it had such a huge following until after I got back from my trip and did a little research. I can see why: easy to crop, has a huuuuge variety of filters and effects to add to your photos, and tons of borders to choose from. Including this funky “viewfinder” option.

Basically, you can do pretty much anything you would need to do to a photo with this one app. But for some reason, I don’t find myself using it as much as any of the others listed here. Maybe it just has too much to offer? Or maybe I just haven’t found a perfect niche for it in my photography habits. No matter what, it’s definitely worth the  99 cents, I can certainly see myself making more use out of the app once over time. Thanks to @CleverTools for the tip while we were in India!


Similar to Instagram with the filters and the borders, but a little more variety, and for some reason, it’s able to take good pictures in really low light. There’s a nostalgia aspect (that doesn’t necessarily appeal to me) with the interface that is supposed to look like an old analog camera, which is why it produces those kinds of prints.

Fun to play with the different lenses and flash available and you end up with the same square pictures that Instagram uses, so sometimes I take a photo in Hipstamatic and then share in Instagram (although I think you can also share straight through Hipstamatic).

Final Thoughts

I have a bunch of other camera apps on my phone, but none that I use as regularly as the five above. Somehow they’ve all pretty much worked their way into my daily routine – and will definitely be making an appearance again on our next vacation to Borneo and Sipadan, Malaysia.

One of my favorite things about all of these apps, though, is how easily I can simultaneously post them to so many places. I bought EchofonPro (a Twitter client) for my iPhone a few years ago and absolutely love that it will automatically publish any pictures I tweet to my Flickr account, plus I have Facebook set to pull in all of my Flickr photos. So, whenever I publish a photo from any one of the apps above, via Twitter, it automatically goes into all three places without me ever having to think about it. Love it!

If you’re looking for even more recommended apps, Chris Betcher just posted a similar list on his blog (totally different apps, except for Camera+, of course).

Which photography apps do you love?

Image Credits

5 thoughts on “(sn)Appshots: 5 Favorite iPhone Photo Apps

  1. Just got my first smartphone – iPhone 4 – last month and it has changed the way I take photos too. Now never without a camera, I’m looking for ways to get a new perspective or infuse some flavor into the scene with a camera app. On a recent trip to Australia took just as many phone pics as I did with the DSLR largely because I could editt them right away and give them some wacky effects.

    Here’s my five: OldCamera (silver is cool), TiltShitGen (everything in miniature and shallow depth of field), ToonCamera (my boys ask me, “Did you do it in ‘Toon?”, 360 (easier than Pano, but needs consistent light to be good), and ShakeItPhoto (mimic an Polaroid – shake and all). I don’t have the shots going straight to multiple spots yet, but that will come.

    1. @Paul,

      Awesome! Thank you so much! I did already have TiltShiftGen, but Camera+ can do that too (although I didn’t mention it), but am downloading the other four right now! I guess it’s time to make another “folder” of photography apps on my iPhone…

  2. Kim,

    as you can tell from my blog I am not into photography that much but I plan to pass this post on to all my photography friends. An amazing trip and amazing tech. information as always.
    tcomfort´s last blog post ..Best Present Ever

  3. I’ve got a couple of photo folders but the one that has an icon all of its own is HDR Pro. It takes absolutely stunning photos.

    Also in the way of editing I really like Photogene which has an Mac like interface especially with the cropping and straightening which I like.
    Allanah King´s last blog post ..Digital Portfolio

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