The iPhone Photography Apps You Need – By Paul Brown


We’re delighted to publish Paul Brown’s latest article regarding mobile photography, this time Paul has taken a look at iPhone photography apps and summarised which ones he keeps close in his ‘camera bag’. The number in brackets, next to each app title represents a tutorial/workflow that Paul has created with that app. Head over to to view them in full, here.

Don’t miss this, over to you Paul (foreword by Joanne Carter).



‘How many iPhoneography apps do you really need? Well we need a camera replacement app for sure. The bundled app may be very capable but it has no timer, no individual focus and exposure capability and obviously we’re incapable of holding the thing square without a leveling horizon indicator or exposing correctly without a live Histogram. A Histogram is ‘a diagram consisting of rectangles whose area is proportional to the frequency of a variable and whose width is equal to the class interval.’ Go on I’ll have 2 please.

So I’ve got my camera replacement app but then I read a blog and I have to have a better camera replacement app. Then of course it is essential that I have a specialist black and white app oh and that thirty six app looks exciting and Hipstamatic well nobody should be without that!

So I’ve captured all these images. Some look pretty good. Some I’d like to tweak. Oh, I’m going to need more apps. The last thing I want to do is transfer my images to laptop and play around in GIMP or Photoshop, that’s just not cricket as we Brits say. Then I bump in to some guy called Skip who says iPhoneography is a glorious art form and ‘Did you know you can convert that great image into something resembling a painting.’ Oh, I’m going to need more apps…

I don’t know what the answer is. Sorry!

The apps in this index are all apps used in workflows shared on Skipology. They represent some of my favorite iPhoneography apps, that much is true but there are many apps out there I’ve never used. Some I may have used and just not understood. Others I use often but maybe don’t feature on the workflows I share. It is not an exhaustive list’.

Adobe Photoshop Express (16)

PS Express is an iPhoneography processing app from the Adobe Photoshop powerhouse. It has powerful desktop style image editing facilities together with a library of predefined effects and filters (some via in app purchases).


AfterFocus (8)

With AfterFocus, you can create DSLR style shallow focus by selecting and masking focus area using a combination of manual and intelligent tools. Motion and gaussian blur effects can be added. The out of focus area can be further enhanced by the recognition of light spots with out of focus ‘bokeh’ effects achieved. The out of focus area can also be graduated as the distance increases.


Alt Photo (4)

Created by Alien Skin who are better known for their Pro Desktop products, Alt Photo recaptures the nostalgia of Kodachrome or goes all the way back to scratched Tintype. With Alt Photo, you can give any picture the right look, whether it’s subtle or stylized through a series of film effect filters.


BlurFX (4)

Blur FX does one job really well in my opinion. If you need to manually add a little blur to feather areas possibly to correct other edits it’s excellent. I also use it on a larger scale to help with textured or painterly processing. Includes many more features and effects including vignettes.


Camera+ (7)

My first iPhoneography camera replacement app and still sets a benchmark. Excellent focus and exposure points and a good range of filters and frames for post processing. Its Ansel filter is widely regarded as an iPhoneography classic. This is a must have app.


Diptic (1)

Diptic is my go to app for photo collages. It comes with a wide range of pre-defined layouts (well over 100) which can all be adjusted. Images can be edited within the app and internal and external corners can be rounded by any amount you set. Frames aren’t just straight edged, collages such as ‘Ying Yang’ style can be created (that is just one example). Borders between frames can be removed and with imagination Diptic can be used to combine images in a seamless way without the look of a collage.


Distressed FX (5)

Distressed FX is a wonderful app for converting photographs to artwork. It’s in frequent use by me to add textures and other effects to my images during the conversion process that often results in the question “Is it a photograph or is it a painting?” The developers suggest that this app can be used to ‘transform even the most mundane photo into a work of art’ and is particularly suited to still life and landscape photography.


EyeEm (2)

EyeEm is as much a Community as an iPhoneography app. It is a place to share images and meet and be inspired by other iPhoneography artists and photographers. Many iPhoneography organisations host their weekly / monthly / periodic challenges on EyeEm and for good reason. It is also a camera and contains a host of filters but I regard these as secondary, preferring to focus on the community and connectivity it provides.


Filterstorm (32)

A very powerful iPhoneography app bringing desktop functionality to the iPhone. Vast array of image editing features including curves, colour correction, layers, masking (with gradients) to name just a few. Primarily used by me for cropping, re-sizing and text.


FrontView (3)

The phrase ’tilt-shift’ in photography is well known but is actually 2 different processes. In its purest form it is controlled at the point of capture using specialist lenses. FrontView is a great iPhoneography app that handles the ‘shift’ element in post processing. Its purpose is to correct perspective distortion – for example make the vertical lines of buildings run parallel rather than converge as they do when photographed from ground level. This is a very simple but useful app.


Glaze (3)

Glaze creates a unique work of art from iPhone images using carefully chosen brush strokes, layering multiple styles together. An infinite range of styles are possible — acrylic, gouache, pastel, thick or thin, fine or coarse. Styles can be blended to create a unique effect. This is a very powerful app for moving a photograph to a painterly look.


Handy Photo (1)

Handy Photo has a great clutter free interface and has some powerful and as far as I am aware unique tools. It’s cropping and object movement tools are excellent but what makes it really unique is Magic Crop function which allows (for example) square images to be extended into a landscape format without stretching or cropping. Amazing technology. It also allows crooked horizons to be straightened without rotating and impacting original image size. What really attracted me to Handy Photo initially was its beautiful range of textures and that’s what I mainly use it for. Over and above that, it has much more to offer.


Hipstamatic (20)

Hipstamatic is an all in one camera replacement and processing app. Their catchphrase is “Digital photography never looked so analog.” Via a series of in app purchases you build up a library of lenses and films resulting in many many combinations. The image is processed in keeping with the lens and film combination selected at the time it is captured. No post processing. There is an entire community built around this app.


Image Blender (15)

A very simple iPhoneography app for blending 2 images together. All the usual layer blending methods are offered together with masking facilities. The go to blending app for many top notch iPhoneographers looking for a straight forward clutter free app not needing to operate with multiple active layers.


Iris (6)

Iris is now called Laminar and is both a powerful iPhoneography editing app and a library of predefined effects and filters. I use it primarily for the filters.


Laminar Pro (5)

Previously known as Iris, Laminar Pro and is both a powerful iPhoneography editing app including the ability to work with multiple active layers and a library of predefined effects and filters. I use it primarily for the filters. It is a universal app but has been described as like a little Lightroom for iPad.

LensFlare (3)

LensFlare is a must have app for any photographer or designer looking for the best in optical effects. LensFlare offers a wide selection of lens types to choose from including Cinematic style anamorphic lens effects, natural sunlight flares, subtle glints and SLR camera lens types. It is made by Brainfever Media who also produce LensLight.


LensLight (6)

LensLight iPhoneography app provides a wide range of lighting effects including Bokeh, LensFlares, Light Leaks, Spotlights and Textures. Multiple effects can be combined to create unique combinations. Lenslight is created by Brainfever Media who also created Lensflare.


MarbleCam (1)

MarbleCam takes pictures that look as if you had focused on a glass marble with a macro lens. It creates a distorted ‘Marbleized’ view of the iPhoneography image over the top of the original image which it shifts out of focus in the background. Used in isolation is has limitations but used in partnership with layering and masking apps it provides wonderfully unique content for surreal artwork.


Mextures (6)

Mextures is an amazing iPhoneography app. With over 70 original textures categorized as light leaks, gritty and grainy film textures, dusty vintage film scans, tasteful grunge, and gorgeous gradients. These textures are created from actual 35mm film scans from various cameras, and a multitude of other natural elements. With 12 different blending modes, variable opacity levels and rotation capability, every new layer adds millions of possibilities to enhance your images and make them uniquely yours. It contains pre-created texture combinations and any combinations you create can be saved as formulas to be used again and again.


Modern Grunge (12)

Modern Grunge is an iPhoneography app which applies tints, grunge and distress effects like no other. It allows grungy vignetted borders, rips and holes to reveal underlying (or overlying) textures. I prefer to use it delicately where its ability to ‘stain’ an image is impressive. Preferred bespoke combinations can be saved for use in future images. Highly recommended.


Oggl (3)

Oggl is created by the people behind Hipstamatic and provides the same variety of lens and film combinations. The main difference between the two iPhoneography apps is that whilst the lens and film combination with Hipstamatic must be selected before the image is captured, within Oggl images can either be captured or imported and then the lens and film combination selected afterwards. Both apps work in partnership beautifully and both have large and active communities associated with them. Oggl is very much the son of Hipstamatic.


PhotoForge2 (11)

PhotoForge2 is an iPhoneography app with many desktop editing style features. This is my go to app for multiple layering (up to 5 at a time) and variable opacity masking. I also use some predefined effects such as bulge. (Discontinued).

Photo FX (3)

Photo FX iPhoneography app by Tiffen is a set of digital optical filters for the iPhone. Simulations of many popular award-winning Tiffen glass filters, specialized lenses, optical lab processes, film grain, exacting color correction, natural light and photographic effects plus a clever paint system with a variety of brushes. It contains 76 filters with 878 presets organized in 8 different filter groups. Photo FX Ultra is the iPad version.


PhotoToaster (8)

PhotoToaster is an image editor and library of preset iPhoneography filters and effects that can be applied ‘straight out of the box’ or adjusted to taste. The editor provides tools such as levels control, brushes, overlays and frames required to recreate unique effects.


PicFX (9)

PicFX contains over 100 effects, textures and frames which can be layered in any volume and combination to create completely unique iPhoneography edits. I am a huge fan of this app, especially its beautiful PFX Film effects set.


Pixlr-o-matic PLUS (9)

A vast iPhoneography library of predefined filters, lighting effects and borders. Probably the biggest library I have seen in a single iPhoneography app giving in excess of 2 million combinations.


ProCamera 7 (20)

ProCamera is a camera replacement iPhoneography app. All the usual features including separate focus and exposure points and locks. Includes live Histogram, adjustable capture image ratio and a vast array of value adding features. I find this app quick and responsive. Widely recommended. A new version was released following the launch of IOS7


Pro HDR (8)

Both a HDR capable iPhone camera replacement app and an image editor capable of mimicking HDR photographs from library imports. It also contains a number of useful filters. As a camera app it captures and combines 2 versions of the same scene in an intelligent way.


Rainy Daze (3)

Adds atmosphere including tones, cloud textures, vignettes and rain. Various presets all of which can be adapted and new ones created and saved. It is possible to add effects without including rain.


Rays (4)

Rays iPhoneography app creates realistic light ray effects to highlight areas. They have the effect of passing through objects and add a third dimensional quality.


ScratchCam (16)

ScratchCam is a must have iPhoneography app for adding predefined texture and scratch effects to images. Effects can be added in multiple combinations and opacity levels across multiple layers (stamps) giving a huge library of available effects.


Simply B&W (2)

An easy and simple iPhoneography to turn your great color shots into exciting black and white photos. Simply B&W allows you to select from 6 different colored lens filters to enhance certain colors and shades in a photo including the often ignored blue filter. Many regard green filtered black and white conversion as being ideal for skin tones. In addition it can adjust the brightness and contrast, add borders, add film grain and add vignettes.


Snapseed (45)

For me a must have iPhoneography (and Android) app. Snapseed is a winner of the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) Award for the Best Mobile Photo App category. Snapseed is created by the highly regarded Nik Software (now owned by Google).


Superimpose (30)

Superimpose is a powerful iPhoneography app enabling individual elements to be masked via various tools to add to a background image using the usual blending methods. Masked elements can be saved in a library to be used in future projects. Various filters are available within the app to adjust the levels of both foreground and background images.


Textures+ (3)

Textures+ contains around 40 textures plus some additional in app purchases. It is an app that I occasionally use in my textured iPhoneography workflows.


Thirty Six (1)

Thirty Six app brings the care and anticipation of film photography to the iPhone. Remember the days when you were extra careful about clicking the shutter because each exposure was valuable? Remember when you could not ‘Chimp’ the image immediately? That’s what Thirty Six app does. You load a virtual film and only when you’ve filled it do you virtually process it and get to see all 36 iPhoneography images both in a single contact sheet and as individual images for the first time. A great app for some additional anticipation and for documenting an event.


Title FX (1)

Title FX provides the ability to add text directly on to iPhoneography images in a wide range of fonts, styles and sizes. Created by the well respected team at East Coast Pixels.


100CamerasIn1 (9)

A widely acknowledged collection of 100 predefined iPhoneography filters / actions. Can be applied with varying opacity levels and by adding layer on top of layer creating thousands of possible filter combinations. Created by renowned photographer Trey Ratcliff.


6×6 (12)

6×6 is a camera replacement iPhoneography app specialising in capturing images in a square format. This is one of a handful of iPhoneography Camera replacement apps I use.


Paul Brown (known as Skip to most), is an exhibited and prize winning iPhone photography from Lincoln, England. He is a member of the global ‘AMPt Community’, a managing member of Lincolnshire based regional mobile photography Group ‘InstaChimps’ and a founding artist at ‘New Era Museum’. He also runs his own personal blog at where he shares many of his processes with step by step guides for some of his most popular images and will shortly begin blogging about iPhone photography for iPhone and iPad Life Magazine. London exhibitions include images at ‘My World Shared’, ‘mObilepixatiOn’ and ‘Pixel This’ a curated charity exhibition where he exhibited alongside celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Peter Capaldi and Alexander Siddig. Skip was a finalist in the Photobox Motographer of The Year 2012 with his image ‘Skipping’ and is currently preparing for the InstaChimps second mobile photography exhibition due to take place in Lincoln later this Summer.


  • wil smith

    Thanks for the list. It’s good to have someone’s go to list with descriptions all in one place rather than having to jump all over iTunes to see what they do and decide if they are good for me.

    • Skip

      Thank you Wil. It’s a dynamic list so as I publish workflows new apps will probably appear and the numbers will change. VSCOcam for example added this week. I’d totally forgotten to get a VSCO grid sorted out but grabbed a great URL.

  • Mike

    Perhaps I missed something but what do the numbers in parentheses mean? is it some sort of rating?

    • Skip

      Hi Janice, I personally haven’t but will take a look. Part of the point of my post was to get other recommendations. Thank you 🙂

  • Carlos

    I have about 80% of these app’s. I completely concur with Paul on his description of what you can do with your images using these app’s.
    Thanks for sharing Paul and Joanne. I will definitely check out the the other 20% I don’t own.
    I am on IG and eyeem as cpaustin2000 if you care to have a peek. Thx

  • Milena

    Hi, great article! But I just cant figure out how to use thise numbers on your site.. Haha thanks!

    • Skip

      Hi Milena :-). Definitely not a rating system. They relate to how many times the app has been used in a workflow I’ve published on my blog.

  • Tracy Mitchell Griggs

    Thanks for this round up – I might add Superimpose, Juxtaposer, Blender and a handful of black/white aps like dramatic black/white and monophix.

    • Skip

      Hi Tracy, thank you. Superimpose is in there as is Blender (but under its full name ‘Image Blender’). Many thanks for the additions. I have Juxtaposer but never really got round to using it. Also have Dramatic Black and White which I use but it’s never featured in any of my workflows. Monophix is new to me though – will have to look that one up 🙂

  • Tracey Renehan

    Great article and a comprehensive list of tools. I will definitely checkout your tutorials. I’m hoping you have done one on iColorama. I’ve played with most of its tools and I like it a lot, however nothing seems to happen when I use the masking and brush tools.

    • Skip

      Hi Tracey, thank you! I must admit iColorama isn’t an app I’ve used but you’re not the first to mention it. Will have to take a look at it when I get time.