Mobile Photography 101 {Part 3}: Mobile Apps

When it comes to using your cell phone to snap pictures, do you snap and go, or do you like to take a few extra steps to get it picture perfect? There are definitely two camps on this topic…some folks swear by untouched photos and others swear by giving their pics a little extra help.  I fall into the latter camp, so today, as we continue with my mobile photography series, I’m sharing a bunch of my favorite apps for sprucing up your images and taking your mobile photography from ho-hum to beyond awesome!

I have been SO excited to put together this post for you!  I love trying new photo apps and last summer, I took a 3 week workshop specifically on the art of mobile photography.

I was introduced to a bunch of apps for all kinds of creative editing and creating pieces of art with a mobile photo.  While I don’t use all of the apps I learned in that class, I fell in love with several of them.  Since then, I’ve discovered a few more that I love and as a result, I have a nice little toolbox of different apps to go to for whatever I need or want to do!

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about mobile phone lenses and in Part 2, we talked about various accessories.  While those can help you take better or more interesting photos, adding in a little post processing can really take your photos from just okay, to wow!

I’m not generally a fan of over processed photos, but adding in a little oomph can not only be fun, but really set your photos apart!

For each of the apps below, I’ve included links to where you can buy or download these.  I use an iPhone, so all of these are available through iTunes.  If you don’t use an iPhone, not all of them are available for Android phones, but I did a little research and it seems that most of them are (With that said, I’m not familiar with Android phones, so I only checked on Google Play – if there is another source for Android apps, feel free to check there for those where I failed to find the app via Google Play).

Apps for Taking Photos

The first thing you have to do is take the photo!  I use the camera that is native to the iPhone for 98% of my photos.  I generally have it set in the square mode and find the quality to be just fine for most situations.  

Available for: iPhone  |  Android
VSCO Cam is crazy popular and I love it for editing.  It also allows you to take photos right from the app.  The benefit is the ability to have it automatically available within the app for editing.  I don’t use this app for taking photos, but just wanted to mention this is an option if you don’t want the extra step of importing those that you want to edit.  That’s particularly handy if you’re taking a lot of photos (for example, when you’re on vacation or at an event).

Available for:  iPhone  |  Android
I used to use Camera+ before I got the iPhone 5s.  It was a little better with options.  But, since upgrading to the 5s two years ago, I’ve found the native iPhone camera to be just as good and a lot easier to use, so I don’t use Camera+ anymore.  I wanted to mention it, though, in case you’re on an older iPhone or you don’t like the camera app with whatever phone you currently use.

Apps for Editing

My general rule of thumb is to try to get the best shot possible right off the bat to limit the amount of editing that I need to do.  Why do I do that?  Two reasons…
1) It saves time – the less editing I need to do, the more time I save
2) Too much editing can lessen the quality of the image, so it’s best to not go overboard with editing!

Available for:  iPhone  |  Android
This is my main app for edits.  After taking photos, I import the ones I want to edit and share.  VSCO Cam comes with a nice variety of preset edits and you buy more from them, if you so desire.  While it’s fun to play around with all of the different styles, my suggestion is to figure out one or two that are somewhat similar and stick with those.  For a cohesive look, both for Instagram and for your brand, you want your photos to have a similar editing style, so don’t go crazy with using a ton of different styles. 

I tend to use C2 and C3 for my photos.  Depending on the photo, I will either use the full strength or I’ll dial it back a bit.  I then go into the manual editing mode to adjust exposure, shadows, matte-ness, etc.  Again, don’t go overboard, just tweak it enough to get your look.

Available for:  iPhone
I love Mextures!  It allows you to add textures, light leaks, radiance, and more.  As with editing, use a light hand and don’t go overboard.  While you can layer on numerous textures and looks in this app (and adjust the intensity of each), I suggest not going crazy.  Pick a few that are your faves and stick with those.  While I have fun playing with these, I only use one of the Radiance options for all of my photos that I share on Instagram.  That helps to give it a consistent look and brand.  
I use this app after I do my edits in VSCO Cam and it’s my final step before I share it on Instagram.

Before Mextures

Tips & tricks for Mobile Photography…the best applications to set your photos apart!

After Mextures

Note: this is a very subtle example of Mextures.  They have a TON of options for doing a lot of cool things!

Tadaa SLR
Available for:  iPhone
Tadaa SLR attempts to mimic the wide aperture of a dSLR.  Using a wide open lens on a dSLR camera gives you crystal sharp focus on your subject with the background nice and blurry. This allows you to isolate your subject and minimize the distractions in the background.

This is very difficult to achieve on a mobile phone and with just a standard camera app, it’s impossible because the aperture of the phone isn’t wide enough to allow for the blurry background.  

That’s where this app comes in handy!  While it’s not quite the same as a dSLR camera and wide lens, it helps you achieve the affect rather nicely.  

You can either snap the pic right from this app, or after taking your photo with your preferred camera app, just upload it into this app and go to town! 

You have the option to apply the blur either in a linear fashion or circular.  You can modify the intensity of the blur, the size of the area in focus and exactly what in the frame you want to be in sharp focus.

Tips & tricks for Mobile Photography…the best applications to set your photos apart!

Before Tadaa SLR

After Tadaa SLR

Pretty cool, right?!  My one piece of advice…don’t go too heavy on the blur or it’ll look too overdone!

Other Editing Apps…
As I mentioned, the vast majority of my editing is taken care of in VSCO Cam.  For the rare occasion where I need to remove something in the photo (like something distracting in the background), I use one of the following apps (which one depends on exactly what I need to do):

Apps for Photo Fun

Sometimes you just want to have a little fun with your photos!  These two apps fit the bill perfectly.  I’ve used these for various photos, even though I don’t typically share them via Instagram or online (hey…not everything you take photos of has to go online!).

Available for:  iPhone
This app is SO much fun!  When I first discovered it last summer, I was Waterloguing everything.  This app allows you to convert your photos into watercolors!!  My goal is to actually print a few of these out onto a textured card stock to mimic an actual watercolor image.  Maybe a few travel images in a small series!

Before Waterlogue 

After Waterlogue

Photo courtesy of Waterlogue

Available for:  iPhone
This is another app that is a ton of fun.  It’s somewhat similar to Waterlogue in that it can give a painted effect, but there are a lot of options to play with.

Before Glaze

After Glaze

This is another subtle example, so be sure to check it out to see all of the many different cool things you can do!

Apps for Adding Text

Sometimes you want to add a label or a fun quote to your image and there are a lot of options out there that will allow you to do this.  These three are my favorites!

Word Swag
Available for:  iPhone
Word Swag is my favorite app for adding text!  I only recently discovered it, so I may be way behind the times on this one, but just in case this one is new to you too, you have to check it out!

This app allows you to either use your own photos, or pick some free images from  Then, you enter your text and you have a ton of options for how it displays on your image.  The available options allow you to create a very professional looking image in just a few quick minutes!

Check out these two quick images I created this week…

Tips & tricks for Mobile Photography…the best applications to set your photos apart!

Word Swag using their background image

Tips & tricks for Mobile Photography…the best applications to set your photos apart!

Word Swag using my image


A Beautiful Mess
Available for:  iPhone  |  Android
This is a fun app…it has a nice variety of text overlays, but I don’t think they’re quite as ‘professional’ as Word Swag and you’re only limited to your own images (which may not be a bad thing if that’s the only thing you want to add text too!).  They do have some ‘background’ options but they’re not photos, they’re graphic elements.  One thing I love about this app, though, is the doodles!  The heart I’ve added in the example below is definitely one of my faves!

Available for:  iPhone  |  Android
I don’t use this app that often, but I wanted to include it since it is a lot of fun.  This app allows you to add a label to your photo with custom text.  It’s super easy and there are numerous options!

Your turn friends! What are YOUR favorite apps for editing mobile photos? I’d love to hear, so leave me a comment and let me know!!


  1. 1


    Great post! I really appreciate how you included before and after pics. You’ve given me some new apps to try, not that I need anymore since I’m a little bit of an addict…Lol

    • 4


      Definitely let me know which ones you try and what you think!! Snapseed is a good one, so if you like that, I’m betting you’ll like a few more of these ;). Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. 5

    Natalie says

    Wow! This is a spectacular review. Several apps are new to me. I’m looking forward to checking them out. ~Thanks!!

  3. 7


    VIcky – as you know I am a HUGE fan of your flawless Instagram feed and I was beyond thrilled to see this post and just checked out the rest of your series! There are several apps mentioned above that I had never even heard of – I mainly use VSCO and Afterlight but can’t wait to go and check these others out, Amazing content and thanks so much for sharing!

    Savannah //

    • 8


      Hey Savannah! I keep meaning to try Afterlight! I had forgotten about that, so I’m going to download that today and give it a try (thanks for mentioning it!). Definitely let me know which ones you try and what you think! As always, thanks so much for stopping by, friend! :)

  4. 15


    What an awesome list!!
    The only one of these I’m using right now is WordSwag and I LOVE it. Really best money I’ve ever spent on an app. I know all the cool kids are using VSOCam, so I’m going to download and try it out this week.

    • 16


      I can’t believe I only recently discovered WordSwag, but it’s now one of my faves! It’s SO much fun to create quote images and other fun things, lol. Definitely give VSCOCam a try!! I think you’ll love it ;).

  5. 19


    I had never heard of any of these and just downloaded quite a few. I know I’m going to wake up in the morning thinking, “What am I supposed to do with all these?” Very excited to start playing!
    Do you know if there’s anything comparable to WordSwag for Android?

    • 20


      Hi Michelle! So glad you found a few that you wanted to try! I have so much fun with these apps, lol. I’m not sure about an Android option for WordSwag. I just did a quick google search and I see some bloggers recommending an app called ‘InstaQuote’ and it appears to be available for Android. I’m not familiar with it, though, so I can’t comment on how it compares, but if I had an Android, I’d probably give that one a try. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • 22


      You’ll LOVE WordSwag, Erica!! Can’t wait to see what you come up with using it :). So glad to hear this was helpful…I have one more post left for this series!!


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