Five Must Have Apps for Instagram and Mobile Photography

With each new generation of iPhone, the quality of mobile photography only gets better. Today’s smart phones can now take photos that rival even the best DSLR cameras on the market – in the right hands of course. Just because you own a smart phone doesn’t mean you’ll be a great mobile photographer, but there are a few apps that can help improve your innate talent and make you the talk of the Instagram social circles. Before delving into the apps I want to thank one of the top mobile photographers in the world for cluing me in to a couple of these apps, Kirsten Alana. Check out her site and be amazed by the quality of her work, all done on a simple iPhone.

1. Camera+ – Whether you want to improve the quality of your photos to share with your mom or to post on Instagram, Camera+ is one of the best tools out there. What a lot of people don’t realize about Instagram is that you don’t have to edit within the app itself, you can edit in any photo application and then upload to your Instagram feed. For the best photos I always, always use Camera+. From my experience, this is one of the most comprehensive and easy to understand apps, especially important since most of us aren’t professional photographers. The app allows you to choose any photo and edit with traditional methods such as cropping, lighting and borders. But it also features a wide range of photo effects that can transform a photo into a professional work of art. This is a fantastic app for getting the most out of your photography and is now available on iPad as well as iPhone.

Cost: $0.99 (iPhone)/ $0.99 (limited time iPad price)

2. Diptic or PolyFrame – Have you seen those snazzy looking collages on Instagram and wondered how the geniuses of the phone accomplish these feats of mobile brilliance? Well, they probably used one of these two apps. I’ve included both because one is not necessarily better than the other, but rather it’s just a matter of taste. Each application allows the user to choose a collage style and then upload and edit photos directly into it. You can position any way you like, add borders, change colors and so on. An advantage that PolyFrame does have over Diptic is the larger catalog of collage choices from which to choose. One problem I have with PolyFrame though is that the default border setting makes the photo collages look a little cartoonish and unprofessional, but with a little tweaking this can be minimized. Once again, it’s just a matter of taste.

Cost: Diptic iPhone $0.99/Diptic iPad $0.99

PolyFrame iPhone $0.99/PolyFrame iPad $0.99

3. Over – On any given day my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram streams are littered with beautiful photos featuring inspirational quotes. While the shear number of these modern day ‘cat hanging on a bookshelf’ posters can be a bit daunting, their impact cannot be denied. Photos instantly convey so many emotions, from aspiration to admiration and when combined with a snazzy quote, these photos are sure to be a hit in your social media streams. The best app to create these masterpieces is Over. Over is easy to use, just select your photo, type in your message and begin editing. You can choose from a variety of fonts, styles and sizes and can place the quote anywhere over the image you’d like. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be creating your own “Just hang in there, baby” messages like the rest of the social media rock stars.

Cost: $1.99


4. Squaready – If you use Instagram regularly, or if you’re a bit of an addict like me, then you will have noticed that sometimes when you upload photos black bars appear at the top and bottom of the image. That’s because the photo hasn’t been optimized to the standard Instagram size. To make the image fit the width and height of the Instagram space your can manually enlarge it, which distorts and crops the image, or you can use the Squaready app. This app has one function and that’s to resize your photos into the perfect square size of your choice without losing any quality or cropping out parts of the photo. If you spend any time on Instagram you need this app and it will quickly become part of your posting routine, as it has for me.

Cost: Free


5. Instatag – So you’ve been playing around on Instagram, uploading amazing photos of travel wonder and delight but you can’t seem to attract many likes or followers. The reason for this is that you may not be using tags to their full effectiveness. Take a look at the top Instagrammers and you’ll notice an bevy of hashtagged words following each and every photo. That’s because they know that this is the best way for non-followers to find their images as well as to attract new followers. The Instatag application allows you to choose up to thirty hashtags (Instagram’s limit) to add to your photo by showing you the top used tags in a variety of categories. For example, if I have a picture of a sunset, I will look through the Instatag Scenery, Trending Live and Top 40 categories to select the hashtags that will get me noticed the most. Sure, it’s an extra step but the app makes it easy to select and copy the tags so that you can paste them directly into Instagram. Try it out for a few days, I think that you’ll be surprised by the results.

Cost: $0.99

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

20 thoughts on “Five Must Have Apps for Instagram and Mobile Photography”

  1. Will be planning to get my new iPhone sometime next week. Will probably need to load on a few of these apps! I though the IG default editor was good enough. Apparently not! I like Snapseed for iPad too

  2. I love Camera+ – it’s my favorite app! If you like Diptic, I’d suggest checking out InstaCollage – it’s similar and really user friendly. Never heard of Over, but I love that idea! As soon as I upgrade to iOS 5.1 I am downloading it! Picfx is also a great app.

  3. I have found some apps that left me without having to crop my pics but then I get an annoying border….I tried Squaready and its the same…maybe Im doing something wrong?

  4. I hate it when people say they can take smartphone photos that look almost as good as the best DSLR cameras.
    That is so far from the truth.
    It’s all about the lens and the lighting, and smartphone camera lenses are light years behind even cheaper point and click camera lenses…and smartphones handle lower light situations very poorly.
    That’s just the way it is.
    I love taking photos with my smartphone…and I think I do a damn good job at taking cool shots and using filters to hide the fact that the quality isn’t as good as a good camera, while at the same time bringing out tones and textures that make the shot look cool, different and unique.
    Sorry, I just hate it when smartphone photos are favorably compared to DSLR. Smartphones can take cool shots (if you know what you are doing), but when compared to a camera with just a decent lens, it’s no comparison. The DSLR wins every, single, time in a landslide.

    1. Greeting Xander.
      The differences between and SLR and the smartphones are that they are different tools for different needs. If you need to make big pics, fast shutters speeds, better DOF control and variety of lenses, then yes, SLR are better. But you will still Photoshop the files just like the darkroom gurus played with the negative and the chemicals, and papers to get a “good” print. I quote good because the goodness of the image is in the eye of the beholder. If the person is a pixel peeper, than you can never satisfy is idea of what good is. You can take the Nikon D4s, all the fancy Nikon glass with you, but it does not mean that your pictures will be well received by the public. Again, the “good” is in the eyes of the beholder. I had the pleasure of seeing the Sebastio Delgado exhibit in ICP, NYC, and some of the images did not impress me. In fact, I thought that some of the images were out of focus. Again, some people are so “in love” with Delgado’s work that they are willing to overlook the out of focus look of the images. I am a photographer, but many call themselves that, and that is there right. So let’s not knock them. I sell the equipment, so I can tell talk from that perspective, I edited for a major stock agency once. I also had the pleasure of working as a fine art printer for Duggal. So I can give a multifaceted opinion.The way I sum it up for my clients is that if they are going to spend thousands of dollars on a camera/lens combo they should give themselves that much and more value of creativity. If not, go shoot with the P/s. There are many opinions, and that is what they are, opinions. I am not a fan of the Louvre/Mona Lisa combo but other might like it. So stop talking and go shoot. Stop emulating the so-called famous photographers and create your own magic moments. Enjoy the picture taking process but don’t forget to take time to live in front of the camera. Many so call pros and amateurs are so busy taking pics that they think that is living. They forget to put the camera down and just enjoy the moments….

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