Ten best apps and gadgets to turn your camera roll into a fine art gallery.

Always in our handbag, back-pocket or… let’s be honest… hand; it’s not surprising that more and more of us are using the camera function on our phones as our ‘go-to’ snapper, day-to-day. Stop feeling guilty! You can banish the snobbery about it being ‘just taken on my phone’. Plenty of credible photojournalists are using their phones to capture ‘in the moment’ reportage style shots (more later). Even if your subject matter is less news-worthy and more ‘nice sunset over Battersea Bridge’ – here are the accessories and apps that will elevate your smartphone photography to the next level.

Olloclip’s 4-in-1 Lens Set
There are plenty of clip-on style lens on the market designed to upgrade your phone’s in-built camera capabilities. Olloclip’s comprehensive 4-in-1 Lens Set attaches to your phone’s front or rear camera with a dedicated mounting clip and one of four interchangeable lenses: a fisheye, a super-wide angle, 10x and 15x macro lens – from panoramas to group selfies and close-up detail shots, all in a nifty, pocket-size set. (£66.45 – compatible mounting clip sold separately)

A Color Story

Do you love the effect of Instagram’s filters on your pics? Up level and invest in A Color Story app. You’ll love the kaleidoscope of colour and effects available from vintage hues to soften, or bright, clean effects that make colours pop. With over 300 filters designed by top photographers and 40+ additional photo effects, join 10 million users and turn your phone into your own post-production studio.
($24.99/yr subscription, available for iOS and Android)

Over app
If you use your phone and photography for work, or you run your own business, download the app creating a buzz amongst advertising agencies and social media professionals. The Over app allows you to turn your Instagram Stories into a slick, mini magazine with a range of fonts, templates and slick graphics to add you to photos. You can create gifs and make use of 1000s of royalty free designs. The best bit? You can schedule your posts to upload to your platforms when you want, meaning you can take the rest of the day off.
(FREE, pro version also available. For iOS and Android)

Ring Light
Shooting in the UK? We can’t always rely on having great (read flattering) light levels for photography. Adding a ring light to your iPhone will not only give a soft, diffused light to selfies but it’s a great bit of kit for capturing photos in low-light levels, too. This one has a dimmer switch so you can dial up the glow, plus three different light colours to choose from to suit your skin tone.

Hitcase Pro 2.0
One for adrenalin-junkies – the Hitcase Pro allows you to convert your iPhone into a shockproof, dirtproof, waterproof camera that can accompany you on skiing or aquatic adventures. It mounts on the same system as GoPros, so there are plenty of devices to attach to your chest, bike, helmet… the opportunities are endless. (£75.20)


If you long for the quality and feel of classic film photography, putting your digital snaps through the VSCO app will recreate that ‘vintage feel’. More subtle than a lot of other image editing apps, you can access 130+ filters and adjust their strength to get a more nuanced, analogue affect. There are manual tools such as cropping, exposure and colour correcting, too. (FREE, full range of filter and tools on subscription at $19.99/yr, available for iOS and Android).

DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Gimbal
If video is more your thing, The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Gimbal Stabilizer is a serious bit of kit but will create video footage that a cinematographer would be proud of. It cancels our unnecessary movement and the clever app allows the hand-held device to track moving objects and create stunning timelapse footage. Great for filming on the move or capturing sweeping cinematic vistas.

Bluetooth remote shutter and tripod
Perhaps a bit cumbersome for family holidays and not great when you are trying to capture ‘spontaneous’ shots, but if you’ve got an unsteady hand or want to get in the frame yourself for family portraits, a tripod and remote shutter are great bits of kit to invest in. A Bluetooth remote shutter is also great if you want to dabble in wildlife photography, or take your shot from a distance. This ingenious tripod can be used as a conventional stand, or will wrap around branches, poles or convert into a selfie-stick on the go.
(Bluetooth remote shutter, £5.79; tripod, £19.98)

Two apps to help manage your iPhone photography:

Gemini Photos app
The Gemini Photo app will help you tackle the backlog of blurry, duplicate and 419 random ‘screengrabs’ on your camera roll. It can recommend the best selfie out of 47 attempts (it looks for smiles and open eyes) and then with a few taps, remove the rest. Great for bulk sorting pictures efficiently.
(£2.99/mth subscription available for iOS)

HP Sprocket
Finally, if you miss the days of flicking through a photo album, they’re back. Use the HP Sprocket app to add frames and text to your pitures and then print them out in your pocket-size printer, onto 2x3 inch stickable photos.
(printer, £119; pack of 20-photo paper, £10)

Three inspiring phone photographers:

Showing you just what’s possible with your phone’s camera – here are three incredibly talented photographers on Instagram, all shooting their work on their humble smartphone:


It’s incredible to think all of Puneet’s shots are taken on his phone. Catching the romance and panoramas of Rajasthan for tourists, newlyweds and ‘Instagrammers’, he utilises the regions beautiful light to his advantage and frames his shots with pleasing symmetry.


If you’re looking to up your food photography game, Matt is a great phone photographer to follow. Dark, atmospheric and evocative shots, like a Dutch master.


David Guttenfelder is a National Geographic Society Photographer by day, and an Instagram-snapper by night. His posts are always taken with just his smartphone, documenting everything from wildlife to political unrest.

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May 2019