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Smartphone Photography Apps and Tips

smartphone photography apps and tricks

As smartphones become newer and better, there’s been an emphasis on the importance of quality cameras, meaning many people don’t bring a camera with them on their travels at all. Models like the iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy and Nokia Lumia are putting more megapixels into their newer models for higher quality photos.

Taking Better Smartphone Photos

smartphone photography apps and tricks

The first thing you need to take better smartphone photos is good lighting. The sensors on most smartphones don’t allow in enough light to capture quality images in low lighting. If you don’t have the right lighting, you can add your own with the flash or a flashlight. Make sure you save them on the highest resolution setting, even if it takes up more memory on your phone.

You can also purchase add-ons for making our smartphone pictures of your adventures look more professional. I’m a big fan of Photojojo lenses, which come in macro, wide angle, telephoto and fisheye. Olloclip is a more expensive device that includes all lenses in one.

A mobile tripod, like the ones from Gorillapod, can keep your images from looking shaky. The X-Shot is a monopod type device that extends for the perfect selfie. You can also purchase external filters in addition to the ones used on apps to adjust color.

Editing Your Photos

Afterlight photo editing app

There are hundreds of apps for editing your smartphone photos, but the best tend to cost at least $1.99. I prefer Afterlight, which allows you to adjust lighting, contrast, saturation and hue, as well as add filters, overlay, crop and artsy frames. It’s available for Android, Windows and iPhone.

Others swear by Snapseed and VSCO Cam, which are both available on iPhone and Android. Snapseed brings in the features of editing software like Photoshop into a mobile setting, adding HDR to your photos and more. VSCO Cam is a favorite for its hipster filters and its own viewing feature.

stitching pics

Moldiv is a free app for creating collages and adding text to your images, available on iPhone and Android.

Sharing Your Photos

Latergramme app

Once you’ve taken those enviable photos of your adventures, what do you do with them?

Most of us post them on Instagram, the largest image sharing network app in the world. But sometimes you want to post but don’t have time. During our HPL August Photo Challenge, I was able to post even while at work by scheduling them with Latergramme. It allows you to pre-upload your images, descriptions and hashtags as you want them to appear and then set a time to post like you would on Hootsuite.

If you’re looking for a unique way to share your travel photos, I recommend Social Print Studio, which allows you to print your Instagram photos into prints, photo books, t-shirts and other gifts.

Check out some of our favorite smartphone photos by following @herpackinglist on Instagram and tagging your photos with #herpackinglist!

Do you have any smartphone photography apps you’d like to recommend? Do so in the comments.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jessica Lippe says

    I finally broke down and bought an Android seven months ago, but other than calls, texts, and timekeeping, I pretty much just use it for the internet and photography. However, I always take another camera on the road with me! There are much better quality cameras that are about the same size as a smart phone, and I even got one that’s waterproof and shockproof so I can literally take it anywhere. Maybe I’ll switch to phone-only when they make an indestructible phone.

    • Brooke says

      Ha, very true. iPhones do have a tendency to get smashed screens, etc. However, you can also get really durable cases for your phones now, so they’re getting closer! 🙂

  2. Abby Woody says

    Love the tips on different apps! I have a Windows phone and the camera is truly awful, so I always rely a LOT on editing to improve my pictures’ quality. It’s funny–color correction, filters, and cropping can make a blah picture totally stunning! Thanks! 🙂

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