When asked what gear photographers might need to do their job, most people would probably answer cameras, lenses, tripods, and lights. Obviously, these are essential pieces of gear in a photographer’s toolbox. In reality, given the multitude of tasks that professional photographers handle, from client management to shooting, editing, and delivering photos, the list of tools that photographers use actually runs a bit deeper.
Surprisingly, some of the most helpful tools photographers can use to manage their workload come in the form of mobile apps. In fact, there are several apps available to lend an assist to help get the job done from start to finish, and most are available for both Android and iOS users (with exceptions, of course). Many of these apps are free with in-app upgrades for special features, and even those that cost money up front won’t break the bank. For what you save in time and hassle, these apps are more than worth the price of admission.
We’ve updated this article to include 21 of the best photography apps for professionals in 2021, and we’ve broken them down into four sections:
- Best Photo Apps for Planning a Shoot
- Best Photo Apps for Capturing Images
- Best Photo Editing Apps
- Best Photo Sharing Apps
Basic Photo Apps for Planning a Shoot
Let’s start with planning! Planning for a photo shoot requires preparing on multiple fronts, from communicating with clients to scouting locations and checking weather conditions for proposed dates. These apps have you covered for all of the above.
Unscripted (Free with in-app subscription options for full access to all features – available for Android & iOS)
The Unscripted app checks off several boxes for photographers throughout the entire photoshoot process. You can read a more detailed review we wrote for this specific app here, but it includes an easy-to-use client management system for keeping track of your shoot details (including contracts & invoices), as well as a posing guide, access to photography education resources, and some other features that would take several apps to match, like moodboards, a sun tracker, a guide for camera settings, and more. Having this app is like having an assistant on you at all times.
You can find other apps for tracking the sun and moon, but Sun Surveyor offers much more. In addition to its functionality as a sun and moon guide, you’ll also get schedules for golden hour & blue hour, and you can use the app’s “augmented reality” mode, which behaves like a 3D map, to see how the sun, moon or Milky Way will look at the time you expect to shoot at your chosen location. A lite version is also available. I also recommend checking out the PhotoPills app, as it functions similarly to Sun Surveyor.
This app offers a cleanly designed, simple way to worldwide tidal estimates on your phone or other mobile device. Other features include access to lunar data, weather forecasts, and current radar. One unique feature you’ll find with Tide Charts is that you do not need internet access to use it. The app was designed to share tidal and lunar predictions without internet access. It’s worth noting that loading time is somewhat slow the first time you launch the app, but you should be good after that.
This is a solid go-to from the available selection of weather service apps out there. As the app’s creators note, their “primary goals” with the Yr app were “to secure life and property, while delivering useful and accurate weather forecasts to our users, preparing them for all kinds of weather.” The app has been available for over a decade and remains one of the more popular weather services in the world.
Releases (Free – iOS)
As noted in their product description, Releases is a “must have app for professional photographers.” This app allows users to create, sign and send model and property releases via an iPhone. Includes all industry standard templates from Snapwire, ASMP, Getty Images and Shutterstock.
[Related Reading: 5 Ways to Strengthen Client Communication & Resolve Shoot Concerns]
Basic Photo Apps for Capturing Images
A lot goes into capturing perfect images. The photography apps below will give you the tools you need to take professional quality photos on your smartphone, in addition to providing services like creating model releases, lighting diagrams, and more.
Camera+ 2 ($7.99 on iOS)
This is an all-in-one photo app. You can capture photos (one at a time or in burst mode), make your edits, and upload the images to social media, all in one seamless workflow. Camera+2’s editing menu includes some unique options, like choosing your file format (RAW vs TIFF, for example), adding artificial flash and creating animated gifs, as well as more traditional features like cropping, rotating images, and making adjustments to brightness, saturation, tint, sharpness, and contrast. The app also includes custom filters.
Pro Camera by Moment ($6.99 on iOS)
You have to appreciate this app’s ability to shoot in RAW format while also giving you full manual controls on your phone. Moreover, you can use the app to shoot a time-lapse, long exposures, or go the opposite direction in burst mode. For those interested in shooting video, Moment provides a number of cool videocentric features as well, including color profiles, bitrates, dual-channel audio meters, and more.
ProCamera ($8.99 + in-app purchases – iOS)
As noted on their site, “ProCamera is an all-in-one app that features photo, video, and editing capabilities using state-of-the-art technology.” Some standout features include RAW photo captures, low light assistance, auto perspective correct, and rapid fire burst, among others. As advanced as the features are, the app’s design is intuitive and remains easy to use. If you’re an Android user, this app might just tempt you to jump over to iOS).
Camera360 (Free – Android)
In addition to its functionality as a camera app, this tool is also meant to keep you on task and meeting deadlines. Camera360 allows you to set timers for your tasks as you apply flash effects to photographs, adjust photo size, and check out the app’s mirroring capability, and more. You’ll appreciate the no-nonsense style of its layout.
Sylights (Free – iOS)
While some might expect an app for lighting diagrams to fall under the “planning” section, it’s actually quite useful for quick reference on location. You can use this app to refer back to lighting diagrams that you’ve created ahead of time, or else quickly take note of new setups you try out in the field. Choose from a variety of lighting icons to create your very own lighting diagram. I would always recommend practicing lighting techniques BEFORE you’re on location with a client, but this professional photography app is great for keeping track of your favorite setups.
Basic Photo Editing Apps
Busy professionals don’t always have time to make it back to a desktop. Sometimes, when tasks need to be completed, they need to be done on-the-go, immediately. The apps below are the best for editing your photos anywhere, whether you need to do a quick edit or even throw in some retouching. We’ve also included some apps for stylizing your photos with textures and such, in case that’s part of your workflow.
Adobe has continued to improve Lightroom mobile and it’s already a worthy opponent for the desktop version, with bonus points for portability. The Lightroom Mobile app also allows you to use the same filters & sliders to edit your images with the same precision as the desktop version. In fact, we used the app exclusively to edit the photos in the SLR Lounge Workshop, Creative Photography 101.
People who use Photoshop premium for desktops will be shocked at how many of their go-to tools like noise removal, image healing, perspective correction, and others are found in the Express version. Easy to use, the Photoshop Express app acts intuitively for the user and makes it easy to flip, rotate, crop your images, and more. You can also use this app to create collages and add watermarks, borders & text.
The VSCO app is equal parts photo, editing, and sharing app, but we’ve included it here for its unique and well-known editing capabilities. The app comes stocked with 10 presets (or over 130 presets with the paid version), but you can take the edit further with manual adjustment tools like crop, exposure, clarity, contrast, sharpen, straighten, saturation, shadow save, and more.
Snapseed offers incredible granular adjustments and slight modifications that are often too subtle for the average user. This incredible photography tool could be used for the finest adjustments for the most discerning eye, including straightening, cropping, saturation adjustments and more. Even though it’s free to use, Snapseed feels like a premium app.
The TouchRetouch app works wonderfully for removing blemishes and other unwanted elements from your images, often with a single touch. Some of the app’s available tools include a lasso, eraser, clone stamp, and more.
Afterlight 2 (Free with in-app purchase options – iOS)
Afterlight 2 offers high quality filters (130+ filters), real film textures (60+ textures/layers) and (20+) precise editing tools like advanced curves, selective HSL, overlays, gradients, and more. You can also add frames/borders to your images and top them off with type and other designs, each editable on its own layer.
The Picsart photo & video editor is one of the most popular apps in its field, and for good reason. You can use the app to quickly and easily cut objects out of the background, remove unwanted objects in a photo, change colors of objects in the photo, create collages, add text, and so much more, and that’s just on the photo side. The video editor includes a number of useful features like cropping and editing videos, adding music, applying filters like glitch effects, creating slideshows, and more. After you realize how useful this app is for creating top trending TikTok and Instagram-worthy content, you’ll wonder how you got along without it.
**Creative Editing Bonus: Mextures ($1.99 with in-app purchase options – iOS)
The app gives users access to a library of over 150 texture presets, authentic film filters, and professional-grade adjustments make it easy to find your own look.” You can also apply custom presets and share your editing style with other users. Other features include the ability to add blendable layers (with up to 12 blending modes) for using gradients, textures, light leaks, grain, and more. Each layer can also be isolated and edited for texture, blend mode or rotation.
Basic Photo Sharing Apps
The apps in this section need no introduction, but they play an integral part in not only sharing photos but also helping build (and, in one instance, run) a photography business.
Photographers have long used Pinterest to share photos, create moodboards with clients, and grow their clientele. In essence, Pinterest serves as a massive search engine and offers photographers a great platform for expanding their reach and promoting/building their brand. The app is pretty user friendly, so you can easily share your photos to a variety of boards based on genre, style, subject, location, and more.
Most photographers (and businesses in general) already use Instagram as part of their marketing efforts. While photographers often refer to other premium photography editing tools to adjust photos before uploading them to Instagram, the built-in filters are widely copied in professional presets and do a nice job of enhancing well-captured photos. This powerhouse app also links into social networks better than most other photo apps, which helps keep an efficient workflow.
Speaking of workflow, Tailwind serves as a virtual smart assistant and feed planning tool for Instagram and Pinterest, enabling users to schedule posts in advance.
The GramSpacer app allows users to easily add line breaks for comments, captions, and bios on Instagram and TikTok. While this app has little to do with capturing your images, using it shows that you value aesthetics when presenting your work and it serves as a great asset for distributing your photos and videos on Instagram or TikTok.
We hope you found this list of photography apps for pros on the go helpful. There’s no shortage of apps to choose from, but a select number of them can legitimately help streamline your workflow and make your life as a photographer a little better.
If you have the time, here’s a look back at some previous favorites that are no longer on the list that might still be worth checking out:
What are some other apps you use regularly as part of your photography workflow?