App Roundup: The Best iPhone Apps to Amplify Your Creativity

Photo: Casey Cosley

While at work, photographers use professional cameras, lenses, and flashes, snapping photos they later edit using their high-priced professional editing software. But even when photographers aren’t at work, they have a camera on hand in the form of a smartphone. Whether you’re capturing photos to share with their social media followers or add to their portfolios, you don’t always have time to load your images onto your computer so that you can edit them before posting.

Award-winning photographer Julia Kelleher specializes in newborn photography, regularly lecturing to students across the country on a variety of photography subjects. Julia shared with us some of her favorite iPhone apps that can improve your iPhone camera’s features, add fun filters, or help you share more interesting photos online. 


Julia’s favorite app is one she finds few photographers know about. Photogene is a full-featured editor that costs only $2.99 in the iTunes Store. WIRED Magazine has called it “arguably the best around.” In addition to editing and exporting multiple photos at once, Photogene lets photographers export IPTC metadata to attach copyright and licensing information to each photo.

“It is fairly advanced,” Julia cautions. “But it’s really, really, really cool.”

Rhona Designs

This $1.99 app lets users add personality to photos. In addition to adding fun text and backgrounds, you can adjust your photo’s transparency, color, shadows, outlines, size, and angles.

“Rhonna Designs is like a graphic designs for your photos,” Julia says. “You can add little sayings and fun little pictures on top of your images and drawings. It’s really charming. I love Rhonna Designs for doing social media stuff.”


In just seconds, you can add film grain, textures, light leaks, and gradients to your images. You can add the filters yourself or choose from more than 200 different formulas to add a filter combination with one tap on the screen. The formulas have been created by some of the world’s top iPhone photographers.

“You can do all kinds of neat textures, there’s blending modes like Photoshop, masking options, it’s really neat,” Julia says.


This app lets you control your lens blur and color effects, focusing specifically on bokeh and depth of field. You can create everything from miniature pictures to vintage-style images using this app, which costs only $0.99 (Don’t know what Bokeh is? Check out our Ultimate Resource Guide here).

“TiltShiftGenerator is tilt-shift-focus,” Julia says. “So you can do really neat focusing techniques to create that blurred background look which I think is so cool.”


Julia can’t say enough about this $4.99 app, which overcomes the limitations of the iPhone camera to equip photographers with the advanced features they need. The app lets you edit photos and videos, along with shooting high-quality HDR photos.

“ProCamera actually takes over the functions of your camera in your phone,” Julia says. “But it locks focus and will track your subject. It will track exposure, and you can turn it into manual mode and adjust your ISO, adjust your shutter speed. If you want to take shooting with the iPhone to the next level, ProCamera is like the DSLR for your iPhone.”

Whether you regularly shoot professionally with your iPhone camera or you use it when you don’t have your camera on hand, these apps can help. They are so affordable, you can accomplish professional editing tasks without the high cost of traditional photo-editing software.

Want to learn more about taking better iPhone photos? Julia Kelleher will show you the latest tips & tricks in her new class Using Your Apple iPhone 7/7+ for Great Photos.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip, 25 Roses, and the upcoming Piper Morgan series.