Best FREE iPhone Apps for Photographers

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Ever since upgrading to the iPhone 5s from my pay as you go phone back in December I’ve started to love iPhoneography more and more! These following apps are ones I’ve found very helpful for iPhoneography, business, and web presence.


Sample image edited using VSCOcam

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VSCOcam is hands down my favorite photo editor for the iPhone! I’ve used this for all of my iPhoneography since mid June 2014. It has a wide variety of black and white and color presets to choose from and lets you adjust exposure, contrast, sharpness, highlights, shadows, tint, saturation, and a handful of other options individually. You also have the option of purchasing other presets from them as well.

Sample image editing using VSCOcam

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Golden Hour

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Golden Hour is an incredibly simple app which tells you when sunrise and sunset start. Great for planning out shoots. It is more convenient than flipping thru the weather app to find the sunrise or sunset time.

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Pocket Light Meter

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Pocket Light Meter is a spot meter for your phone. This is great if you don’t own a handheld meter. It lets you lock down the appropriate exposure for an area and then change the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to your desired setting while maintaining the correct exposure.


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Instasize being used to add frame to image

Instasize is great for getting your photos ready to be put on Instagram or other social media. It lets you create collages or create simple frames so you can put vertical or horizontal photos on Instagram. I use this all time when I upload my professional work to Instagram and want to keep the photo vertical or horizontal.

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Final image on Instagram after the white frame had been added in Instasize


Pass is a software program that lets you share photos with clients in eye-catching galleries. It is very popular amongst wedding photographers. The Pass app lets you edit your Pass galleries from your phone that is very convenient when you’re on the go.


The Dropbox app lets you view and update your Dropbox account from your phone. If you are not familiar with Dropbox it is a free service that lets you send large files over the Internet. I use Dropbox all the time for my retouching jobs and to send digital proofs so being able to access and edit my account from my phone is very convenient.

If This Then That

If This Then That is a great app to use to back up your iPhone photos to other accounts like Dropbox or Flicker. IFTTT lets you create Recipes so when you do one action it automatically does another. For example every picture your upload to Instagram could be saved to Dropbox.


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Skitch is a simple app that lets you draw on photos similar to how you would in Snapchat.


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Aviary is another photo editor for the iPhone. It has a variety of frames and a meme creator that VSCOcam doesn’t. I only use Aviary when I want a specific frame or want to create a meme which is infrequent.

Shutter by Stream Nation

Shutter is a fairly new app that gives you unlimited cloud storage for your photos. It also offers editing similar to VSCOcam and Instagram. A great way to backup your photos without using up all of your Dropbox space!


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The most obvious photo app. I love Instagram and use it all the time (@ryanwatkinsphotography). For those who don’t know Instagram is a social network for specifically sharing photos and also has a photo editor. Instagram recently updated the editor portion of the app so you can do more precise editing similar to VSCOcam. Instagram has a tilt shift blur feature and more filters compared to VSCOcan which lacks the tilt shirt blur and has less free presets. VSCOcam also has a Fade and Grain adjustment which Instagram doesn’t. Both are great for editing iPhone photos. I personally use VSCOcam for editing because I prefer their presets over Instagram’s filters.

Free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi shows you places nearby that have free Wi-Fi. This can be very helpful when traveling to new cities for shoots.


GasBuddy shows you all of gas prices at stations near you. I have saved quite a bit since using it. Really nice when traveling.

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My 10 Favorite Products from Print Labs

A lot of photographers nerd out over photo gear and equipment; I obsess over all the different ways to showcase the final product. Here is a list of my ten favorite products from various print labs.

1. Vivid Metal Prints from Miller’s Professional Imaging

I love Miller’s Vivid Metal prints! These look great for giving color or black and white photos a great poppy look. Seniors love these. You also have the option of buying them with a float mount or stand so framing isn’t necessary. These are my most popular luxury print.

2. Wood Prints from Woodsnap

Woodsnap’s ready to hang wood prints are unlike any other print I’ve had made. Since I cater to rural mid-Michigan, I have a lot of clients who want something which is fitting for the rustic, woodsy décor of their home or cabin: these prints are the perfect fit. The wood grain shows thru on brighter parts of the photo. High key photos especially look great on wood. As with the vivid metal prints, these are ready to hang so no need for framing as well.

3. Frames from does a great job framing. They have huge section of frames from elegant to rustic. I always recommend clients use them for framing.

4. Flash Drives and Boxes from Photo Flash Drives

Photo Flash Drives makes flash drives and boxes, which you can get branded. I use these for giving clients Animoto slideshows. Inexpensive and they look amazing! I personally prefer their wood flash drives and boxes.

5. Slide Shows from Animoto

I know this isn’t really a “print product” but Animoto Slideshows are an awesome product. I use these during viewing sessions, offer them on my a la carte menu and in collections, and use them on my website and social media all the time.

To make these slide shows all you have to do is choose a theme, music, and then drop in your photos and text in and it is done. Super easy and amazing final product.

6. Photoshop Templates from Squijoo

For only $10 you can download as many Photoshop templates as you want from Squijoo. These templates are great for putting together graduation announcements, save the date cards, brochures, advertisements, and just about anything else you can think of. They even have ones for designing album pages and phone cases. Cheap and very useful.

7. Lux Business Cards from Moo

Moo’s Lux Business Cards are durable and very professional. I’ve had many clients be impressed by how thick my business cards are.

8. iPhone Cases from Black River Imaging

Black River Imaging’s iPhone Cases look great and are very popular with seniors.

9. Metal Ornaments from Nations Photo Lab

Around Christmas time metal ornaments from Nations Photo Lab can be a great product to add to holiday themed mini sessions. The quality is great. I sold several of these at a local art gallery during Christmas last year.

10. Miller’s Signature Album from Miller’s Professional Imaging

Miller’s Signature Albums are incredibly customizable and have outstanding print quality. They just recently added a bunch of new cover materials to choice from to. I offer these to both wedding and portrait clients. They are much higher quality than Layflat books.

Ryan Watkins Photography specializes in senior, family, child, engagement, and editorial portraiture, weddings, and real estate and architecture photography catering to Clare, Midland, and Mount Pleasant, Michigan. No location to far! To schedule a pre-session consultation or for inquiries about commercial photography contact Ryan here.


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10 Tips to Improve Your Pet Photography

This is the first of many basic photography tips and tutorials I’ll be posting due to several requests.



Everyone loves to take candid photos of their pets here are ten simple tips to improve your pet photography.


1.Focus on the Eyes


Keeping the eyes sharp is key to any successful portrait. Your pet’s eyes should, in most cases, be the main focal point of the image.



2.Use a Shallow Depth of Field


Using a shallow depth of field helps make your pet stand out from the background. Try shooting with apertures like f/2.8 or f/4 to throw the background out of focus to make your pet stand out. This will also make your shutter speed quicker minimizing motion blur if your pet is moving. The above photo was shot at 200mm f/4 to throw the background out of focus and emphasize the cat.


3.Use A Longer Lens


Longer focal lengths help throw the background out of focus putting more emphasis on your pet.


4.Remove Distraction from the Background


Before you start shooting remove anything, which could be distracting in the background of the photo. It is not worth your time and effort to spend hours retouching out things in the background you could have easily moved in the first place.



5.Get Out of the Direct Sun


Your pet will look a lot more flattering in the shade right next to the sunlight compared to if he or she was sitting out in the direct sun. The above photo was shot in the shade and I used an off camera flash to create the much nicer lighting than if they were in the direct sunlight.


6.Shoot in Well Lit Areas


If there is not enough light your camera has trouble focusing and it will have to use a longer shutter speed, which can lead to out of focus images. Staying in better-lit areas (like next to a window or outside in the shade) will help your camera focus easier and result in better photos. The above photo was shot next to a window to light the cat with nice soft light.


7.Have Someone Else Keep Their Attention


Have someone else keep your pet’s attention while you’re shooting. This will keep them looking the direction you want.



8.Get Down on Their Level


Get down on the ground with your pet. I was laying on the ground to take the above photo.


9.Make Sure They’re Clean


You wouldn’t go to a photo session without showering; neither should your pet.



10.Stay Calm and Be Patient


Pets are unpredictable and difficult to control you’ll need to be patient to get the best photos of them.


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