Five ways to turn your phone into a killer camera companion

Photojojo shows you five ways to turn your phone into a tool for taking better photos on your point-and-shoot or dSLR camera.

Lisbeth Ortega Special to CNET
Lisbeth Ortega is head editor at photography newsletter and shop Photojojo. She hatches, collects, and shares all the best original DIY photo projects and gee-I-didn't-know-that photo tips to help keep your creativity on its toes.
Lisbeth Ortega
4 min read


Editors' note: This guest post kicks off a five-week series of Photojojo's best photography tips. Check back every Tuesday for the latest guide to making the most of your shutter.

Your phone isn't just another camera.

It's a tool that can make your life easier when you're out shooting with your non-phone camera. Maybe that's a top-of-the-line dSLR, an old-school 35mm film camera, or a slick micro-four-thirds device.

Regardless of your camera type, there all kinds of factors to take into account before, after, and during shoots, including location, lighting, copyrights, and numbers.

The good news is that you can essentially turn your phone into a photo assistant with little effort, thanks to the wide variety of apps available on Android and iOS.

Whether you have a jelly bean, ice cream sandwich, or apple on your plate, your photo app folder is about to get a little more resourceful. Here are Photojojo's top photography apps.

Finding the right location
You often hear it: "location, location, location." Finding the right spot can make a dramatic difference for your photos, but the task can be daunting. These apps will help you shortcut that process.

  • Location Scout (Android and iOS): Find filming locations from movies for awesome backdrops.
  • Shoot Local (iOS): Lets you find, save, and share locations with other photographers and creatives.

The legal stuff
Artists must protect their work -- that goes for models and photographers. Before you shoot a subject, be sure to complete the release forms. And, before you share your photos with the masses, don't forget to watermark them.

  • Easy Release (Android and iOS): Replaces paper model releases by storing models' signatures and information.
  • Marksta (iOS): Easy-to-use watermarking app made by a photojournalist.
  • Add Watermark (Android): Same idea for Android users.
Pocket Light Meter for iPhone Apple

Lighting is key
The moment you start paying attention to light, your photos will improve greatly. Often, it's just a matter of pinpointing the right time of day to shoot, or determining what kind of light you're working with. And, with the right apps, light can become the subject of your photograph.

  • Golden Hour (iOS): Calculates when the magic hour (think golden light and long shadows) will be based on your location.
  • Golden Hour (Android): Different app but accomplishes the same for those with an Android device.
  • Pocket Light Meter (iOS): It's a light meter that's always with you.
  • beeCam Light Meter (Android): Great for those with analog cameras or for figuring out the light metering on a specific area of your photo (works like a spot meter).
  • Color Flashlight (Android): Use this app to turn your screen any color for light painting.
  • Holographium (iOS): Makes 3D light-writings!

Your phone, the photography assistant
While you're shooting, don't pocket your phone -- with the right apps, it can become an indispensable tool to turn to when you're actively snapping photos. While some apps act as reference guides, others actually connect with your dSLR. Here are some of the best camera companion apps.

  • The Look Lock (iPhone and Android): Lets you mount your iPhone in your dSLR's hot-shoe to give your model a live-view, get kids to smile, have apps on hand, or keep shoot lists.
  • dSLR Camera Remote (iOS): Turns your phone into a Canon or Nikon dSLR remote via Wi-Fi. (Your dSLR will need to be hooked up to a computer.)
  • Remote Your Cam (Android): Also lets you use your phone as a Canon or Nikon dSLR remote via Wi-Fi.
  • PhotoCalc (iOS): Helps you with photo calculations, like depth of field, focal distance, flash strength, and exposure.
  • Photography Assistant (Android): Same idea as PhotoCalc, but for Android photogs.

Storage and editing
So, you're done shooting -- now what? Here are a couple of the best ways to store and edit you're photos upon uploading.

  • Wuala (Android and iOS): Super secure way to access and edit your backed-up photo files from anywhere. Made by LaCie.
  • Photoshop Touch (Android and iOS): Brings Photoshop editing tools to your phone, like layers and precise selection. Also comes with 2GB of cloud storage.

Bonus tip: Practice makes perfect
During your down time, hone your shooting skills with Rock Photographer. While the app plays concert footage, you'll tilt and turn your phone to snap the perfect photos. The assignments are fun, challenging, and could help you improve your real-life skills.

For more phoneography tips, check out Photojojo University. Whether it's DIY tutorials or can't-find-it-anywhere-else photo goodies at the Photojojo Store, Photojojo's on a mission to inspire and share the good word about the greatest photo stuff in the world.