Photo Tips: Fun and Easy Smartphone Apps

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More people than ever are relying on just their smart phones when it comes to travel photography. And why not? Our smartphones are slim, portable devices that take up less space and attract far less attention than DSLRs or even compact cameras. And the results we can achieve with our smartphones are remarkable!

In the name of research, we spent some time downloading and playing with a few of the most popular free photo apps available to Android and iPhone users. What we learned is that the following four apps make it easier for you to edit, enhance, and share your favourite travel photos – plus they’re a lot of fun! We’ve included links to the apps on the Google Play store (because we happen to be Android users) but a quick search will turn up their iTunes counterparts.

Pixlr Express

For editing purposes, you can’t beat a free app like Pixlr Express. It’s the kind of app that will make you look like a pro, even if you’ve never edited a photo before.

How it works: Upload a photo and Pixlr will let you quickly crop, resize and make cosmetic adjustments to your subjects (remove red eye and whiten teeth, for instance). You can choose to add filters, overlays, effects and borders. “Autofix” functions can balance out colours and adjust for poor lighting conditions. You can also use light and colour tools to adjust contrast, brighten your image, or focus on one color with a color splash. It has a lot of features, so it’s the kind of app you should spend a bit of time playing around with to realise its possibilities.

There are many other free photo editing apps: other ones we took a look at and recommend include Camera 360, Cymera (especially for close-up people shots) and Camera Awesome.


We think Postagram is a brilliant idea, combining smartphone technology with the nostalgia of receiving a postcard by mail.

How it works: Upload any photo from your phone (camera roll, Facebook or Instagram), add a personal message and Postagram will print it as a postcard and mail it to the address of your choice. While this one is free to download and play with, it costs $0.99 per use to mail a postcard within the United States, and $1.99 per use internationally, which is on par with buying a postcard and stamp, and of course the convenience factor is huge. And unlike a typical postcard, you get to feature in front of whatever landscape or landmark you’re visiting!


Instagram is a fun way to upload and share photos with a community of friends. Enhance your photos with a selection of filters designed to add everything from retro appeal to a sun-kissed ambience. Instagram’s signature is the square shaped image – every photo you upload ends up as a 70s-style snapshot. The editing tools aren’t as detailed as something like Pixlr, but can still add “mood” to your photos.

How it works: A 3-step-process allows you to crop, add filter and share your photo via Instagram (and simultaneously via Facebook, Twitter, email – whatever platform you use.)

Sketch Guru

For something completely different, give Sketch Guru a try. This free app instantly turns your favourite photos into digital works of sketched art.

How it works: like most of these apps, it’s a simple process. Just upload your photo and select your artwork effect, from a charcoal pencil sketch to more psychedelic pop art. Your photo changes from a “photograph” to a “drawing” in seconds. (And if you like the effect, upload the finished product into Postagram and mail it to a friend! A fun twist on the standard “I’m in front of the Eiffel tower” shot.)

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Have fun playing around with these applications, and making your photos stand out from the crowd! Feel free to share your favourite travel shots with us anytime on our Facebook page – we love to see where you’ve been.
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