My love of mobile photography blossomed during last year’s whirlwind trip to Boston for a wedding. I settled in for my flight home, finally able to peek at the weekend’s photos. Swiping through them, I marked my favorites, and spent the next few hours playing with some image-editing apps I’d been dying to try out. I arrived home with an album full of edited images, and a newfound love in photography.

My passion has only grown since. It’s quiet and inconspicuous in public, and the lack of lenses pushed me to be a more observant photographer. But more than anything else, this new hobby has reignited my zest for editing. Not tied down to my computer, I have the freedom to accomplish it virtually anywhere.

Mobile photo editing tips
Mobile photo editing tips

A great photo starts in camera.

Starting with quality images is key, so regard your mobile camera as you would any camera — lighting and composition matter. I tend to shoot with my native iPhone camera app because it’s easy to access, and my images seem to be sharper than with other apps I’ve tried.

A quick wipe across the lens will eliminate smudges. Brightness and focus can be adjusted with a tap on your phone screen. Avoid zooming, as most phones rely on digital zoom, which greatly reduces image quality.

Mobile photo editing tips
Mobile photo editing tips
Mobile photo editing tips
Mobile photo editing tips

My mobile photo editing workflow:

I begin my workflow by culling the images. I export my favorites to Adobe Lightroom, where I do my basic adjustments. Odd tints and muddy colors are common, so white balance is my first tweak. Fine-tuning exposure is next, then sharpness. A bit of sharpening really crisps up those edges, but don’t overdo it. A bit of noise reduction masks any graininess.

Nailing the crop in-camera is ideal, especially given the tiny sensor you’re using, but don’t be afraid to crop a bit as needed.

Now’s when the fun starts! Play with contrast, clarity, and texture. Push and pull colors, or use selective adjustments to bring your photo to life. If you like using presets, upload your favorites to Lightroom on your desktop for use on your phone, or hop over to VSCO, which recently retired its desktop presets to go all mobile.

Snapseed offers many of Lightroom’s great features and then some, all for free. And don’t forget about both Apple’s and Android’s included basic editing options.

Mobile photo editing tips
Mobile photo editing tips
Mobile photo editing tips
Mobile photo editing tips

Mobile photography certainly has its limits, but don’t let that deter you. Next time you see a moment unfolding, reach for your phone and shoot with confidence. You can create some amazing images.

Mobile photo editing tips

Lightroom Mobile

My favorite app for editing on the go happens to be the same one that I use at home on my desktop. Adobe’s newest cloud-based version of Lightroom works on your desktop, smartphone, and the web. Sharing photos among multiple devices is truly a snap. Enable syncing for individual photos, albums, or your entire library for easy sharing between mobile and desktop.

Like classic Lightroom, there are various options for organizing your images, as well as storing photos locally. While the Lightroom app has its own mobile camera, you can import photos from your native camera app or desktop hard drive for inter-device sharing. Once syncing is enabled, any change you make to an image are made to iterations on all devices.

You’ll find all your favorite editing options available in the mobile app. I love that I can import my presets to Lightroom through my desktop app, and then put them to use on my mobile device. Maintaining the same editing process whether I’m at home or on the go has been crucial to turning out beautiful, me-branded mobile images.

4 Mobile photo editing apps to try

Adobe Photoshop Mix

Cut, layer and blend your images in this powerful app. Fully compatible with the entire Creative Cloud family, it can be used for one-stop editing or as one step in the process.

Distressed FX

For an artistic twist, I recommend the wide array of textures and overlays available in this app. Bird and tree silhouettes help to create a perfect, magical finish.


From classic to funky, the options are seemingly limitless in this popular app. Chock-full of textures, light leaks, and presets (called formulas), the fun is in exploring the possibilities.

Lens Distortions

Go beyond basic lens flare with things like fog, snow or rain. I head to this app to add a finishing touch, whether it’s a warm summery glow, or an eye-catching eclipse of light.

You might also like: 15 Must-have mobile photography apps for photographers

Photos by Anna Hartvigson

Psssst… here’s something cool!

Adobe just announced a new app called Photoshop Camera that puts the magic of Photoshop inside your mobile camera! Add lenses and effects to your photos before you take the shot! Pretty cool, right? We can’t wait to try it out.