The Rise of the iPhone Photographer, and the Photo-Editing Apps They Swear By

The Rise of the iPhone Photographer, and the Photo-Editing Apps They Swear By
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Traditional photographers keep telling us that iPhone snaps aren’t “real” art—some even think smartphones are “debasing” photography. And sure, they’re not using the expected equipment to snap a photo, but these progressive influencer-photographer hybrids are being exhibited in galleries across the country, selling pieces to collectors, and earning a living as professional artists. By using a combination of iPhone-available editing apps, good lighting, skill, and Instagram, photographers like Robert Jahns, who has nearly a million followers on the app, has earned a reputation as a prolific modern photographer. Other smartphone artists like photographer and stylist Danielle Nachmani use this offbeat technique to create content for fashion brands like Jennifer Fisher and glossy mags like Vogue Australia.

So what’s the difference between your photos and theirs–aside from the fact that you celebrate double-digit likes, and they’re earning a living from theirs? Well, first they’re pedantic about lighting, and the pros we spoke with exclusively use natural light. Jahns usually chooses dusk or sunset to avoid harsh light. Another iPhone artist, Robert-Paul Jansen, also warned against using the zoom function. “The iPhone lens just can’t zoom, so all you’re essentially doing is cropping the image. I tell people to take the shot without the zoom and concentrate on the exposure and composition, and crop in post processing,” he said.

MORE: Why Artist CJ Hendry is Catching the Eye of Everyone From Kanye West to Vogue 

Then, there are the apps you should use to actually take a photo, like Camera+ and ProCamera, that save photos in a higher resolution than the compressed JPG format your regular camera app uses. “You can even get some long exposure stuff with AverageCamPro or Slow Shutter,” Jahns added, explaining  that CortexCam is the best when shooting in low light. “Honestly that app will change your life when it comes to smartphone low light photography,” he said.

These guys also use attachable mobile lenses that can really enhance the shot, like Moment or Olloclip, which you can pickup online for about $50. “I personally dig the wide-angle lenses,” Jahns added. Then, if you’re really getting serious, try using a tripod like Gorillapod, which Jahns’s favorite.

When it comes to editing your snap, look for apps like ArtStudio, Filterstorm, Snapseed, VSCOcam. “I work a lot with masks, also brushes to paint with light and shadows. When it comes to great color looks, VSCO or Lightroom is great, I created my own presets to get my bright colorful look,” Jahns said.

Priime is a new app that Jansen says is the absolute best for storing and filtering your photographs: “This smart app uses all the new possibilities of iOS 9 and therefore it’s easy to use and doesn’t make your photo roll look like a mess. You can edit or even delete photos right from within the app without having to import photos. The filters are superb and it’s very easy to copy edits from one image to another so you can have the same overall look,” he said.

Before you get busy using your iPhone as the prized piece photography equipment that it is, head into the gallery to see how other influential smartphone artists are earning a living from their snaps.

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Nois7 (Robert Jahns)

Although not every single one of Robert Jahns's photos are completely created on an iPhone these days (he admitted to now occasionally using a computer, all though the photos here are smartphone-only), he has earned a reputation as one of the world's most prolific Instagram artists. He has close to one million followers on the app—I'm personally one of his most dedicated Insta-groupies—and works on commissioned shoots, usually photographing cities and architecture, lifestyle, and landscapes. He also sells to stock image websites, and has one of the most distinctive aesthetics of any iPhone artist.

Photo: Nois7 (Robert Jahns)
Photo: Nois7 (Robert Jahns)
Photo: Nois7 (Robert Jahns)
Photo: Nois7 (Robert Jahns)

Danielle Nachmani at EDTN

New York-based stylist and photographer Danielle Nachmani shoots projects for brands like modelFIT and Jennifer Fisher—she even shot an editorial for Vogue Australiaexclusively using her iPhone.

Photo: EDTN
Photo: EDTN
Photo: EDTN

Robert-Paul Jansen

Before professional photographer Robert-Paul Jansen picked up a smartphone and thought, "Hey, this takes a decent photo!" he relied solely on a Canon with various lenses to shoot. Now he specializes in landscape and lifestyle, and earns a living snapping pictures like these on his iPhone.

Photo: Robert-Paul Jansen
Photo: Robert-Paul Jansen
Photo: Robert-Paul Jansen
Photo: Robert-Paul Jansen

Dan Cole

Yep, unbelievably, this snap was taken with a humble Apple iPhone, as was every pic on photographer Dan Cole's Instagram. He usually photographs every day objects or landscapes, is followed by 449,000 people, and is based just outside of Seattle.

Photo: Dan Cole
Photo: Dan Cole
Photo: Dan Cole
Photo: Dan Cole

Julian Calverley

With 114,000 Instagram followers, Calverley is definitely one of the most influential iPhone photographers on social media. He held an "#IPHONEONLY" show in Glasgow last November and just released a book by the same name.

Photo: Julian Calverley
Photo: Julian Calverley
Photo: Julian Calverley
Photo: Julian Calverley

Greg Schmigel

Since 2007, the majority of this mobile artist's work was captured on an iPhone. He takes a quick, candid look at everyday situations and the lives of the strangers he encounters on the street, and then exhibits his work all over the country. And on Instagram, obvs.

Photo: Greg Schmigel
Photo: Greg Schmigel
Photo: Greg Schmigel
Photo: Greg Schmigel

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