Best iPhone Photo Apps

Even though I pride myself on being a DSLR photographer, I have come to appreciate iPhonography. Sometimes the only camera you have is your phone, and you have to make that work without having a choice. More than that, I think iPhone cameras (sorry Android) can take some beautiful photos if you have the right tools! My Instagram uses both DSLR photos and iPhone pictures, so I have become a pro at mixing the two.

Today, I want to share some of my favorite photo apps that I use regularly! Most of these are editing apps, but I have a few other random apps I use when making Instagram content.

VSCO | Filters, photo editing, etc.

Everyone who's anyone uses VSCO. I have a bunch of presets that I use on my desktop with Lightroom, but somehow the mobile filters are still some of the best filters out there. I generally use this app for my iPhone photos in order to make them more cohesive and artsy. My current favorite filter is M5, and I usually will bump up the contrast + sharpening + clarity + the warm tones when I edit things.

Polarr | Desaturation, more specific photo editing

This app has some interesting filters, but I usually use it for specific photo editing hacks. It has a more professional set of features - mainly the specific color saturation adjustment which is what I like to use. It also has a cool fringe feature that I like to use when I'm trying to be really artsy. Otherwise, I generally just bring down the orange & yellow saturation in the HSL section.

A Color Story | Light leak effect, filters, coloring

I rarely use this app, but when I do it always blows me away. The filters in this app really boost your colors in a unique way. I also love using it to add fake light leaks and flares. You can get access to more features by purchasing in the app, but I just use the free version for the most part.

Huji | Disposable camera effects

I'm sure you've seen people using this app recently - mainly because it has a cool little time stamp in the corner. My friend introduced me to this after we both talked about wishing we could use film instead of just our phones to take photos. This app is basically like a digital version of a disposable camera (complete with wacky light leaks) and it's my current obsession. I love how unique all the photos look and I don't even have to edit them when they're done because they look so...old school. 

UN UM | Curating my Instagram accounts

I'm sure there are many apps out there where you can plan out your Instagram, but I was introduced to this app last year, and I've been using it ever since. UN UM has a number of features, and if you upgrade to their Elite plan you can even track your followers and posts! (I won a subscription somehow...I don't even know lol) It's super helpful if you have a theme or you want to just plot out which photos you want to post next.

The Power of the Art Journal

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I love journaling. For the past few years I've been keeping up with yearly Moleskines and it's been incredibly therapeutic for me. I fill the blank white pages with all sorts of artsy spreads over the course of 12 months, and by the end of the year I always have a lot of beautiful memories to look back on. 

Obviously journaling has changed a lot in recent years. Today it's more about making art than about keeping a written diary like when I was growing up. As great as it is to write down your day-to-day life in a journal, it's much more fun and easy to just paste things and doodle. However, I think art journaling can be just as personal and memorable as writing down your thoughts. Many of the spreads I make rely on how I'm feeling at a certain time during the year, so even if I'm not telling my future self exactly what I was doing on February 17th, 2018, I can know what songs I was listening to or what movies I had just seen. (For the record, it's "I'm Ready" by AJR + Black Panther.)

In 2018 I've been focusing a lot more on making a journal of which I'm proud to show off. I've done flip-throughs of both my 2016 + 2017 journals, but for both of those I ended up giving up for part of the year. This year I want to consistently create content I love that reflects my life and who I am becoming. I've done a lot more collaging than I did in the past, and I'm super proud of what I've made so far.

If you're looking for some quick tips on how to keep up with journaling, check them out below!

MAKE YOUR OWN RULES...OR DON'T

A lot of people ask me what are my "rules" for my art journal, and I definitely have some, but I don't like feeling restricted when making art. It's your art, so you have to make your own decisions about how you make it. For instance, I don't make to-do lists in my art journals & I use mine as more of a scrapbook than anything. I don't usually put in a lot of photos, but I like to make each page a piece of art rather than just scribbling random things in the margins.

ACCEPT THAT SOMETIMES IT WILL BE UGLY

It can be scary starting a journal because you don't want to make any mistakes or mess up. My Moleskines are all over 100 pages (and I try to use both sides of each page), so I have to decorate a lot of blank pages. Thus, it's no surprise that I make some ugly art and some beautiful mistakes. Once you accept that you won't love every single page, it makes it easier to get started.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO COPY YOUR FAVES

One of the most difficult parts of art journaling is that it's easy to lack inspiration and feel stuck. I am giving you permission right now to use your favorite artists and journalers as your muse. My favorite thing to do when I'm at a loss for ideas is to check out Pinterest or Tumblr and try mimicking another artist's style. Obviously you shouldn't plagiarize things, but as long as you tailor it to your interests and credit the artist, it's healthy to test out other people's ideas!

INVEST IN YOUR SUPPLIES

I know it seems ridiculous to buy art supplies as an adult, but it's so worth it! Whether that's markers or pens or even just a printer with some nice color ink (it's expensive yikes), you will be much happier making art if you have the right tools to make it. Here's a list of some of my journaling essentials!

  • Brush pens (Tombow brand)
  • Pilot pens (the clicky kind)
  • 4-5 random magazines
  • Scissors
  • Wrinkle-free glue stick
  • Printer + colored ink
  • Watercolor palette + brush (the kind that has water in the brush handle)
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5 Books That Changed My Life

A lot of people seem to think that people don’t read books anymore - and that is just straight up wrong. As someone who’s loved reading since a young age, I can safely say that books aren’t going anywhere. In fact, recently the book community has been flourishing thanks to diverse books and online content creators. If you haven’t picked up a book since high school or if you’re looking for a new book to rock your world, I came up with a list of a few books that changed my life. I tried to keep these fresh (thus you will not see Harry Potter on this list) so hopefully you can find something different!

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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Of all the cliche books/series to talk about, this one is pretty well known. However, I put it on this list because it did make me super excited to get back into reading. Almost five years ago now I picked up this book on a whim because the film was being released and the trailers wowed me. (The movie is somewhat garbage, but the books are still great!) Even though this isn’t my favorite book in the Shadowhunter world, it changed my life because it got me excited about books. The writing is humorous and mind-blowing and as the books go on, there is increasingly more diversity. This fantasy book did so much for me, and I will never be able to thanks Cassandra Clare enough.

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Before this book, I had never read an audiobook before. Jenny reads the book herself, and when I listened to it, it really sparked something in me. Not only is it one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, but it gave me hope and made me interested in audiobooks. This book focuses on mental health in a way that’s honest and real, while also acknowledging that mental illness can be funny sometimes. It’s still one of the best audiobooks & non-fiction books I’ve read, and it changed my life because it made me want to broaden my reading tastes. Since then I’ve listened to countless books on tape (on iPhone?) and I could not be more grateful to Jenny for introducing me to that medium.

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

I talk about this book a lot, but it changed my life a lot because it represents me so well. Before I read this, I thought I was being represented well in media because I’m a (seemingly) straight white girl who’s introverted. However, this book focuses on a heteroromantic asexual main character who makes YouTube videos...and after reading it, I truly felt like I was seen. It changed my life because it showed me how important true representation is. While I do want more asexual stories to be told, I also know that I want everyone - race, sexuality, class, etc. - to understand what it’s like to be represented well in media.

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The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Manda is one of my online friends, and so one of the main reasons I picked this up was to support her and her passion. Previously, I had never read any poetry books outside of my english classes. This book changed my life because it not only got me interested in contemporary poetry, but it encouraged me to write my own poetry. Even since I read this book, I really wanted to write poetry in a way I hadn’t before. I’ve written poetry in the past, but I never knew it was something I could turn into a collection or a real way to express myself. More than that, this book showed me that poetry can be accessible and easy to read compared to the traditional poetry I studied in school.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

To top off our list, THUG changed my life because it showed me what it’s like to be a person of color (specifically African-American) in the USA today. This book has been at the top of the NYT Bestseller List for months, and it’s important to a lot of people. For me, it forced me to open my eyes and see the world from a different perspective even though that perspective was uncomfortable. I’m as white as they come, so getting to read about the life of a black woman really changed how I see the world. It’s such a powerful and important book, and it probably changed my life the most out of all of these. It’s also the book I recommend the most, so if you don’t read any of these other books, please check out this one!