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Back to School iPhoneography

Back to School iPhoneography

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Get ready to put your best face forward as you head back to school.

By Chris Lee

August 28, 2014

It’s Back to School season and you’re dolled up in your new threads, ready to meet new people and reunite with old friends. It’s basically selfie season – I’d bet that in the first month of school you’ll be taking more selfies than the rest of the year (vacations aside). Between the countless photos, your usual Facebook and Instagram activity, and the hours of YouTube you’ll sneak in while at a boring lecture, your phone is a central part of your school experience.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a few of my favorite apps and accessories (I use them every time I travel out of town, now that I’ve graduated) that complement my iPhone perfectly so that I can grab great images, process them, and share them both digitally and physically all from the go.

First and foremost is the phone. Personally, I have an iPhone 5s. After having been an Android user and a Windows Phone user, I’ve found that, even though the phone may not have as high a megapixel resolution as some of its competition, the iPhone 5s still takes the cake. Between the easy-to-use camera app, the high quality pictures, and the large market share that the iPhone owns (making AirDrop an ideal way to share photos – but more on that later), my iPhone 5s has more photos on it than my DSLR has ever had.

Taking photos by now has become second nature. I’ve gotten so used to swiping up from the bottom of the screen for quick access to the camera app on my iPhone that I’ve got it down to a science – by the time I’ve got my other hand on the phone to shoot, the camera is already up, running, and attempting auto-focus on a subject. Once in focus and framed correctly, it’s a quick push of the shutter button and snap, you’ve got your photo.

After grabbing the photo, I like to do a teensy bit of editing before posting it out to any social media or other outlet. A few of my favorite apps to correct with are PS Express, InstaFrame, and Instagram. All these apps are free (PS Express has in-app purchases) and they allow me differing levels of control on cropping, exposure, contrast, and framing my photos. I tend to do exposure and contrast corrections in PS Express, frame my pictures in InstaFrame, and final placement and filters in Instagram.

From here, sharing the photos is a cinch. Instagram has a built in share feature that will post automatically to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, maximizing my photos to the people who care to see them. Switching back to my Facebook app, I can tag the friends that I’ve photographed, with Facebook even sometimes automatically recognizing who they are (their facial recognition is 97% accurate… creepy!). That’s usually enough sharing for most people, but for those who want the photo directly to their device rather than solely on a social network, I can either send them the photo as an MMS from my iPhone or, if they are also iPhone users, I can turn on AirDrop and send the photo directly device to device.

That covers digital sharing, which for most of you, is fine. I personally like to keep printed photos (I scrapbook and combine my writing with my photography) and found that the LG Pocket Photo Printer is the ideal accessory for photo printing from my phone. With its conveniently small form factor, its Zero-Ink technology, and its Bluetooth connectivity, the LG Pocket Photo Printer is able to print small keepsake photos at roughly 2" x 3". Prints take about 15 seconds each, which is pretty impressive once you consider that the printer is a pocket-sized wireless printer.

With all the app use and with sending photos repeatedly to print, it’s no surprise that my phone battery tends to drain pretty quickly. To avoid my phone only lasting half an hour (I kid… it usually lasts about five hours under heavy use) I like to carry around a spare battery. The Sanho Hyperjuice Plug is one of my favorite spare battery packs. The small form factor that makes it easy to carry, and its built in plug allows me to recharge it wherever I can find a wall plug. At 18000mAh though, I only have to charge it occasionally – 18000mAh is about 6x the full iPhone 5s charge, which means I am usually able to travel 2-3 full days with the battery pack without having to worry about my phone dying.

Finally, my phone is only good if it’s charged and working and, having smashed my way through an iPhone 3G and an iPhone 5, I’ve found the perfect case for my less than gentle handling – the LifeProof Fre Case is a reasonably light case for the iPhone 5s that protects it from impact and from water while still looking rather good in a variety of colors.


With all of these accessories, I’ve found myself in Rome handing out souvenir pictures to fast friends in hostels, in Los Angeles snapping photos for a full weekend despite forgetting my wall chargers, and generally able to travel, shoot, and share without being weighed down. It’s a great kit for traveling or returning to school with, and all of these products are well priced for how much they can do. So don’t be afraid to snap as many photos as you want – with this kit you’ll have charge enough to keep sharing just how awesome you are. 


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