Photographers and the iPad


Apple’s iPad, both the iPad Air and iPad mini models, has its obvious appeal and values that make it a go-to tool for numerous situations. Its wide-ranging functionality and general all-around utility make it an ideal component of almost anyone’s daily life. Sometimes its values lie in the realms of luxury, whereas other times it is an incredibly useful asset that can boost productivity more than any other technological component can. In the hands of a photographer, an iPad can be a necessity for many daily tasks and can help to expedite one’s workflow. Alternatively, it will give you the efficiency that is so desired in these faster times, where print and analogous media are slowly dissipating and everything is expected here and now.

The iPad as a Digital Camera

While they are predominantly tablets, both the iPad Air and iPad mini also feature more-than-capable digital cameras for direct picture-making possibilities themselves. The rear-facing iSight camera of the iPad Air and the iPad minis feature a back side illuminated 5MP sensor that captures high-resolution stills and full HD 1080p video, and the iPad Air 2 features a higher-resolution 8MP BSI sensor. In addition to the automated functions, you can take control of the camera by tapping to set focus or exposure settings, which are ideal for difficult lighting situations or for more creative applications. There is also built-in face detection, which will set focus and metering based on recognized faces. Each of the iPads also features a five-element f/2.4 wide-angle lens for sharp focus and low-light performance, and a hybrid infrared filter reduces infrared light interference to keep colors looking true and vivid.

The new iPad as a Means to Showcase Your Work

With the transition from film-based imaging to digital photography, there is essentially little need to be printing quite as many images as one might have when working with film. Editing, reviewing, sorting, and filing take place on the computer. This absence of hard copy translates equally as well when showing your work to others. The iPads are tremendous devices on which to view imagery. With the exception of the iPad mini, the Air, Air 2, mini 2, and mini 3 all feature a Retina display with 2048 x 1536 resolution at 264 ppi on a 9.7- or 7.9-inch frame, respectively. These vivid monitors essentially have as good, if not better, visual capabilities than most computer monitors or print media. Simply showing your images to someone on an iPad lends visual impact that is sure to impress any viewer.

Additionally, the opportunity to store a variety of ever-changing portfolios on your iPad can be a highly valuable benefit. Carrying a printed portfolio with one set of prints and having to swap that set out, depending on your meeting—in addition to the fragility of prints in transit and just having to lug a book around—is easily surpassed by carrying a convenient tablet. You can store several projects, stories, or bodies of work on the same device and alter your edits much more quickly than you would if you had to print new images. For greater networking ability, you can even email images from your portfolios to others directly from your iPad, saving you the hassle of having to remember to send an email from your computer later.

A useful tool for showcasing your work and keeping images neatly organized is the Portfolio for iPad app. This app offers a highly polished, professional feel and even has a customizable interface for enhanced branding potential. You can also set the app to lock the interface, so that navigation from the portfolio is disabled. Organization of your images and how the different galleries are arranged gives much more professional functionality than working directly from the iPad’s native interface, which is especially impressive when using your iPad as the vehicle to show your work during a meeting or presentation.

Where any-generation iPad struggles, however, is when you don’t have the opportunity to have an intimate one-on-one conversation with someone about your photography. When showing your work to more than one person, you will want to show something larger, or at least in a format that is less precarious than passing around your iPad. Making use of the dock connection on any-generation iPad, you can connect it to a variety of projectors or screens via a Lightning to VGA Adapter or a Lightning Digital AV Adapter. These small accessories allow you to link your iPad to any display or projector with a VGA or HDMI input, and play slideshows or movies.

Photography Apps for the iPad

Besides the inherent traits of an iPad for your photography, there are almost limitless possibilities for different apps you can download to enhance, modify, streamline, share, and do just about anything you want to do with your images on an iPad. A handful of recommended apps, based on their versatility and performance, follows.

Adobe Photoshop Express

A quick editing application that borrows technology from its bigger desktop brother, Photoshop Express is a slider-based app to enhance the look of your photos. Crop, straighten, auto-fix, remove blemishes, and add a variety of preset looks, this app is designed for streamlined editing to get your photos looking their best quickly, for sharing with others. A paid addition offers further control over noise reduction, haze reduction, and support for editing raw image files on your iPad.

Adobe Photoshop Mix

For more advanced editing than the Express app, Photoshop Mix allows you to make non-destructive edits, composite imagery, and make selections within photos, as well as apply preset looks, effects, and do some general retouching work. This app also ties in to Adobe's Creative Cloud, allowing you to sync your workflow from your iPad to your computer.


Another all-around app for general modification to your images, Snapseed implements all of its functions in an incredibly easy-to-use manner and provides highly aesthetic results. Voted as the best photography app for iPads in 2012, this long-favored program features a wide range of creative enhancements and basic adjustments to improve every step of your image making. An Auto Correct feature automatically analyzes your image and adjusts its color and exposure settings to an optimal level. Sharing is equally as straightforward, either through email or social networks, and this app supports printing your images using AirPrint technology.


Perhaps best known for the array of carefully crafted filters for enhancing the look of imagery, VSCO Cam can also serve as a more controllable camera for refined results during shooting. Separate focus and exposure rings can be used, as well as selectable white balance, shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO settings. Manual focus control is even offered for making shallow-depth-of-field imagery. In addition to the shooting and editing controls, a breadth of sharing and syncing options are available for getting your work out into the world.


Characterized by its simple, intuitive interface, Manual is, as its name would suggest, a manual shooting app that gives you complete control over shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus, and exposure-compensation settings. During shooting, a live histogram can be displayed for exposure value reference, and other unique features include a delayed shutter release for long exposures, different grid arrays, a fill flash mode, and the ability to save your files directly to your camera roll rather than a segregated image folder.


For seamless panoramic imaging, Photosynth provides an intuitive interface to create and share images up to 360°, horizontally and vertically. Essentially allowing you to stitch together images to create a full sphere, this app will quickly process images you take panning any scene. Once your image has been created, you can share it on Microsoft’s Photosynth site to allow for interactive viewing by others.


Easy Release

While this is not an app that specifically changes the way you photograph, it certainly has the potential to expedite your shooting process if you work with models on a regular basis. Easy Release is a full-fledged app that replaces the need to carry model releases on paper, allowing for a more organized and streamlined workflow. This app gives you the ability to have your talent and witnesses sign the release directly on your iPad, then back up your info and create a release that is instantly ready to send to clients. When combined with the optional Advanced Customization Pro-Pack, you can also customize the standard model-release text to suit your needs, or the client for whom you are working.

Pocket Light Meter

Distinct from the previous apps, the Pocket Light Meter is not an editing or shooting app, but uses the iPad's camera to determine  proper exposure settings for photographing with another camera, or even the iPad itself, using one of the manual shooting-enabled apps. Exposure settings can be logged for reference and exported to Dropbox, and up to two values can be locked at a time for changing just the shutter speed, aperture, or ISO values.


One of the most popular apps available, Instagram is a simple social app for sharing and viewing photos. While you can upload photos taken previously, Instagram is also no slouch in terms of its own camera, filters, and editing capabilities, available within the app.


Another popular imaging social site, the 500px app is a mobile way to view the community's photos, update your own work, and learn more about photographers' processes. In addition to the community aspects of 500px, this app also includes a camera of its own, as well as a suite of editing tools designed by Adobe.

Using the new iPad with Your Existing Photography Workflow

Wireless Tethering

While it is a bit unfortunate that you cannot physically tether a camera to the iPad, there are a number of solutions that allow you to sync your digital camera to it, wirelessly. This allows you to back up versions of the images you are shooting, either for instant review on a larger screen or for sending images mid-shoot. There are even apps that provide remote control over your camera, giving you the ability to be out of physical range of the camera while shooting.

One popular option for backing up your full-resolution images wirelessly to your iPad is through the use of an Eye-Fi SDHC memory card that allows you to transfer both raw and JPEG files. This card provides Wi-Fi support for your digital camera, which gives you the ability to send images either to a computer or directly to an iPad through the use of the Eye-Fi app. When using this app, you receive full-resolution images on your iPad and can edit, send, or just review them in a larger format, while you're in transit.

For complete remote control of your camera, there is the Capture Pilot app, from Phase One, which pairs with your Capture One Pro 8, 7, or 6 software during a shoot. This app allows you to use your iPad to view, rate, and tag images remotely as they are recorded. With the Camera Control in-app purchase, you can also use your iPad to view a live view image, fire the shutter remotely, and adjust exposure setting parameters of a camera tethered to Capture One.

Using a Stylus

While not directly related to an iPad itself, a stylus can provide a means for working with images that is on par with the precision you can expect when working with images on a computer. Part of the appeal of an iPad is its touch-screen functionality, but at the same time fingers are not always the most precise instruments. The Wacom Bamboo Stylus Pen is a well-designed instrument that offers a simple solution for using a pen-like tool with your iPad. This stylus provides a firm, balanced feel and has a soft tip for fine control over the pressure you exert onto the screen. An additional option is the Macally PenPal, which gives you two separate styli; a short one with a quick-release cord and a full-sized aluminum one. The smaller stylus is ideal for carrying in a pocket or using the cord to attach to straps or other loops, while the larger one gives greater control and balance. Both styli feature an accurate soft rubber tip for maximum control while writing or drawing.

Both the iPad Air and iPad mini series can certainly be seen as indispensible tools for photographers. They are a perfect way to showcase your work, make new photographs, edit your images, and use in conjunction with your existing photography workflow. Their slim form factor makes them perfect traveling companions, yet the screen sizes are still perfect for viewing freshly shot images at a substantially larger size than your camera's LCD can display. The plethora of photography-specific apps can be overwhelming, but that just goes to show how well an iPad can serve you and your photography needs. Certain accessories can enhance these functions as well, turning your iPad into a veritable hub of your image-making process.


iphoto does not let you delete edited pictures... I would not recommend it to anyone. I need the capability to delete, not hide photos. Why would I want to keep or hide unwanted photos anywhere?

When you empty your iPhoto trash your photos will be gone.  At least that is how I works on my iMac.