“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” - Don McCullin

These days, phones are used for much more than just keeping in touch. In fact, smartphones make great cameras that can be taken just about anywhere you go.

As phone photography continues to grow in popularity, brands have begun to pay more attention to professional tools or settings like luminosity, white balance and even filters. All of these have become essential for editing cell phone photos.

There is much competition between phone camera manufacturers to ensure that the smartphone photography kit offers every quick and easy editing tool possible.

So which filters are best? And which phone photography ideas could you adopt?   

Let’s have a look at the most popular filters for cell phone photos.

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Black and White Filter

“The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.” - Scott Lorenzo

Black and white photography is indispensable, even in smartphone photography. Black and white photos have a way of saving the day when it comes to bad lighting and poor composition.

The black and white filter is probably the most popular option in every smartphone photography kit and is why it is offered as a standard.

Using black and white in your mobile photo editor has a way of bringing everything together. Poor colour or lack of clarity is somehow just forgiven once it is turned into black and white. It takes the image back to basics and increases both the contrast and depth of the photos.

Think about it.

person photographing sleeping kitten with mobile phone camera
Filters are easy to apply to photos when editing.(Source: Unsplash)

If you’re looking for phone photography ideas to make your images look more professional, then the black and white filter should be your first stop. This is a useful filter that can dramatically change the appearance of a good or bad image for the better.

Sepia Filter

Phone photography editing is incredibly simple and should be able to be applied to your photograph without much effort. The sepia filter is one that is also a mobile photo editor standard.

To apply a vintage feel to cell phone photos, the sepia filter is perfect. It takes all the colours and then flattens them into a sepia tone suggestive of the images of yesteryear. Amber-coloured in effect, this filter is not dissimilar to the black and white filter and is perfect for reducing the imperfections inevitable of on-the-go phone photography. Amazingly, you won’t need Lightroom or Photoshop for this!

Remember that filters cannot change the depth of field, but they are certainly useful to every smartphone photography kit.

Warm Filter

Almost every mobile photo editor will include warm filters which will change their name according to the make and model. Their use is to enhance warm orange, red and yellow hues.

If you’re looking for phone photography ideas, using the warm filter will certainly make your images feel more autumn-like if that is a look you want to achieve. This filter is more about enhancing the mood than reducing common imperfections found in cell phone photos.

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Cold Filter

Besides the warm filter, every basic smartphone photography kit contains a cold filter that further enriches the blue and green tones to give your images a crisper feeling.

Using a mobile photo editor, you can change the whole look of your images in just a few clicks. It’s a great way to take phone photography to another level.

Find out more about photo mode options on smartphones.

Vintage Filter

If you look in your smartphone photography kit you will notice that there are several vintage filter options. Not unlike the sepia filter, there are filters that can add grain and imperfections to your image make it look like it was shot on film (some time ago). If you are looking for phone photography ideas, this retro look is very popular.

There’s no doubt, a good mobile photo editor can save you vast amounts of time using editing software and provide surprisingly good results in record time. Whether you are shooting social images, landscapes or portraits, your smartphone photography kit should have the answer.

High Contrast Filter

person using mobile phone camera to take photo of interior architecture
Emphasise certain aspects of your mobile photos using a high contrast filters.(Source: Unsplash)

In the same way that there are plenty of vintage filter options, there isn’t only one high contrast filter. These filters do the job of boosting colours and making them more vibrant.

These can be used to emphasise certain aspects of cell phone photos and can be done across the spectrum or just using a single colour. Note that you will find variations between one smartphone photography kit to another, but overall, it is very interesting what can be done with high contrast filters.  not every device deals with colours in the same way. It’s interesting what you can do with these filters.

Whether you are a professional mobile photo editor or simply want to improve your phone photography, these filters can do much more than expected and can save you from having to master complex programmes like Photoshop and Lightroom.

For more tips on how to improve your photography, click here.

Colour Filter

Thanks to the cutting-edge smartphone photography kit that you most likely already have, just about anything is possible when it comes to editing your photos. Amongst these is the colour filter which allows you to apply a single colour over your whole photograph.

While limited in terms of use, colour filters can add interesting aspects to photography. Your smartphone photography kit will provide you with what is called pre-set colours or the option to apply a customised colour to the entire image.

Whether it is red, yellow, green, brown or blue, colour filters can be used alongside the many other filters already discussed.

Experimentation is key especially when you consider that some images will look off with only a single colour applied to them. However, subtle colour filters here and there can certainly turn ordinary cell phone photos into works of art. Like cold and warm filters, they are great to change the mood and feel of your photography.

The great thing about filters is that they can be used on portraits, selfies, macro images, architectural images or landscapes. There are usually plenty to choose from in your smartphone photography kit, but check out which phone cameras will allow you to download extra ones.

What better way to get started?

While a great image starts the moment you see it through your lens, filters can go a long way to improve and enhance cell phone photos that are just lacking something. Filters make colours pop, clarify important details and can just improve the overall quality and professional look of your phone photography.

Of course, photos that are taken well in the first place will require less editing afterwards. However, photo editing apps and software tools are powerful interventions for retouching, removing imperfections, enhancing colour, cropping unwanted elements or even adding an effect like tilt-shift are powerful tools for retouching photos, removing the odd blemish, or even just altering the brightness, cropping out unwanted elements, or adding effects like tilt-shift. Do remember that a second of careful composition and thought when taking a picture in the first place can save heaps of editing time later.

Professional photo editing software can be expensive too so unless you're a professional, the effects that come in your standard smartphone photography kit will probably suffice.

woman photographing sunset over the sea with smartphone camera
Almost anything is possible when it comes to editing your cell phone photos.(Source: Unsplash)

You could also look for free editing software or an online mobile photo editor to use for basic functions like cropping and resizing. After a while, you may want to consider investing in professional software like Photoshop and Lightroom within the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of programmes.

If you'd like further help with your photography, there are many talented and experienced teachers available on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorials depending on your favourite learning style and of course, budget.

Due to their affordability, group tutorials are popular. Here, students share the cost of the tutor’s time but do not benefit from individual attention. Bear in mind too, that group tutorials will not be able to cater to your exact taste.

Online tutorials can be slightly more expensive than group tutorials because they are just between you and a private teacher. However, the advantage here is that you can tailor-make your programme and benefit from the tutor’s undivided attention. The downside here is that without the benefit of the tutor’s physical presence, some of the more technical aspects of photography can be trickier to grasp.

Finally, in-person private tutorials have all the advantages of the previous types of tutorials but without the disadvantages of the tutor not being present. There’s also no need to sit through questions asked by other learners on topics that you have already grasped.

Make the most out of your private tutoring experience by choosing a teacher who is suited to your personality, your goals, budget and ability!

So why not benefit from the many Superprof tutors who can offer their first lesson at no cost by interviewing them to find out if they are right for you?

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.