How to edit Cell Phone Pictures

How to edit Cell Phone Pictures

Edit cell phone pictures like the Photoshop boss that you are!

Every once in a while I receive a request to show my workflow editing cell phone pictures.  At first I thought this would be impossible as I rarely show my cell phone pictures to anyone.  Every once in a while I’ll post to Instagram or something, but those are just pictures of food and my kids and sometimes my kids eating food.

The reality is I don’t use my cell phone pictures for much more than documentation.  I will snap a shot of something and do a quick edit to see if that spot would be worthy, but I don’t value them much.  If anything I treat my cell phone pictures like Polaroids.

Long before the dawn of the digital world it was impossible to see your pictures after they were taken unless you developed them right away.  This led many photographers to the purchase of a Polaroid Land Camera.  They would set up the shot based on the view of the quickly printed Polaroid Land Cameras.  A brilliant innovation that I now often emulate with my cell phone pictures.

The other night we were out having our family pictures taken at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.  I, of course, did not bring my camera to respect the photographer taking out pictures.  Then I saw this crazy Giuseppe Arcimboldo display of sculptures.  You may have seen his paintings, but I have never seen them in the form of 15 foot structures.  I was blown away!

How to Edit Cell Phone Pictures before after a

I took out the cell phone and snapped a shot.  It was a horrible shot as I didn’t have time to compose it well or fight with the metering mode my phone was in.  However, when I got home I edited it quickly in my S5 editor and was pretty shocked how well I could make a cell phone picture look with the basic editing tools.

Before you shun your cell phone, think of it as your land camera.  Use it to compose shots when you don’t have your big guns.  Then edit those pictures quickly to get a rough idea of how those images would look with the full DSLR and Photoshop treatment.

Check out this tutorial where I edit cell phone pictures with my Galaxy S5:


Like the style of this tutorial?  You will LOVE HDR Insider!  Full-Length HDR Workflows, Critiques & More!

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Blake Rudis
Creator of f.64 Academy
Most people think I am passionate about Photography, but in reality I am not.


Wait, before you freak out, you are on a photo site, I am addicted to post processing. To be more specific, I am addicted to workflow efficiency and cracking the codes to complex systems. That's what I do here, crack the code to photo post processing and present it in a concise way, for you :)
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  1. Thanks for the tutorial. I will now use the editing tools on my S5 more.

  2. Blake,
    Nice job on that cell phone . Thank you for taking your time to do these tutorials .Not sure about apps. for your phone , but I like Pro HDR for my old 4s.

  3. Hi Blake,
    There are a ton of mobile editing apps that are pretty decent but the one I’m sure many will agree with me is the one app you should have if no other: Snapseed. It gives you the ability to do some selective image adjustments among some of the better pro like ones.

    Though you typically don’t use your phone for pro shots, you never know when as you said, it’s the only one you’ve got.

    I don’t know if this campers app is available for Android phones but I use a camera app that can save uncompressed TIFFs and also adjust ISO and EV. It’s called “645 Pro” and is a life saver if again, one is caught without his DSLR and doesn’t want to miss a rare photo opportunity.

    With Photoshop’s great image upsizing capabilities these days, you can take mobile phone pix and get pretty decent large sized prints from them. I have 13×19 prints I made from my phone images that I were good enough to be—and were—sold in art fairs.



  4. I wasn’t aware photo editing could be done on phones! It can’t be done on my Samsung.

  5. Excellent! I need to play around with iPhone tutorials myself. I guess my latest version of Screenflow also lets me do something similar to what you did here. Camtasia? I like the way you incorporated tips into the workflow that would work for any camera and many of the editing tools out there. I’ve slowly started experimenting with Adobe’s free multiplex of iPhone apps (android too, I expect?) for CC members. Pretty amazing stuff coming. Crazy stuff on the horizons. I can hardly believe how essential a smartphone is becoming to my regular workflow with the gear. I have an upgrade available in a couple months to the new 12MP iPhone and will likely investigate that as well. Good work, Blake. The little touches in the tutorial are what set these apart from the typical ones I see on youtube.

  6. My wife and I were at the Atkins-Nelson Museum in late 1968. I’m glad the badminton bird is still there.

  7. I am with Bari…snapseed is a very powerful app…if I am doing streetwork…using my fuji xt1 I can upload the image to my tablet do a quick snapseed edit and print it out on my little fuji instax share sp printer…peoples faces just light up when you give them something they can keep

    • I agree, actually. I really like Snapseed, this was mainly for people with no apps at all on their phone for photo editing. I just wanted people to see that even with the basic adjustments in their phones, they could come up with something better than just, snap snap.


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