Book Review: SnApp Shots

Phone photography has changed the way we see the world.

By Heather Camlot


With everyone carrying a phone these days, and with most of those phones having built-in cameras, the result has been immediate images directly from the biggest news stories – think the tsunami in Japan and the revolution in Egypt – taken by regular people who just happened to be there.

We also get to capture the everyday, our child’s first swing at her baseball game or a chair that might just be perfect for our living room. The practicality and spontaneity a camera phone offers is a luxury and the apps available to help us shoot, edit and enhance those photographs are endless.

But while we all know how to point and shoot, even with a camera phone there are techniques and accessories that can make those shots even better.

That’s where SnApp Shots: How to Take Great Pictures with Smartphones and Apps (Chronicle Books, 2012) comes in. Author Adam Bronkhorst takes readers through an in-depth journey of the simple photograph, from setting up to editing to sharing the shot.

While much of what is written can be applied to your smartphone and your digital camera (making this book even more worthwhile) the value add – along with the stellar collection of photos – is how to select and apply all the apps available for download.

There is a collection of apps that recreate different types of cameras, such as toy and instant, as well different types of film, from 35mm to slide film to infrared. Apps that add bold effects to everyday shots, like lighting to a picture of a family playing on the beach, multiple exposure options and macro photography are also well worth a try as are apps that act as light meters and depth-of-field calculators.

Also of note is the collection of accessories you can purchase to take your photographs to the next level. Lenses, adhesive filters, tripods, SLR mounts, even underwater gear are all available for camera phones. Of course, taking these accessories along makes using your smartphone less spontaneous and possibly more cumbersome to set up, but extra gear may be worth the investment if your phone is your main gadget for capturing life’s extraordinary moments.

First published June 18, 2012, on

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