Woodland Walks

Is it cheating to use Photographic Apps?

Yesterday I wrote about photographic manipulation.. and when an image changes from being a photograph of … to digital art and the great debate we had in our household over it.

Today I want to explore what do people think about Photographic Apps?… Let us be honest here.. if use shoot in RAW you do need some form of photographic software to enhance your image… simply put if you shoot in jpeg your camera does a certain amount of processing before you even get to see your image.  And to enhance a RAW photograph most people use Lightroom or Photoshop.

But.. what about using Apps to enhance your photograph on your phone or tablet?…  Is it cheating? Or is it being creative?

Woodland Walks
Shorne Country Park

I have seen various comments and posts on the internet where people condemn the use of Apps and to a certain extent over-processing in Photoshop or Lightroom.  But I am a firm believer that it is your image do what you like with it..  As long as you like it.. does it really matter if someone thinks it is over processed? Or if someone thinks you have used way too many software programs or Android/IOS apps to create your final image?

Each and every one of us have different tastes with regards to appreciating  art and photographic images.  Take two dresses in a shop window for instance… a flowery printed dress and a plain dress each having the exact same style, some people will buy the flowery dress because they don’t like plain-looking clothes and others will buy the plain dress.. because they don’t like flowery printed clothes.

The same applies to images… some will like an image that is more natural looking whilst others like an image that has enhancements made to it.. But neither opinions are wrong… it is down to personal taste.. and in my opinion it is wrong to condemn people because you don’t like their personal taste.

Dusky pink
A photograph of a flower taken at Marle Place in Kent

Both of the images above have been processed using the ToolWiz Photo App on an Android tablet.  Each image has had a texture applied to it..  And each image has had various blending modes applied to each texture.  Yes the app did all the work.. I just clicked a few buttons and hey presto my image had the effect I liked.  So is it cheating to use an app?

Personally the answer to me is… a plain outright categorical NO.  Apps are designed to make your life easier… just like calculators are designed to make mathematical questions easier to answer.

Software and Apps are produced and used to make your life a whole lot easier when processing a photograph… it is as simple as that.. and I don’t think it is cheating to use either.. you are creating art… and it is wrong to condemn any person who using any form of software to enhance their image.  And just because you don’t like what they did to that image… it doesn’t stop that image from being a photograph or a piece of art.

The same as if you don’t like flowery dresses… that flowery dress in the shop just because you don’t like it, doesn’t stop it from being a dress… the same applies to photographs.. just because you don’t like what a photographer has done to that image, doesn’t mean it is no longer a photograph.

Would it be fair to label your image to let the viewer know that it has been enhanced?  I am afraid the jury is out on that one… as with yesterday’s post I clearly can see why at times you need to let the viewer know your image has had a subject added to it…

Ashenbank Woods - Digital Art
Ashenbank Woods in Cobham, Kent, processed using ToolWiz Photo App

Because someone might think your image is beautiful and would love to visit that place and when they get there find that there isn’t a lake, or any form of water..  and that place doesn’t even exist at that place.  Like with the above image… there is no water to be found at Ashenbank woods and yes it would be wrong to give a viewer the impression that there is water at Ashenbank Woods.

Just like it would be wrong  to give a person a rum and coke and call it rum and coke, when I have used Pepsi instead of Coke… that in law is ‘passing something off’ as something it isn’t.  And I can understand why people would be annoyed at a photographer passing off a photograph off as something that it isn’t.

But I can’t see any reason as to why it would be wrong to use any form of software or any app to enhance your image.  I think most people can tell that you have processed your image with some form of app or software.. and personally I think it should be a simple case of you  like or dislike the image due to personal taste…  There is no right or wrong answer?  Just like the dresses it is down to personal taste.

I use software and apps all the time for my images… does it make it a lesser photograph?  Most certainly not… can it make it an untrue reflection of the original image? … Yes it can.  Does it make me feel I am cheating with my processing skills? … Most definitely NOT!

So is it so wrong to use apps or software on any image?  What do you think?  And should a photographer tell you how and why they’ve enhanced their image?

Over to you…



Written by Bren (Ryan-Photography)

Bren Ryan is a female amateur photographer and blogger who along with her husband, Ashley, have created a photography blog called Ryan Photography which showcases the places they've visited on their photography journey. Bren and Ashley primarily concentrate their photographic skills on landscape, architecture and floral subjects. Based in the South East of England they hope to give their readers an insight into the wonderful and beautiful landscapes, buildings and places that the South of England has to offer.


  1. I love apps and lightroom and photoshop………..and I agree (to a point) that they are just digital dark rooms, no more than what was used 20+ years ago. However I think that people who try to pass off compilations or altered art as a ‘real’ photo are a sham. I believe that if it’s a photo enhanced then it is still a photo, but if it is pure fiction or compilation or composite, then it is digital art. Both are beautiful and amazing. Personally I do both, but if it is a composite I call a spade a spade and sat it is digital art.


    1. I use a lot of apps as well Julie.. and totally agree that apps are the 21st century darkroom. That is exactly what my hubby was saying.. he would hate it if he saw a photograph of somewhere and when he gets there it is nothing like it looks in a photo. Reminds me of days gone by when you would book a holiday based on the brochure photographs only to find when you got there the hotel was smack in the middle of unfinished buildings or an industrial estate.


    1. So do I… what makes me feel annoyed at times is the attitude of some people who think and say you are not a proper photographer if you have to use all these apps.. Well a) I’ve never proclaimed to be a fully fledged professional photographer and b) even the greatest of the greats did a certain amount of processing in a darkroom. Apps to me are an aid… and if they make my processing time considerably less I’m all for them.


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