6 Reasons Why an iPad Makes a Good Photography Companion


I have an iPad Air 2 and I simply love it. It’s my portable digital workhouse. I can pop into most cafés where free wi-fi is the norm. I can enjoy a delicious cup of java, while checking my inbox, or pen a draft for my next article for dPS.

iPad Air 2

iPad Air 2

My main reason for purchasing the iPad was that I went back to college recently. I thought about buying a laptop. After a bit of research, I decided an iPad, paired with a keyboard case, essentially turned it into a mini laptop of sorts. Plus it was less expensive and more portable. I’ve completed the course, but the iPad has now become a great companion for my photography.

I was recently in a cafe waiting to meet a client, when an idea started to take shape about the advantages of having an iPad as a photographer. Following on from a previous article I wrote on “Can an iPad be used as a softbox or custom background?“, I realized that I am using my iPad more and more in my photography work than ever before.


iPad Air 2 paired with a Logitech keyboard

I could go on at length, extolling the many virtues of having an iPad/tablet as a photographer. Instead, I’ll limit my list for now to just six.

Here are my top six reasons an iPad makes a good photography companion

  1. Portability makes it handy to take anywhere
  2. Displaying your work or portfolio makes you look good
  3. Editing and sharing images is easy
  4. Reading and learning
  5. Spoiled for choice with so many Apps
  6. Google Drive

1. Portability of the iPad

The iPad Air 2 and other tablets are just so light, and even more portable than most laptops. The iPad Air for me is the ultimate Digital Briefcase! The dimensions are 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24 inches (240 x 169.5 x 6.1 mm). It weighs just 0.96 pounds (436 grams). I feel like James Bond! (sorry Jane Bond)


The iPad fits snugly into my camera bag.

2. To display your work

As a photographer, your work should speak for itself. As a commercial photographer, it’s what gets you your next gig. Now more than ever, there are so many ways to get your work online.

The first option is to have a personal website. But this does mean paying for a domain name and hosting. So what if you don’t want to invest in a website? If you are just starting out in your photography career or you’re a keen hobbyist? Again there are many ways to showcase your portfolio online and in most cases for free. For example there is Behance Display, Flickr, 500px and Morpholio to name just a few.

The retina display on the iPad allows maximum clarity of your photos, and makes it very easy for the viewer to look at the details by easily “zooming in” by pinching the screen. Also, flicking through your images or albums with a swipe of a finger, makes the experience much more tactile and hands-on. Similar to flipping pages of a book.

Recently, I met with a client and I needed to bring a digital portfolio with me. I don’t have my full range of work online. I also couldn’t rely on a solid wifi connection. So I put together a portfolio, saved it out as a PDF, and synced it to iBooks on the iPad. A typical page layout program, such as InDesign would be used to put a portfolio together. However, if you just have Photoshop, then here is a great way to create your own portfolio PDF for your iPad from multiple pages.

Creating a PDF portfolio from multiple pages in Photoshop

Open Photoshop and create all your pages the same size, 2048 X 1536 pixels. Place each image and text on a separate page. You can determine how many pages that you want in your portfolio. A general guide is 15-20 pages.

Go up to File>Automate>PDF Presentation. Check this box, “Add Open Files”, and click Save. Name your file and Save it to a location on your computer.


This is handy tip in creating a pdf file from multiple pages or images in Adobe Photoshop.

Make sure to check the Add Open Files box.

When another dialog box appears, make sure Optimize for Fast Web Preview is checked.


Make sure that the Optimize for Fast Web preview box is ticked.

Click on Compression under General (on the left side, see below screenshot). At the top, change the Adobe PDF Preset to High Quality Print, and next to Image Quality, change the setting from Maximum to Medium. Then click on the Save PDF button.


Choose the High Quality Print from the Adobe PDF Preset at the top. Then change Maximum beside Compression to Medium.

Tip: Try and keep the file size below 5mb so as you can email it to potential employers or clients. If you can’t optimize the file size to less than 5mb, then create another portfolio with less pages. PDF files can be viewed on a Mac or PC.

If you don’t have Photoshop, then read on to number six below, and I’ll show you how to create a PDF portfolio using Google Slides.

3. Editing and sharing images is easy

I haven’t done a lot of editing on the iPad. I prefer to do my post-processing at my desktop, where I have the big monitor and stylus. However, I think the iPad Pro could possibly change my mind.

I did try Snapseed. It’s impressive, so intuitive, and free. Other free editing apps are VSCO, Adobe Photoshop Express, and Instagram. What also makes these apps powerful is the ease with which you can share your images online to your social media accounts, or upload them to the cloud.

4. Reading and learning

I’m coming around to reading ebooks and PDFs on my iPad rather than a book. Although, you can’t beat a physical book in your hand. That said, from a practical point of view when travelling, carrying just one book takes up so much room!

I now have my Nikon D750 user manual downloaded on the iPad. This manual alone, although relatively compact in size, still has 507 pages and weighs 310g (11oz).

Tip: If you are using the Safari browser and open a PDF file, you can save it straight to iBooks.

5. Choice of Apps for the iPad

Given the array of apps already in the app store, it’s just not possible to run the gauntlet on them all. Here are a few that popped up on my radar.

  • LightTrac ($8.99): LightTrac calculates and plots the angle of Sun and Moon on top of a map, for any location.
  • The Photographer’s Ephemeris ($8.99):  TPE  shows you which direction the sun is shining at any given time during the day, no matter what location you choose.
  • Pocket Light Meter (FREE): A light meter that is always in your pocket. It is indispensable for film photography with a manual camera. Measures reflected light, and allows reciprocity calculations.
  • Simple DoF Calculator ($1.99): Simple DoF Calculator allows you to calculate the depth of field and hyperfocal distance for any given settings.
  • Take notes to a new level with Evernote (FREE), the productivity app that keeps your projects, ideas, and inspiration handy across all your digital devices.
  • Photography Releases500px has a free one. If you shoot Stock photography, a model/property release is a must have.
  • Snapwire also has a free model/property release. I downloaded this app and found it really useful, especially as it stores the photographer’s information. No need to keep filling in this info for every release. Plus it has the templates for all of the major stock sites.

6. Google Drive

What’s not to like about Google Drive? Google Drive is a complete office suite with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Plus you get 15 GB free storage online. In Google Photos, images not exceeding 2048 x 2048 pixels, and videos shorter than 15 minutes ,also do not count towards this limit. It is hard to find fault with this setup when it’s all free!

It is really a Digital Photo Assistant. You can access email, write and publish blog posts, keep track of your schedule and contacts. Share out documents and collaborate with clients online. I also love that you can work with Google docs offline. This has proven as a great time saver if your internet connection is poor, or you simply don’t have access to an internet connection when you need it.

Google Slides is Microsoft’s version of Powerpoint. Here’s an animated gif to illustrate how easy it is to create your PDF portfolio. It’s well worth giving it a go.


An animated gif illustrating how easy it is to use Google Slides to create a PDF portfolio for the iPad.

To sum it all up

It was a challenge to keep this list to just six things. I know this could change over the next few months as I continue to use the iPad.

I didn’t mention uploading your photos from your camera directly onto the iPad. You can, but you need the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader – $29.00 or the Lightning to USB Camera Adaptor – $29.00.
I only mentioned a mere smidgen of available apps, and most of those were free. This is only a tip of the app-iceberg-store. Some of the paid apps look interesting too.

It’s mind boggling just keeping up with trends. With the recent launch of the iPad Pro. It won’t be long before the iPad has morphed into a real contender, in place of a laptop, for the photographer out in the field.

Do you have an iPad or tablet? What apps do you use? Please share in the comments below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Sarah Hipwell is an independent professional photographer based in Dublin. She specialises in high-quality corporate, stock and portraiture photography. Her background is in Design. She received her BA in Hons Design from the University of Ulster, Belfast. She has many years commercial design experience working as a designer and as a trainer for large multimedia companies. See more of her work at SarahHipwell.com or at 500px.

  • Lennart Östman

    Don’t miss the fact that Snapseed now comes with a very good RAW editor!

  • Márcio Angelin

    How about Lightroom mobile? You can use to make a first selection of the job, and then yiu can filter at notebook ou desktop Lightroom. Can make a portfolium álbum, that can be shared with anyone.

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  • Chris Pearson

    What about using the iPad as a light box?
    Just set the screen to white, crank up the brightness, place a piece of thin white paper over the top to act as a diffuser (and to stop the pixels showing through) and then put your subject on to the screen.
    Flowers work well with this technique.

  • David

    Decent article but let’s see next step article of actually using it as a vacation laptop replacement for raw editing 🙂

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    I currently make approximately 6-8 thousand bucks /a month from freelancing at home. If you are considering to finish basic freelance tasks for few hrs /a day from your home and gain solid income while doing it… Then this task is for you… http://ur1.ca/pm79n


  • Sarah Hipwell
  • Sarah Hipwell

    Thanks Lennart, yes saw that recently. Snapseed is impressive.

  • Chris Pearson

    Missed that one. Thanks ?

  • Pedro Guardiola

    Ipad and raw files it’s a waste of time, iphones and ipads are a bad option for photographers. The wireless connection is bad, with a cable to slow. Nothings is better than a laptop.

  • red rackham

    Good article. But I personally preferred using Galaxy Tab A 9.8 inch + logitech keyboard case. Although the screen is not as good as iPad Air 2, for me its more than enough to browse, type things, create pdf, use as background lighting and post-process using lightroom (android). Alternatively, for the same price as an iPad Air 2, one can purchase a 2-in-1 laptop with a decent processing speed and storage to work on RAW files.

  • wheresaldo

    Thank you for the article. I’ve been using the iPad for photography for a couple of years. The Apple Photos app is limited in functionality. I’m using the Photo Extension apps to extend the Apple Photos app functionality, so I don’t have to use another app.

    Photo Extensions Pro Bundle

    I hope this helps!

  • kenyongerbrandt

    I shoot with a canon 6d. The canon camera connect app allows me to remotely control my camera with my tablet/phone. Which is fantastic for long exposure and my 18MP Selfie gallery. 😉

  • Tom Jones

    PhotoPills is an excellent all-in-one planning app at a cost of $8.99 (maybe $9.99 I don’t recall). Plan and save photo projects, save points of interest. Pills include: Planner with ephemeris, DoF calculator and table, Sun and Moon data, Exposure calculator, Hyperfocal Table, FoV calculator, Subject distance, Focal length match, Night Augmented Reality, Star Trails, Spot Stars, Time Lapse calculator. The Academy section of the app includes User Guide, Video tutorials, How To Articles, Glossary.
    I use Lightroom Mobile on iPad to edit images when traveling.

  • Bill Parlatore

    You did not mention one element of the camera/iPad connection that deserves caution.
    If you travel abroad, for instance, and each evening move the photos of the day onto the iPad, then reformat the card for shooting the following day, you might be very surprised that your iPad has automatically downsized the images to lower resolution to save internal space (default setting).
    Imagine you get home and upload the images from the iPad to your desktop…only to find they are not the high-res images anymore.
    So carrying extra memory cards is a better way to go than relying on your “friendly and ever so helpful” iPad.

  • Sarah Hipwell

    Thanks Bill, I wasn’t aware of that. Useful to know. Cheers Sarah.


    I use the Eyefi functionality which I find has improved connectivity with the Air 2. As others have mentioned, I too will use PC/laptop for serious RAW Photoshopping. For quick Instagramming etc iPad is indispensable.

  • Robert Taylor

    Thank you for a very good article with some unique ideas. Too bad some people feel the need to criticize another’s ideas just because theirs are different. Well written and I especially appreciate the app suggestions.

  • Sarah Hipwell

    Many thanks Robert!

  • Evan

    Is there any way to change the setting to allow your iPad to download the images in their origional resolution?

  • Frank Corbett

    If you want wedding ring photos to stand out use the IPad, switched off and the black glass give a superb reflection of the subjects,

  • Roger Walton

    I was going to mention this too – LR mobile is a wonderful tool.

  • Michael Ridley

    While Apple products have been the standby digital tool for photographers, a serious flaw in the software developed late in 2017 that renders the iPad very problematic for photographers who try to organize and sync more than 2000 photos. Until fixed, this flaw is a dealbreaker for the iPad which renders it useless in any “real world” photography environment. Consequently, the iPad should not receive a recommendation from anyone trying to promote its use for photography.



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