Put down the smart phone and back away from the self-portrait!

Trust me: The world has enough arm-stretched, “I-sure-hope-I’m-in-the-frame-this-time” self-portraits to feed the servers at for the next one hundred years. Why not try something new with your smart phone? How about… hands-free self-photography? For instance….

This is the actual photograph. No cropping. No zooming. No retouching. (Well, that last part is obvious.)

It took me about five minutes to set up this shot. I grabbed a Stand and my iPhone 3GS, wandered out to my back porch, found something to put the Stand on, fiddled with the angles a bit and… ta-dah! (And, yes, I understand that I am not the best candidate for a photogenic model, but when it comes to self-protraits, I am all I have.)

What else do you need–besides a Stand–to do this yourself? You need a camera app that has some way to trigger the camera remotely. For this shot I used a camera app that was set to take a shot every ten seconds. I let it go for a while and then culled through the shots to get the one that I liked.

A timer is one way to remote trigger your smart phone. You can also get camera apps that trigger by sound. What I haven’t found is a camera app that triggers by sound and then starts a timer (which seems like a great idea to me and I’m sure other people have thought of it but…) I also think it would be cool if someone would figure out how to trigger the camera with a Bluetooth headset.

In the mean time, here are the camera apps that I can find that appear to have some type of remote trigger. (The standard camera apps that come with iPhone and Android smart phones do not.)

iPhone Camera Apps with Remote Triggers

Note: The ratings shown below come from iTunes. The description excerpts come from the creators’ descriptions. I have linked the titles of the apps to their iTunes web pages. I listed the apps in alphabetical order.

 Camera Genius

  • $1.99
  • Three stars, averaged over 1611 ratings
  • “Repeat timer allows you to capture multiple photos at intervals of 10, 15 and 30 second intervals.”
  • “A timer lets you setup timed group photos. You can set the interval between 2 and 300 seconds. Just tap the numbers when the timer pulls up to change the timing interval.”
  • “To start with you can capture group photos just by saying “cheese” or making some noise. Now capture that perfect shot just when everyone is ready.”

 Camera One

  • $0.99
  • Five stars, averaged over 232 ratings
  • “Support Self-Timer Shutter Mode”
  • “Voice Shutter”

 Camera Plus

  • Free
  • Two and one half stars, averaged over 4342 ratings
  • “Countdown Timer – For Self Portraits”

 Camera Plus Pro

  • $1.99
  • Three stars, averaged over 22 ratings
  • “Timer: Set up to 10 seconds on the timer”


  • Free
  • Three stars, averaged over 708 ratings
  • “SELF-TIMER – set a custom delay for timed photos. Perfect for group shots or self-portraits. Includes audible countdown notification.”

 Fast Tap Camera

  • $0.99
  • Two and one half stars, averaged over 59 ratings
  • “self timer for all modes”


  • $1.99
  • Three stars, averaged over 119 ratings
  • “Like the self-timer on your digital camera, FotoTimer gives your iPhone the ability to set a timer to delay your photo from being taken until you are ready (2, 5, 10 or 20 seconds). Countdown sounds alert you to when the photo is about to be taken making it easy for everyone to know when to smile. An on-screen countdown timer shows you when the picture will be taken. Preview your shot on screen before taking it and it automatically saves to your iPhone’s Camera Roll with your other photos.”

 Real Cam LE

  • Free
  • Two and one half stars, averaged over 627 ratings
  • “Self Timer: 2, 5, 10 sec”

 Real Cam SP

  • $1.99
  • Two and one half stars, averaged over 48 ratings
  • “Self Timer: 2, 5, 10 sec”

Android Camera Apps with Remote Triggers

 Note: The ratings shown below come from the Android Market. Unfortunately, product descriptions on the Android Market are often abbreviated. In the absence of a full-blown web version of the Android Market, I have linked the titles of the apps to their creator’s web pages. I listed the apps in alphabetical order.

 Camera Zoom FX

  • $4.83
  • Four and one half stars, averaged over 3071 ratings
  • “Clap to snap”
  • “Pro Timer”

 Pro Zoom Camera 5X

  • $2.99
  • Four stars, averaged over 1058 ratings
  • “Timer camera”

 Snap Photo Pro

  • $0.99
  • Four stars, averaged over 3025 ratings
  • “Timer”


  • $4.95
  • Four and one half, averaged over 6410 ratings
  • Self timer

Obviously, there are a lot of choices when it comes to a camera app for your smart phone, even if you just limit your choices to the ones that have some kind of remote trigger. If you have an iPhone, there are a couple of app that are free, which is always nice. As for the Android side? You might want to start cheap and move up from there.

Have a great day!

Phil Farrand