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How To Take Incredible Portrait Photos On The iPhone

How To Take Incredible Portrait Photos On The iPhone

Do you have iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR? If so, your iPhone comes with
a brand new camera feature that will help you take
incredible portrait photos. So, what is this new feature? It’s called Depth-control,
and it allows you to easily change the background
blur of your portraits. So, when you combine
this new feature with your iPhone’s Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting
effects, you’ll be able to create the kind of portraits that nobody will even believe
were taken with the iPhone. So, in this short video
you’ll discover how to use these iPhone camera features to take incredible portraits where your subjects
will always look great. These photos will
preserve your memories for years to come, and
you’ll never have to worry about carrying
your bulky camera again. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Portrait mode, I wanna start by giving you some general tips for improving your portrait photos. For this video, we’ll be
using my daughter Emily as our portrait subject. She’s nine months old, and she looks really great
in portraits. However, to get the best
possible results, I don’t want to take photos
where Emily is in direct sunlight. We’re recording this video
in the middle of the day, and at this time the
sun is extremely harsh, and, because of that,
you’ll see these really dark and really bright areas
on the face of my subject. And, in general, that doesn’t
look good in portraits. And, actually, if my subject
was a little bit older than Emily, this type of lighting
would really amplify any imperfections that the face
of the subject might have. So, to improve this
photo, I’m going to start by picking up Emily
and repositioning her in the shade, where we’ll
get much better results. Another thing that really matters for your portrait photos is
the selection of background. Since we’re shooting in Portrait mode, the background will be blurred out, so, we don’t have to worry too much, but one thing that
really makes a difference is the color of background, because that color has
to complement the face of your subject nicely. I think with the kind of background we have here, where
we have green grass, these stairs, and the
wall in the background, we should be able to
get pretty good results. And, finally, as you’re thinking about where to position your subject, make sure that
they keep some distance from whatever you have
in the background. So, when you’re shooting
with Portrait mode, the iPhone blurs out the background while keeping your subject in focus. But, it only works well, if
your subject keeps some distance from the background. So, if you position the
person right next to a wall, the iPhone might not blur
out the wall properly, and, in that case, you
will not get the kind of results you are hoping for. And, finally, since my
subject is so little, I cannot simply take photos
from the top to the bottom like this. If I’m shooting from this
angle, what will happen is that the subject will,
literally, disappear in the background, and the
composition will not look nice. So, what I need to do instead, is get down to the height of my subject, and from this point of view,
the photos look so much better. So, now, I’m ready to switch
the Portrait mode of my iPhone. And, to do that, all I have to do is swipe my finger
horizontally across the screen from right to left. As I do that, you’ll see
that I’ve now switched to Portrait mode at the
bottom of screen. Now, Portrait mode does
not work for every photo. Your subject has to be between two feet and eight feet away, and that’s when the Portrait mode will work. If you’re too far away,
the iPhone will tell you to get closer, and, if you’re too close, the iPhone will tell
you to get further away. But, when Portrait mode is working, you’ll see the words Natural Light at the bottom of the
screen light up in yellow. That means that your iPhone has successfully recognized the subject, and it can separate the
subject from the background to create the kind of
photo you’re looking for. So, when the words Natural
Light are in yellow, you’re ready to take a shot. Another thing you’ll see is that the iPhone automatically
recognizes your subject, and, when that happens,
there’s a rectangle around the face of your subject. This rectangle means
that the focus is now set on the face of the subject, meaning that their face will
be perfectly sharp, while everything else will be blurred out. If this doesn’t happen for any reason, or if you wanna be absolutely sure that the focus will be correct, you can simply tap your finger on the face of your subject, and that way you’ll be setting focus there manually. So, now, I am ready to take a shot, so I’ll simply wait for the right moment when I have a nice composition, and I’ll go ahead and press the shutter. And, this is the kind of
photo I was able to take with Portrait mode. You’ll see that the face of
my subject is perfectly sharp, while everything else
is nicely blurred out. And this looks really,
really great in portraits. Another thing that’s great
about Portrait mode is that it comes with different
Portrait Lighting options. So, these options, literally,
change the type of light that falls on the face of your subject. Once you’re inside Portrait
mode, at the bottom of the screen you’ll see
the words Natural Light, and that’s, actually, one of
the Portrait Lighting options. But, as the name implies, Natural Light is just the kind of
light you normally have, and it doesn’t modify
the lighting in any way. I take most of my Portrait mode shots using Natural Light, and it gives me good results, but I wanna quickly walk you
through the other options so that you know how these work. So, right under Natural
Light, there’s this icon that looks like a cube, and,
if you tap your finger there, this menu comes up, where you can switch to the different lighting effects, and, next up, we have Studio Light. Studio Light creates the
kind of look you’d get in a photo studio, where the face of your subject is nicely
illuminated by studio lights, while the background is relatively dark. So, with Studio Light,
the face of your subject becomes brighter, and it stands out against darker background. The next option is called Contour Light, and this one is also really interesting, because it creates a more
three dimensional look on the face of your subject. So, with Contour Light,
you get stronger shadows around the edge of your subject, and that can create a really interesting, really dramatic photo. Next up, we have Stage Light. And Stage Light tries to simulate the kind of effect you’d get if
you were taking a photo of someone being on the stage. So, their face would
be nicely illuminated, while the background would be really dark. This effect is kind of a gimmick, and, most of the time,
it doesn’t work so great, but, for some portraits,
it can actually work really, really great. And, finally, Stage Light
Mono is just like Stage Light, except you’re getting a
black and white photo. One thing you should know
about all these effects is that you can change them after the photo is already taken, and I’ll show you how to do
that later on in this video. And, finally, when you’re shooting with Portrait mode, you
don’t have to limit yourself to just one person. Portrait mode also works
great with multiple people, as long as they’re
roughly the same distance from the camera of your iPhone. So, if one person is much
closer than the other person, it’s not gonna work well, but for this scene, where
my wife is holding our baby, I think it should work really great, because they’re both
roughly the same distance from me, and, in fact, you can already see that the iPhone recognizes both
of their faces as subjects. So, if I now simply wait for a moment until the baby looks happy
and then press the shutter, then this is the kind of result I’ll get. And, finally, as I promised
earlier, I wanna quickly show you how you can change the
Portrait Lighting effect or the amount of background
blur your photos have, after they’re already taken. So, for this demonstration
I’m gonna be using this photo and, to be honest to you, the photo looks great the way it is. But I think if I play
around with these settings, I could potentially make it even better. So to do that, I’m gonna start by tapping on the Edit icon at the top right. When I tap there, the
editing window comes up, and at the bottom of
the screen, you’ll find all the same Portrait Lighting
icons you saw earlier, and I can easily change the
Portrait Lighting effect that this photo has
after it’s already taken. Now, this step is so easy,
that I often don’t even worry about selecting the right
Portrait Lighting option when I’m shooting. I simply focus on
framing and composition, and then, when I wanna work
on one particular photo, in just a few clicks, I can select the right Portrait Lighting option. For this image, I really
like Contour Light, and I love how it creates
these beautiful shadows around the face of my subject. I think this gives the
image a more interesting, more dramatic look, so, I’m gonna stick with Contour Light. At the bottom of the screen,
there’s the Depth slider. And this is the new
Depth-control feature I told you about earlier. So, if I use this slider and swipe to the left,
you’ll see that there’s more and more background blur, and,
if I go to the right instead, there’s less and less background blur. So, this is how you can change the amount of background blur you have after the photo is already taken. Now, in this particular case,
I kind of like the background. There’s a really nice
wheel on the left-hand side and there’s a bit of
painting at the top right, so, I’d like to keep some of that in, but I still wanna make sure that my subject stands out
more than anything else. So, I’m gonna go for a
modest value of f8.0, which I think gives me a good balance between having the background blurred out, but still having some
of the details left in. So, now, I think I’m done with this, but to see how I’ve
improved the photo, I’ll tap and hold my finger on the
image for a couple of seconds, and this shows me the
original we started with, and, as I release my finger, I can see what the image looks like
after the changes we made. And I’m happy with these
improvements, so I’ll go ahead and press Done at bottom
right-hand corner. Now, when you start
practicing the techniques you just discovered,
you’ll probably notice that not all Portrait mode
photos always turn out perfect, and that’s to be expected. This is new technology, and
it doesn’t always work out exactly the way you wish. For example, if you look
at this photo of my wife, you’ll see that on the first
look it looks really nice, but, if you look a bit
more carefully, you’ll see that around her hair there
are all these imperfections, and the hair just doesn’t look natural. And, in general, Portrait
mode sometimes struggles with separating the hair
from the background. So, when you have a photo
like this, what do you do? Well, it turns out it’s quite easy
to rescue photos like this. So, in order to do that,
I’m gonna tap the Edit icon at top right once again, and you’ll see that at the top of the screen there’s this yellow Portrait text. If I simply tap my
finger there on Portrait, I can actually remove the
entire Portrait mode effect from the image, and, if
I were to tap Done now, then the background blur
would be gone altogether. Now, this background
is kind of distracting, so I’m gonna turn
Portrait effect back on, and you’ll see that the
background blur is now back. So, instead of removing the
blur altogether, I’ll play around with this slider at
the bottom of the screen. And, if I make the
background blur stronger, you’ll see that the imperfections
in the hair don’t go away, whereas if I move in
the other direction, they become less and less apparent. So, what I have to do is
find the right balance between having enough background blur so that the background looks nice, but not having too much,
because then I start to see the problem in the
hair of my subject. So, if I play around
with this slider, I think something like f11
is a good balance, so, I still get some background blur, but I don’t see the
imperfections nearly as much. And, while I’m here, I’m
gonna quickly play around with Portrait Lighting as well. And I think Contour
Light looks really nice for this image. So, if
we do a quick before and after, I’m gonna hold
down my finger on the screen, and this is the photo
we started with, and, as I release my finger,
this is what we have now, and I think the after
version looks so much better. Now, as you can see from the
techniques I just shared, the iPhone camera looks
really simple on the surface, but when you start digging deeper, it’s really not that simple. There are so many hidden camera
features and camera settings that you probably don’t know about, and I could only share a handful of them in a short video like this. And, to make things worse, it’s not enough to simply learn about all the different iPhone camera features. You also have to understand
how to use each one of them in different photography scenarios. We’re talking about
different light conditions, different photography subjects, and even different genres
and styles of photography. Now, here’s the good news, once you really understand
iPhone photography, you’ll be able to take the kind of photos that nobody would even believe
were taken with the iPhone, and that’s why I created
iPhone Photo Academy, which is an online course teaching you everything there is to know
about iPhone photography. So, right next to this video,
you’ll find more information about my full iPhone Photo Academy course. If you’d like to use your
iPhone to take stunning photos that you’ll be proud to
look at many years later, and if you’d like to do it without having to carry your bulky camera, then please take a look at my full iPhone Photo Academy course. There’s more information
right next to this video, so take a look, and I really
hope to see you there.

90 thoughts on “How To Take Incredible Portrait Photos On The iPhone”

  1. Tip: If you have an iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus and X, download focos to adjust the depth aperture (background blur)

  2. I was looking for a good tutorial on iPhone portrait mode and none of those i found are good like this one. 👌🏻

  3. Try FOCOS app for the problem with background blur imperfections.
    I use it very often and you can adjust the depth even in iPhone X using that app. 💯

  4. This was informative.. I wasn’t even aware my iPhone XS had so many options to click a portrait mode

  5. Whilst not specific to iPhone’s, I’m glad you pointed out about getting down low. I see so many people taking shots of their kids standing up and cant understand why they do it.

  6. I just bought the iphone XR. For portrait , I only have Natural, Studio and contour light. Can the stage light be added?

  7. I learned so much from the iPhone Academy Course. I'm going to sign up for the editing course as my brother took it and he says he learned so much more about editing techniques. These videos are great reviews and provide additional information on taking better and best photos!!

  8. I just wanted to drop by and tell you I learned so much from taking the course. You have a great method for showing us how to use the features. I took your course before I went to Cuba in 2017.

  9. Please could you tell me how to do the following:  If I want to change an existing photo; who do I make the modifications and save it as a copy as well as keep the original copy?

  10. Find out more about iPhone Photo Academy:


  12. Have you got the New IPhone 11 Pro Max? I’m interested to see your thoughts on the new camera and how we can take awesome photos with it

  13. One thing I love about the XS is that, while you can choose to use depth control with the various lighting controls (Natural Light, Contour Light, etc), you could instead use it with one of the colour filters. I like to use the Noir filter, with the depth set to f/1.4. Put your subject against the right background with these settings, get the camera at the right distance, and your portraits can come out looking like works of art. You can, if you want, switch HDR on or off to see if that makes a difference. And, of course, you can adjust the depth after you've taken the shot. And you don't have to use these settings just to take portraits. Any situation can work where you have a subject of some kind that is at some distance from the background.

    Now, if only you could use one of the lighting controls at the same time as one of the filters! Obviously, some combinations won't work, but I'm sure Apple could code the app so that Studio Light and Contour Light would work together with the colour filters.

    By the way, your presentation, pacing, video editing, and even voice control, put your videos amongst the best quality tutorials on YouTube. Thanks for making so many of your videos available for those of us who can't afford the training.

  14. I joined the academy and tried to join the facebook page but it just keeps telling me “pending” so how do i share my work and stuff

  15. Hi Dear
    Thanks fro your great question is that i can not find this word(DEPTH) to change F No to appear or disappear back grand on my mobile (IPHONE 8)pls kindly let me because is very important to me & i think so to others.

  16. Hi Everyone, How do I to get large jpeg photos on iPhone 11? All my photos are around 2-4MB yet both lenses are 12MB, help please

  17. Hi! Does anyone know where i can find the depth slider he uses? I have an iphone X but i dont see the option when i tap edit 🙁🙁🙁

  18. This is an amazing capability! I am excited about taking photos. I finished the first module and just found this one. Not sure where the modules are located? I also signed up for editing. Am I supposed to edit the photos before I post them?

  19. Thanks Sir for sharing some good tips.
    One question is why is portrait meant only for human beings, why can’t portrait mode be used for objects & Animals etc

  20. I watch two videos of yours,honestly you make my stress day to peaceful day!because the way you talk is so very peaceful really !

  21. No camera can capture the cuteness and loveliness of you daughter. God bless her and give her all happiness.. ❤️❤️

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