Apple’s recent iPhones have a nifty feature called Portrait Mode that essentially mimics the aesthetic of DLSR-taken images.
You’re probably familiar with how Portrait Mode photos look even if you haven’t experimented with them yourself. The subject will be in sharp focus while the background will be softly blurred (which is also known as a bokeh effect).
While Apple makes it pretty easy to get awesome-looking Portrait shots using an iPhone, there are actually a variety of things you can use to make your portraits look even better.
- Real-Time Depth Control: If you have an iPhone XS, XS Max or XR, you can actually edit the aperture (or amount of depth) live and in real time. This, essentially, will adjust the amount of blur in the background. Just swipe up while in Portrait mode or tap the f icon in the upper-right corner. You can, of course, also do this after in Edit mode after you’ve taken the image.
- Make Sure to Focus: It’s important that you get the focus right for a Portrait Mode shot — without it, your iPhone may blur the wrong parts of the picture. Just tap the subject or object on the screen that you want your device to focus on.
- Shoot in Good Lighting: Even the best flagship smartphones suffer in low-light conditions. That’s especially true for Portrait mode. Try to make sure that you’re taking pictures in brightly lit environments. Although Apple’s latest iPhone 11 lineup will achieve better results in dark environments.
- Get the Right Distance: You’ll want to get close enough to your subject for a well-detailed image, but not too close. Portrait Mode shots also work best if the background is a decent distance away from your subject.
- Keep still: You’ll also want to ensure that both you, your iPhone and your subject are staying relatively still while you’re shooting the image. (This may be especially tough for pets or young children, as they aren’t prone to sitting still for long periods of time.)
- Be Mindful of Objects: Some objects in your shot could disrupt the entire image. If there’s a confusing object in the foreground, it could through off the bokeh blur throughout the entire shot.