Portrait Photography with Phone: 10 Life Hacks for A Mobile Photographer

Today, we’ll discuss portrait photography with phone and the ten life hacks for portrait photography. Shooting landscapes and architecture with a smartphone is usually straightforward, as the phone’s camera is designed to capture such scenes. But taking a beautiful portrait on the phone in the absence of a portrait mode or portrait lens is difficult since the phone’s camera has a wide angle. As a rule, the focal length of the camera of modern smartphones is equal to 28 mm, which is great for shooting large areas, landscapes, and street photography.

And for shooting portraits, the wide-angle lens is not suitable, as it distorts the proportions of the person’s face and body. It turns out that what is closer to the camera increases, and what is farther decreases. The result is a huge nose and small ears. It is especially noticeable in selfies.

In the absence of a portrait mode in the phone’s camera, there is no way to blur the background and separate the person from the background when focusing on the portrait. Although, even with its presence, software blurring in phones has not yet been learned to make it look natural.

But we still capture people with our phones, so let’s learn to deal with all the disadvantages of a mobile camera.

10 Life Hacks for Portrait Photography with Phone

Portrait Photography with Phone
Portrait Photography with Phone

1. Fit the Person into The Environment

Your job is to turn the disadvantages of a wide-angle into a virtue of photography. It primarily concerns owners of budget cameras that do not have a portrait mode. Here you have to do without close-up portraits. The simplest scenario: take full-length photographs, interact with the background, objects, people. Show the space that surrounds the person.

Fit the Person into The Environment
Portrait Photography with Phone

2. Shoot A Person in Dynamics

Any movement brings dynamics to the frame and looks as natural and realistic as possible, and this is just a fresh Instagram trend. You can exercise, blow bubbles, throw snow, wave your arms, ride a bike, or blow kisses – all of which will look lively, even with a bit of lubrication.

Shoot A Person in Dynamics
Portrait Photography with Phone

3. Work with Perspective and Perspective

Try different angles, experiment with the shooting point: take pictures from the front, below, and side. A person is used to seeing other people from his height; he rarely saw the soles of other people’s shoes. Use this! Moreover, rough shoes are in fashion now.

Work with Perspective and Perspective
Portrait Photography with Phone

4. Think Over the Composition

Pay attention to lines and shapes in your surroundings; use them to create a cohesive composition. Stairs, building structures, prints, and patterns can serve as an excellent backdrop for a portrait if you successfully fit a person there.

Think Over the Composition
Portrait Photography with Phone

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot Half-Length Portraits

A good half-length portrait can be taken at a wide-angle if you photograph a person from above. It will turn out to be quite a pleasant picture.

Half-Length Portrait
Portrait Photography with Phone

6. Frame Before or After Shooting

Of course, if you use the zoom or frame a photo after shooting, you will lose a little in image quality, but you can get a half-length portrait without visible distortion. What you are willing to sacrifice – proportions or quality – determine empirically.

Frame A Photo After Shooting
Portrait Photography with Phone

7. Use A Second Lens

If your smartphone has a telephoto lens in addition to a wide-angle lens, use it for half-length portraits. The background will not blur, but you will get a picture with no visible distortion.

For example, the second lens on the iPhone 8+ has a 56mm focal length, which isn’t ideal for portraits, but better than the 28mm wide-angle lens.

Use A Second Lens
Use A Second Lens
You may also like to read: Smartphone Lenses: Why Are They Needed and How to Choose Them?

8. Buy A Portrait Lens

Buying an extra lens can be cheaper than buying a new smartphone with an excellent camera and portrait mode. If you’re serious about mobile photography, the telephoto lens will help you shoot distortion-free portraits.

9. Work in Portrait Mode

If your phone has a portrait mode, it allows you to blur the background. However, the blurring is not due to the lenses but an algorithm that does not work perfectly. Software blur often misses the mark: it leaves a distant background in sharpness or blurs the model’s hair.

Work in Portrait Mode
Work in Portrait Mode

The blur boundaries are also not always correctly determined by the program. But the developers keep adding updates, constantly improving the blur algorithms. Perhaps soon, we will get smartphones that will take portraits no worse than DSLRs.

10. Blur the Background While Processing

Use apps to blur the background. Please take a photo, open it through an app (for example, Focus and Darkroom for iPhone), and adjust the blur. Pay attention to what is in focus (face or eyes). The foreground and background should be blurred evenly, proportion to the distance of objects from the focal point.

Blur the Background While Processing
Blur the Background While Processing

Make sure that the blur is as natural as possible and the viewer overlooks the software nature of the blur. Indeed, blurring the background is not an end in itself but only a means of placing accents for the viewer.

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