8 Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

Our phones are more powerful than ever before. If you’re short on cash and time, try these tips to get a professional portrait with the camera in your pocket.

  1. Wipe your lens
  2. Find the light (more details below)
  3. Avoid shadows and background distractions
  4. Positioning. Turn subject to the side and have them tilt their head toward you, chin up
  5. Leave room to crop (don’t zoom in too close!)
  6. Use portrait mode if you have it (works in selfie mode)
  7. Use wide lens for selfies or a step back with a tripod and timer
  8. Edit in your favorite app and lighten for print (screens are backlit, prints are not)

1. Wipe Your Lens

Is your photo looking hazy? Maybe a random light flare? This camera sits in your pocket or your purse, the lens is going to get dirty. Wipe your lens with a screen cleaner or the bottom of your shirt even if you can’t tell it’s dirty.

8 Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

2. Find the Light

For the most flattering outcome, you want to prop up your phone or camera, face the light and keep it at eye level. A light source from above, below, or behind creates shadows that can obstruct the subject entirely or create harsh shadows that highlight creases that most people don’t even see in person and also causes squinting. A diffused light source using light reflected off a white surface or through a lightly curtained window creates beautiful, soft light. Take advantage of natural light, if you can. Face the light and illuminate your gorgeous self.

8 Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

3. Avoid Shadows and Background Distractions

Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re like me there’s likely a pile of laundry in your background, you’ll want to remove that or shift yourself in order to remain the focus of your headshot. If you’re outdoors taking advantage of natural light for your headshot, find somewhere to stand that doesn’t create shadows on your face. Noon daylight is directly overhead and will light you from the top of your head and your eye sockets and eyelashes will create a dramatic, terrifying Skeletor look. Stand in an overhang where the light is directed towards your face and not flooding your features from the wrong direction. An overcast sky creates perfect diffused lighting for your outdoor photos.

Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

4. Positioning

Not sure what to do with your hands or where to look? We’ve got you.

Stand up nice and straight, envision the amazing headshot you’re about to take! Turn your body a little so your shoulder is pointing toward the camera instead of standing straight on and filling the whole frame with your shoulders. Gently turn your head toward the camera, tilt your chin up (or down) a little, unclench your jaw, and smile. If you need help relaxing, think of a funny memory, sing your favorite song in your head, or turn it on, make “eye contact” with the camera, then snap the picture.

You want to create angles in your headshot by changing the position of your body to be friendly and inviting. Lean in a little, and keep your hands neatly in the shot – gently cross your arms, or place your hands on your waist. Stop at any point to shake out any tension you’re feeling in your body.

8 Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

5. Don’t zoom

Preserve the quality of your image by NOT using the zoom feature. If you need to be closer, take a step toward the camera OR move it closer to you. When you pinch and zoom, you’re decreasing sharpness and losing clarity. Camera sensors in mobile phones are not as strong as a dSLR. You might need to crop your photo later and if you’ve used the zoom the quality will already be jeopardized. Make sure you leave enough background. In most cases, cropping later is better than zooming.

8 Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

6. Use portrait mode if you have it (works in selfie mode)

Portrait mode recognizes the subject of the photo and focuses on it. It highlights you by adding a blur to the background which can create a beautiful image. It’s an incredible feature that most new phones have.

 Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

7. Use a wide lens for selfies or a step back with a tripod and timer

Rather than zooming in with the phone sensor, move closer to the subject. Leave room for aspect ratio options! The more space you have around your subject, the more options you’ll have for print and web resizing.

 Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

8. Edit in your favorite app and lighten for print

The camera editing tools in your native camera are powerful! Basic photo adjustments like sharpen, lighten, white balance and adding a bit of contrast will improve your portrait. Apps like Facetune, Lightroom, and Snapseed can remove blemishes and smooth skin if needed. Add fun filters in iOS Pic Tap Go, Rhonna Designs or the Tezza app! There are dozens of photo smartphone apps to boost your creativity and give you the result you’re looking for!

 Portrait Photography Tips using your Phone

Now that you have fine-tuned your smart phone portrait taking skills, upload and order a graduation card, collage print or cardstock print with a wood block holder.

We can’t wait to see what you create! Be sure to follow and tag us @persnicketyprints!

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