It doesn’t really matter whether you are shooting with the latest full-frame DSLR or an iPhone, because portrait photography puts people (portraits) at its core rather than the device with which the portraits are taken.
While professional photographers might use a lot of equipment in either a studio or at a specific location to shoot portraits, iPhone photographers can use their iPhone as the shooting device and the street as their main location for shooting. And while portrait photography is particularly popular for special occasions like engagements, weddings, and births, you do not have to know someone to shoot a fantastic portrait of them.
With this in mind, let’s see what you can do with an iPhone in your hand and the desire to take stunning portraits.
Like I said above, you are free to shoot anyone at any moment. Remember, spontaneity is your best friend. Where can you find the highest number of complete strangers? Of course, around the streets! So, go hit the streets in the search for the perfect stranger.
But, remember, it requires stamina to approach someone you do not know and ask for permission to take his or her photo. And if they agree, the odds are they won’t pose as naturally as they would if they knew someone is going to shoot them.
Another scenario is trying to capture a portrait without letting the subject of your photo realize it. One of the most popular tricks here is shooting through pressing the “up” volume button on the side of your iPhone. This is a good way of remaining unnoticed. Also, you can use the volume button on the standard earbuds that come with your iPhone. This way, you will appear as if simply listening to music, when, in fact, you are snapping photos.
One last note about taking portraits around the streets: they can certainly be formal, but they can also be spontaneous and full of energy. The mobility of an iPhone makes it possible to capture people without the need for much preparation. However, consider the legal aspect too. In most countries street photography is legal. But before you click the button, make sure you know the local laws and are not violating them.
The light can make or break your photo. So, you need to either find the perfect light or make it. If you are on the street, you cannot find the perfect light under the sun since the sunlight will create unpleasant shadows on the subject. What you need is to find a spot with the shadow. But be careful not to go to the darkest corners where no light can penetrate. Look for a place where the shadow is really light, where it nearly ends. The balance between light and shadow should make your subject look really flattering. If it doesn’t, then move on and find another place for shooting.
One more portrait photography trick is placing the subject so their profile faces the source of the light. This will create a better look than if you put your subject directly in front of the light.
If you are shooting inside and using natural light coming from a window, you can take a white cloth or a white bed linen to cover the window and avoid direct sunlight. In the end, you are doing this all to create that fabulous soft white light that is sweet and pleases the eye.
Many of us might think that because a vertical format is called “portrait” mode, one should use that mode only to shoot portraits. However, there is nothing obligatory in this. You can use whatever type of format framing you want. Just make sure the mode fits your subject well.
If for example, you look back through your image and see that a portrait taken in “landscape” mode looks better than the one taken in “portrait” mode, then you can definitely opt for the first variant.
As a rule of thumb, simple backgrounds are better for portraits. But at times, a busier background makes a portrait richer and more interesting. This is especially true with a lot of examples of street photography. Just in case, keep an eye on the background and beware that like light, it can either make or break your photo.
Often, all it takes is a simple repositioning of the photographer to transform an image from crap to a portrait photography masterpiece. The trick is simple: get to your subject’s level. This will work well in all the cases, like when the subject is a little kid, or when it is a pet.
The same concerns taller people. If the subject is taller than you, get on a chair or something and get eye level with them before you press the shooting button.
But remember that the rules are meant to be broken. If you feel you can capture an amazing portrait from above or below your subject, then go for it!
Now that you know a few tricks on how to take your portrait photography to the next level, make sure you follow the right portrait photography Instagram artists for more inspiration. For example, Brazilian art director Nei Cruz shoots amazing iPhone-only portraits, architecture and fashion images. The outcome is stylish photography at its best.
Your assignment now is to go out and take some killer iPhone portraits. Practice makes perfect, so make sure your significant other, your friends or complete strangers help you with getting enough practice. As soon as done, head over to Instagram and post your artwork there to get feedback and to improve your work constantly.
If you opt to edit your iPhone portraits with Pixomatic app, make sure you post them with the hashtag #Pixomatic to get featured on our social media channels.