iPhone Portrait Mode Guide

Have you ever used iPhone portrait mode on your iPhone? Have you tried it yet on your new iPhone X, XS, XR or XS max, 11 and 11 Pro?

When the iPhone 7 Plus was released back in 2016, it came with a new camera feature called “portrait mode.” This new feature would quickly become one of the main features and is frequently copied by Apple’s competitors.

iPhone Portrait Mode

But what is iPhone portrait mode, and how do you use this feature? Amongst the newest iPhone models, all have portrait mode. Portrait mode can be accessed from the camera app and can create what is called a “depth of field effect.” This means you can keep an image’s forefront sharp and blur the background amongst other benefits.

In summary, Portrait Mode allows the iPhone to become a much more impressive tool for photography. If you are someone who takes pride in taking good pictures and has an iPhone stuffed with pictures, you may want to make sure that your iPhone is compatible with this mode or otherwise upgrade to a model with this feature.

So Which iPhones Have Portrait Mode?

The new iPhone models, the iPhone X, XS, XR, XS Max all have portrait mode. However, don’t upgrade yet as many older models also feature this mode. If you still possess an older iPhone model like the 8 Plus or the 7 Plus, then you are in luck as you can use these devices in portrait mode.

Of course, the upcoming iPhone 11, 12 models will also have portrait mode as this feature’s popularity is only on the rise and doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon

How to Access iPhone Portrait Mode

Accessing portrait mode is simple and easy on all of the devices listed above. Start by opening the camera app and swiping over to the Portrait Mode Selection. This selection should be located to the right of the standard Photo selection. Next, simply follow the tips on the screen to optimize your picture.

When you are within the correct distance from your intended focus point, the pop up notification “Natural Light” will appear at the bottom of the screen. If you own an iPhone 7 plus, however, this same pop up will say “Depth Effect” instead.

This notification indicates that your iPhone has successfully identified both the focus point subject and the background area.

Important Considerations When Taking a Picture in Portrait Mode

There are several considerations of using portrait mode that is important to the quality of your photo For example, portrait mode does not work well in low light. If there is not enough light, a message will pop up that says you need to turn the flash mode on.

Another important consideration is the distance of the focus subject from the camera. The camera must be between two and eight feet away from the focus subject.

If you have the issue of being too far away, you will receive the pop up notification that says, “Move closer.” If you are too close, you will receive the pop up notification that says “Move further away.”

Choosing the right background is a very important consideration for taking a great portrait mode photo, even though the background gets blurred out.

The background should certainly have some detail. For example, leaves are a much better background than a plain, blank wall. Thinking about the color of the background as an enhancement for an individual is useful too.

The best portrait mode photos will occur when a subject is located further away from the background behind them. If the subject is too close, the blur effect will come out looking weak. Remember, the background is oftentimes just as important as the focal point as it is what will add that perfect emphasis to a photo.

A final consideration is the post picture editing abilities. You can choose to add studio lighting effects to further enhance the lighting to your liking. With studio lighting, you will have the abilities to brighten a person’s face, add shadows to specific areas, or even make the background blackout.

Studio Light Effects

Portrait Lighting effects are also very easy to apply. To try them out, go to the Photos app and tap Edit in the top right corner after you have selected your portrait photo of choice.

Next, swipe across the portrait lighting icons located at the bottom of the page. The default option for portrait lighting is “Natural Light,” but there are four other icons as well.

The second icon is called “studio light,” which brightens an individual’s face like they are illuminated by Hollywood studio lights. The third is called “contour light,” which adds shadows to the contours on an individual’s face to allow for more defined features.

The “stage light” icon makes the background around an individual turn entirely black, giving the impression that the individual is standing under a spotlight on a pitch-black stage. Finally, the fifth icon is the “stage light mono” icon. This one is the same as the stage light icon, but it turns the individual and the entire photo black and white.

To sum up these icons, “studio light” and “contour light” are more subtle lighting effects while “stage light” and “stage light mono” add more dramatic lighting effects to portrait mode photos.

For no effect, simply select the “natural light” icon. After you have made changes and you are happy with the way your portrait lighting effect looks, hit Done.

Understanding the “Depth of Field Effect” and Depth Control

The depth of field effect allows iPhone users to add emphasis to certain areas by adjusting the depth of field in their pictures.

This makes sure that a person’s emotions and actions are captured more vividly and colorfully. While the depth of field effect gives focus to certain areas, it adds a “blur” effect to the background.

This can be very useful if the background is messy or could distract from the focus area.

This blur that can be added to the background by the depth of field effect is expanded upon with the new iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone X, and iPhone XS Max models.

These new phones have the “depth control” feature, which allows one to change the strength of the background blur via the photos app after the picture has been taken.

To use depth control:

  1. Open up the portrait picture in the Photos app, and press the edit option in the top right corner.
  2. Below the portrait lighting icons, a “Depth Slider” will appear. Adjust the slider left or right to make the background blur stronger or weaker, respectively. The higher the f number is, the clearer your portrait picture’s background will be and vice versa.
  3. When you are happy with the edits you made, tap one to save your changes. Remember that this blur strength can be changed again and again, so if you are not sure about your edits, you can always give it another shot from the photos app. This flexibility is wonderful because before, you only had the ability to edit blur strength after taking the portrait photo.

For more technical information about portrait mode, here is the link to a support page on apple.com. It is also important to remember to keep any older models like the iPhone 7 and 8 Plus models up to date by downloading the latest version of iOS.

This will allow you to maximize the utility of portrait mode and produce the very best pictures for yourself, friends, and family.