iPhone portrait photos: the best photos in three steps (anyone can do it)

Portrait mode allows you to take amazingly beautiful photos with a beautiful depth of field (or bokeh). iPhoned show how you too can take the most beautiful portrait photos on your iPhone in three steps!

Read on after the ad.

iPhone portrait photos: in three easy steps

With portrait mode, you can take photos where the subject is sharp and the background is out of focus. This ensures that your subject comes out of the background, as it were, and you get a professional-looking photo. All iPhones from the iPhone 7 Plus support portrait mode to a greater or lesser extent. In this article, we’ll show you how to take the perfect portrait photo in three steps!

Portrait mode iPhone studio light

Note: If you have an iPhone with portrait mode, this does not mean that you can use all functions. There are small differences between the devices. For example, the iPhone XR and iPhone SE 2020 cannot use portrait mode for photographing animals or objects. And the iPhone 12 Pro (Max) and the iPhone 13 Pro (Max) can use portrait mode again in the dark.

1. Composition

A good photo starts with a good composition. So keep in mind the background (isn’t it too busy?) and the rule of thirds. It is best to switch on the grid for this. You do this by tapping ‘Settings > Camera > Grid’. When you open the camera you will now see a grid on the image. Try to place the subject of your photo on one of these lines as much as possible.

Composition lines

Use lines in your composition to draw the viewer through your photo. When you see a line, you can try starting (or ending) it in one of the corners. This does not have to be a straight line, but can also be a winding cycle path, for example.

Check for symmetry and patterns. By taking symmetry into account, you create tranquility in the photo. For example, think of a lawn full of solar panels or two roads that are parallel to each other.

Sometimes it is also nice to break the patterns. Play with the camera angle and take a photo from very low or very close. Experiment as much as possible.

Portrait mode iPhone

2. Camera settings for taking portrait photos on iPhone

Now it’s time to set up the camera. To use portrait mode, you must first turn it on. Open the Camera app and swipe through the options to enter ‘Portrait’ mode.

Taking portrait photos on your iPhone takes a little more effort than taking normal photos. This is because the portrait position makes more demands on your position. The Camera app will tell you when you’re holding the camera too close or too far. It also indicates when the environment is too dark. You are at the right distance when the bottom bar turns yellow.

edit iphone portrait mode

You can cheat the system a bit by pointing your finger on the screen where you want to focus. Next, keep your finger on the screen and swipe down (or up) slightly. The message ‘AE/AF lock’ will then appear. Now you can adjust the camera position slightly. Just keep in mind that the iPhone will hold the focus point and you run the risk of the photo becoming too blurry if you move too much.

3. Post-processing: make your photos just that little bit better

What makes a photo just that little bit better is the post-processing. The iPhone likes realistic colors, but often it looks a bit faded. Fortunately, this is easy to do with the built-in editing functions. Open the photo in the Photos app and tap Edit in the top right to open the photo editor.

Adjust Aperture Portrait Mode

A photo taken in portrait mode has an extra option that you don’t see with the ‘normal’ photos. Therefore, tap the first icon at the bottom (the cube) and adjust the light by choosing the ‘Studio light’ option. This gives the subject a little more exposure.

Then tap the aperture in the top left (identified by the letter f) and adjust the depth of field of the background to your liking. Try to stay at about 1/3 of the maximum blur.

Note: This feature only works on iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max or later and not on other iPhones with dual camera lenses. Do you have an older iPhone? Then try the Focos app. This app mimics the depth of field effect without having to have the latest model. Focos works on iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.


Then you can edit the photo as you would any other photo. Tap the second icon at the bottom (the sun) and choose the magic wand. The iPhone then automatically adjusts the colors and this is often the best option. To make the whole thing even more attractive, scroll through to the ‘Saturation’ and ‘Heat’ options and adjust the colors a little more. Then tap ‘Done’ to save the photo.

Sometimes you have a photo that is completely perfect, but you just see an ugly spot or other unevenness. You can remove these things in the Photos app on the Mac, but that option is missing on your iPhone. Fortunately, there is a free solution for this. With the SnapSeed app you can easily remove these kinds of things.

Remove Snapseed Stains

Install the app and open the photo you want to edit. Then tap ‘Tools’ and ‘Equalize’. Then zoom in on the place you want to edit and swipe your finger over it. Sometimes you just have to experiment to see what the right way is. Then tap the checkmark at the bottom right and “Export” to save the photo in the Photos app.


More tips for taking portrait photos on iPhone

After these tips you will certainly succeed in taking the most beautiful portrait photos on your iPhone! Also check out the article handy tricks that take your iPhone photography to the next level. Is that not enough and do you want more tips? You will always be informed via the website and our free iPhoned app. You can also register for our newsletter. Photograph them!