Portrait Mode is a popular camera option only available on certain iPhone models. This special shooting mode allows iPhone users to take stunning shots with depth-of-field (DoF), creating a blurred bokeh effect in the background.
Simply put, DoF is the distance from your lens to the subject that allows it to stay sharp and in focus, while the rest of the image appears blurry. We’ve covered the basics of depth-of-field if you’re interested in learning more.
If you want to take great portraits on your iPhone, you need to know how to work Portrait Mode to your advantage, and this guide will show you how.
Which iPhones Have Portrait Mode?
While Portrait Mode is great, it’s only available on select iPhone models, specifically ones with dual camera capabilities.
Current iPhone models with Portrait Mode include:
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone X
The iPhone X also has Portrait Mode enabled for the front-facing selfie camera.
Where Is Portrait Mode?
It’s easy to start capturing portraits with Portrait Mode. Just follow these steps:
- Launch the Camera app by swiping left on the lock screen, from the Control Center, or tapping the Camera icon on your home screen.
- Select Portrait from the available camera modes, located under the viewfinder.
- Provide enough distance between your device and the subject. When you’re satisfied, just tap on the shutter button to capture the image.
How to Get Portrait Mode on Your iPhone
If you recently bought your iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X, then you should already have the latest software update (iOS 11.3.1 as of this writing). Portrait Mode should already be available on your device if it’s capable, and there’s no additional setup required.
However, if you have an iPhone 7 Plus and haven’t ever updated iOS, then you may need to do so. Apple added Portrait Mode for the iPhone 7 Plus when iOS 10.1 became available, so you need to have 10.1 or later.
Updating your iOS device is a fairly simple task, but we have a guide on the iPhone update process if you need it. Those who don’t have a compatible iPhone can try apps that replicate Portrait Mode effects.
How to Use Portrait Mode on iPhones
When using Portrait Mode, you need a bit more distance between you and your subject than usual. This is because Portrait Mode utilizes the 2X telephoto lens, so the viewfinder zooms in a bit more than the standard Photo mode. A Move farther away message appears at the top if you’re too close, so just back up a bit until you’re in the clear.
Since the depth effect appears in real time, just tap on the shutter button once you’re satisfied with your shot.
With the release of the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X in 2017, Apple also introduced the new Portrait Lighting for Portrait Mode photos.
Portrait Lighting is a powerful new feature that allows iPhone photographers to add professional lighting effects to their Portrait Mode photos. Once you have your subject framed in Portrait Mode, select the type of lighting you want from the Portrait Lighting dial at the bottom of the viewfinder.
Available lighting options include Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage Light, and Stage Light Mono (black and white). Each one has a different effect, and there’s a live preview so you get an idea of how it affects the portrait.
If you decide you want to change the Portrait Lighting on a photo later, you can. However, it must be a picture taken in Portrait Mode. You’re not able to add Portrait Lighting to a standard photo.
To change the chosen Portrait Lighting effect:
- Open the Photos app and select the photo you want to edit. Remember, this only works on Portrait Mode photos.
- Tap Edit.
- Scroll through the dial and pick the lighting effect you want.
- Tap Done to save your changes.
When you edit the chosen Portrait Lighting effect, it overrides the original. You’re not able to save a copy of the photo with the new lighting effect. However, you can always change it back to the original lighting, or choose another option entirely. There’s no limit on the number of edits you can make.
Capture Stunning Portraits With Your iPhone
Whether you’re an amateur or professional, the iPhone’s Portrait Mode is a powerful tool when used correctly. And the new Portrait Lighting options mean you always have professional lighting to spruce up your portraits.
For more on shooting with your iPhone, check out our tips on making your iPhone photos more professional.
And if you’re an Android user, don’t forget that you can get portrait mode on your Android phone, too!