If you’re a smartphone mom like me, and you want to take great photos of your toddler with your smartphone but just don’t get them to look like those pro shots where your child just pops out of the photo, switch your phone into the new Portrait Mode (just to the right of the Photo option in the native camera app on the iPhone 7Plus).
I’ve been capturing pretty awesome moments through photos and videos of my son from the day he was born. I never wanted to miss a moment and I wanted those moments to be pretty special for anyone else who saw them to evoke a “wow.” Portrait mode is the closest thing I’ve found on a smartphone that does just that and looks pretty amazing.
In this post, I’m going to share two sample shots, with a total of four photos with you that I took of my son. Each have both photos that the iPhone 7 Plus serves up after taking the shot.
1. A wide angle shot that the native camera has always produced, which gives a pretty flat no depth appearance, and
2. The final shot that the iPhone 7 Plus blends together to capture the background behind your subject, to give you a soft dreamy effect.
Here are two examples:
1. Toddler about 20 feet away from the background. I am about 8 feet away from him.
In this shot, I wanted to capture the setting sun through the rails on my desk, with my son next to it. The trees are about 30 feet away below, and my son is right next to the rails.
In the first shot, the camera produces a typical wide angle smartphone photo, with everything in the same focus.
In the second, the camera produces a softer background behind my son.
Because the sunset was important to me, I didn’t want it blurry, so I chose to use the native camera photo without Portrait mode.
2. Toddler about 100 feet from the lake and tree background. He is also about 5 feet away from my iPhone on the grass in front of the lake where he is being held.
The lake and trees behind my son are pretty much in focus in the first shot. The subject and background are in the same field of view.
The lake and trees are now soft and out of focus, making my son’s face really be the subject of this shot.
When to use Portrait Mode
Depending on what you want to capture in your photo and what story you are trying to tell, you can use portrait mode or not. There are always filters and “tilt shift” on platforms like Instagram for you to use if you share your photos in social media. I have always preferred to get it right in the camera first, and I really learned how to shoot photos on a DSLR, and now use a mirrorless camera, too (Panasonic Lumix). You will get the hang of portrait mode if you just use it a little more often than just the basic Photo button everyone uses.
Practice Makes Perfect
You will just have to try using portrait mode on your toddler as I have, with your child close and also far away from backgrounds so you can begin to see how the distance away from them matter to your camera’s lenses. Remember, the iPhone 7 Plus has two lenses now, so you will have to instruct it on how you want to use them in your photos. iPhone 7 Plus is not a mind reader, but it does a much better job of knowing when to drop off the background with its second “zoom” lens.
I’ve been using portrait mode since the IOS update which made the software available to all users. I think the mode is fun to use, but not a be all end all. Your toddler should be in the right light, with a non-messy background to preserve forever.
iPhone 7 Plus is the only iPhone with two rear facing cameras that give you the ability to use Portrait mode. If you don’t see this on your camera app next to “Photo”, then you have either not updated your iOS software or you have an iPhone 7, not iphone 7 Plus.
NOTE: Read my previous post, iPhone 7 Plus Camera Review, on why I was peeved about getting the new iPhone 7 Plus when the sell on the camera was for two rear facing cameras that would blend into a photo where your subject would pop with a soft creamy background. The ability to do that was only in beta mode, and they didn’t tell me that when they sold me the phone. But now it is here about 2 months later. Hope you enjoy photographing your toddler in portrait mode as much as I do. Keep practicing!