Simple tricks for taking better outdoor portrait photos with your phone

Simple tricks for taking better outdoor portrait photos with your phone thumbnail

This article originally appeared on Popular Photography .

With proms, college graduations and even family barbecues in the coming months, we thought it would be a good idea to share some tips on how to improve outdoor portraits that you take with your smartphone. These shots can be difficult to capture with bright sunlight, crowds, and other challenges. Here are some tips to help you nail the shot.

Clean your lens

Your smartphone is always in your pocket, and it gets used dozens of times a day. So, let’s just be honest, there are likely to be a few smudges on the lens. These can blur your photos and can also increase the lens flare or glare in the final image if you have bright lights nearby. Make sure to clean your smartphone camera before you take an important portrait.

Get closer

If you want a beautiful portrait, don’t be afraid to get up close and personal. Try to get close to your subject and take a headshot or a half-length portrait. You can take a few photos of your subject in their full outfit, but for a portrait that will be worthy of a wall, it is better to get closer.

Shoot to the shade

The worst place to take portraits is outside during a bright sunny day. People’s faces look shabby when the overhead sun casts harsh shadows that can make them look drab. There is a simple solution: shoot in the shade.

My favorite spot to take outdoor portraits is under an archway or tree, but any shade will work. You can block the sun’s rays by creating a lane, alleyway, or brick wall.

Take multiple shots

The secret to a great photo is to take 50 terrible photos. This applies to almost all situations. When taking a photo, take 10 and 15 photos quickly. Some of the photos will show them blinking, grimacing, or looking away. They’ll pose perfectly in a few of them.

Don’t be afraid to modify

Your smartphone does a pretty good job of making photos look okay, but if you want a really great portrait, open it in Lightroom, VSCO, or Snapseed and adjust things until they’re perfect. We recommend adjusting the exposure, boosting the contrast and saturation, as well as adding a vignette and some color toning. If all that seems overwhelming, you can crop it so your subject dominates. This will transform a good portrait into a profile photo.

Use the telephoto lens

If your smartphone has a Telephoto lens, you should use it. A wide-angle camera is great for taking lots of photos, but a Telephoto lens is better for portraits because it has a field-of view that is more in line with how we see the world.

With that said, don’t stress if your camera does not have a telephoto. Any lens can produce great portraits. Digital zoom is not recommended.

Try it with Portrait Mode

Most modern smartphones have a Portrait Mode that blurs the background of your photos. These can be great and you should try them out. However, it is worth taking some photos with Portrait Mode enabled to make sure you cover all bases. It’s not a good idea to have a blurry photo of an important event because your phone mistook the mortar board for the background.

Find a nice background

Portraits need a background and a subject. While we tend to focus on the subject most of the time (pun intended), it is worth taking the time to create a background for great portraits. A field of flowers, an old wall, or even the body of a tree make a great background.

Check your photos

While we discourage photographers from constantly looking at their digital cameras, or “chiming”, they should not be doing that if they are trying to capture a moment or an event. After you have taken a few photos, take a quick look at everything to make sure it is all in order. If it is, that’s great. If it isn’t, you have the opportunity to fix it on-site!

Share your photos

Share a photo of someone you like. Many beautiful portraits end up digital dust on people’s smartphones. After you return from an event, edit the portraits and save them to a shared google drive or iCloud album ..

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