Would you like to get creative with your iPhone portrait photography? Here are 7 easy ways to capture more interesting and compelling portraits!
1. Use High-Contrast Light For Dramatic Portrait Photos
If you want to create more dramatic portrait photos, shoot in high-contrast light!
High-contrast light means you have both bright light and dark shadows in the scene.
So where can you find high-contrast light?
Well, a sunny day is the perfect time to look for this kind of light. Head outside and find a building or wall where the bright light meets a dark shadow.
Then position your subject partly in the shadow.
Tap on your iPhone screen to set focus on the subject’s face. Then swipe down to reduce exposure so the shadows appear dark and dramatic.
You can also capture contrasting light indoors. Look for a dimly-lit room that has soft light coming in through a window.
Place your subject near the window. Then position them so that half of their face is lit by the window while the other side is in shadow.
If necessary, reduce exposure to ensure the shadows look dark and dramatic.
The contrasting light and shadow will create a wonderfully moody portrait!
2. Get Creative With Light Patterns
Light patterns allow you to create really interesting portraits.
Indoors, you can find light patterns when the sunlight shines through window blinds or beveled glass.
Outdoors, you can find patterns when the light shines through leaves or a fence line.
You can also get creative by holding different kinds of objects in front of a light source. For example, you could use a strainer to create unique light patterns on your subject’s face.
In most cases, it’s best to position your subject so that the light pattern shines onto their face.
If the pattern is shining on a wall, have your subject stand against the wall for added visual interest.
If necessary, tap your iPhone screen to set focus on the subject’s face, then swipe down to reduce exposure.
Reducing exposure ensures that the subject’s skin isn’t overly bright. And the deep, dark shadows will add a sense of drama to your photo!
Move your subject around in the light and try different poses. For example, you could capture the pattern on just the side of their face. Or use the light to illuminate a certain feature such as their eye.
3. Experiment With Different Poses
The way you pose your subject can make or break your photos. If you want to avoid dull and lifeless poses, you need to get a little creative!
Here are three simple poses that will add interest and drama to your portraits…
The first posing technique is a really easy one to try. Simply use your subject’s hands to frame their face.
Place one hand higher on one side of their face. Then place the other hand lower near their jawline, lightly touching their face.
This type of pose creates a natural frame, drawing attention to your subject’s face. It also gives them something to do with their hands, making them feel more relaxed during the shoot.
The next posing technique creates a bit more mood and drama. Ask your subject to tilt their head back and place their hand lightly on their neck.
This pose creates a wonderfully sensual vibe. And it’s a great one to use to make your subject feel confident and beautiful.
Now, if you want to create more unique portrait photos, try shooting from a low angle. Get your iPhone low to the ground and shoot upward towards your subject.
Use the wide-angle lens on your iPhone and get close to your subject’s feet. Have them kick toward your lens for an exciting portrait photo with a unique perspective.
This technique shows your subject from an angle that people don’t normally see. So it’s bound to grab attention!
4. Evoke A Dreamy Mood In Your Portraits
We’ve talked about adding drama to your photos. But how do you evoke a dreamy mood in your portrait photos?
Well, it’s easier than you think!
There are three main things to think about:
Movement. Relaxed dreamy expressions. Elegant arm and hand placements.
A great way to include movement in your photo is to have your subject wear loose fabric or a long dress.
Once they’re in position, get your camera ready and asked them to throw the dress or fabric up. Then capture some photos as the fabric is falling down.
To maximize your chances of getting the perfect shot, you can use the iPhone camera’s burst mode.
To activate burst mode, simply drag the shutter button towards the image thumbnail (bottom left if holding the phone vertically). Or if you’re using an older iPhone, just hold down the shutter button.
Your iPhone will keep taking photos until you release the shutter button. Then you can choose the best shots from the burst and discard the rest.
This technique allows you to capture the unique way the fabric falls. And it’s perfect for creating a dreamy vibe in your iPhone portrait photos.
Next, think about the subject’s facial expression. An easy way to create a peaceful, dreamy vibe is to ask your subject to relax their face and close their eyes.
You can then take your dreamy pose to the next level by adding some elegant arm placements. Have your subject raise their hands above their head with their elbows bent slightly.
Don’t be afraid to get creative! Direct your subject by asking them to slowly move their hands and arms around to see what works best.
5. Create Interesting Portraits With Two People
Posing two people for a portrait can be challenging… whether it’s a couple, siblings, or friends.
But once you know a few tricks, you’ll be able to create interesting portraits with two people in the frame!
Let’s start with a really simple technique. Ask both subjects to stand next to each other with their faces on the same level.
Then get up close so that only half of each person’s face is in the frame. This is a great way to get a close-up detail shot of siblings.
If your subjects are of different heights, you can create an interesting portrait by having them stand at different distances from the camera.
Have the taller person stand closer to your camera facing one direction. And have the shorter subject stand a few steps back facing the opposite direction.
This creates a more interesting perspective than having them stand side by side. It also allows you to play around with blurring the background or foreground.
For example, if the nearest subject is quite close to the camera, they’ll appear slightly out of focus. You can also shoot in iPhone Portrait mode to create a shallow depth of field effect.
If you’re doing a couples photoshoot, here are some simple posing techniques to try…
Instead of having your subjects look at the camera, ask them to look into the distance while hugging. This creates a thoughtful, dreamy vibe in your photo.
Another option is to have them close their eyes while giving each other a hug. This type of posing creates a strong emotional connection in your portraits.
Once you get started, there really is no limit to the way you can pose two people. So don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative!
6. Use Props To Convey A Story Or Feeling
The most interesting way to be creative with your portrait photography is to tell a story.
And props are the easiest way to add a storytelling element to your photos!
The options are endless when it comes to using props in your photos. Just make sure you choose a prop that helps create the story you want to tell.
For example, you could use flowers as a prop to help tell a story of love or a broken heart.
You could have your subject hold the flowers. Or place the flowers creatively in the frame.
If you want to tell a story of a vintage time period, look for vintage props such as an old car or clothing from that era.
Props such as books or coffee cups can evoke feelings of coziness.
If you want a creative way of conveying inner emotions, have your subject wear a blindfold. In the photo below, I even incorporated flowers into the blindfold for additional creative flair.
As you can see, props add a whole new element to your photos. And once you start using them, you’ll be able to create so many interesting portraits with your iPhone!
7. Style Your Subject’s Outfit To Emphasize A Theme
Your subject’s clothing is more important than you might think.
Their outfit can tell a story or emphasize a theme. And it has a big impact on the overall aesthetics of the image.
So when you’re planning your portrait photography shoot, think carefully about what you’d like your subject to wear.
Try to match their wardrobe to the theme or location (or vice versa).
For example, if you’re shooting in a natural setting, you might want to use floral patterns or neutral-tone clothing.
If you’re in a city setting, trendy or grungy outfits are the way to go.
For a cozy vibe, think about using soft fabrics, woolen jumpers, shawls, blankets, etc.
To add a touch of glamour, you can’t go wrong with sparkly or sequinned outfits!
Also, consider how the color of the outfit interacts with the environment.
Matching the clothing color to the surroundings will create a harmonious image that’s pleasing to the eye.
With that said, don’t be afraid to use a clothing color that contrasts with the background. That pop of color can be a real head-turner!
Of course, the clothing should also reflect the subject’s personality. So get them involved with choosing the outfits too.
And remember, styling your subject doesn’t have to be difficult. Sometimes a simple hat or a piece of flowing fabric is all you need!
About The Author
Aeriel Orndorff has been passionate about photography since 2013… And during the last few years, the iPhone is her camera of choice. Why? Because she enjoys the creative freedom that iPhone photography brings! Aeriel is also a fan of rainy weather, reading books, and cute coffee shops! You can see more of her compelling portrait photos on Instagram.