People make amazing subjects for your iPhone photography, and there are so many different ways to capture them. From traditional posed portraits to more unique and unusual images, there are endless ways to tell interesting stories and catch special moments when photographing people. In this tutorial you’ll discover ten creative ways to make your iPhone photos of people more interesting and attractive.
1. Choose A Good Background
The background is just as important as the subject in a portrait photo. If the background is ugly or distracting, it’ll take away from the beauty of your subject.
A good background should enhance and complement the main subject, and it can even be used to contribute towards the story of your image.
The apple tree in the photo above looks great, especially as the colors match well with the colors of the subject’s hair and clothing. But it also tells a story about autumn when the apples are ready for picking.
Matching the color of the background with the color of your subject’s clothing can create a powerful visual impact.
In this photo, the colors of the leaves match perfectly with my subject’s scarf. Again, these autumnal colors add to the mood and story of the photo.
A good background could be a simple white or colored wall, or it can be something more imaginative like the examples here.
You can even use the ground as your background. Ask your subject to lie on soft green grass, amongst autumn leaves, or on some beautiful old floorboards, and then shoot from directly above.
2. Shoot Close-Up Portraits
If you want to capture the expressions in the face of your subject, you’ll need to shoot up close.
Facial expressions help to convey the emotion of the person in your photo. If you shoot from a distance, it might be difficult to tell whether the person looks happy, sad, serious, etc.
Another benefit of shooting up close is that you’ll capture beautiful catchlights in the eyes. These are the little reflections of light that you can see in the eyes of my subject in this photo.
Don’t be afraid to get really close to your subject, even if it means that you don’t include all of their head or face in the frame. Cropping in close will place maximum emphasis on their facial features and expressions.
3. Add An Interesting Prop
A smart way to draw attention to your subject is to add an interesting or colorful prop. This is especially useful if you’re shooting your subject from a distance.
This red umbrella instantly catches your eye, drawing your attention to it and the person holding it.
Props can really spice up your iPhone photos, turning an ordinary photo into something much more interesting.
Using props is a great way to change or enhance the mood in your photos. For example, the prop that you choose and the way you include it within the scene might add a fun, humorous, calm or sinister mood to your image.
Using props is an excellent option when photographing children as it gives them something to interact with, and you’ll often get some really unexpected results.
You can also use props to tell a story about the person you’re photographing. For example, if your subject likes flowers, ask them to hold a flower or place a flower somewhere within the scene.
It’s so easy to add a prop to portrait photography, yet it can have an incredibly powerful impact.
4. Shoot A Portrait From Behind
For something a little different, why not try shooting a portrait photo from behind your subject? Even though you can’t see the subject’s face, it can actually create really interesting photos.
Shooting portraits from behind is a great way to draw the viewer into the image. It gives the viewer the sense that they’re seeing what the subject is seeing.
This allows you to create a very personal connection between the viewer and your image.
Photographing your subject from behind makes it feel like you’re about to follow them on their journey.
This works especially well if the person is standing on a path or road, as shown in the photo below.
Of course, this technique works best if you have an interesting or beautiful scene that the viewer can relate to. It probably wouldn’t be as effective if the photo was taken in your living room.
Another reason this technique works well is that it creates a sense of mystery and drama in the photo.
It makes the viewer ask questions like: Who is this person? What do they look like? Why aren’t they looking at the camera? What are they looking at?
Anything that intrigues the viewer and makes them ask questions is definitely a plus point in photography!
5. Play Around With Focus
Normally you’d want the person to be in sharp focus in your photos. But you can actually produce some really creative shots if you shoot with your subject out of focus.
Having your subject out of focus creates a distant and dreamy feeling. It also adds a sense of mystery because it obscures the detail of the person.
To create this kind of shot, place your subject in the back of the frame, then find an object you can put in the foreground which you can focus on. The foreground object can be anything, but I often use plants and flowers.
Once you’ve composed your shot, tap on the foreground object on your iPhone’s screen to set focus on this part of the scene.
The person in the background should now appear slightly blurred. If your subject doesn’t appear blurred, get closer to the foreground object with your camera and try again.
The closer you are to the foreground object, the blurrier the background will appear. You can also experiment with positioning the subject at different distances from the foreground.
6. Create A Sense Of Scale
I love to play with scale and the relationship between human and nature. Trees are great for creating a sense of scale in your people shots.
When you find the perfect tree, ask your subject to stand beneath it, and then shoot from a distance so that the person appears tiny in comparison to the tree.
The idea is to make the tree look as big as possible. Without the person next to it, you won’t get a notion of how big the tree really is.
You can use this technique with a single tree, or in a forest where the person is surrounded by tall trees.
If you’re shooting in the city, tall buildings can be used in the same way. You can shoot a person standing next to a single building or capture them in an alleyway surrounded by tall buildings.
Another fun thing you could try is to use a technique called “forced perspective” to play around with the sense of scale in your photos.
This involves placing a small object such as this globe in the foreground, and having your person in the background so that they appear small relative to the foreground object.
This tricks the eye into thinking that there’s a tiny person in your photo! You can create really fun shots by getting the person to appear as if they’re interacting with the foreground object.
7. Capture Movement
Movement adds another dimension to a photo, making your image more dynamic and alive. So rather than always photographing people as static subjects, try to capture their movement in your shots too.
Photographing a person running or cycling adds a sense of energy to your photo. It also tells a more interesting story than a photo of them just stood still.
If you spot a nice scene, compose your shot and then wait for someone to move into the frame before snapping your shot.
Use burst mode to fire off a series of shots as the person moves through the scene. To activate burst mode, just hold the camera’s shutter button down.
After taking a sequence of shots with burst mode, you can then choose the best one with the person in the perfect position.
If you’re photographing someone you know, how about asking them to jump so that you can capture them in mid-air?
Of course, you could always use yourself as the subject if you don’t have anyone else to photograph. Just set your camera on an iPhone tripod or steady surface, then use the self-timer or a remote shutter to take the shot.
8. Catch Unique Moments
Capturing unique moments is all about preserving memories. If you have children, try photographing the special little moments as they grow up.
A moment can be anything that feel you want to preserve forever in your photos, such as your child playing in the mud, reading bedtime stories, or taking a nap.
These moments might not always result in the most beautiful photos because you often don’t have time to think about lighting and the best composition.
The goal is to catch the moment before it’s gone. My trick is to just watch my children play and have my iPhone ready to shoot at any moment.
Try to catch those moments when they don’t know you’re shooting. As soon as they notice you they’ll change their behavior and act up for the camera.
So stay in the background, observe, and shoot when the right moment arises. By capturing these unique and special moments, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of photographic memories to carry close to your heart.
9. Create A Sense Of Mystery
When photographing people, you can often create more powerful iPhone photos by not revealing the whole story to the viewer.
I like to make the viewer do their own thinking by adding elements of mystery to my images.
There are several easy ways to do this. One technique is not to show people’s faces in your photos.
We’ve already explored photographing people from behind, but there are other ways that you can hide the faces of your subjects.
Asking your subject to wear a hood or hat is an easy way for them to cover their face.
Experiment with having them face forwards and sideways, using the hat or hood to obscure their face from the camera.
You might choose to reveal part of the face, such as the eyes or mouth, but keep the rest hidden. In the photo below my subject used her scarf and hands to hide the lower part of her face.
Another way to hide facial details is to create a dark silhouette. Ask your subject to stand in front of a bright light source such as the sun or a bright sky, then tap to set focus before swiping down on the screen to reduce exposure.
Silhouettes work particularly well when capturing the side profile of a person as you can see the shape of their face but not the details or facial expressions.
I also like to experiment with only including a small part of my subject within the frame, such as their arm or hand.
By not revealing the whole picture, the viewer will start to think about the things they can’t see. This is a great way to create more intriguing and memorable photos.
10. Create The Unexpected
Placing a person in an unexpected location or an unusual pose will definitely give your people photos the wow factor.
Anything that makes the viewer wonder why that person is there or what they’re doing will create an interesting and intriguing image.
For example, this photo of a child alone in an underground carpark has a wonderful sense of drama because it’s not somewhere you’d expect a child to be.
In the photo above I composed the shot to make it look like the jumping man is flying through the air with an umbrella.
The element of surprise is not to be underestimated in photography. So try to think of unusual ways to photograph people with your iPhone.
This is another one of my favorite techniques when photographing trees and people. I simply make it appear as if the tree is growing out of the person’s head!
It’s not always easy to be original, but it won’t hurt to try. Explore your area for some unusual or interesting locations, and think about how you could place people within these scenes for an original and unexpected result.
The only limit is your imagination!
There are so many different ways to photograph people, but I hope these tips have given you some good ideas for capturing different kinds of portrait photos with your iPhone.
Whether you want to capture the facial expressions and emotions of your subject, or create something more mysterious and unusual, always choose a good location and background for your subject.
Once you have your location and subject, experiment with different props and poses until you create a picture that tells some kind of story or evokes some kind of emotion in the viewer.
Of course, having a willing subject makes it easy to try out these techniques, but you can also photograph strangers who walk into your scene.
And if there’s nobody else around, you can always use yourself as the subject to create some interesting self-portrait photos.
Arline Vinson says
Well written, informative tutorial. Since I’m in an area where data seems to be extremely slow, only the first 3 photos are being shown. I’m hoping all the others in the various examples will eventually arrive. Thank you again for your time and caring assistance. Happy Mothers’ Day this weekend
Arline Vinson says
so far there are no “grouped” photos
Manny Gilhang says
Great tips !!
Judie Tuttle says
Always love and appreciate your insights to photography. Thank you!