5 Easy Tips for Powerful Mobile Phone Portrait Photography

Some of the most powerful images out there today are mobile phone portrait photography.

mobile phone portrait photography
Joe Monk (@jmmobiphoto) –

To some degree, we all relate ourselves to the people we see in portraits. Whether it’s because of the eyes or just the human connection, there’s no denying it.

Mobile phone portrait photography makes it easier than ever before to shoot powerful portraits. So, learn how to take advantage of how easy it is!

5 Tips For Powerful Mobile Phone Portrait Photography –

phone portrait photography
Joe Monk (@jmmobiphoto) –

Implement the following suggestions to bump up your phone portraiture a couple of notches. As with any photography skill, remember to make it your own!

Photography is about developing your own unique style, and having a signature portraiture style is an invaluable asset for the professional photographer.

As far as your own portrait photography style goes, here are some options:

  1. Develop a go-to vantage point – Having a vantage point for portrait photography that stands out is a helpful thing to have. Especially if someone is going to pay you to take portraits, you have set yourself apart. Be wary that some angles are unflattering for certain body-types.
  2. Perfect a Pre-Set – Instagram users love to see a cohesive feed. Pre-sets can help you to cultivate a feed that looks excellent – top to bottom. You can buy pre-sets, or you can create your own. The choice is yours.
  3. Location, Location, Location – There’s nothing wrong with having a favorite place to take your mobile phone portrait photos. Seriously, if you live in a photogenic area like Charleston, New York City, or Los Angeles, you can even use Instagram to find new places to shoot your portraits.

As always, experiment to create something your own. Combine your new style with our mobile phone portrait photography tips, and you’re going to blow your clients away.

Interested in learning more about smartphone portrait photography? Well, we’ve got a whole guide about it here that you’ll definitely want to read.

Mobile Phone Portrait Photography Tip #1 – Make your subject comfortable

portrait photography on your phone
Joe Monk (@jmmobiphoto) –

When photographing your subject, you want them to relax and be themselves. That is why it is so vital that you establish a bond built around trust with your subject. It’s especially crucial if you’re trying to ask a stranger if you can photograph them.

I personally use my sense of humor to break social barriers and build trust. That method doesn’t work for everyone, though.

Another approach I’ve had success with is being upfront – making my intentions clear and concise. This tactic may require some practice, but it works exceptionally well when you don’t have time to get to know your subject, and you want a quick photograph.

I usually say something to the effect of:

“Hi, my name is Kylan Thomson. I’m a photographer, and I’m always looking for unique ways to tell peoples stories through my images. If you have a quick moment, I would like to take your picture as I think it would be a great addition to my portfolio.”

An introduction such as this usually works because it is quick, assertive, and not too pushy.

Mobile Phone Portrait Photography Tip #2 – Consider the scene

phone portrait photography
Joe Monk (@jmmobiphoto) –

Ideally, you’ll be photographing your subject in a context that contributes to your subject’s narrative. For instance, if you are shooting a fisherman, then preferably, you would capture them catching a fish, or inside their boat, etc.

Don’t forget to take a moment to examine your scene for objects and anomalies that detract from the story you are trying to illustrate. Remove or crop these things out if you can. One of my most significant shortcomings is often skipping this step, and I end up giving myself more post-processing than otherwise necessary.

Mobile Phone Portrait Photography Tip #3 – Phone Photography Depth of Field

depth of field phone photography
Photography Life

Last but not least, we have the technical aspect of portraiture. Portrait photography can get exceptionally technical, which is why I’m just going to focus on one common technique applied to most portrait photographs: depth of field.

Great portrait photographs often have a shallow depth of field with a crisp emphasis around the eyes and the subject set against a moderately blurred background. This technique is usually achieved by utilizing the correct equipment as well as the right settings in your camera.

Most photographers use 24-70mm, 70-200mm, or 85mm prime lenses to obtain this effect. Usually, their lenses set at a wide aperture in the 1.2-2.8 range.

Smartphones often have a portrait mode, which automatically adjusts the shot to similar parameters!

Mobile Phone Portrait Photography Tip #4 – You Know Your Phone Has Portrait Mode, Right?

phone portrait photography
Joe Monk (@jmmobiphoto) –

Today’s phones pretty much do the work for you when it comes to mobile phone portrait photography.

Seriously, both Apple and Android phones come standard with portrait mode. So, why would you shoot portraits in anything different?

Be sure that you’re shooting your portraits in RAW format, though, so that you can have as much as much post-processing power as possible. If you shoot in RAW, then it doesn’t matter if you edit on your phone, tablet, or PC.

Mobile Phone Portrait Photography Tip #5 – Editing your portrait photos

mobile phone portrait photography
Adobe Systems

Yes, there are lot’s of ways to edit your pictures – we’ve discussed them before – but when it comes to portrait photography, there’s really only one choice.

The Adobe Creative Cloud as a whole is worth investing in if you can afford it. Seriously, if you’re making money from your phone photography, then you should consider adding the Adobe Suite to streamline your creative process.

At the same time, you can get the Lightroom Mobile app for free on both the App Store and the Play Store! Adobe’s DNG file is the same as RAW too and you can shoot in full manual on the app.

While you won’t get access to the full Monty of what the entire Adobe Suite offers, you’ll get more than enough to see if it’s worth it.

And, even if you decide not to invest fully, Lightroom Mobile is a good option as an everyday photo editing option.

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