How to Take Better Portraits with the Mobile Camera

The world of photography is very wide, and taking good shots is not an easy task. You have to take a lot of factors into account when capturing a landscape, a person or an object, which will determine the final result of your photo. In the case of portrait mode , which has become a staple for cameras in mid- and high-end devices, there are certain tricks to achieve the perfect photograph.

As we say, the portrait bike has grown in popularity since it was first included in the iPhone 7 Plus . The main feature of this mode is the blur effect applied directly by the mobile, also called the bokeh effect. This effect brings the subject into sharp focus while creating a depth-of-field effect that makes other elements of the image appear against a blurred background.

Differences from portrait mode and other modes

Having a camera with great features on our phone guarantees us to take good pictures. In fact, whenever we take a normal photo, the parameters are automatically adjusted to achieve the highest possible quality. In the case of portrait mode, unlike other modes, it follows another modus operandi when taking a picture. In the first place, it is one of the few ways in which you yourself must choose the light correctly, the frame of the subject, the landscape … This means that a better or worse final result depends on you.

To understand it better, if we compare it with the automatic mode, the night mode or the panoramic photo (in the case that the mobile has these tools), we will always take the photographs correctly, although it is not entirely the case. As we said, in these modes the mobile camera automatically adjusts the best parameters to obtain high-quality images, which is always appreciated. However, better results can always be achieved.

The keys to portrait mode


If we look at the specifications of our camera, the number of megapixels of each sensor is accompanied by an “f” followed by a number , usually accompanied by a decimal. This value refers to the aperture of the sensor, that is, its ability to let more or less light pass through the diaphragm. In this sense, the lower the number that accompanies “f”, the more light can pass through the sensor , which will allow us to take pictures with greater illumination. On the other hand, the aperture also serves to control the depth of field , which is basically the part of the image that will appear in focus. The greater the depth of field, the more items you can focus on, and vice versa.


Distance also plays an important role in defining the quality of our photography. If we are going to use portrait mode for small objects, we must get closer (not to be confused with enlarging the zoom of the image) to capture them better and favor the blur effect. The ideal is to stay within a meter or meter and a half of the objective to guarantee a good result. On the contrary, if we want to capture people, larger objects or landscapes, we must zoom out for better results.

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As we have already said, aperture is essential to obtain a photo in good light. However, some devices also allow you to modify the lighting before taking the image. We can find different modes, such as natural light, studio or stage, among others.

Background blur

Not all mobiles can adjust the blur, but those that can are privileged. Before taking a photo, we can adjust the bokeh effect to obtain a greater or lesser depth effect. Once we have adjusted it, we will obtain the image as we saw it.

Setting the portrait mode in every situation

We have already said that there are many factors to consider before taking a photo. In this case, the portrait we take will depend on where we are, since it is not the same to capture an image in a closed or open place.

Portraits abroad

The key to getting a good result outdoors in this mode is to make the foreground stand out from the background. That is, if we are going to focus on a person, we must look for a place where there are buildings in the background, other people or any other object to achieve a better bokeh effect. If these are further away, the better.

Night portraits

You may be thinking that in these cases the easiest solution is to activate the flash or activate the night mode. You are not on the wrong track, but in portrait mode things work differently. To begin, the first thing is to focus directly on the eyes to get the best possible capture of the person and look for background lights, such as streetlights or spotlights. It is also essential to use a small depth of field and not cover a very large area, since this way we will be able to capture more light and achieve the bokeh effect.

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Indoor portraits

If we are inside a house, building or monument, we must first play with light . The ideal is to use natural light, since we will always have more hand. This means looking for a window that has the proper orientation and gets enough light, and if it is projected directly, all the better. If we find ourselves with little light, we can always use artificial light, such as a lamp, although in this case we must be more cautious and not overload what we are going to photograph.

Backlit portraits

It can be the most difficult situation when it comes to taking a photo. In any case, it is best to focus on those areas where several intense colors come together, or to capture only the outline of the photographed subject. If we can project natural light onto the face of the person we photograph, we will obtain a high quality photo. Finally, activating the flash can also be very useful, since you will also be able to illuminate the area that does not receive natural light.

What if your mobile doesn’t have portrait mode?

Not all mobiles have portrait mode on their camera. Don’t worry, there are always solutions for everything. If we want to achieve the blur effect in our photos, we can use Google Photos . It should be added that it can only be applied for portraits, worth the redundancy. To do this, we must follow the following steps:

  • Open the application and select the photo you want to blur.
  • With the photo already selected, we will see the Blur background option at the bottom of the screen.
  • We click on the button and the image will automatically go from being in normal mode to portrait mode. Google will adjust the bokeh effect according to its own criteria, but we can adjust the intensity manually by moving the bar it offers.

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