Smartphone Portraits Made Easy

April 22, 2021  •  1 Comment

Taking self-portraits can be intimidating, awkward, and not your favorite task.  But this will help you when taking portraits of others.  You can also use some of your portraits for your social media profile pics.  Make this fun, but get some serious shots as well to get a variety of shots.

I created a video on how to create self-portraits using a DLSR and one of the comments on the Youtube video was asking for a video on how to do a portrait with a smartphone.  I have created that video and here is a write-up of what/how I created the portrait(s). If you would like to see the video it is called Smartphone Portraits Made Easy.

Since we are using a smartphone I will also assume or expect that we will not have any studio lighting to help light the portrait.  So, for that, there is an easy solution and depending on the look you want we can do this on a sunny or a cloudy day.  My photoshoot was on a cloudy day.

There are advantages to both sunny and cloudy days.  On cloudy days the sun is essentially behind the largest natural softbox so you have a lot of options for indoor or outdoor photos.  For this blog, I am going to focus on indoor portraits.

Let's start with what you will need.

  1. Your smartphone.
  2. Something to hold your smartphone (I used my gimble that has a cell phone bracket.  If you don't have a cell phone stand, then a stack of books would work as well.
  3. Some props to use in your photos
  4. Pick your location

So, let's get this set up and start taking some self-portraits.

I chose a room with a neutral wall for my background.  The only settings on my phone I used were a 10-second timer and a little pinch zooming.  The props I had on hand were a book, my camera, a banana (that never made any final images), a ball cap, my dog, and a lemon.

If at all possible use the rear-facing camera.  You may wonder why I am not using the front-facing so I can see where I need to stand/sit to be in the frame.  While that is a good option and ok if you need to go that route.  But most rear-facing cameras are better than the front-facing camera, so I opted for the rear-facing camera.

Now you are set up and ready to start shooting.  If you are using the rear-facing camera as I suggest you will need to check each photo as you take them to see how well you are framing yourself and if you are in focus.  This is where I would adjust the zoom as needed or move my camera closer or further away to adjust.  Finally, don't be afraid to take a lot of photos.  Many of the shots will be blurry, out of frame, or just plain bad for whatever reason.  When I was doing this photoshoot, I came up with an idea of when you think you are done, take ten more shots.

I had fun with this shoot and was not looking for a formal profile pic.  Here are some of my shots.
Portrait with cameraPortrait with cameraPortrait with camera Portrait of a manPortrait of MePortrait of Me



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I am glad you found my blog.  I am a photographer with a passion for awesome shots.  I go to great lengths to capture many of my photos.  I will re-visit a location over and over knowing there is a spectacular photo just waiting to be had if I am there at the right time.   I also enjoy finding how to do some abstract projects (check out my time-lapse post) and will be writing about them.

Send me a note via my contact page for some projects you would like to see me try and write about.  I am not afraid to try almost any project.  Doing the obscure forces me to do things that I don't do with the typical photo shoot and helps me learn even more.