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iPhone X: The Quick Guide to Great Photos + Video

Lesson 2 of 12

iPhone X Portrait Lighting


iPhone X: The Quick Guide to Great Photos + Video

Lesson 2 of 12

iPhone X Portrait Lighting


Lesson Info

iPhone X Portrait Lighting

I'm super excited about this particular segment where we're gonna be talking about portraits with the iPhone X. Now a lot of you know that the best camera is the one that's with you, so you can be taking portraits all over the place when you're outside. But today we're gonna do this in the studio where I'm gonna demonstrate that the iPhone X is also a great camera for portraits inside. About 10 years ago, I started shooting a book called The Seattle 100. This is a book where I documented 100 people who were driving culture in Seattle. It took me about 2 1/2 years, with about $150,000 worth of equipment. Now, 10 years later, I'm recreating the shots from this book here in the studio, and I'm gonna be doing that with the iPhone X. In order to get into the portrait section, I wanna talk about two particular modes that I use when I'm shooting portrait. There's the traditional photo mode, that you can see here, and that'll give me access to both the 1X and the 2X camera. Those are the two d...

ifferent lenses that you have there. Again, back and forth there. But there's this other mode which is a really cool mode that is unique to this particular iOS, which is the portrait mode. What the portrait mode allows you to do that's different than the regular photo mode, is that it has the ability to blur the background, or get that short depth of field look, that out-of-focus backdrop. And there's also a handful of preset filters that you can put on as well when you shoot in the portrait mode. I'm gonna welcome a couple folks from this book on to the set, and then I'm gonna photograph. In particular today, we're gonna start with Ryan, who is a member of the Common Market hip hop group that I documented then, and he's a solo hip hop artist now. We're gonna have him to the stage. Ryan, good to see you again, bud. How ya been? You all right? Been a couple years. Also Casey, yeah. Casey's photo assisting. Thanks, Casey, for being there. The setup is pretty simple, just a white seamless. Again, we're evoking the same look I had in The Seattle 100. Not required. We've got some very simple light coming. These are north-facing windows. We're not getting direct light, just a soft light. That allows us to basically take away all the light equipment that I used to have here, and not have that be a part of the shoot. It's just me and Ryan, these north-facing windows, and Casey with a big V-Flat, or what effectively acts as just a big bounce guard. None of this is required for your pictures. They're all gonna help me get the look that I had in that previous project. So, we're gonna cover those two modes. One, the photo mode here, which is the straight up photo lens. Again, you can see here I got 1 and 2X. I'm gonna start off with the 1X, which is that simple wide look. We're just gonna shoot some photos. Ryan, you've done this last time before. Go ahead and, yeah, just do your thing a little bit. Yeah, I like the scarf. Let's go ahead and start playing with that scarf a little bit. There you go. We'll get in. Again, this is a really important thing to notice. Let's go, turn your shoulders all the way to me. Yep, actually keep going, there you go. Keep, sorry, keep going that same direction you were. Bring your chin around to me here. Yep. Now again I'm capturing a little wider than I normally would. That's just the look that I had with The Seattle 100. Not required for your photos, but, I think, creates an interesting aesthetic. Let's go ahead and undo your scarf now. I'm gonna shoot this whole process. There you go. Some of those photos are just gonna be pure gold. Casey, let's go ahead and bring that V-Flat in a little bit. All I'm doing now is just filling this light in here. Again, not required for your photos, but I'm going for a particular look. All right, I think one of the things that's ... Oh yeah, that's a nice look right there. Go ahead and touch your glasses again. Chin up a little bit when you do it. There you go. I think an important thing to notice is, hold on just for a second Ryan, is when I've got the phone here, and this is true whether it's the iPhone X or anything else, what am I doing? I'm moving my feet a lot. So you've got two fixed. Sure I can zoom like this, yeah, but that's with digital zoom. These here are two different fixed lenses. I encourage you to try and keep those lenses fixed on either the 1 or the 2. You see if I zoom in here, I'm at 1.8 now. That's fine, but that's a digital zoom of the fixed lens. I prefer just to keep that at its focal length, that 1X or 2X, and instead, this is the world's best zoom right here. This is your feet. So you see I'm moving around quite a bit. As I move in, I get to keep the lens the same. It's the same lens, I haven't changed anything. Now I get to move right in here. I can even get in real close. Now, let's talk about focusing. So I'm just touching where I want the focus to be. You'll see there's a little sun that's also there on the camera. Here's how you change exposure. There's a little bit of shadow on his right eye there. If I wanna increase the exposure here, I just touch the phone and slide that up. You can see the exposure changing, my finger up and down, okay? Generally speaking, I find that the phone has a great sensor, especially if you touch on something that's a medium gray like this suit right here. Just tap on that, that'll get a great exposure. Tap on his face, another really good exposure. It's a nice neutral tone there. And we can adjust that if we need to, but in this case we don't. I'm really comfortable with the range that we're in here. Now let's talk about working on the other zooms. Say, for the example, the 2X. Now you saw what happened, it basically zoomed in when I touched the 2X. I didn't have to move, but what this allows me to do is get a lot closer to him without actually physically being there. So that's the zoom. Again, that's what the lens number 1 looks like, that's what the 2X looks like. I like that. Look off into space a little bit, that's good. All right, what this allows you to do is to get really close, and without putting your phone right in his face. Because that actually is gonna, I don't want to go far into posing here, but that's gonna make Ryan have a slightly different reaction if my phone is this close to him. So I really like the 2X zoom to get up in there a little bit more intimately, which is what I'm gonna do right now. Why don't you bring your chin up just a little bit, Ryan, and slide it forward a little bit. There you go. That's great, beautiful. Right there. Awesome, and turn your chin all the way to the windows, all the way there, there you go. Okay. Now again, I'm doing the same thing. I still have that zoom on, but I'm just moving my feet. What I like about that is, again I'm just framing him up real nice. I'm just gonna go wide again, for juxtaposition. I think that's a really good way of keeping Ryan in the set. Now if you're familiar with The Seattle 100 project, a lot of it you could see the backdrop and the context of the photo shoot was kind of interesting and important. Okay, let's go ahead and play with that. I'm gonna go in with the 2X zoom, and let's go ahead and rock it, I think. And pretend it's a towel, there you go. Let's turn your shoulders and hips, everything towards the light, towards the window there. There you go, that's good. All right, now there is a photograph I want to mimic. I don't know if you remember that one that was in the book. So you're gonna be totally sideways to me and just face the light. There you go. It's a profile shot. Again, one of the reasons that I love this particular lens right now, is I'm gonna juxtapose it. So I'm on the 1X. Look how close I have to get, and look what it does to his head. It sort of stretches his head out a little bit because it's such a wide angle, versus, I get back here, I 2X, I get the same thing, in the right proportion. All right, so we switch over to portrait mode now. Again, I promised earlier I'd identify the difference between regular and portrait. What portrait did, it basically zoomed in. What you can't see because, we'll demonstrate this against a different backdrop, but it basically has a soft, out of focus behind him. You can't tell because it's all white right now, but that's what it's doing. You can also see that pulled up, these filters. Now the cool thing about the portrait mode, what you can is you can take a photograph, and then change it, if you captured it in portrait mode. You can change the photograph after the fact. It's the equivalent of a raw experience. If you've ever photographed using the raw file type, it's not dissimilar in that you can capture it neutrally, or naturally, and then you can change it later. That's one of the things that I love about this mode. And specifically, this project is shot in black and white, but you'll notice that I'm capturing these images in color. That's because I wanna go through and hone these photos to get a very particular black and white aesthetic, and I'm gonna have more power to do that afterwards. Now I'm gonna shoot a couple shots of Ryan, then we'll go through and we'll see what each of these different filters, that are built into the portrait mode, what they actually look like. All right. Stay right there, my man. Let's turn your shoulders to me again, bring your chin around, there you go. That's great, love it. Right there, brighten that up just a tad. Eyes to the camera. Look at you, serious guy. There's that smirk right there. I'm gonna get one wide one, and then we're gonna go in there. Now you may get this particular alert that says, place subject within eight feet. That's in order to get best results. I'm gonna grab one back here. But we'll ignore that for now. That's another difference between the two shooting modes, the regular photo mode, and the portrait mode. It wants you to be close here. So we're gonna stay close. Let's go ahead and actually turn your shoulders away this time, bring your chin around to me, Ryan, a little bit further, a little bit further, there you go. Hands on the scarf. That's great, all right, perfect. Now you can relax just for a second, take a couple minutes here. We're on an image in the photo section of Ryan. I'm gonna in and hit Edit. I captured it in color, but here's a cool thing. There's a natural captured photo looks like. There's studio lighting. What that does is that brightens it up just a little bit. And then the setting her is contour. It feels in the photograph, where there are changes in contour, and it'll add some shadow, which is sort of like emphasize jaw line. If we scroll around a little bit further stage light. It basically clips out the background, and makes it feel like Ryan is just lit up, he's standing on a stage. And they also have the ability to do that with black and white. I like that particular version in black and white more than the color. But again, these are just personal preferences that you can explore on your own. Now what I'd like to do is, let's move over to a background that's not white, so we can really see, when portrait mode is on, that depth of field, that out of focus look. So we're gonna put him against something that has a little bit of texture so it can reveal that. Let's do that right now. Here is portrait mode. Ryan's looking really good. But you can see all the texture in the background, It's quite detailed, in fact it has almost the same level of detail as he has in his suit right there. That is reminiscent of what happens in photo mode. That doesn't matter if I'm in the 1X or the 2X. You can see the background really clearly. What I'm gonna do now is pop over into portrait mode, and then you see something really nice happen, which is all that noise just became soft behind Ryan's head. You normally get that an SLR with a really short depth of field. This camera, the iPhone X, is a really good job of creating that, where other cameras that only had one lens, or didn't have this feature built into it, they struggle. So I just love the fact that we got this nice separation here. I'm gonna pop a couple of shots off here. I'm gonna go in here. Exposure's good. Take your chin up just a little bit. Let's actually have the chin down a little bit. There you go, that's great. Stay right there. Tap it on there to focus right on his face. Let's go ahead and turn your shoulder sideways. Let's go ahead and bring a little bit of a fill in here. Please, Casey, that's right. Chin to me. Little bit further to me. Keep going, there you go. And bring the eyes into me though. Drop your chin. There you go. Even a little bit more. Nice, let's go ahead and bring your hands up to your scarf. There you go. Right there. Next I'm gonna move back just a little bit. Chin down just a little bit more. Chin away, there you go. And then a little bit down, keep those eyes right to me, yep. Little smirk would be good. Perfect. All right, that look that portrait allows you to capture, to me it makes all the difference in the world. It's one of the things that really sets this particular phone apart from so many. You have this feature in other phones, with the exception of the thing that I'm gonna show you right now which, god knows we've got enough selfies in the world, but this particular camera, the iPhone X camera, allows you to do that same look, that same Bokeh Effect, for selfies. So I'm gonna switch around and do the front-facing camera right now, and just highlight my guy right here. You see that nice softness behind there. Look good? Can you do anything to soften the noise inside of my head, (laughing) instead of just behind my head? You and me both (mumbles). Now in order to make this mode successful, it's really important that our faces are in line. If I do this, my face is gonna be good, and Ryan's is gonna be soft. So it's important. Yeah, look at that, that's probably a better one, when his face is crisp and mine's soft. But if our heads are line we're gonna get a great look. Nice. All right, so again, that is a feature that is unique to the iPhone X. Again part of this whole new front-facing camera setup that they've got. To me, it takes the selfie to a whole world. It's just much cleaner, which is good because there's a lot of bad selfies out there. So try that at home. I think you're gonna like the result. All right, we just covered a lot of ground there. I hope that made good sense to you. As we wrap up this section on portraits, I wanna recap three things. One, you saw how fast and easy that was. I was able to make so many good pictures in a really short amount of time, with a small amount of gear. It's just me and this phone, and a backdrop with some natural light. If you remember back to my Seattle 100 point that I made opening this section, it used to take me 90 minutes to set up all my cameras and lights, and 45 minutes to break it down, and I would shoot for a couple of hours. Here, with just this phone and a backdrop, some natural light and Ryan, I was able to do it in a handful of minutes. It will take the pictures and then quickly post process, to see if the stuff that I captured is gonna look good in my final output. So super fast and easy. The second thing, again, cost. The amount of money that I used to put in to capturing this. I probably had a $50,000 camera, the $20,000 lens, and $50,000 worth of lights, you're north of $100 grand. Here, again, you can get into it with the thing that's in your pocket every day. The best camera is the one that's with you. So again, you save a lot on cost to get great portraits. And then lastly, there are a handful of other modes in here. For example, we didn't cover flash, but that's super easy. You just turn that little flash button on your phone and go out there and experiment. Have some fun. You'll be able to get great portraits with this little device right here.

Class Description


  • Know which lighting option to use to get the best image—studio light, natural light, low light, stage light, or studio mono.
  • Use the dual optical image stabilization for taking an image when you’re in motion.
  • Capture macro images such as flowers and details on clothing.
  • Take a great selfie.
  • Know how and when to use the different lenses built into your iPhone, including optical, wide angle, telephoto lens, and digital zoom.
  • Make your photos look great in post-processing using lighting effects, filters, tone, brightness, color, saturation, cropping, and more.


If you’ve got a new iPhone X or another type of advanced smartphone, you’ve got a powerful, professional-grade camera able to achieve the same kind of results that used to require a $10,000 investment. The problem is, most people aren’t familiar enough with their phone’s features to take full advantage of its photographic capabilities.

This short, impactful course on Apple iPhone photography is designed to change the way you take pictures with your phone and give you the knowledge you need to use your camera to its full potential. You’ll be amazed at how a few key tips and tricks can revolutionize the way you shoot and result in gorgeous photos that will make people think you’re a real pro.

This class will help you:

  • Learn simple portrait mode posing techniques for kids, adults, families, and groups.
  • Capture those fleeting, candid moments, including action shots of fast-moving subjects.
  • Get tips for shooting gorgeous landscapes and cityscapes.
  • Use natural light to create both indoor and outdoor portraits.
  • Utilize the newest Apple iPhone X camera features to capture gorgeous 4K and slo-mo video.
  • Go on a tour of key iPhone X camera features that will help you make the most of the new technology.

Photographer, entrepreneur, and CreativeLive founder and CEO Chase Jarvis is the ideal instructor for this course. Chase is a pioneer in mobile photography, having created the world’s first book of mobile photos and popularized the saying “the best camera is the one that’s with you.” In his down-to-earth style, Chase gives you just the right amount of instruction to help you capture amazing portraits, action photos, landscapes, and videos. This class will take you through various real-life scenarios that help you shoot pictures that you’re excited to share.


  • People who want to take better photos with their phones and know more about the new features of their device.
  • Those who want to learn about new and undiscovered features of their iPhone X camera app to take great photos.
  • People who want to learn the basics of photo composition and lighting so they can take the best shots.

Apple iPhone X


  1. iPhone X Photography Class Introduction

    Chase gives a rundown of everything he’ll be covering in this iPhone X photography course, and how to use the features of this new camera.

  2. iPhone X Portrait Lighting

    Learn about iPhone X portrait lighting, including the best modes to use for portraits as well as the key tools to help you manage different lighting conditions including low-light.

  3. Edit Photos on iPhone

    Use adjustments, preset filters and other tools to edit photos on iPhone X and do some super quick post-processing before posting online.

  4. Capturing Live Photo on iPhone

    Chase will show you how to use live photo on iPhone to get that perfect image.

  5. Shooting 4K Video iPhone X

    Learn how to shoot 4K video iPhone X.

  6. Taking Portrait Photos on iPhone

    Here you’ll learn how to create the perfect soft focus background and the classic ways to frame a portrait.

  7. Macro Photo iPhone Photography

    When your light isn’t great and your subject is tired, go into macro photo iPhone mode to capture close-ups, deal with low-light performance, discover cool details, and textures.

  8. How to Take Aerial Shots

    If you’ve got an iPhone X, you’ll be able to shoot sharp images because of its optical image stabilization technology. Here’s a great lesson on how to take aerial shots with your iPhone X.

  9. Editing Photos on iPhone

    Chase will teach you about editing photos on iPhone to optimize your light, color, contrast and more.

  10. iPhone X Photography Features

    Chase shows off a few game-changing iPhone X photography features, including the edge-to-edge screen, amazing contrast ratio, and facial recognition.

  11. *BONUS LESSON* Get an iPhone X Tour

    Take a quick iPhone X camera review.

  12. *BONUS LESSON* Taking Great Photos with iPhone

    If you’ve got an iPhone X, you’re always ready to take an awesome shot when the opportunity arises. Here’s a lesson on taking great photos with iPhone X.


JB Minton

This is a fantastic kick start to giving you the fundamentals and inspiration to pick up your phone and start documenting the beauty around you, every day. Taking photos has become my favorite social expression now, given that I can do it without getting into politics or descending into the negative energy that infest social media. Taking photos can be 100% inspirational and positive and this course is a great beginning to makin that happen. Chase is a great instructor and you will walk away with more knowledge than you came in with. Perfect length of course also! Loved it!

Nicole Abate Ducarroz

WOW! Just Wow! This class was not only very informative but also entertaining and kept moving right along. I loved how Chase teaches and would take a class from him any day. It was organized, yet very casual and natural. It was relevant and applied to not only iPhone X users but all iPhones too. I LOVED this class! Thank you!

Hannes Schiebel

Yes, you can find many if not all of the that stuff shown here somewhere else - probably for free. But in my opinion, this is a great class. Chase Jarvis does a really great job of sending the most important message of photography: The best camera is the one you have with you - and he shows me that the iPhone X camera is a very good camera. Take this class, be inspired - I think I will take better photos now :)