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iPhone X: The Quick Guide to Great Photos + Video

Lesson 6 of 12

Taking Portrait Photos on iPhone


iPhone X: The Quick Guide to Great Photos + Video

Lesson 6 of 12

Taking Portrait Photos on iPhone


Lesson Info

Taking Portrait Photos on iPhone

Whether you're inside in the studio or outside, this portrait mode is insanely effective at creating that soft focus background that we all have come to love so much with really high-end, expensive cameras. Now that technology's baked into iPhone X. This is probably my most used feature on the new phone. So just what you should think about a couple of classic ways to frame up a portrait. I've got the light behind him onto one of, like, onto his shoulder here, rather than blasting him right in the face. It's gonna create a nice little rim light around in there. We'll take a couple with his helmet on. He's just relaxing. This is totally natural. I haven't coached him at all. And that's exactly sort of the mode that I wanna get him in. So I'm in portrait mode here. If you have Live Photo turned on, you can take the portrait, and then afterwards you can switch between any of those portrait modes. So I'm just gonna sit here and talk to him, tap on the phone where I want the exposure, bring ...

that up just a little bit. Nice one, man. That looks great. Okay. Come toward me just a little bit with your head, with your chin. There you go. How about a smile? You got a smile in there or no? There you go. Let's take that hat off for a second. Take your helmet off for me. Okay. It's gonna look awesome. There you go. Nice, bud. Okay. I'm just gonna work in the light a little bit. I'm letting the, now it's gonna, I'm gonna start to move this way a little bit. You wanna hand that to your dad? Awesome. Now, I want you to stay exactly where you are, and so bring your chin around to me. There you go. That's amazing. Perfect. Okay. That's a fake smile. Shake that out, brrr. (laughs) There you go. Nice. All right. Gonna increase the exposure just a little bit there. Awesome. All right, now I'm gonna keep just working around just a little bit. I want you to bring your bike and point it a little bit more toward me now. There you go. Keep going. Keep coming this way. That's great. There you go. Let's go ahead and look off to my right, right up here. There you go, perfect. A little smile? That's a cheesy smile. Shake that one out. You got that. Imagine that you're seeing yourself boost out of the half pipe right there. There you go. (laughs) Nice. And... Real serious, right to me. Smirk, little smile. There's that smile. There you go. Get in real close here. Where's your smile, bud? There you go. That's it. That's the one. Perfect. I'm gonna back up just a little bit. You stay right where you're at. This is one of the things, it's, I think it's one of the dirtiest secrets in photography, and it's only dirty 'cause no one talks about it. We take so many more pictures than people think we do. So, look it, he's been sitting here for two minutes. I'm just taking all kinds of pictures. He's being patient. It doesn't always work that way, but when you have the flexibility, why not take, instead of one picture, take 10. Nice one. Let's go ahead and lean on your bars like that. There you go, bud. That's awesome. Not so serious. Little bit of smile there. There you go. Nice. That's great. Look here. Perfect. I like this little backlit look that we've got. Nice one. Nice. Check that dude out skating. Nice. Little smile. There you go, bud. Nice. So one other thing you've gotta know about the iPhone X is that it also works in portrait mode for this front-facing camera. So makes it extra good for selfies. Nice. All right, we're just wrapping up here at the skate park. The light's really low. I thought it'd be a great moment to capture a little family portrait with Soren and his mom and dad. There's just, again, the sun's just about to go behind the horizon here, so I thought I'd work a quick little portrait right in here. Why don't you guys come on in? So this is Jason and Megan, Soren's parents. Thank you guys so much for lending us your... I'm gonna be you guys just for a second. Hop out here. What I'm trying to do is trying to make each of these people have about the same visual weight in the photo. Now, Jason's a lot bigger than these two, so I'm gonna have you slide a little bit back. Megan, you're gonna come in right in here, and Soren's gonna pop right in here. So we're all about the same amount of the body facing the camera, so we don't take, so you don't take up a lot more visual weight. You're a bigger guy. Yeah, there you go. Bigger guy. So Megan's gonna slide right in there after you hop up on this table here. Just, yeah, just kinda, you're slouching in there a little bit. There you go. And Megan's gonna come right in front of Jason. There you go, like that. Such a good picture, you guys. Oh, it's so cute. And I'm framing everything out. We've got the city in the background. Get that money shot here. I'll crop out some of those white posts in the background. I'm also gonna try getting a little further back. I'm gonna tap on the front of them so I get a nice exposure. There we go. You can see that. Now I can still see the city. And look at, again, the difference between if I'm zoomed out, everything has a really similar visual weight. I punch into the telephoto, these guys stand off from the city there. There's a nice city in the background. That's awesome. You guys look so good. Perfect. I'm gonna say I got that one in the can. Now we're gonna get some front light with these guys. So as the light's going down, I want you to come over here. This little sliver of light down here. We're gonna do that same thing. We're just gonna pile the family in the corner here. Go ahead. And we're gonna put Jason at the back again, 'cause he's got a lot more visual weight than the rest of the family. And I'm gonna tuck you in there nice and... Get really, get in there, Megan. Let's have, we're gonna have Soren, you step forward for a second. Let your mom and dad snuggle in there really good. There you go. Oh, this is great. There you go. Thanks, guys. High five. Nice one, bud. And that's a wrap. Just a couple quick tips as we wrap up. One, when we're out here shooting portraits, I couldn't recommend the portrait mode more. You know, we're in a really challenging environment, not the most sexy backdrops. We've got a shipyard, we've got an old skate park and some dilapidated buildings. Put that thing in portrait mode and get these beautiful shots with the crisp foreground and that out of focus, soft background. Thing two, I love putting the sunlight to the subject's back when I'm shooting portrait mode. Sure, when there's a nice, like, sun, everyone's, you know, skin looks really nice when it's warm and rich. But there's nothing like that little rim light that you can get when you put your subject's back to the light. You can tap on the subject's foreground. That'll help the camera get the correct exposure and a nice focus. And then you just snap the photograph. And then third, last but not least, you saw me go in there and tell them exactly what I wanted. Sure, there's all kinds of great ways to capture, like, really candid moments. That's one of the biggest advantages with the phone. But if you have a moment just to tell people to, you know, get together, to smile, feel free to direct them. That's a thing that I think most people underestimate what it takes to make a great photograph. If you actually shape people and pose them in a way that's really appealing and pleasing to your eye, you're gonna get more good pictures more often. All right, that wraps it up for the portrait session. On to the next lesson.

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 :)