How To Capture Stunning Portraits On Your iPhone

The Melbourne Cup yesterday was a bit of a depraved mess — if you were out in the paddock, at least. Inside the Myer Marquee, things were a little more dignified. Sydney street photographer Giuseppe Santamaria travelled down to yesterday’s Melbourne Cup to snap some photos using Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus, and they’re pretty special. Here are Santamaria’s top ten tips for portrait photography — whether you’re using an iPhone or DLSR.

Portrait mode, which uses the 7 Plus’ secondary 2x zoom lens rather than the wide-angle one, takes a bit of effort to get right. For one, you’ve got to be shooting in decent lighting, because the 2x lens’ f/2.8 aperture lets in half the light of the 1x lens’ f/1.8, and you’ve got to have a subject — ideally a person — within around 2.5 metres’ distance.

The photos below were all shot by Santamaria on his iPhone 7 Plus, and are either unedited or lightly edited. They look great, too — they’re some of the best examples of Portrait mode that we’ve seen

Here’s some of Santamaria’s tips for street photography, equally relevant whether it’s on an iPhone or a pro-grade digital SLR:

1. Good judgment of character. If someone looks like they wouldn’t want to be photographed, don’t ruffle their feathers. Some of the more eccentric characters out on the street would make great photos but be prepared to be confronted if going in.

2. Find a way of shooting that you’re comfortable with. If you like to interact with people and hear their stories, stop them and ask to take their portrait. If you’re shy and like to observe, try capturing moments on the street. Being a bit of a shy person myself, I prefer to observe moments and act a bit like a fly on the wall.

3. Don’t expect to take an amazing photo whenever you go out shooting. Better having one amazing photo taken in a month, rather than a lot of average shots. Editing for me is fun because it’s like developing photos, you can play around with what you’ve captured and really enhance the photo in different ways. But keeping the editing minimal in best.

4. The best camera is the camera you always have on you. Always have your camera on you, you never know when you’ll see that shot.

5. When first starting out in street photography, head to high volume places, where there are a lot of people around and you’re able to hide in the background if taking the observational route.

6. Look for confidence when finding somebody to photograph. My project for the last 6 years has been capturing men’s street style on the streets of Sydney and around the world. It’s such an interesting time for men’s fashion at the moment and I really enjoying documenting the shift.

7. Composition and lighting; if you find the perfect patch of light or beautiful setting, wait around until that perfect shot creates itself.

8. Try shooting from the hip, blindly, to capture interesting shots.

9. Have confidence in yourself and don’t take rejection too personally. I haven’t had many issues shooting on the streets but various cities are different. When I was shooting in Paris, people were a bit more curious of what I was doing. Which is a shame, because Paris is a city known for it’s amazing street photography in the 50’s, 60’s, where it was very carefree but not so much anymore.

10. Depth of field helps isolate your subject and give focus on what you want to highlight in your pictures. A DSLR use to be the only way to get this effect, but it’s now even possible with your iPhone 7 Plus using Portrait mode.

And here are just five of the many beautiful shots that Giuseppe Santamaria captured in the Myer Marquee yesterday during the Melbourne Cup:

[Giuseppe Santamaria]

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