If you’re all too familiar with the yearly struggle that is taking a family photo for your holiday card, then you’re going to love the latest camera update coming to the iPhone 7 Plus on Monday. No, it can’t help you rally the kids, but it can help to ensure you’ll get a great shot when you do finally get everyone to smile at the same time.
Portrait Mode, a new depth-of-field feature available in the latest free software update, allows you to take portraits with a bokeh effect by using both the wide-angle and telephoto cameras, something that was previously only possible with a DSLR camera. The result? Your subject will be sharp, but the background will have that beautiful blur to it—no fancy or expensive equipment required.
Using the new feature is easy: Simply open the camera app and swipe to “Portrait.” Once in portrait mode, follow the on-screen prompts—they’ll provide helpful hints for capturing a better picture, like if you need to get closer to or further from your subject.
Erin Brooks, a Tacoma, Washington-based photographer currently writing a book on iPhone photography recommends making sure you have great natural light—either outside or near a window—to get the best results.
To get a more creative shot, says Brooks, have your subject sit next to a window or a sliding glass door. Shoot from above, or directly from the side, with your phone’s edge against the glass. Tip the phone to get a bit of reflection in the shot. Or, stand above your subject and have them look up at you.
The blurred effect of portrait mode also works in black and white. Experiment with some artsy photos by focusing on little details in the foreground of your photo, like the hand of a sleeping baby or a work of art held out.
Even if you don’t yet have access to the latest camera feature, you can still learn how to take better photos with the smartphone you do have.