6 pro tips for taking amazing portrait photos with the Huawei P10

The Huawei P10 has a dual-lens Leica camera on the back, just like the P9 and the Mate 9, but it also has several cool new software features — including a Portrait photo mode — and it has already impressed us with its ability. What’s more, the front camera has been given the Leica treatment, with a bokeh mode for some amazing selfies. A good camera is only part of the equation when it comes to taking great pictures. Your own ability, and a basic knowledge of how the camera app works, is just as important.

To prove it, and to show just what the P10 can do in the hands of a professional photographer, Huawei ran a “Photo Masterclass.” Hosted by Manfred Baumann, known for his striking celebrity portrait photos and use of monochrome, he helped us put the P10 through its paces, while sharing some valuable tips on composition and editing. We concentrated on taking pictures of people, using the new Portrait mode on the P10.

While we used Huawei’s new phone, the tips we’re going to share with you equally apply to the P9 and the Mate 9, along with most other dual-lens cameras with a manual mode. Don’t worry if manual mode seems complicated, we actually used auto for all the images shared here, and some post-production editing.

Get closer

Don’t be afraid of putting your camera in the subject’s face. Baumann would get in really close, almost filled the frame on several occasions, which worked very well shooting monochrome against a stark, featureless background. To take one particular portrait, he stood on a chair, about two feet in front of the subject. He experimented with different angles and stances, too.

Huawei P10 Photo Masterclass
Inez del Prado Photography
Inezdelprado Photography

If your camera has a bokeh mode, like the P10, it will blur out background detail. We took some spectacular photos in front of a window overlooking Barcelona, but it doesn’t over-power or detract from the person’s face in the picture. However, also try framing your subject against a featureless background — an alternative way of making them the focal point of the picture.

Ignore the camera

Yes it sounds like a cliché, but it really works. Baumann explained he shot a lot of celebrity pictures, but many are not models and wouldn’t automatically start posing for the camera. He’d have to choose his moments carefully, after getting the person to relax and act naturally. We were taking pictures of each other in a fun environment, and laughing about it produced fun, lively, and happy pictures. Standing back and just observing what’s going on around you, especially if people aren’t that comfortable around the camera, may end up giving the best results.

Monochrome

This is best experienced with the Huawei P10, the Mate 9, or the P9, due to its dedicated monochrome Leica camera lens. It produces amazingly detailed black and white pictures. However, pictures taken with other cameras will have filters that provide a similar effect. We were in a bright, airy room with a high ceiling, large windows, and neutral coloured walls. The afternoon light created shadows which could be used creatively when shooting with it behind the subject. We tried leaving parts of the face covered in shadow, for example.

Huawei P10 Photo Class

With the light in front of the subject, another option for classy pictures is to choose a dark or shaded background. The light ensures this comes out almost black, but the subject remains lit. The bokeh mode obscures any detail, pushing the subject to the forefront of the picture. We had particular success using this method, and took pictures in settings we’d never have considered before.

Highlights and shadows

Don’t get fixated on taking the best photo possible the first time. Take several, and then edit them. Most camera apps have extensive editing features that can change the end result after the picture has been taken. If you’ve been taking portrait or bokeh pictures on the P10, even the focal point can be altered. We came away with a really excellent tip, which transformed the way our monochrome images looked. Instead of changing the brightness and contrast settings, plays around with the highlights and the shadows. These settings exposed more detail, or made already moody shots even more effective.

Crop the picture in creative ways

Huawei P10 Photo Masterclass
Inez del Prado Photography
Inezdelprado Photography

It turned out we’ve been cropping our selfies and pictures of other people all wrong. Rather than centralising our subject, try cropping faces right down, and setting them at the side of a photo. Don’t always stick to a basic aspect ratio either, play around with the sizes. Baumann sliced the very top of our heads off, which surprisingly ended up looking superb. He’d also cut off backs of heads, shoulders, and minimize background detail. Yet all the time, he was bringing the subject of the photo into better view. It’s a simple, yet incredibly effective trick to learn, which can transform a mundane selfie into one worthy of a professional.

Don’t be shy

Perhaps the biggest tip we can share comes from our own experiences taking photos. Many of us (me included) probably don’t consider ourselves photogenic. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be photographed well. Through our experience with Baumann, we saw it’s not always about the subject; it’s about taking the right picture in the right way, in the right environment, then using the tools available to creatively compose an attractive final image. Like us, you may end up being genuinely surprised and very pleased with the final result.

We had a great afternoon learning about getting the most from the P10’s Leica camera, and hope these suggestions will help you get the most from it too. The great thing is, because dual-lens camera phones made for producing bokeh-effect pictures are plentiful today — from the iPhone 7 Plus and the Honor 6X, to the ZTE Blade V8 Pro and Xiaomi Redmi Pro — so you can apply them to taking portrait photos with many phones.

Photography

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.
Mobile

Here’s how to take a screenshot on an iPad, step by step

The ability to capture screenshots may not be the iPad's most glamorous feature, but it's one of its most useful. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to take a screenshot on an iPad, whether it's an iPad Pro from 2018 or an older iPad model.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Photography

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Photography

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…
Photography

With 5-stop optical stabilization, Fujifilm GF 100-200mm is ready for adventure

Fujifilm revealed a new lens designed to deliver on the GFX system's promise of adventure-ready medium-format photography. The GF 100-200mm F5.6 R is a weather resistant, relatively lightweight, 2x telephoto with impressive stabilization.
Photography

Olympus teaser shares glimpse of OM-D camera that’s good for more than sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's capable for landscapes…
Photography

Nikon A1000, B600 pack big zooms into compact, budget-friendly cameras

The new Nikon Coolpix A1000 packs in a 35x zoom lens, 4K video, and an optical viewfinder, while Nikon's B600 brings a 60x zoom lens to the table. The cameras are modest updates to Nikon's budget-friendly zoom models.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Photography

Photography news: Careful, self-driving cars can ruin your camera sensor

In this week's photography news, learn how self-driving cars destroyed a digital camera via lasers. Find out how many patents Canon filed for in 2018. Read about what Tamron lenses are available for the Nikon Z6.