How to take incredible portrait photos with Google’s Pixel 6 Pro

They say that the best camera you have is the one you have on you, and with modern smartphones improving year on year, there are even more photography technologies available in our latest devices.
Tommy Kuo · 16 December 2021 · 4 minute read

I took the new Google Pixel 6 Pro out for a spin, shooting some everyday photos of a friend to find out if Google’s latest Pixel lives up to the hype.

The new Pixel 6 Pro

Google have really taken their photography up a notch with their camera. With the some of the best computational photography technology in the game and new pro-level lenses, it means you get the best of both worlds in terms of photography software and hardware on a smartphone.

The back of the device hosts 3 lenses, firstly the 50 MP wide (f/1.85 aperture) for everyday shots, allowing big prints and letting in plenty of light. Secondly, a 48 MP telephoto (f/3.5 aperture) for shots of subjects further away (that’s a lot of megapixels!). And a 12 MP ultrawide (f/2.2 aperture) for those wider lens needs.

All of them are sharp, clean and bright. Everything you expect from a high quality lens. Also, the Pixel 6 Pro makes leaps of improvements from their previous Pixel 5, in fact the Pixel 6 Pro captures 150% more light thanks to its new larger main sensor. This helps with any low light/night photography, which is handy more often than you think.

The Pixel 6 Pro also allows you to capture 4x optical zoom, retaining all of that image information optically, versus digitally. While all those upgrades are awesome to have, you’ll get way more out of the Pixel 6 if you know how to make the most of it with a few photography basics.

4 tips for incredible portrait photos

Tip 1 – Take lots of photos!

While you’re framing your shot with your device, it is ideal to take multiple shots of the same ‘framing’. This is because there are small details within the environment or about the subject you might not notice, including the way hair flies, the subject’s facial expression, moving objects in the background, and also slight changes in positioning. By capturing more shots rather than less, you will have more options in your Gallery to select as your perfect shot.

Tip 2 – Shoot motion

Whether it’s a hand adjusting hair, walking on the street, or hair flying in the wind, photos that freeze a frame in motion just seem to feel more natural. I like to give directions to my subject to perform small, repeatable actions or gestures that I can capture to make a shot feel authentic and natural.

Tip 3 – Framing your shot

When I was shooting with the Pixel 6 Pro, I used the guidelines feature in the settings to help frame my shot. Below this is a demo of how I use it. It’s pretty simple. I like to use the guides to help frame my half-body shot starting with the vertical axis, approximately two-thirds of the portrait subject (person) and one-third environment. Then looking horizontally depending on how they are angled, generally, keep the subjects face close to the centre grid space. Below you can see I had my subject’s body on an angle. Since she’s on an angle, I found it optically balanced to keep her face in the top left side of the centre grid.

See it in action on YouTube

Tip 4 – Make use of shadows

I love to shoot in places where there’s a mix of sun and shadow in the same spot. Shadows can play a big role in contouring the face, softening the lighting and also providing interesting shapes to work with in your photo. Below is an example of how shadows can be used on the wall to make interesting patterns and shapes with the leaves, and also spotted lighting on her hair and face for more artistic effect! Gotta love shadows.

Making the most of the Pixel 6 Pro

To my surprise, I also really enjoyed using Portrait Mode Blur when editing my photos. The technology has come a long way to make depth of field look very convincing, especially when used subtly and sparingly. This is a great way to bring out your subject in your photo.

Skin tones is another thing that I see a lot of smartphones struggle with. However on the Pixel 6 Pro, skin tone is captured very authentically. Google have really prioritised accurate representation of all skin tones for this device, and that is something that I love to see.

One of the real things that I love about the Pixel 6 Pro though is how advanced their editing technology is for photography. Take the Magic Eraser tool for example, with it I’m able to use AI technology to remove any unwanted objects or photo bombers from my photo.

I loved using the Google Pixel 6 Pro! Not only is it a great smartphone for everyday use, I also found the camera capabilities and technology to be perfect for how I like to capture life day to day.


By Tommy Kuo

Photographer/Content creator

Tommy is a freelance photographer and content creator based in Melbourne, Australia. His collection of work showcases people, style, culture, and more. He's also the founder of the Good Shot Mate, a global photography community focusing on education and travel.

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