Masterclass: Learn photography from the legendary Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz Photography

There are thousands of photography classes out there, so choosing the right one can be tricky. One way you can ensure a premium experience is to learn from a world-renowned professional in the industry. The Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography Masterclass gives you just that opportunity.

This video masterclass is a 15-lesson exclusive course, hosted by the illustrious woman herself. Here’s the description:

Annie was the first woman to be named chief photographer at Rolling Stone and the last person to take a portrait of John Lennon. In her first online class, Annie shows us that what makes a picture stunning isn’t the gear or technology — it’s the story. Annie teaches you her philosophy on photography — how to develop concepts, work with subjects, shoot with natural light, and bring images to life in post-production. See the world through her eyes.

Masterclass.com hosts this course as part of its collection of high-quality classes from famous pioneers in many fields. You can learn guitar from Carlos Santana or film-making from Martin Scorsese. These are the best of the best, which is why students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Right now you can get lifetime access to the full Annie Leibovitz photography course for just $90. You’ll be taking stunning photos in no time.

You may also want to consider what other classes you might enjoy, because $180 per year gets you access to all of the masterclasses. The likes of Samuel L Jackson, Garry Kasparov, Gordon Ramsey, and Armin Van Buuren are all waiting to teach you their art.

Satisfaction is guaranteed by a 30-day refund period, so you’ve got nothing to lose. To find out more hit the button below.

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Save over $700 on this professional photography training bundle

Photography Training Bundle

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in photography, or if you’re just looking to get the necessary skills to level up your Instagram feed, the Complete Photo Professional Bundle will give you a thorough education in photography without sending you into eternal student loan debt.

Even if the extent of your current photographic skills is snapping an off-center picture of your pantry to make sure you buy the right brand of cereal next time, this training bundle will teach you how to take professional photographs and actually make money off of them. Eight courses and 30 hours of instruction cover virtually every aspect of professional photography.

In addition to the fundamental concepts of photography like aperture, shutter speed, and exposure, you’ll also learn awesome photo composition skills, such as how to play with perspective and how to find the best light sources while photographing outdoor subjects.

You’ll also learn how to use the all-important Photoshop to retouch your images to professional industry standards, and even how to successfully start your own business as a wedding photographer if that’s your thing.

Here’s what you get:

Normally the Complete Photo Professional Bundle costs $771.95, but right now you can take 95 percent off and get lifetime access to all eight courses for just $35 by clicking the button below.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB

What is portrait mode and which phones have it?

A side-by-side comparison of two photos, one using a smartphone's Portrait Mode, and another using a basic mode.

There’s a good chance you use your smartphone to take pictures and capture video. There’s a relatively new feature a lot of smartphones have called portrait mode, and it can up your photography game big time if used properly. However, you might not know what portrait mode is or how it’s used. So what is portrait mode exactly? Good question.

Let’s examine portrait mode in an effort to separate the marketing jargon from the facts. We’ll also give you a list of current smartphones with portrait mode so you can make informed buying decisions.

Let’s get started!

What is portrait mode?

Portrait mode is a term used to describe the artificial bokeh (BOH-kay) effect produced by smartphones. Bokeh is a photography effect where the subject of a picture is kept in focus while the background falls out of focus. By using portrait mode to create a bokeh effect, you can take dynamic photographs which look more professional.

Years ago, if you wanted to take pro-quality photographs, you’d need a DSLR or analog camera. Nowadays, even mid-range smartphones can deliver exceptional results.

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However, one of the biggest historical limitations of smartphone photography had been the ability to simulate depth using bokeh. Without high focal lengths, large sensors, and control over focus, even high-end phones couldn’t create the blurred background effect.

Recently, though, advancements in computational photography — as well as the introduction of dual-lens smartphone cameras — have brought artificial bokeh to phones. Most smartphone manufacturers refer to this effect in marketing material as portrait mode. Additionally, the setting in most camera apps that creates bokeh is usually called “Portrait Mode” or simply “Portrait.”

Portrait mode examples

You know what they say: a picture is worth a thousand words. With that in mind, let’s check out some examples of photographs using portrait mode to create a bokeh effect. Below you’ll find a gallery of pictures captured with a variety of smartphones, all using the portrait mode setting.

As you scroll through the photos, pay attention to the backgrounds:

Google Pixel 2 camera

oneplus 6 portrait mode camera review


Portrait mode makes the subject of your photo really pop. Since the background is blurry, your eyes naturally gravitate towards the non-blurry section of the picture. It can be a powerful technique when used properly.

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However,  the images above are not “real.” The bokeh effect is not produced using just the smartphone’s lens (or lenses). Instead, the smartphone’s processor, software, and camera hardware work together to apply the bokeh effect to a non-bokeh image.

Because you’re relying on a computational algorithm to create portrait mode effects, results can vary. Check out the photo below where the phone’s portrait mode filter gets confused and can’t get the effect right:

An example how portrait mode can go wrong, with the subject's glasses being blurred out as if they were part of the background.

For some reason, the algorithm determined the edge of Lanh’s glasses was part of the background and thus blurred it out. If you were using a DSLR to take this photo and produced the bokeh effect using the lens itself rather than software, this problem wouldn’t happen.

However, when you’re using a smartphone to create a bokeh image, you don’t have to lug around a large DSLR, which is certainly advantageous. With that in mind, don’t let a few faulty images deter you. The algorithms responsible for portrait mode are only getting better, so problems will become less and less of an issue going forward.

Which phones support portrait mode?

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of portrait mode and how bokeh effects can make your photos better. However, how do you know if your smartphone supports the feature?

In general, most phones with at least two lenses paired together can produce portrait mode pictures. Some phones can produce the bokeh effect with just one rear lens (the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 3 being the most notable examples), and some dual-lens phones can’t do portrait mode (like the LG V30). However, if a new phone has two lenses on the back, it’s a safe bet it does portrait mode shooting.

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Some smartphones are now shipping with two lenses on the front, too. This allows for portrait mode pics in selfie mode. However, there are phones with a single selfie lens that can also do portrait mode.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of recent smartphones that have portrait mode abilities with the rear camera at least. This list is not completely comprehensive in that there are likely other phones out there with portrait mode not included here, but we did include all the most popular releases.

There are also numerous ways to “hack” your phone to get portrait mode when it is not offered by the original OEM. However, we are not going to cover that here.


Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

LG

LG V40 ThinQ LG G7 ThinQ
LG V35 ThinQ LG Q8

HTC

HTC U12 Plus HTC U12 Life

Sony

Sony Xperia XZ3 Sony Xperia XZ2

OnePlus

OnePlus 6T OnePlus 5T
OnePlus 6 OnePlus 5

Google

Google Pixel 3 & 3 XL Google Pixel 2 & 2 XL

Huawei

Huawei Mate 20 & Mate 20 Pro Huawei P20 & P20 Pro
Huawei Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro Huawei P10 & P10 Plus

Honor

Honor View 20 Honor 8X
Honor View 10 Honor 7X

Xiaomi

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro Xiaomi Pocophone F1
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro
Xiaomi Mi A2 Xiaomi Mi A1

Vivo

Vivo Nex Vivo V11
Vivo X21 Vivo V9 Pro

Oppo

Oppo Find X Oppo R17 & R17 Pro
Oppo F9 Oppo R15 Pro

Motorola

Motorola Moto X4 Motorola Moto G6
Motorola Moto Z3 Motorola Moto Z2 Force

So now you know the answer to “what is portrait mode” as well as what phones currently offer it.