Turn Your iPhone Into This Alternative 3D ‘Camera’ for Portraits

Thinking outside of the box can often result in interesting creations being made. Here’s what happens when you repurpose an old iPhone for a glitchy photoshoot.

YouTuber and creator Scott Yu-Jan is back once again with another creation that may just inspire many photographers out there. This time, Yu-Jan attempts to use Apple’s front-facing sensors in Face ID to make portraits of his sitters.

The problem with trying to use the technology in front of a phone to shoot others is that the photographer can’t easily see what they are shooting. They either have to shoot blind and hope they are aiming the camera at the subject, or they have to hold the camera as if they were going to take a selfie and try not to be in the shot. Neither of these options is ideal, which is why Yu-Jan decided to come up with a better solution. With the help of a Lighting to HDMI adapter and a monitor to mirror the iPhone’s display, Yu-Jan is able to point the front of the phone at his sitter and also see what he is shooting. In true DIY fashion, Yu-Jan goes on to create an elegant 3D-printed housing to hold the monitor and camera together in a form factor that works well for taking pictures of people.

What makes these portraits different from the millions of photos taken on smartphones every day is that the sensors normally used to unlock the iPhone with a face are being used instead of the camera itself. With the help of a 3D scanning app called Heges, Yu-Jan can create 3D scans using the technology on the front of the phone. The interesting byproduct of combining all this is that some strange glitchy portraits are created. In the video, we see a variety of examples of these 3D scans being made into 2D portraits. While the results may not look like traditional photographs, the end product is a collection of visually striking portraits.

I’m a big fan of Yu-Jan’s work, as he is someone who is always trying to think outside the box and solve problems. This particular creation may not be something you add to your photographic arsenal, but the video is well worth a watch as the concepts explored may just plant some seeds of inspiration for your next photoshoot.

What do you make of these glitchy portraits? Would you consider making one of these “cameras” yourself? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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