What are Live Photos on iPhone, Anyway?

What are Live Photos on iPhone, Anyway?

Have you ever looked back through the photos on your iPhone and noticed that some of them move? You could have sworn that you didn’t take a video, but this photo looks more like a short film than a still. You look more closely - the image is now stationary. What is going on?

This is a Live Photo. If you don’t know what that is, you’re not alone. This feature arrived on the iPhone in late 2015 with little fanfare.

Essentially, a Live Photo is a moving picture. When you take a picture with Live Photos enabled, 1.5 seconds are recorded before your photo and 1.5 seconds are recorded after. When looking at the photo later, you can see the full 3 seconds that were captured by tapping on the photo and holding down. Here's how to take and edit Live Photos.

There are certain advantages to having Live Photo turned on. First of all, it’s fun to see the moments directly before and after the picture was taken. For example, while a group photo may turn out flawlessly, with Live Photo you can see the hilarious faces and motions that the group makes before and after everyone says “cheese.”

Action shots are also fun to take with Live Photo. Shown below is my boyfriend throwing a key off of the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris, France. The center image is the still recorded in my phone, but the photos on either side show the moments immediately before and immediately after that still.

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For instructions on how to save specific moments in the 1.5 seconds before or after your Live Photo as stills themselves using the Lively app, as I have done above, click here.

Live Photo also has downsides. First of all, every photo captured with Live Photo takes up roughly twice the amount of storage space as a regular photo. (This makes sense, as it is essentially a short video.) If you suddenly realize that your storage space is full and you don’t know why, check your Live Photo settings.

Live Photos also don’t work well in the dark. Because your camera is essentially recording a short video, it needs to use an even longer exposure to capture enough light to snap the picture. The result is usually a dark, grainy photo.

Whether or not you decide to leave Live Photos on all the time - or whether you choose to turn it on depending on the shot you’re taking - here’s how to control those settings. Happy photographing!

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