Not many people would consider a selfie on your Instagram story a piece of portrait photography. But that is all about the change.

With the new “Focus” camera format, Instagram will now help you take those portraits to the next level. Whether you’re taking pictures of a person or doing a good-ol’ selfie, the in-app feature will now softly blur your background so that your subject will stand out in a more striking way. And to think that’s all it takes to make a portrait.


To find this feature, go to the Instagram Story format option and under the record button—and next to the “superzoom” options—you’ll now see a choice for “focus.” Just give that little guy a tap before taking a video or photo and you are able to send it off into the Insta-world and hope for the best.

Most high-end smartphones already do come with a similar feature. But this is obviously going to be easier if you are trying to post something to your story and send it directly through the app. Twitter user Genady Okrain did to a comparison which you can see in the image below:

Instagram also announced the @mention sticker, which will let you “connect with friends in your stories.” After you take a photo or video, you can open the stickers tray and tap the @mention sticker. You then type in the account you want to mention, just like tagging a user in a photo, and move the sticker wherever your little heart desires.

The @mention feature in action.

In the name of guerrilla journalism, I updated my app to try “focus” mode out. And yes, before I was poking fun at it a little bit, but I do think it works fairly well. Just to give you an idea of how effective it actually was: I look like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. When I used the portrait mode, I looked like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory with a blurred background! It’s a nice addition to the app.

Jim Parsons circa 2005.