How to Change the Frame of an iPhone Live Photo

Question from Mary:

Sometimes when I take a photograph with my iPhone, the snapshot moves briefly when I view it. Why?
Sometimes this exceedingly brief “video” has an image I would like to save and print at the beginning and not at the end of the movement. Specifically dolphins leaping from the water. Is there anyway I can stop the motion where I need to?

The snapshot that moves is called a Live Photo and it has been a feature of iPhones since the 6s. Turning on the Live option in the camera will result in 3 seconds of video being captured along with the still shot. You know if your Live option is turned on if the bullseye at the top right of the camera does not have a line thru it. If it does have a line thru it then Live is OFF. Just tap it and you will briefly see the words LIVE or LIVE OFF.

When I learned  about Live Photos, my first reaction was “Cool! A way to pick the best frame from 3 seconds of video for the perfect photo, without using Burst shot.” This is what Mary wants to do in order to get the shot of the dolphins in mid-air, not just the splash.

How to See the Video Portion of a Live Photo

Using the Photos app that comes with your iPhone, you will see a brief glimpse of the live photo as you view the photos in your camera roll. To see the entire 3 seconds of video, you must press and hold on photo. You will see – and hear – the 3 seconds of video.

Using the Google Photos app, when you view a Live Photo on an iPhone, you will see a button that has two positions, play and pause. When it is in the play position, the video portion will play over and over. When in Pause, you see the still photo.


The Easy Way to Change the Frame

What shows up as the still in an iPhone Live Photo is called the Key Photo. It is easy to change the key photo to another frame using the Apple Photos app that comes with your iPhone.

A different procedure using Google Photos

Using Google Photos, you can view the Live Photo, play it, then tap the 3-dot menu in the upper right (or just swipe up on the photo) scroll to the right and you’ll see an option to Save as Video. This will separate the 3 seconds of video and make a standalone .mov file. Then, when you view the video, you can tap the edit button and see a filmstrip of every frame. Tap the frame you want and then tap “Export frame.” This results in a new photo of just that frame. If that’s all you want, then you can delete the original Live photo and .mov file since they are all separate files.

Learn more about Live photos, as well as motion photos on Android?

The “Motion Photo” button on Samsung camera

Episode 223 from November of 2021 is a show we did on “Why do my photos move?” On December 5, 2022, we were guest speakers on the Tech for Seniors show and presented lots of smartphone photography tips including Live and Motion photos. The video below starts at the point we demonstrate Live and Motion photos.


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