How to Take a Photo and Shoot Video Using Siri

Taking a photo or shooting a video with your iPhone is easy enough as it is. Just fire up the Camera app and go for it. But many users don’t know that Siri can be used as a virtual assistant in this area.

Siri can ask the Camera app to do almost everything for you except the final act of taking a photo or video. Your finger is still needed at that point – which is a shame. Commanding Siri to take shots when the iPhone is set up on a tripod a distance away would be very useful.

There is a solution, though. It involves setting up a simple Siri Shortcut, for which we’ve written a step-by-step guide at the end of this article.

In this guide, we’ll show you:

  1. How to take a photo with Siri.
  2. How to take a selfie with Siri.
  3. Scan a QR code with Siri.
  4. How to shoot a video with Siri.
  5. Use a shortcut to take a photo and save it to Photos.

How to take a photo with Siri

Siri will let you open the Camera app with the three available photo options. First, you need to activate Siri.

  • Press and hold the Side/Home button until Siri appears.
  • Say “Hey Siri”.

Read more about how to set up and use Siri on your iPhone.

Once Siri has been triggered, say:

Hey Siri, take a photo.

Hey Siri, take a square photo.

Hey Siri, take a panoramic shot.

Hey Siri, take a portrait photo.

The Camera app will launch with the setting you requested, and you can press the capture button to take the photo.

How to take a selfie with Siri

Hey Siri, take a selfie.

Hey Siri, take selfie.

The Camera app will open using the front-facing lens. Press the shutter button to take a selfie.

How to scan a QR code with Siri

To scan a QR code, say:

Hey Siri, scan a QR code.

This command will open the camera in ‘QR code mode’. Point the camera at the QR code to read it.

How to shoot video with Siri

You can ask Siri to open the Camera app to one of the three available video options.

Hey Siri, take a video.

Hey Siri, shoot a slow-motion video.

Hey Siri, take a time-lapse video.

The Camera app will open with the setting you asked for, and you can start to record a video.

What you can’t do, yet

There are a few other things that Siri isn’t yet able to do in the Camera app.

  • Trigger the flash.
  • Enable Live Photos.
  • Set a timer.
  • Turn on HDR photos.
  • Turn on Live Filters.
  • Lock AutoFocus.
  • Zoom.
  • Turn the viewfinder grid on or off.
  • Change video quality.

A few third-party apps are available that integrate with Siri and allow voice-activated photography. Results appear to be mixed according to reviews.

How to take a photo with “Hey Siri” using Shortcuts

As we’ve discussed above, one significant limitation is that the default Siri commands only allow you to open the Camera app and prepare to shoot. You still have to be next to your device to tap the capture button.

An easy way around this is to build a simple Siri Shortcut that will take a photo of a subject with a command of your choosing.

Why would this be useful? Well, there are a few situations where it could come in handy.

  • Your iPhone is set up on a tripod, and you want to be in the photo yourself.
  • You would like to take a better quality selfie than is available using your front-facing camera.

Before we begin, there are limits to this shortcut. The Camera will only take a regular photo; there are no options for selecting one of the capture modes. That said, for many situations, the standard settings are fine.

Building the shortcut

So let’s begin to create our Shortcut.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.
  2. With the My Shortcuts page open, tap on the ‘+’ icon to create a new shortcut.
  3. Tap Add Action.
  4. Type camera in the search field.
  5. Tap on Take Photo in the search results.
  6. The action will be added to your shortcut. Tap the arrow in a circle for more action options, and toggle off Show Camera Preview.
  7. At the bottom of the screen, tap the delete icon to remove the camera search term, then search for Photos instead.
  8. Scroll down until you see Save to Photo Album in the results, then tap on it.
  9. Delete the search term and type Photos again; tap on the app icon to see all the available actions. Scroll down and select View album “Recents”.
  10. The shortcut is complete. Now at the top of the screen, tap on the arrow icon next to the title and use the options here to rename the shortcut, plus give it a color and icon.
Choose the shortcut name, color and icon
Choose the shortcut name, color and icon

The name you choose here will be the command you use to ask Siri to take a photo. We recommend avoiding a phrase that will conflict with the regular camera commands. In this example, we’ve called the shortcut ‘Smile’.

The completed shortcut
The completed shortcut

You can edit this shortcut to take a video or use the selfie camera instead.

Using the Shortcut

To test out your new shortcut, say:

Hey Siri, smile.

The Shortcuts app will automatically open up, take a photo, save the image to your ‘Recents’ album, and then open the Photos app to view the picture.

Want to discover more about using Siri, Apple’s popular virtual assistant? We’ve written a helpful collection of tutorials full of techniques for using apps, dictation, using Siri Shortcuts, and a comprehensive beginner’s guide to activating and using Siri.