Why We Need to Stop Getting Over Obsessive About Bokeh

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 first impressions extra images (4 of 5)ISO 4001-150 sec at f - 1.2

There is a syndrome that many beginning photographers get infected with–and unfortunately none of them ever find the cure for it. That 50mm f1.8 lens that you’ve got: yes, it’s nice. In fact, it can be great. But how many times have you read or heard someone just talk about bokeh. When I used to work in a store, I heard folks talk over and over about bokeh. Yes, it’s beautiful for sure.

But eventually all of your images end up looking the exact same: subject in focus (probably centered) and a super blurry background. But as great as bokeh can be, it can lead you into a big trap. Eventually you’ll become so obsessed with just getting bokeh in your images that you’ll throw composition and other elements of your image out the window (and totally out of the frame.)

Now let me inform you about a little bit of truth: many of the world’s best and most iconic images don’t have bokeh. Yes, it’s totally true. Shooting images over and over again with just lots and lots of bokeh won’t necessarily give you a better image. Sometimes you’ll need to stop the lens down in order to get more of a scene in focus to tell a story or give the viewer more information about what you’re shooting. By doing this, all of your images also don’t look the same.

So with that said, we challenge you to stop your lenses down and shoot at f8 for a week or so. Try to go out there and create better images based on composition, subject matter, through pure creativity. Don’t get sucked into the bokeh trap.