Vignetting In a Photo Isn’t a Bad Thing



Person after person in forum after forum will complain about vignetting in an image. Advances in culture and marketing overall have grown to make us complain about something like this. Vignetting traditionally happened when the imaging circle from the lens wasn’t hitting the entire sensor area, It has always been corrected by stopping the lens down unless the imaging circle genuinely doesn’t cover the sensor or film plane. It was a technical problem, but at times actually happened to look good–at least in the artistic world it did and still does.

It’s time that we stop complaining about vignetting in an image. It happens, and when you use vignetting effectively it can change the entire mood of a scene or can be used as a great compositional aid. Vignetting happens around the outer edges of the scene and causes a darkening effect.


Based on the way that the human eye works combined with the traditional rules of composition (rule of thirds, golden spiral, etc.) it will make a person focus more on the central areas of the image. These central areas are also those that photographers are told to position their subjects on to work effectively with these compositional rules.

That brings us further to our point in this article: vignetting at all isn’t a bad thing. It is just simply a thing. We need to work with this thing effectively or eliminate it. It’s easily removed in software these days with the click of a button or with in-camera algorithms. What you probably don’t realize is that we add vignetting to our current stage of product photography to emphasize a product more in a scene.

No one that ever spent lots of money on an image never bought the image later on and complained about vignetting. They cared more about the subject matter overall.

Vignetting can also be used very well in black and white photos, street photos, portraits, etc. There are many surreal artists that use it to give off a specific feel to their images. To recap and help you even more, we’re going to list a number of times where vignetting works very well.

Vignetting works well when:

– When emphasizing a subject closer to the center. It makes the subject stand out much more

– When trying to give a scene a darker and eerier feel.

– When creating a dream-like atmosphere

– In black and white images.

– With brightly colored backgrounds to add contrast and therefore make the other colors punch out even more (think about the way that Red grab the human eye.)

– Trying to create a gritty street photo

– In slightly overexposed portraits where you’re being pulled in very personally to the subject

– In high contrast images

– In backlit scenarios; they help to add more glow to the subject

– When adding a vintage filter of some sort: film cameras added vignetting all the time.

These are just a few, but there are many, many more. In many situations, we should learn to embrace vignetting and not fight it.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.