Why Nobody Really Gives a Crap About Bokeh and Blurry Backgrounds (Apart From Ourselves)

As photographers and videographers we’re always trying to get the creamiest bokeh in our shots, but does the average person or client really care about it?

Over the last few years it seems as though bokeh and smooth creamy backgrounds have become the one thing that we as photographers and videographers obsess about. We’ll go out and buy huge, heavy lenses with fast apertures that cost as much as a small used car just so we can see that blur out half of our images, but do non photographers really even care about it? Does it really make that much difference outside of your circle of photography friends? After the break we have a video for you from Camera Conspiracies that takes a look at this obsession. 

It doesn’t matter whether you open up your Instagram feed, watch a video on YouTube, or jump on any photography group on Facebook, one thing that you are guaranteed to see are thousands of photos and videos with blurred out backgrounds, and enough bokeh balls to last a lifetime.

bokeh

Every portrait on Instagram has maximum subject isolation which can end up making a photo lose context. Videos on YouTube are consistently shot with wide open apertures which makes the background blur, but also makes the host go in and out of focus all the time because of the shallow depth of field; honestly there’s nothing more annoying than watching a video like this.

So one has to ask. Are we chasing after bokeh too much for own good? I’m not saying that bokeh is bad. When used in the right situations bokeh can be absolutely gorgeous, and it can enhance and image, but it still doesn’t mean that every image has to be shot wide open. I’ll admit that I’ve been here before, I think we all have. I think it’s natural for us to be blinded by the magical powers of bokeh, but we have to learn that just focusing on bokeh’s creamy goodness can make us miss the bigger picture, and that’s not good for anyone.

Camera Conspiracies recently shot a video that looks into our gear and bokeh obsessions, and they offer some really interesting thoughts on this subject too.  Do we shoot wide open all the time with our fast lenses to justify the cost of the glass to ourselves? Is it so that we can be bokeh snobs around our photography friends and can boast about that f1.2 lens we just purchased?  Check out the funny, entertaining, and informative video below. Just be warned, if you’re at work there’s some salty language in the video so don’t turn your speakers up too loud.

I know one thing for sure is that the average person who looks at your images, and clients who book you to take theirs really don’t care about these things. They don’t care that you sold a body part to buy your new lens, they aren’t impressed with how big the lens is, what its maximum aperture is, and they certainly won’t sit there and say “ooooh look at the bokeeeeh” when they’re looking at their family portraits. All they care about is the overall image, the memories the image creates, and the story the image tells. Bokeh is not important to them. The only person who will care about the bokeh in the image is you.

What do you think about the bokeh frenzy that’s occurring? Are we as photographers and videographers using it too much? Is it an easy cop out to just blur the crap out of everything rather than think about our backgrounds and compositions? Is it making us less creative? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and remember, use bokeh responsibly.