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Old Feb 6, 2019, 6:56 AM   #1
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Default The Bane of Bokeh or How NOT to Stand out from the Herd

I wrote this in response to a YouTube subject regarding Bokeh, link after my comments:

In my business Photographer...shallow depth of field is out of fashion... wide angle all in focus and raw is what is happening now. Of course, you can mix in the few blown out shots as part of the whole 8-12 page story but...bye Bye Bokeh! 😎😎😎 https://benjaminkanarek.com/album/paris-tres-chic

Systematic blurred background is way out of fashion in fashion photography today. When used, it is often done to balance the story, i.e. 8-14 pages with wide angle raw in your face all in focus composition oriented images and your classic herd mentality blurred background images. However, one of the major reasons many of us would use that "300mm f/2.8" look was quite banal. It was so people could see the fashion well and it would look like shooting in a soft daylight studio, with a wash of colour that the photographer could control just by moving rotating their lens by one degree. Often you would know the clothing colours beforehand and chose complimentary colored backgrounds that would enhance the overall image. That IS a style and done for a reason, as I have done here for ELLE magazine. But the systematic use of bokeh for the sake of bokeh doesn't make you stand out from the rest, it makes you as common as margarine on dry toast. It is the contrast that makes an image stand out in a story. That is why I will often do some B&W images mixed in with colour to just make the whole story more interesting and varied. SYSTEMATIC use of totally blown out backgrounds is old and mind-numbing. That's not me speaking, that is the overwhelming majority of magazine editors speaking and I know, because I work for them.

Bokeh used without understanding the reason why is flagrant herd mentality. So make your images interesting and think about what you wish to accomplish to stand out from the crowd.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8


Mixed Bag from 24 to 85mm all Nikon.


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Old Feb 6, 2019, 12:05 PM   #2
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I wholeheartedly agree that Bokeh is overdone, but it is a useful tool to distinguish a subject from the background when used correctly, as you describe.

But I fear that the main reason Bokeh has gone out of style is because Instagram and smartphone photos are in style, and there's no room there for the equipment and skill necessary to do Bokeh right.

I applaud you for interjecting some art into the increasingly mundane.
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
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Old Feb 8, 2019, 6:55 PM   #3
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I certainly think we came to a point where everyone seemed to be obsessing about bokeh- rather than utilizing it when it was deemed necessary....
Everything/anything is acceptable- at the right time...
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