So… I want to know what you think.

Some of my favourite shots, that have become a bit of a signature shot for me, are those where the focus is removed from what would traditionally be the focal point of a photograph.  Allowing the subject (via the aperture setting) to blur. In some instances I allow the subject to become fully part of the bokeh, but others it’s only a mild blur.  Either way, I love the feelings that these shots can evoke.  I really do love them.

Not sure what I’m talking about?  I’ve shared many images of this type on my blog previously.  One of the more memorable was probably this one:  Boudoir Photography.

Here are a couple examples from a recent shoot (of which I never shared a preview):

They just evoke a certain feeling that you don’t get looking directly at the subject.  Kinda voyeuristic.  Like you are getting to peer into a secret moment that wasn’t meant for you.  It’s moodier.  Allows you to place more of your own emotion into the photograph.  It allows you in, in such a way that a traditional portrait doesn’t.

I LOVE these shots.  They really are some of my absolute favourites.  But, my husband doesn’t like them AT ALL.  LMAO  And I’m at a loss as to why.  So.  What do YOU think?  I really do want to know.  I’ll keep taking them, regardless…  because I love them.  LOL  But I am curious.  Am I taking them only for myself because I’m the only one out there who appreciates them?  Or do they speak to an audience larger than me?

What do you think?


About Tobi-Dawne

Tobi-Dawne Smith is many things to many people... photographer, canine behaviour expert, equal rights activist, green politician, lactivist, intactivist, writer, crafter, dog handler, third wave feminist, etc. But most important in her life is her role as mother to an amazing five year old. Learn more about TD at follow her blog at get to know her daughter at or check out her work at

Posted on July 4, 2011, in Nikon D90, People, TD Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Personally I think that style works best with close ups and parts of people. I think the boudoir shot that you did nails it. I have seen similar shots done for wedding photography that are close to what you describe but not quite. They keep the subject in focus, (normally a ring or bouquet), but it makes up only a third of the image. The rest of the image usually contains the bride, but extremely soft (aperture blur), and never all of her in the frame, normally 1/4 to 1/2 of her face. A shot like this needs high light because of the small aperture, so it tends to give a very angelic look and feel.

    The two shots above in my mind would be just as good if the people were not there at all (maybe better). They show a beautiful depth, and are almost mathematically perfect to the rule of thirds. Unfortunately out of context, it looks like some passer-bys just sort of wandered into the frame. Overall, I would say that the first photo is the better of the two. The vertical and horizontal lines of the bridge do a great job of directing the eye, and the darker tone of the image is very appealing. But if you went up to a f/16 or f/20, in my opinion it would be nicer.

    That’s just my 2 cents. As with all art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you like them, take them. If the client doesn’t, just add them to the 90% of the photos that are not sold.

    • LMAO on the 90%.

      Yes, without the context I could see how someone else (not realizing they were part of a series of family photos) could think folks just wandered through the shot. LOL And overall, I’m with you on this one. I prefer the first image myself.

      The reason I chose to post these two photos as examples of the technique was twofold. One – I hadn’t posted any previews from this recent session. Two – They aren’t as typical for the technique. I figured reminding folks where they could find the boudoir shot, and then sharing these (vastly different) examples might be a good way to show just how drastically differently it can be used.

      And again yes… I enjoy this technique, so I’ll continue using it. Whenever I do, I also take at least one similar shot that puts the focus on the subject too – as I’m aware this type of shot isn’t for everyone. 😉

      Thanks for weighing in Chris. I appreciate it.

  2. Out of focus (oof)areas can be used to great effect, be neutral or really suck. It is important to keep in mind if the shot works or if you are just liking the oof effect.

    the two shots you show here just strike me as if you missed the focus or did not have enough DOF. I would want the folks blurrier or sharper. but as Chris said you nailed it for the leg

    • LMAO

      True enough (as to great, neutral, or sucky). And yes… I think I could have upped the DOF on each of these. Sometimes, in the moment, you have to make a choice quicker than you’d like. In retrospect I would have changed the setting slightly, but in the split second you have to make that choice, sometimes you don’t push hard enough. 😉

      Thanks for taking the time to weigh in. It is appreciated. 🙂

  3. I tend to like the effect as well so shoot in aperture priority when its going to come into play. then I have the aperture on the thumbwheel so I can zip from 32 to 2.8 in a tic. also great for macros.

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