Bokeh has been exploding in popularity left, right and center. Everyone wants that creamy bokeh look on their photos. What is bokeh? Why has it become so popular? Should you use bokeh too? Well, this article will answer all those questions.
What is bokeh?
Bokeh comes from a Japanese word that means “blur.” It is an effect loved both by professional and amateur photographers. A high quality bokeh will create soft light reflections. This effect is created by a camera lens, and not the camera itself. Meaning that not everything with a blurry light and background can be categorized as bokeh.
We think that the quality of the whole “blurry” area is what truly matters in a good bokeh. The background should not distract our eyes from the actual subject, it should simply become blurred into a creamy, pleasing background.
An unsuccessful bokeh does not have these smooth transitions. There will be an unclear distinction between the subject and the background. Sharp edges on the background do the exact opposite of what a good bokeh should do.
So, why is bokeh popular?
For some reason, humans really dig the creamy look. Along with the clear distinction from the subject to its background. Their eyes will be focused on the subject and not the background.
They simply enjoy the look and the fact that it focuses on the main subject.
Why all of your images don’t need that creamy bokeh look
People enjoy bokeh when it is presented to them, but they also enjoy pictures that do not use bokeh. They are fine without popular bokeh, they enjoy or just do not care enough about the bokeh.
Behind the scenes of every good bokeh you see, there is always a photographer carrying an expensive lens, and heavy, large equipment.
Unless you are taking it from your phone — although we doubt it is a proper bokeh — it is not that worth it. This is one of the reasons that not all your photos need a bokeh look.
While following the hype, people are also starting to slap the bokeh style onto every photo genre possible such as landscapes, candids and many others. You can see the problem — they just do not work together.
Using a creamy bokeh for a stunning landscape photo just does not work. Landscape photos should capture the whole landscape, and how magnificent they are. The idea of adding bokeh to landscape photos just does not stick with us.
Slapping bokeh onto a photo translates into sacrificing the background, composition and time. There could be less information for the audience to look at, they will only see the subject. So, you can start to see why bokeh has both good and bad sides to it.
Using bokeh is like deciding when to eat at an all you can eat buffet. Yes, you could go there every day for three meals a day, but it would quickly become expensive and there would be a lack of variety. The same applies to bokeh. Although you could use it every single time, there are correct times and locations where you can effectively use it. Redundantly using bokeh on your CV or Instagram will just make it boring.
Use bokeh wisely, friends.