Bokeh Photography Ideas and Tips

Take a look at these bokeh photography ideas and tips that direct the viewer’s attention to the subject.

Use these tips in addition to basic photography techniques to take your own pictures that use the bokeh technique.

bokeh photo ideas

The photography term “bokeh” refers to the blurring of specific areas of a composition in order to make the subject stand out. 

The effect is generally accomplished through the use of shallow depth of field, or a narrow field of focus.

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  • Camera: check out the compact travel cameras we recommend!
  • Tripod: take a look at these compact and lightweight travel tripods!
  • Camera Bag: protect your camera from sand and water → We use Lowepro camera backpacks for outdoor photography.
  • Neutral density filter: to compensate for variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter.  → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
  • Camera cleaning kit: remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.  
  • Memory cards: purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card!  → We use Lexar and Sandisk!
  • External hard drive: copy photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’. 
  • Headlamp: use when taking sunrise and sunset photos!

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Bokeh Photography Ideas

Take a look at these photography ideas using a bokeh effect shared by members of our Facebook Group, Your Photography Journey.

It’s important to understand how depth of field works in relation to bokeh.

Focus on the Subject

Gerardo Trevino applies the bokeh effect in this heartwarming capture.

Gerardo Trevino focus on the subject

The background is blurred to the point that detail cannot be distinguished when viewing. Doing this allows the focus to be on the subject.

The dog really stands out in contrast, especially in black and white, and draws our eye to the subject of Gerardo’s photograph.

Tony Kendrick uses bokeh in a similar manner to direct our eyes to the subject of this cool photograph. 

Tony Kendrick focus on the subject

The background is blurred to the point that it does not detract attention from the bird, but enough detail remains to provide a sense of natural environment.

A nice sense of depth is also accomplished with the bokeh effect.

Isolation

The bokeh effect is a great tool for isolating a subject from a busy background or environment. 

Allen Simpson applies bokeh skillfully to distinguish a turtle from its grassy surroundings. 

Allen Simpson isolation

The turtle falls nicely into focus, while the background and surrounding elements are all out of focus in varying degrees.

He’s also drawn the viewer to the eye of the subject, which is important when photographing a living subject.

Hoyt Mann uses bokeh to isolate the subject within a busy composition in this stunning and festive capture that tells a story

Hoyt Mann bokeh

The nature and impact of the background is maintained while attention is drawn to the subject in the right side of the photograph. You can just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too.

Abstract

Diane Kabbeko has created an interesting abstract photograph utilizing the unique characteristics of bokeh application.

Diane Kabbeko bokeh abstract

The details of the entire capture are nicely blurred and our attention is directed to the abstract pattern imposed by the elements of the composition.

Close Up

The bokeh effect is great for focusing attention and establishing depth in close up or macro shots. 

Kathleen Spatuzzi bokeh subject closup

Kathleen Spatuzzi’s interesting capture uses a beautiful bokeh to focus attention on the subject and a strong sense of depth is felt in the photograph.

You can see the minute details and patterns of the lock as well as the subtle spider web!

Kevin Hehl isolates a part of the whole subject and shows natural depth in his beautiful capture. 

Kevin Hehl bokeh flower sun

The bokeh effect on the background is light enough that we have an immediate sense of the environment captured, and strong enough that the subject stands out in the composition.

AMAZON Landscape Photography Books:

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Were you inspired by these photos?

Every week in our Facebook group (Your Photography Journey), we have a challenge that focuses on an element of composition. Understanding these simple elements will help you improve your photography skills!

→ DOWNLOAD our 52 Week Photography Challenge List!

We also do video Photo Reviews each week to discuss compositional elements on the photos group members want us to review, similar to the video we included in this article.

Our group members find the reviews very helpful – see what they have to say! We’d love to have you join us!

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