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A collage of two images showing creative uses of narrow depth of field by ShootDotEdit customers
If you are playing with sharp or blur effects of your images, you are probably experimenting with depth of field – a photography technique that can be defined as the nearest and the farthest areas in focus of your camera lens while taking an image. A deep depth of field might help you create images with a sharp and clear background, giving the viewer a sense of the depth and distance other objects in the image have from the subject. However, if your images have a blurry effect, with only the subject or a portion of the image in focus, then it is most likely the doing of a shallow or narrow depth of field. And many photographers are hugely drawn to the charm that blurry backdrops lend to an image. From giving your images a dreamy look to enhancing your visual style, there are many creative uses of narrow depth of field. If you too want to use this photography style to create some stellar shots and are looking for inspiration, we’ve shared some lovely images created by some of our ShootDotEdit customers.

 

11 EXAMPLES OF CREATIVE USES OF NARROW DEPTH OF FIELD

With either the foreground or the background of your image blurred, you can cut out the noise and bring out the essence of the scene or the occasion. By eliminating distractions from the image, this technique helps you highlight a specific part in your image and connect the viewer directly with the subject in your photo. Check out all the gorgeous photos featured in this blog, showcasing the beauty of the narrow depth of field and its cinematic effect on images.

1. Sara France Photography

A girl posing wearing a hoodie with a guy sitting on a bicycle in the background
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @sarafrance


This is another beautiful example of creative use of narrow depth of field in images. Created by our customer Sara France of Sara France Photography, this engagement image uses depth of field creatively to keep the main subject in focus while putting the background slightly out of focus and still keeping it clear enough for the viewer to be able to identify what it is.

2. Diane Nicole Photography

A close shot of three wedding rings with black background
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @dianenicolephoto


Shallow or narrow depth of field has been used creatively in this ring shot created by SDE customer Diane Clifford of Diane Nicole Photography. It uses a similar technique by keeping the main subject (the ring) in focus while ensuring that the object in the background is identifiable but not too sharp to distract the viewer’s eyes. Also, what accentuates the dazzling beauty of the glittering rings is the solid black background or negative space.

3. Breonna Wells Photography

An over the shoulder shot of a bride reading a letter from the groom
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @breonnawellsphotography


SDE customer Breonna Wells of Breonna Wells Photography took this lovely picture of the bride reading the vows (or letter from the groom) by deftly using a narrow depth of field. Breonna kept the piece of paper in focus while resorting to an over-the-shoulder camera angle to draw in the viewer into the image, keeping the bride still in the frame but as a blurred outline. This effect can also be achieved with a tilt shift lens, which is a great custom lens that photographers use to achieve a creative depth of field.

4. Flavio D Photography

A couple photographed posing holding each other through a smiley painted glass
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @flavio_d_photography


Woah! Just look at those brightly colored smiley faces out there. This image by Flavio DeBarros of Flavio D Photography uses shallow depth of field to create space for the subject and frame them using foreground elements. This looks like it was shot through a fence that had decorations on it – you can just see faint lines of the fence against the bride-to-be’s hair if you look closely. That’s such a creative use of narrow depth of field to add some elements of interest to the image!

5. IQ Photo

A bride posing on a high vantage point in front of a cityscape
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @iqphoto


This fantastic image of the bride with the city view showcases a very unique use of narrow depth of field where the subject in the foreground is out of focus and the background gets the focus. Created by SDE customer Josef Kohn of IQ Photo, the image communicates a sense of place while still staying true to its subject (the bride) and never losing focus (both literally and figuratively!) of the visual story it aims to narrate.

6. Brandi Allyse Photo

A worm's eye view of a couple holding hands and an airplane flying
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @brandiallysephoto


It’s a bird – no, it’s a plane and an amazingly creative capture! And a great example of how the narrow depth of field effect can elevate your image to the next level. This photo taken by our customer Brandi Allyse Salerno of Brandi Allyse Photo showcases a couple locking hands while staying out of focus as an airplane in focus flies right above them, with the couple doubling up as a natural frame for the object in the center. What a wow image not only because of the creative visualization and use of the depth of field but also because of the position the photographer had to take to capture this shot!

7. Looyenga Photo

A couple holding each other with a bokeh background
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto


You say a fairy-tale effect of narrow depth of field; we say look at this image by SDE customer Brent Looyenga of Looyenga Photo. This image may have been created with a special filter that goes on a lens that makes lights turn to orbs, or it could have been done with a lens at 1.4 or 1.8 and shot through many layers of twinkle lights, with the sharp focus falling right on the couple. Just stellar!

8. Wild Trail Studio

A monochrome close up shot of a couple kissing
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @brianbossany


Such an adorable black and white image of the groom planting a kiss on the lips of his beautiful bride, with the bridal party cheering and showering their love on the couple beautifully encircled by the natural border formed by the couple. This image is a great creative use of narrow depth of field by our customer Brian Bossany of Wild Trail Studio. This could be done with a 24-70 or 70-200 at 2.8, or again a lens at 1.4 or 1.8.

9. Infinite Loop Photography

A shot of a couple holding each other taken through the frame of a railing
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @infiniteloopphoto


This awe-inspiring image by SDE customer Jerry Cantave of Infinite Loop Photography uses the architectural elements of the structure to frame the couple at the center. It gives the molded posts some room to breathe on the left and the right and shows what the foreground elements are in greater detail, keeping the pillars out of focus. The whole composition is so pleasing to the eyes.

10. Robb Mccormick Photography

A monochrome portrait of a groom smoking cigar
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography


Our customer Robb McCormick of Robb McCormick Photography creatively used a narrow depth of field in this photo to depict a great groom and groomsmen portrait. He showcased the groom – sharp and in focus – but the gentleman in the background and his cigar smoke trail still clearly identifiable but sketchy and out of focus. So dramatic and so striking!

11. Laibel Schwartz Photography

A silhouette of a bride and groom posing with a bokeh background
Image Credit: @laibelschwartzphotography


In this image, depth of field is creatively used to make the lights in the background look like glittering orbs. It’s such a beautiful silhouette of a couple created by SDE customer Laibel and Chana Schwartz of Laibel Schwartz Photography. This was likely taken from a distance using a 70-200mm lens at 2.8 or a 1.4 or 1.8f stop on a lens rated for that.

Tips To Creatively Use Narrow Depth Of Field

  1. If you’re just a beginner and want to experiment with shallow depth of field, you can use the Portrait mode on your camera. This will increase the aperture and give you a narrower depth of field. This tip would be helpful in a situation where you’re feeling lost, but if you are looking to improve your manual photography skills, this technique might not be as useful. What should you do to better your skills then? Read the tips discussed below and find out.
  2. Use a wide aperture lens. Instead of using expensive wide-aperture zoom lenses, you can also use prime lenses that can help you achieve the same results at lower costs.
  3. Since you will be shooting with a wide aperture, your images could turn out to be overexposed if you happen to work in harsh sunlight. To avoid this, use an ND filter that will cut out incoming light and act as sunglasses for your camera lens.
  4. Use Telephoto lenses as they have a more narrow depth of field as compared to their wider counterparts.
  5. Create distance between your subject and other elements in the shot. This will help you increase the background blur more easily. 
  6. You can also move your subject close to your camera rather than moving the other elements away. This will create a pseudo macro environment and allow you to make your backdrop blurrier.
  7. Use a full-frame camera as these cameras are capable of creating a shallower or narrower depth of field when compared with a cropped sensor camera.
  8. This is not a mandatory rule, but you may choose to focus on the eyes of your subject when creating such images. Eyes can act as a great focus point, helping you easily blur the elements in the background.
  9. To get perfect shots each time and take your image production to the next level, you may consider using a portable monitor that is larger than your camera LCD. This will display your shots better and help you check focus grids, which is essential when creating photos with a narrow depth of field.
  10. You can use follow focus to help you make manual adjustments to the focus of your lens. Overshooting or undershooting your focus points could be a common issue when you adjust the focus with your hands while working with a shallow depth of field. In this scenario, a follow focus can help you make precise changes.

Further Read: Photography Basics For Beginners: All About Depth Of Field

Speaking of the images, we found all of them to be super impressive and great examples of creative uses of narrow depth of field. (Of course, that’s why they made it to our list here.) We hope you also loved scrolling through them and observing all the big and small details as much as we loved sharing such lovely pieces of artistically created images with you. For your next engagement session or wedding assignment, you can incorporate some shallow depth of field shots to wow your clients with some sublime and ethereal images. If you are looking for more wedding photography inspiration, we have lots in our blog section. Check it out to get a glimpse of incredible images by SDE customers, funny photography quotes, tips, and a lot more.

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing tips, tricks, and photography-related ideas that can help wedding photographers like you hone your craft. We also love aiding your business growth by providing you with professional photo editing services. With your post-production workload cut down, you could devote your time picking up new skills, scaling your business, or even indulging in some leisurely activities. To learn more about our services, you can take a look at our pricing plans.

 


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