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What even is intentional blur photography and since when did blur turn out to be a good element for your photographs? We get it – after years of conditioning to master the art of taking sharp images, the thought of adding intentional blur to your pictures could sound a bit perplexing. But as we gradually progress through this article, we’ll learn, when added strategically, how “blur” can be just the wow factor you might need to make your images stand out. Experimenting with the blurry photography style could capture fleeting moments in your frame or make memories appear timeless. Moreover, adding an intentional photo blur is more than just a happy accident; it is a style mastered with precision built on practice.

What Is In An Intentional Blur?

infographic stating an intentional photo blur is more than just a happy accident

To simplify, intentional photo blur is a strategic addition of blur of any form in an image through the means of intentional camera movement or subject motion in order to introduce a sense of ongoing movement. This creative side of photography is often explored so as to make memories come alive with the tasteful blend of moments and movement. And the skillful mastering of this technique could easily add an ethereal effect to your signature style.

How To Add An Intentional Blur To Your Wedding Photographs?

How to make your photo look blurry in a pleasing way? We found that the proper combination of the following four factors can do the trick.

  1. Lighting: Ever wondered if low-light situations can be of help to your photography style? Well, they can, especially when you are shooting at a slower shutter speed. A slow shutter speed allows the lens to be exposed to the available light for a longer period of time; therefore, it could lead to slight overexposure if the lighting is too much. Some of the best times to capture such photographs are during the early hours of the day or at dusk. Moreover, try to make creative use of the ambient light as well.

  2. Movement: Introducing a sense of movement and focusing on the direction of the movement is also an important focus area. First, the movement can be introduced by either the subject being in motion or by intentionally moving the camera. Both of which can result in different types of blurs. Moreover, be mindful of the direction of movement. Not every kind of movement looks good when captured as a blur. Often haywire movement or motion in the frame can create an absurd frame, leading to a jumbled-up scene.

  3. Shutter Speed: Before you begin experimenting with this blurry photography style, set your camera to operate in manual mode, especially, the shutter speed. In order to create a photo blur, try experimenting with different slower shutter speeds and monitor which one provides the desired result. However, in a classic motion blur photography scenario where you wish to freeze the subject in action with a background blur, it is essential to make sure that the camera is stabilized.

  4. Colors: When action blends as a blur, an image can appear somewhat similar to a painting. What gives the effect? The blend of colors in the scene – whether in the background or the subject. When colors that complement each other are put together in a blend of unfocused scenes, it can create a visually drawing scene.

Intentional blur photography can work wonders if you learn how to use it right. What distinguishes a crappy blur from a work of art? As it turns out, the rightful blend of lighting and colors, movement (direction of movement), and the camera settings.

Suggested Read: Photographing Couples In Motion: Inspiration From ShootDotEdit Customers

Creative Blur Techniques

When it comes to incorporating the blurry photography style into action, the options are multifold. Keeping in mind the four fundamental aspects described above, one can simply experiment with various applications. Given below are some of the ways you can creatively use this style.

1. Panning: Intentional Camera Blur

Panning is the movement of the camera from left to right or right to left direction either via hand movements or a tripod. This intentional camera movement when paired with the right camera settings such as a slower shutter speed can create a background blur as well as display the subject’s moving parts as an intentional motion blur. However, it is important to consider how fast is the subject and the background moving and adjust your shutter speed accordingly.

a newlywed couple holding hands and watching a fireworks display
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jorgesantiagophoto

Ask yourself, what is it that you wish to bring attention to? The subject or the background? If it is the subject, then the aforementioned trick can work well. However, if you wish to focus on the background, try to stabilize the camera while allowing the subject to be in motion and the background to stand still. This type of blur can also include an abstract element, therefore, allowing the audience to depict meaning out of it based on their own perception.

2. Be Selective With Your Focus

Being intentional with your scene also means being selective with your focus. One such example of this technique is the bokeh effect. In bokeh, the background is photo blurred all the while drawing sharp focus to the subject. But not all bokeh looks good. So what is the difference between a good bokeh and a bad one? As it turns out, your choice of lens plays a major role in creating high-end bokeh. In addition to that, a good bokeh often has a smooth and softer background blur where light blends into smaller blurred-out circles.

Related Read: Creative Uses Of Narrow Depth Of Field: Images By ShootDotEdit Customers

3. Zoom Blur

a couple kissing in the middle of a street while the surrounding is motion blurred
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jorgesantiagophoto

This creative blur technique allows the edges of a photograph to blur out, all the while keeping the center of the image in focus. This can be done by either zooming in on a scene all the while setting a slow enough shutter speed. When done successfully, it gives away the feeling of forwarding motion or a starburst effect that gives away the sense of moving into a tunnel. It often works well when your main subject is placed at the center of the screen and you wish the rest of the scene to fade out. To make the most of such a scenario, try introducing flash to the scene and direct it on the subject. By flashing more light in that direction, it will gravitate the viewer’s attention toward the subject.

4. Light Paintings

Another creative use of a blurry photography style can be light paintings. Just as the name suggests, this style allows you to literally paint with the use of artificial light. The three components required to make it possible include a dark scene, a movement of the light source, and setting your camera to capture a long exposure. You can incorporate this into your workflow during couples portraits in the dark or even during wedding reception dance scenes (especially if the guests are holding glowsticks). To make the best use of this creative blur technique, set up your camera to blub mode.

Intentional Blur Photography Inspiration From ShootDotEdit Customers

We have curated a list of photographs featuring ShootDotEdit customers to help you draw inspiration on how to include intentional blur in a wedding scene.

1. Wild Trail Studio

a bride twirls in her wedding dress while the groom looks at her smiling
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer

This gorgeous monochrome image during a wedding reception is a beautiful snippet from the couple’s first dance hinting at just the right essence of motion. With the background and the groom still as the bride twirls along with the frills of her wedding dress makes for such as dreamy wedding shot.

a couple kissing in the foreground while their friends are visible in the background
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer

This image by Wild Trail Studio highlights the creative and smart use of selective focus and intentional blurring. Moreover, the right framing and the priceless expressions of the bridesmaid and the groomsmen further add to the scene.

2. Abul Wedding Photography

a intentional blurry image of a couple looking at each other while the bridal veil floats in air
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer

Ever thought an image could work with the subject blurred? Well, with the right combination of tactful framing, subtle colors, soft light, and camera settings, Abul just made it a reality with this photograph.

3. Olson Design Photography

a black and white image of a couple embracing each other
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @olsondesignphotography

Everything about this image has ‘dreamy’ written all over it! It is also a wonderful example of how you can introduce blur into an image even without wanting to highlight a movement. And how a moment comes alive by adding a little bit of blur.

a couple kissing in the middle while their friends roam around them in a circle
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @olsondesignphotography

By introducing motion blur, Olson Design Photography transformed this scene from a classic couple’s pose with bridesmaids and groomsmen to an absolute stunner. We wonder about the multiple takes that lead to this masterpiece and applaud the photographer’s creative instincts.

a bride in wedding attire holding the hand of the groom
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @olsondesignphotography

Want to introduce intentional subject blur in an artistic manner? You can draw inspiration from this image by Olson Design Photography. The color scheme, the hint of movement, and the tasteful addition of grain – everything works to add an ethereal effect to this scene.

4. Brandi Allyse Photo

a mole's eye view of couple holding hands and a airplane can be seen between them
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @brandiallysephoto

Talk about experimenting with a unique camera angle + adding an intentional blur in the best possible way – Brandi Allyse managed to blend all the elements into this stellar frame. 

Further Read: Photography Angles & Techniques: Understanding POV, Framing, & Composition

Practice & Keep Experimenting

There is no doubt that making use of intentional blur photography can be tricky. For every creatively blurred image, there is a chance that you might end up with many badly blurred pictures. However, the trick to mastering the blurry photography style lies in constant practice. Especially if you wish to showcase it as your signature style to your clients. The more you practice creative blur in different scenarios, the more likely you are to get better at it. Moreover, even though the above-mentioned techniques can help you start your journey to introduce strategic blur in your photographs, experimenting will keep you going. 

Here at ShootDotEdit, we always aim to keep you up to date on the latest trends and information on the wedding photography industry. We also look forward to helping you lessen the photo editing load by taking it off your workflow. Take a look at how we can be of help to you by checking our pricing plans.

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