I don’t know about you, but I adore a blurry photograph. I just love the sumptuous texture blur gives an image and how it can completely change the feel of something that could otherwise be quite ordinary. From the beautiful and soft to the wild and creepy, intentional blur completely holds my heart. I find myself drawn to it time and again. I yearn to include blur in my work and I often seek out other artists who do the same.
If I find myself stuck in a creative rut it is usually blur that pulls me out. There are so many ways to create that gorgeous blurry effect that whether you choose freelensing, slow shutter speeds, tilt shift lenses or one of the other myriad of options, there is always a technique that can be played with to create exactly the effect you are after. In fact, I love blur so much, I wanted to spread the love and share some tips that might inspire you to create some blurry images too. Below are some of the things I think about when I decide to embrace the blur and some of my own examples. I hope they help you to embrace the blur too.
Where do you want the focus of your image to be? Does there need to be a focal point at all? How abstract do you want to get? In this image (gappy tooth smile) I wanted the focus to be on his mouth. This is a really personal image to me because I missed him losing his first tooth due to an unexpected hospital stay. I had to document his second one and I really wanted that focus on his gappy toothed smile. Freelensing allowed me to give his smile front and centre stage while the rest of his gorgeousness (I am totally biased but he is gorgeous!) melted away.
What feelings are you trying to evoke? Could blur help you tell the story that goes with the emotion? In the following images I wanted to create clear feelings of nostalgia and movement, taking the viewer straight back to their childhood. In the first image I used a slightly slower shutter speed than usual to enhance the motion. I didn’t want to freeze their play, but I did want to freeze the emotion that went with the moment. That sense of movement, combined with the black and white edit, transport the viewer back to childhood and it’s forever moving pace. In the second image I have used freelensing to create a soft central focus on the girl looking at the camera. The rest of the frame has become distorted and out of focus as if in a dream. Because of the blur you still get a feeling of movement and, combined with the black and white, a strong sense of nostalgia pulls through. For me, this image has the exact feeling of a memory, one that isn’t quite sharp, that is becoming hazy but is still much loved and cherished.
Blur can be a powerful tool, not simply for creating feeling and emotions but also for portraying specific ideas as well. In this image I used a slow shutter speed and then shook my head once the shutter was pressed to create the distorted face. I wanted to express the hazy connection we have with the past and that feeling that, even when you know the stories about your ancestors, they rarely become tangible objects that have a clear focus in your mind.
In this black & white image have used a tilt shift lens to create a heavily blurred image. There is a sliver of focus across the shoulder, but I was aiming for a chaotic hazy feel to represent the feelings of post-natal depression. I intentionally blurred the baby to try and portray the disconnect a mother often feels with her baby when she is going through PND.
Just for the sake of it – Of course, sometimes you just want to play. I created this image for a travelling dress project I am part of, and I simply wanted to play with creative ideas. I used the colour and the shapes to place my subject, asked her to swish her dress and then freelensed until I got the desired effect. The image was never meant to say anything, it was simply a fun experiment, a way for me to learn and grow as an artist. I actually really like this image, and the fact that the subject is anonymous. I like the mystery of it, but, even if I didn’t it wouldn’t matter. It was the process of creating, collaborating and freelensing that was important for me in this shot. Sometimes, aiming for a bit of blur in your images can really free up your process and help you to let go of perfection. It can give you a new way of looking at the world.
For me, using intentional blur is about making creative choices and taking control of my art. It is freeing and uniting all at the same time. Plus, I just love the aesthetic of it, it’s often otherworldly feel. Can’t you tell? I just love it!
I hope I have inspired you to give it a go and I can’t wait to see what you all create!