enter image description here

My wife told me is a trend to aim out of focus on portrait shot. Maybe like focus on the background and let the main subject look blurred.
Is there such trend?
What kind of photography is this?
Anyway, this photo got hundreds of likes.

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ There's also a trend for man buns. Just becaues there's a trend, doesn't mean it has to be good. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2018 at 7:31
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ the name of this kind of photography is: bad. For your example, that's not an out-of-focus portrait, that's an out-of-focus everything. And for the number of likes, someone with lots of followers could post a picture of a dirty toilet bowl and still get tons of likes, that doesn't means there is any interest in the picture \$\endgroup\$
    – jhamon
    Oct 12, 2018 at 8:27
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Related Why did “pure” photography displace pictoralism so completely? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Oct 12, 2018 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tweaked for a bit of formatting, but can anyone think of a 'better' title? One that's perhaps not quite so speculative, as from the answers there would seem to be something answerable without distorting the OP's intent too far. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 13, 2018 at 11:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetsujin I think something like "is it possible to shoot a good portrait with the person oof?" Or (possibly going too far) "what should I consider in taking oof portraits?" Sucks op appears to have left. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Oct 13, 2018 at 14:08

2 Answers 2


I don't think there is any such trend. However, there are ways to use focus, or out of focus, to create interesting photographs. See this article at digital-photography-school.com

Some of these approach modern art for me (meh) but others are quite good. Take for instance this shot:

Or this one:

The person may be oof but they're not quite the subject, are they? The point of these shots is to make something else the subject, while using the person to add context and interest.

In the case of your portraits, try having your subject do what they love: play an instrument, sport, game, etc. Then, make the thing the subject and experiment with that.


Caution: may contain cynicism... & soft toys ;)

Is there a trend towards out-of-focus pictures?

Yes, inevitably, even if not intentionally.

As more & more people have access to photographic equipment [phones] & the ability to post the results of their efforts to social media, the eventual trend must be towards worse pictures.
Most people are not discerning over exactly what constitutes a 'good' picture & will post anything they think might be 'interesting'.
Watching someone on their phone scrolling down through their morning's social media inbox & 'liking' every other post has never stuck me as being the most analytical review of their peers' imagery.

Worse - If enough people post similarly poor images, someone is bound to consider it 'a trend' & start to copy it - though I'd have thought even the cheapest phone could have got at least one area of the shot in focus.

So... is it really a trend - probably not one that serious photographers are going to be following any time soon.
What makes it a trend at all isn't that the average person takes worse photos than they did when all people had were instamatics, it's merely that they can publish the results far more widely.

More seriously...
I do think there is a huge difference between pushing everything quite specifically out of focus, or moving the centre of attention by selective focus, vs simply 'getting it wrong'.
If even the sharpest parts are still slightly out of focus, as in the OP's image, then what you are left with is a bad photo, no matter what the intent. If either the flower or the near part of the rock formation had been sharp, then it would have told a different story.

A quick artist's impression - the bear & bookcase make a cameo appearance...

Below these first 4, then maybe I'll take a more serious look... but please forgive that these are all really quick examples, not meant to be 'works of art' in their own right ;)

Right click, open in new tab for larger sizes

The bear.
enter image description here

The bookcase - oops, "What ya reading' fer...?"
enter image description here

The surprise Kitty incursion!
enter image description here

The photo-bomb
enter image description here

Now, some of those may have some [small] artistic merit, but to my mind, 2 of them definitely have none - unless you're wildly interested in what types of book I read & how many of those are actually first editions ;-) [1]

Selective focus can be useful if you want to specifically draw attention to a feature or area not usually the one the eye would be drawn to first.

Maybe we want to show off his foot...
enter image description here

Rather than the more traditional approach
enter image description here

For a movie, there is a lot to be said for the reveal; starting soft, maybe backlit, then pulling to bring the hero into sharp relief...
I think this is harder to pull off in stills - but I'll leave it to you to decide.
enter image description here

enter image description here

[1] For the true anoraks, the entire top row that you can only see part of are all first editions, some signed

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ My wife also likes blurry shots because her lines aren't as visible. \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Oct 12, 2018 at 7:13
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ My partner too. I do that in post, or through clever lighting [or both]. I try hard not to do it by taking crap photos with absolutely nothing in focus & hoping all my farcebork "friends" will "like" it :p \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 12, 2018 at 9:04
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Funny thought: with face recognition these days it actually takes more work to cause an oof shot. Didn't you know? More work = more artsy = better photo. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Oct 12, 2018 at 12:51
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ An additional +1 for the bear and the Kitty :) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2018 at 13:36
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "The surprise Kitty incursion!" \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Oct 12, 2018 at 22:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.