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Quick Tip: Blurry Background Portraits

Everybody wants those portraits with the soft, blurry background. Well I’ve got a few quick tips to help you achieve that look.

blurry background portrait
Photo by Casey Fatchett –

That beautiful, creamy, blurry background quality has a name…and that name is bokeh!

In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə or /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay; Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.

Webster’s Dictionary

Here 4 tips to achieve that beautiful blurry background in your photos

1. Lower Your Aperture

blurry background portraits

Your aperture setting effects what is known as ‘depth of field’. The lower your aperture, the less is in focus. But be careful, it also means that you have to be careful that whatever you’re trying to photograph stays in focus too!

2. Move Closer to Your Subject

photography tips blurry background portraits

The farther you are from your subject, the larger the focal plane they are standing in, meaning more of what is around them will be in focus. So, get in a bit closer, unless you’ve got a 200mm f/2 lens.

3. Move Your Subject Away From the Background

blurry background portrait photography tips

The closer your subject is to the background, the more in focus it will be. Moving your subject away from the background increases the blur since it is more removed from the focal plane.

4. Use a Longer Focal Length Lens

If you’re looking for beautiful, creamy backgrounds in your portraits, you really need to use a longer focal length lens. 85mm and up is the general rule. These lenses compress the background of the image, making it appear closer to the subject, and highlighting the blurry nature of a shallow depth of field.

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The Nerdy Photographer

With more than a quarter century as a professional photographer, The Nerdy Photographer's goal is to spread knowledge and laughter throughout the photo industry. Please follow along on social media and subscribe to the podcast.

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