The beauty of being a photographer, or any type of artist, is constantly having the freedom to express ourselves. We have the ability to lean into areas of our art that we’re drawn to or pull from things we’re inspired by outside of our niche. I’ve been really interested in finding ways I can bring a nostalgic feeling to my photography over the past while. One way I love creating emotional rich photography is through motion blur and soft focus in my imagery.
My approach to blurred imagery is to start by shooting at a time that makes sense. Generally speaking, blurred photos happen when the shutter needs to be slow. A slow shutter is most common when there is less light available. So I take the opportunity to intentionally blur images when I already have little light to work with.
If I am creating a tight frame around my subjects I like to shoot with a smaller aperture to try to keep details of the face in focus (or close to it). I do this so that the viewer can feel the expression on the subjects face(s). That means setting my camera at an aperture of f12 or higher.
Here is a beautiful example, I can friggn’ feel their belly laughs. This photo makes me feel sooo happy!! I shot these photos later in the day, so there wasn’t a lot of ambient light. My camera setting were, f20, 1/13th and ISO 125. I love the motion blur, but the feeling emoting from the images wouldn’t be the same if their ginormous smiles were lost in a blur as well. I also wanted to add a playfulness to Kara and Martin’s story about their weekend spent at Anupaya Cabin Co.
If i’m shooting a wide scene I approach blurred photos slightly differently. I usually adjust my shutter speed first. I choose a speed that will drag the shutter. I like slowing my shutter down to between 1/15th or 1/30th of a second. Then I adjust my aperture to expose the photo how I want.
Below is a stellar example of creating a wide frame around this couple and creating motion from a slow shutter speed. I think the blur adds to the feeling that these two are coming towards us in a really playful way.
A third way to approach motion blur in photography is to create a gorgeous wash of colour over an image. I use my camera to slow the shutter down even further while also slightly moving my camera while a take the photo. This creates a watercolour effect on an image. In the first image, I wanted to capture the warm tones of a Sauble Beach sunset. The second image I wanted to capture the colours in the overgrown field at the Northfork wedding venue.
I think that it is very important to experiment in how we express ourselves through our art too. There is sooooo much value in having art that is recognizably you, but I think there is even more value and fulfillment in pushing yourself forward to grow. How good does it feel to look back and see how far you’ve come!!
I have my go-to settings, composition and way of storytelling. But every single time I shoot I like to have a plan to try a new idea. I like to take risks in how I shoot. A lot of the first attempts fail, they look awful, but sometimes they look insanely beautiful!!! And there is always another opportunity to tweak a new idea and try again.
We can constantly evolve in our art and photography especially when we are actively seeking inspiration and education. If you consider yourself a beginner in the photography world, check out my beginner course. If you’re an experienced photographer, join my mailing list for more details about my portfolio builder series coming again this summer! It’s going to be sooooo GOOD!!!