Background Zoom Blur Tutorial for Great Portraits

One of the most common mistakes beginner photographers make is by concentrating too hard on their focus point or subject and neglecting the rest of their image. While the subject is an essential part of your photo, your background is just as vital. The background is an incredibly important control in your image that will guide your viewer and tell them where they should look. A common photography technique used to sharpen the focus on the subject is to blur the background. While this can be accomplished using a prime lens, not every photographer owns one (or always has one on hand). In this helpful two minute tutorial, photographer David Bergman shows how you can achieve this same technique without having to purchase a specific lens:

To help blur your background and highlight your subject, you will need to remember the three important areas that affect background sharpness:

  • Aperture
  • Distance between the background and your subject
  • Focal length of your camera lens
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Photographer David Bergman shows how blurring the background can make your subject pop.

When you take a picture up close to your subject with your zoom lens zoomed all the way out, you will have a very clear background.

To counteract this and achieve the perfect background blur, Bergman suggests zooming in your lens as far as it goes. Then, slowly take small steps backing your body away from the subject until your image is framed how you want it. In most cases, your goal will be to fill as much of the frame as possible. Keep in mind the longer the zoom lens you have, the more out of focus the background will become.

Try this technique and let us know if you see improvements in your portrait photography!

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