Have you ever wondered how professional photographers achieve that dreamy, blurred background in their photos? It’s called bokeh, and it’s a technique that can add depth and visual interest to your images. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about bokeh, from what it is to how to achieve it in your own photography.

What is Bokeh?

Bokeh refers to the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas in a photograph. It’s often characterized by soft, blurred circles of light that appear behind the subject, creating a sense of depth and separation between the subject and the background.

Why is Bokeh Desirable?

Bokeh can elevate your photography by adding a beautiful, creamy background that helps draw the viewer’s attention to the subject. It’s particularly useful in portrait photography, where the subject is the main focus and the background serves as a complementary element. Bokeh can also be used to create a sense of mystery and intrigue, as well as to isolate the subject from any distracting elements.

Factors Affecting Bokeh

Several factors influence the appearance of bokeh in your photos:

  • The aperture: A wider aperture (smaller f-stop number) produces a shallower depth of field and a stronger bokeh effect.
  • The distance between the subject and the background: Increasing the distance between the subject and the background creates a stronger bokeh effect.
  • The distance between the lens and the subject: Getting closer to your subject while maintaining the same distance between the subject and the background can also enhance the bokeh effect.
  • The focal length of the lens: Longer focal lengths tend to produce a more pronounced bokeh effect.

How to Achieve Bokeh

To achieve beautiful bokeh in your photos, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a lens with a wide maximum aperture. Prime lenses with low f-stop numbers (such as f/1.8 or f/1.4) are ideal for achieving a shallow depth of field and strong bokeh.
  2. Select a subject that stands out from the background. The contrast between the subject and the background will make the bokeh effect more pronounced.
  3. Position your subject away from the background. Increase the distance between the subject and the background to create a stronger bokeh effect.
  4. Open up the aperture. Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode (usually marked as ‘A’ or ‘Av’) and choose a wide aperture setting (smaller f-stop number) to create a shallow depth of field.
  5. Compose your shot. Pay attention to the placement of the subject and the background. Make sure there are no distracting elements that could take away from the bokeh effect.
  6. Focus on the subject. Use autofocus or manual focus to ensure the subject is sharp and in focus.
  7. Capture the shot. Press the shutter button and review the image to check if you’re happy with the bokeh effect. Make adjustments as necessary.


Bokeh is a fantastic technique that can make your photos stand out and add a touch of magic to your photography. By understanding the factors that influence bokeh and following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to capturing stunning images with beautiful background blur.

For more information on photography equipment, be sure to check out our choosing studio lights guide.