5 Ways to Minimize Depth of Field for Photos with a Soft Blurry Background (VIDEO)

Whether you’re shooting portraits or other outdoor scenes with a prominent foregoing object, you can draw attention to the main subject by minimizing depth-of-field. This technique can also add an artistic flair to your images.

In the quick tutorial below, you’ll learn how to achieve a soft background and enhance bokeh with whatever lens you use. According to instructor Pye Jirsa of SLR Lounge, “Shallow depth of field is a great way to pull focus straight to your subject by blurring the background.”

In just nine minutes Jirsa demonstrates five simple tips for getting the job done. And while most photographers reach for a fast prime lens when they desire shallow depth-of-field, Jirsa explains how to achieve this effect when using an f/2.8 zoom lens instead.

This episode is about shooting techniques, lens choice, and a few in-camera tips for achieving the desired result. To make his portrait shoot challenging, Jirsa intentionally chose a scene with a busy background containing a number of distracting elements.

The goal is to bring attention to his model by achieving strong background blur, and Jirsa’s first bit of advice involves shooting from a low angle and shifting the camera angle to create more distance between his model and the background.

Next Jirsa explains how backlighting the scene affects the look he’s attempting to achieve. He also demonstrates why camera-to-subject-distance is a particularly critical concern when shooting at a wide focal length with a slower lens.

Jirsa’s other tips include the technique of stepping back and zooming in on a subject, and why it can help to add secondary foreground elements—especially in backlit scenes. So take a look at the video for complete details on Jirsa’s helpful tips.

There is much more to learn on Jirsa’s YouTube channel, and in a recent tutorial we posted, demonstrating the pros and cons of DSLR and mirrorless cameras for portrait photography.