On the Aesthetics of Blurry Photographs

One of the hardest things I’ve dealt with thus far in my photography is utilizing post production. If you were to go through my images you’d see very little altering of the actual picture taken. There are two good reasons for this:


1) I Don’t Know How

I own a copy of Photoshop CS2 with the equivalent version of Illustrator and some nifty plugins. However I don’t really know a whole lot about what all I can do with the program which is an issue I plan on correcting very soon. Hopefully this fall I’ll be able to take a class or two on it and learn enough that I can make some adjustments to my photos aside from auto correcting out the white wash that occasionally happens. So while this is at least some part of why I don’t use a lot of post work, the more important reason however is:

2) It Feels Wrong

This may be snooty to some degree, but the idea of taking a crappy picture and turning it into something you’d see on the front page of Time or National Geographic seems like cheating. Why not just get better at using a camera and take better pictures? This isn’t to say that all people who use an editor are trash photographers, or hacks or anything of the sort. As I mentioned earlier, I use it myself (even though I’m kind of a hack at this stage). I don’t see any real issue with things like color correction, or converting an image to black and white, etc. My problem lies with the mashing together of multiple images plus legitimate graphic design level alters to those images to make them look like one clean take. Worse yet, the person who claims it was a single photo and that they made a painstaking effort to capture that “perfect shot.” No you didn’t you liar. Your effort was all in the post work to engineer that “perfect shot”. Don’t claim you somehow captured a perfect Milky Way with two eagles fighting in front of a tattered American Flag. That shit didn’t happen and you’re an asshole.

To me, what makes a picture so great is the tiny imperfections. The slight blur from a nervous hand, the animal that cut into the frame to see what you’re doing, the shocked look on someones face when they catch you trying to photograph their proposal, etc. Those things show you were there. That you had the vision and the patience to attempt to catch (or wait out) something real and capture a true moment.


I find when trying to capture something awesome, conditions are seldom on my side. Birds don’t tend to want to sit around and wait till I get a good picture. Lizards and butterflies aren’t okay with me getting all up in their business to get a great macro shot (although there are exceptions). So sometimes a photo that seems perfect comes out a little less so because things move, or the wind blows, or you’re so excited you can’t keep your camera steady. It happens. It’s also why all of my photos will inevitably be “not perfect”. Unfortunately I don’t think that is a marketable style, so I may just have to invest in a copy of PS for dummies. Or I suppose I can always just eat my principles. Those have to have some kind of nutritional value right?


I guess it’s worth making clear I by no means consider myself some kind of starving artist. Or an artist for that matter. I do however have a fondness for art, and for photography. With both things, I’ve always found raw, emotional works substantially  more appealing than clean, crisp stuff. So this is really just some guys opinion. What does everyone else think? Leave a comment, let me know. Thanks for reading.



P.S. the photo in question that sparked this post. I had a great shot and this wonderfully colorful fella just kept flying closer and closer. For whatever reason though, every picture I snapped came out just a little bit blurry. Grr. Next time, bird. Next time.



3 thoughts on “On the Aesthetics of Blurry Photographs

  1. That’s a Western Tanager! With my binoculars I saw one in the top of a tall Ponderosa Pine not far from the Grand Canyon. It was brilliantly illuminated by the light of the late afternoon sun. Truly a stunning bird. It was too far away for a picture with my IPhone. (laugh track here)


    • Paul! Thank you so much. I always hoped someone would actually pop in and tell me what these things are. I saw it when hiking up here in northern Utah and had thought I’ve never seen a bird so colorful.

      It’s always a good day when you learn something new.


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