Blurred photos are not necessarily bad

There’s still a deep-rooted idea that blurred photos have to be thrown away. I beg to differ.

I saw a picture by Sparadrap and his legend is eloquent:

my idea of fun on new year’s eve: pretending i’m michael ackerman and shoot blurry pictures of people minding their own business.

I may read a bit too much in it, but I always hear in this kind of comments an underlying, unspoken thought, that would be along these lines: Oh I know it’s not really good, but let’s pretend I’m doing it for fun and let’s not comment on the (un)esthetic aspect of it.

I commented there, I will comment here a bit more lengthily.

Here is a picture taken by Stephanie a few months ago:

Kitchen waltz

I love the story this picture tells, of a family having fun for no precise reason at dinner time, of a dad (that would be me) waltzing with his daughter in his arm. And guess what? Stephanie said I failed to take the picture, it’s ugly. Judge for yourself.

Every time I look at it I remember post-war journalists/photographers, taking pictures of normal people in normal situations, doing it more as testimony than as art.

Think of names like Henry Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis and the likes of them. (yes, they have more talent than my girlfriend or me will ever have, but you get my point)

At the time they took their pictures, my take is that they had a dual approach: sometimes they tried to have an artistic and/or esthetic stand with an image, stopped in their tracks and took the time to compose their shot, lighting, etc. Some other times they had to be witnesses of the moment, witnesses of their times, witnesses of their civilisation.

The blur didn’t count. What was told was what mattered.

So let us stop being shy and apologising about our blurry pictures. Some pictures tell other people about our craftsmanship, and some capture a story. That’s not such a bad bargain in itself, is it?


  • Neovov (17 January 2008)

    Hmm.. I’m not particularly right with you.

    I’m not a photographer, I don’t have the "eyes" for (hope you get it right).

    Blurred photos are, most of the time, "missed" because we want to take something or someone at a precise moment. We want to capture this moment. But if it’s blurred, it’s like ghost; we just miss what we want to keep.

    Of course I understand your point of view and share it, but these kinds of photos are not common.

    It’s parts of life, introducing an action, and use the empathy of the viewer. But this is very personal and far away from "beautiful" photos we see every day.

    Reply to Neovov

  • Sparadrap (17 January 2008)

    tu sais, je ne m’excusais pas pour le flou en soi, j’ai passé la phase netteté-à-100%-dans-photoshop depuis un moment.

    c’est un peu dur à expliquer, en fait, mais j’ai tellement été marqué par l’esthétique de Ackerman (surtout dans End Time City), qui est à base de flou et de grain et de hautes lumières éclatées toujours à la limite du lisible, qu’en fait j’ai le genre d’image qu’il ferait en tête avant même de déclencher. un peu comme si je voyais plus des tas de photos potentielles que la vie telle qu’elle se déroule autour de moi.

    Reply to Sparadrap

  • Stéphane (18 January 2008, in reply to Sparadrap)

    So I did read a bit too much in your legend. :)

    Reply to Stéphane

  • Stéphane (18 January 2008, in reply to Neovov)

    But if it’s blurred, it’s like ghost; we just miss what we want to keep.

    Or we don’t. See these ghosts for instance. Sometimes we keep more than we bargained for.

    Reply to Stéphane

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