To Blur, or Not to Blur …

I’ve often wondered what makes a successful image, let alone a successful blurred image, as some of my personal favorite images contain a fair amount of motion blur – that’s blur from motion in both the camera and the subject.

This either happens on purpose, or more often than not, accidentally due to fraction of a second reaction times to catch a particular scene while being unprepared for the prevailing lighting conditions. This accidental blur image (right) was taken with my iPhone 6 while on a moving escalator, while the elevator was travelling downwards. Somehow, I love this shot, and with a small amount of tweaking thanks to VSCO,  I especially love the tones.

All of the following images from Hanoi were shot to blur on purpose, at a time when I got a bit fed-up with my usual, focused approach and pushed myself to try and capture completely spontaneous shots without thinking too much about it – a bit like Lomography philosophy, but with a distinct impressionist result.

Sometimes blur results purely through human error, carelessness and bad cameramanship (if that's a word). This can result in images like this botched panning attempt below (which I also rather like) and, more often, out of focus main subjects (left). Not looking for any excuses, I can understand that out of focus subjects can be a big issue in the commercial photography world, but is a less-than-tack-sharp street photo really bad if it still serves the purpose of capturing and conveying a particular special moment that would’ve otherwise been lost forever?


Some of the result of any of the above (in my humble but biased opinion) are quite interesting, artistic and aesthetically appealing. Why is it then that whenever I post images like these on social media, the responses are hardly ever overwhelmingly positive? This makes me wonder if this is because we are obsessed with sharpness (or at best, software-generated blur by design to create faux tilt-shift and pinhole effects), or whether these really are just bad or mildly appealing images, or is it simply not the “right” audience? What am I missing?

What’s your opinion?