Using Front Bokeh to Create Unique Portraits

When we think of bokeh, we normally of out-of-focus areas behind the subject. But the nature of depth of field means there are out-of-focus areas in front of the subject as well, and taking advantage of these can create some unique portraiture. 

Making these interesting images is surprisingly easy and doesn't take much extra equipment. Much like relatively distant light sources behind a subject can create beautiful balls of diffuse bokeh, the same can happen for light sources in front of the subject. In this case, however, it creates a more ethereal effect, with the subject seemingly inside a world of light as opposed to being in front of it. Just be careful not to overdo it, as you don't want your subject competing with the bokeh. Paying attention to how you frame your model with the lights and how many are in the image should take of that.

For some great examples of front-bokeh portraits, check out these shots by Fstoppers Writer Jason Vinson.

So, grab yourself a wide-aperture lens and a string of LED lights, and follow the easy instructions in this video. Be sure to share your results in the Fstoppers Community

[via DIY Photography]

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David Apeji's picture

I did the front bokeh thing in a shoot a few years a ago, but not with LED's:!/2

Mark Tiu's picture

Pretty popular trend these days on social media imo.

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

I think it's a bit gimmicky. Sometimes great moments are ruin IMO. They capture a great expression, but it's tiny in the frame b/c they want to put giant glowing balls in the frame.

Mark Tiu's picture

It is in some cases and it isn't in others. I think both have their merits. With the world of talent we have out here in today's creative industry, I think the younger generation's certainly broken out of more traditional compositional "rules". I have nothing against it, I feel like everyone eventually finds something they like and runs with it.

Craig Jeffries's picture

Had a go at this, added my little test to the "Creative Studio Photography & Lighting" Community Group.