Focus propriety

The other day I was taking photos of some of my succulents, playing with both composition and focus. In the triptych below I put together three versions of one of the photos.

When I showed the photos to my husband, he told me that in his opinion, the focus must definitely be on the succulent as it is the main subject in the photo. He evaluated the first version with the sharp ribbon and blurred succulent as utterly bad. I thought about it a lot but although I respect the opinion, I don’t quite see eye to eye with him on the matter. We put the focus where we want to bring the view and attention and as such it is very subjective.

I find the middle photo with the sharp succulent and sharp ribbon as the least interesting. It’s just a capture of the composition.

The photo on the right with the sharp succulent and blurred ribbon tells a story by means of the different depth of field and I like it. I’d say that it might be well accepted. On the other hand, it looks mainstream and just observes the rules and technicalities of such a photo. The succulent is the talking subject and the ribbon is the whispering background.

I’m sure that much less people would like or find interesting the photo on the left with the sharp ribbon and blurred succulent. But I do. Obviously. It is a photo you should not just look at, tick off and go further without much reflection. You should think about why the ribbon is focused on while the succulent is assigned less importance, what is so special about the ribbon and what kind of letters it presents… I find this version somewhat provocative but in a good way and that’s what appeals to me.

To be on the safe side, the focus surely has to be where expected but it doesn’t hurt here and there to pluck up the courage and make a bit riskier but well thought-through personal choice. Don’t you think so?

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