Bokeh Effect: The Ultimate Guide to Bokeh Photography

The subject of many portraits, close-up photos, and other images is often slightly or significantly sharper than its background, which adds complexity and depth to the photos. While perfecting your ability to take photos that are completely clear should come before learning to add special effects, taking photos with a blurred background or adding this effect digitally can take your photography to the next level.

What is the Bokeh effect?

Although making sure your photos are clear and in focus is generally a good rule of thumb, strategically blurring the background of your subject can create an artistic effect that draws attention to your subject. This can be done either automatically or by using a photo editing program, and the type of blur you use can create various aesthetic effects. A slight blur allows your subject to pop while still being able to make out the background, while a strong blur can make it difficult to tell what the original background is in order to create photos against the backdrop of a blend of color.

The overall quality of this blur is known among photographers and photo editors as the Bokeh effect, although it is often confused with the existence of the blur itself. No two blurs look exactly the same, and knowing how to make your blur look aesthetic instead of messy and complement your subject instead of distracting from it is a must when it comes to making your photos look artistic instead of poor quality.

How to get the Bokeh effect in photography

Although the Bokeh effect could, at one time, only be done by editing photos, many modern cameras and even cell phones include settings that allow you to take photos with some variation of the Bokeh effect automatically included. Most flagship phones include some type of portrait mode, which utilizes the Bokeh effect to make the subject the only clear part of the photo, and you have even more options if you are using one of the newer digital cameras and lenses on the market.

Using a lens that is as fast as possible gives you more options for your aperture to change the level of Bokeh you want to use, as well as take the same photo with varying levels of the Bokeh effect. Although you can adjust the Bokeh effect of your photos digitally, having more options to start with increases your ability to get exactly what you want. Moving your camera closer to the subject also helps you add natural Bokeh to your photos by increasing the amount of space between the subject and the background in relation to the location of your camera.

How to mimic the Bokeh effect through digital photo editing

Although there are several strategies for taking pictures that include the Bokeh effect before you even transfer them to your computer, you can, of course, also add the Bokeh effect digitally. Corel PHOTO-PAINT and other photo editing software programs include a wide variety of options for adjusting the level of Bokeh of your images to obtain the balance you want. Our software also includes a wide variety of other professional photo editing options that can be used for everything from a quick touch-up to creating complex works of art from your basic photos.


Adding the Bokeh effect to your photo editing toolbox is a simple way to aesthetic professional photos with a special finishing touch. While there is nothing wrong with a photo that is completely clear, adding this extra detail can quickly turn a basic photo into a memorable one. Visit our website today to download your free trial of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, which includes Corel PHOTO-PAINT, and start experimenting with the Bokeh effect!

Need to Download CorelDRAW?

Download a Free 15-Day Trial Now!