I need to get this new Canon L series lens with extreme sharpness !
Nope you don’t.
Sharpness has become a sell argument, it is arbitrary and totally overrated. Instead of spending hours online looking at the latest DxO mark while comparing lenses, do yourself a favour, grab your camera and go shoot blurry pictures! Wait. Not so fast, taking blurry pictures is not about setting your aperture to widest and out of focusing, it’s about choosing carefully your subject and composition to put into your frame the sensation no sharpness can provide.
The photographer Uta Barth did provide her own interpretation of the streets of Los Angeles using this method in her series Field (1995-1998). All the urbanscapes are blurred, anonymised, smoothed, decrowded, poetic. The content is floating, everything is peripheral instead of central.
Other photographers have been using blur to serve their art, among them there is the noticeable Antoine D’Agata, photographer for Magnum Agency, which used it in a very particular context for his Insomnia project:
GERMANY. Hamburg. 1998.
Check out this video about his work:
I personally use it in a modest way, to focus on a detail and extract this specific details of its context:
Remember the feelings
When I want to remember an event, like an evening of drinking with friends, I will shoot the conversation through the glass. It doesn’t matter the portrait, the souvenir of the sensation remains.
I use blur for sensations, there are moments when the movement and its traces are more important than the present. Composition is key when you want to use blur, notice the sun placed in the right upper third:
If your experience is blurry, shoot it blur.