girl's bokeh lights photo with Kate Light Pink Love Heart Glitter Valentine's Day Backdrops for Photography

How to Shoot Bokeh Lights Photography: Gear | 6 Pro-Tips

There's something about how bokeh lights photography looks that is just mesmerizing. Whether you're photographing cityscapes or capturing a moment with friends, these photos are sure to stand out. In this article, we will teach you everything you need to know about how to shoot bokeh lights photography like a pro.

What is Bokeh?

Most people have probably seen bokeh in some capacity, even if they don't know what it is. Bokeh is the out-of-focus area in a photograph, typically exhibited as soft, blurred lights. It's often used in portrait photography to create a dreamy, romantic effect. "bokeh" comes from the Japanese word "boke," which means blur or haze. While bokeh is generally considered aesthetically pleasing, you can also use it to create more subtle effects, such as isolating a subject or drawing attention to a particular photo area.

Good Bokeh vs. Bad Bokeh

Good Bokeh

Good bokeh is usually characterized by smooth, buttery gradients with no harsh edgesThe background should not distract the audience or viewer. The blurry area has circles of light that are round and smooth lines; out-of-focus pieces are blurred while points intersections become blended. To achieve good bokeh in your photos, use a prime lens with a wide aperture.

little girl's bokeh photo with Kate Elegant Christmas Trees with Glitter Backdrop for Photography Designed By Mandy Ringe Photography

Bad Bokeh

Bad Bokeh refers to the blurred background effect in photos caused by the unfocused light reflecting off the camera lens. This can happen when the distance between the subject and the background is not great enough or when the aperture is not wide enough.

As a result, the background appears messy and distracting, taking away from the overall quality of the image. Your blades' shape may also result in a bad bokeh. You'll get sharp lines in the backdrop if they're too angular or insufficient.

Gear and Camera Settings for Bokeh Lights

Right Lens

Achieving bokeh in your images requires knowing how to select the right lens. Generally, a lens with a large maximum aperture will produce better bokeh than one with a small maximum aperture. Therefore, fast prime or zoom lenses with wide maximum apertures are good for creating bokeh. A telephoto lens will give you a longer focal length, while opening up your aperture will help achieve a shallow field depth.

AV Mode

AV mode, or Aperture Priority mode, is a popular setting for those wanting to create beautiful bokeh lights in their photos. When using AV mode, the camera allows you to choose the aperture size while automatically choosing the shutter speed. A large aperture (low f-number) will result in a shallow depth of field, which is perfect for isolating your subject and creating dreamy, out-of-focus backgrounds.

a little girl taking photo with Kate Christmas Bokeh Hot Cocoa Backdrop for Photography

Kate Christmas Bokeh Hot Cocoa Backdrop for Photography


Bokeh is often used to highlight the subject matter of a photo and can be created using a low ISO setting. This is because a low ISO allows more light into the camera, creating a more shallow field depth. This shallow depth of field helps to create the distinctive blurriness of bokeh lights. So if you're looking to add some creative flair to your photos, remember to experiment with different ISO settings to find the perfect amount of light for your shot.


In general, a large aperture results in a shallow depth of field and, therefore, a strong bokeh effect. The shape of the aperture also affects the bokeh – a round aperture results in circular highlights, while a hexagonal or octagonal aperture produces hexagonal or octagonal highlights. When taking photos with bokeh lights, it's important to experiment with different aperture settings to find the one that produces the best effect for your particular subject and setup.

Pro Tips for Bokeh Lights Photography

1. Create a Narrative With Your Bokeh Lights

Bokeh lights are a great way to add depth and dimension to your photos. But to make them stand out, it’s important to use them in a way that helps tell the story of your photo. For example, you can use bokeh lights to create a sense of mystery or drama in your photos. Or you can use them to add a touch of whimsy or romance. Whatever story you want to tell, make sure your bokeh lights help to bring it to life.

photo of a little girl blowing glitter powders with Kate Bokeh Fine Art Beige Orange color Backdrop Designed By Jerry_Sina

Kate Bokeh Fine Art Beige Orange color Backdrop Designed By Jerry_Sina

2. Long Focal Length Creates More Extreme Bokeh

A long focal length will compress the background and make it appear further away, while a short focal length will do the opposite. This can be used to your advantage when shooting bokeh lights; a long focal length will create more extreme bokeh, while a short focal length will create a more subtle effect. So if you want to make your bokeh lights stand out, try using a long focal length.

3. Choose Your Background Wisely

As a photographer, one of the most important choices is what background to use for your bokeh lights photography. The background can make or break the photo, so it's important to choose wisely. Here are a few tips to help you choose the perfect background for your photos:

  • Look for a background that contrasts with your subject. A busy background can be distracting and take away from your subject. Conversely, a plain background can make your subject look boring.
  • Consider the colors in your background. Colors can have a big impact on the mood of your photo. Bright colors may make the photo happy and energetic, while dark colors can give it a more dramatic feel.
  • Think about the texture of your background. A textured background can add interest to an otherwise bland photo. Just be careful not to use a background that's too busy, or it will detract from your subject.

baby girl photo with Kate Light Golden Bokeh Glitter Backdrop for Children

Kate Light Golden Bokeh Glitter Backdrop for Children

4. Use a Backlight, Side Light, or Hair Light

Backlighting involves positioning the light source behind your subject, causing the light to bounce off the subject and into the camera lens. This creates a halo effect that makes the bokeh lights appear even more pronounced. Side lighting occurs when the light source is positioned to the subject's side, creating a three-dimensional effect.

Hair lighting is a technique that uses a backlight or sidelight to highlight the individual strands of hair on your subject's head. Using one of these lighting techniques, you can take your bokeh light photography to the next level.

5. Shoot at the Right Time of Day

One of the best times to shoot bokeh lights is during the "golden hour" , the time just before sunset when the light is soft and warm. This is because the sun's low angle creates beautiful, natural bokeh lights. So if you want to add romance or drama to your photos, try shooting during the golden hour.

6. Choose a Good Foreground

girl's photo with Kate Light Pink Bokeh Newborn Photography Backdrop

Kate Light Pink Bokeh Newborn Photography Backdrop

A good foreground can make a big difference in your bokeh lights photography. Including a foreground element can create a sense of depth and dimension in your photo. This is especially effective when the background is out of focus, as it will help to bring the photo into sharp relief. You can also use foregrounds to frame your subject and add interest to an otherwise bland photo.


Now that you know all about bokeh lights photography, it's time to put your new skills into practice. Experiment with different aperture settings and distances between the subject and background to see what results you can achieve. With a bit of practice, you'll be able to capture beautiful photos with stunningly blurred backgrounds. So get out there and start experimenting.

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