Wild hair self-portraits and a discussion on focus

So, sometime ago I took some self-portrais with wind on my hair. I was facing a window, so for those who asked, that’s the source of the beautiful light on the photo and catch light on my eyes.

Of all the photos I took, I liked five. Of these five photos, the ones that don’t have hair flying around have a perfect focus on my eyes. The three photos with wild hair the focus is somewhere else.


Algum tempo atrás eu fiz alguns auto-retratos com vento nos cabelos. Eu estava de frente a uma janela, então para os que perguntaram, essa é a fonte de luz na foto, e da “catch light” nos olhos.

De todas as fotos que eu tirei, eu gostei de cinco. Dessas cinco fotos, as que não têm cabelo voando estão com o foco perfeito nos olhos. As fotos com cabelo voando, estão com foco em algum outro ponto.

If I had taken them last year, I would be quick in rejecting the last three. “Focus on the eyes are not per-fect ããã”. But I’ve noticed that in many big huge fashion magazines there are plenty of photos where the focus is less then perfect. Or perfect in a “focus fanatic” conception. Focus is perfect for the magazine’s editors.

I’ve noticed in many fashion editorials that the focus might be on the legs, might be on a plant, but so very often the face is not focused. I’ve even noticed that in some close up beautiful photos, they’d blur the eyes to keep the focus in the lips only. I’ve also talked to the owner of an agency and she said that for books, there are many photos that are a bit out of focus and that in Europe and Asia they won’t accept perfectly sharp photos of models. That got me confused for a while, but I guess it makes sense. Sometimes a slightly out of focus photo creates a different mood, it might look more like a painting, it might connect with the viewer and create the will to buy the product the model is sporting.


Se eu tivesse tirado essas fotos no ano passado, eu as teria rejeitado. “Porque o foco não está perfeito nos olhos ãããã”. Mas ultimamente notei em algumas grandes revistas de moda que várias fotos não estão com o foco perfeito. Ou perfeito na concepção dos “fanáticos do foco”, mas está perfeito para os editores das revistas.

Notei que em vários editoriais, o foco pode estar nas pernas, numa planta, mas muitas vezes o rosto não está focado. Notei também em alguns close ups que os olhos foram borrados no photoshop, para deixar o foco apenas nos lábios. E também conversei com a dona de uma agência e ela disse que muitas fotos de book estão um pouco fora de foco, e que na Europa e na Ásia eles muitas vezes nem aceitam uma foto super nítida das modelos. Eu fiquei um pouco confusa com isso por um tempo, mas acho que faz sentido. Uma foto um pouco fora de foco cria uma atmosfera diferente, fica um pouco parecida com uma pintura, e pode criar um elo maior com quem está vendo a foto, e criar a vontade de comprar o produto que a modelo está usando.

When I uploaded this picture above on flickr, some people were quick that the eyes were out of focus. Well, really? Like Sun-Tzu wrote: “It does not take sharp eyes to see the sun and the moon, nor does it take sharp ears to hear the thunderclap. Wisdom is not obvious. You must see the subtle and notice the hidden (…)”

So, can you see beyond the obvious? Can you see the message of an image? And above all, can you respect the artistic vision of the photographer?


Quando eu coloquei essa foto (acima) no flickr, algumas pessoas foram mais do que rápidas em apontar que os olhos estão fora de foco. Nossa, sério mesmo? Como Sun Tzu escreveu: “Sustentar a leveza do ar não é indicação de força. Para enxergar o sol e a lua não é preciso visão aguçada. Ouvir o ronco do trovão não é sinal de uma audição excelente. Sabedoria não é óbvia. É preciso ver o sutil e notar o que está escondido (…)”

E então, você consegue ver além do óbvio? Consegue captar a mensagem de uma imagem? E acima de tudo, você consegue respeitar a visão artística do fotógrafo?

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24 Responses to Wild hair self-portraits and a discussion on focus

  1. Philippe says:

    Beauty is an art ! Fantasticly well done ! Kisses Anna !

  2. naporso[k]apo says:


  3. Hi Anna,

    It is good to examine current trends and the state of the art and ask yourself, “Why did they do it this way?” So keep doing this.

    Focus does tell a story and the same photo with different areas of sharpness really changes the story.
    If you are selling eye products, then sharp eyes are important but that same sharpness may distract viewers buying or even seeing the clothing. Do you want people to think, “She is a beautiful model.” or “I MUST have that outfit!.”

    If you are making everything soft, study just how soft it should be. Too soft is not good either and could be distracting!

    This is a mixture of art and the science of selling. Favoring one at the expense of the other would not be good!


  4. Thanks, everyone!

    Patrick, yes… I do keep an eye on what’s the current trend. There are photos that perfectly sharp and crispy photos are recquired, but sometimes a little less focus is not the end of the world, like so many people around here seems to think..

  5. I hate when people criticize a picture with: – You would have focused on the eye, or, you would have done it in color instead.

    I agree with Sun-Tzu to 100%! Why can’t people just start from that the picture was taken as it is, and the photographer have something to say with it.

    • What I dislike the most is when someone comments on a high key photo saying: “oh this is overexposed” and then, when I check on their stream, they don’t have one single photo that is “perfectly exposed”… I mean, seriously shitty photos like the photo of the moon that is just a white ball of nothing lost in the middle of a huge black nothing…

  6. Ken Timbers says:

    Hi AnnA,
    I’m more interested in the content of a photo than in the technical excellence It’s like the world of painting – just because a picture is totally realistic doesn’t make it a great painting. Van Gogh’s sunflowers are wonderful, but they’re not absolutely realistic.
    It’s the same with photography: the message is the picture, not the details. I enjoy your pictures because they get away from the mundane ‘snaps’ that anyone with a half-decent camera can take and make me think, “What’s her message in this one?”
    Keep up the development of your own style, AnnA – it’s the best way to get noticed!
    Ken xox

  7. Keith says:

    Hmmmm, very interesting…..just give the market what it wants.

  8. Preston says:

    I agree with you, Anna. Focus is overrated (the photographic kind.) It can obscure the focus of the *image* – the meaning, the attention, the composition, the message. Sometimes when I’m looking at a scene I’m about to photograph, I squint my eyes to better see the composition, the light level, the major elements. Sometimes a sharp focus is useful, sometimes it’s a hindrance.

    The viewer should squint their eyes, too, if they are wise. You never know what you may see 🙂 Have a wonderful tomorrow, dear xoxo

  9. Iuri Souza says:

    Anna, minha linda, blog belíssimo e de muito bom gosto!
    Voce é uma excelente fotógrafa e ainda uma mulher de extrema beleza.
    Estes auto-retratos ficaram magníficos, todos eles, sem exceção e principalmente aquele com os cabelos em movimento.
    Nele, a suavidade proporcionada deu um toque todo especial. Adorei!
    Ah, voce também foi perfeita no que escreveu.
    Linda, parabéns!

  10. Peter says:

    Hi Anna!

    I love these portraits!!!!! You are a really beautiful girl, and I love Your amazing long hair!!!! 😉
    And You are a really talented photographer!!

    peter (aka “crow_hun” on Flickr) 😉

  11. Lex says:

    Hi there,

    Good observation.
    You are so right with this.
    And in the end, just do what you have tot do. 🙂
    Your photos are great.

    (lexitos at flickr)

  12. Byron says:

    J’aime vraiment votre article. J’ai essaye de trouver de nombreux en ligne et trouver le v?tre pour être la meilleure de toutes.

    Mon francais n’est pas tres bon, je suis de l’Allemagne.

    Mon blog:
    rachat credit voiture et credit Rachat de Credit

  13. hola, Chicos, Info agradable;) Gracias por su tiempo …;)

  14. hola, Chicos, Sólo quiero decir lo que es un gran blog ha llegado hasta aquí! He estado alrededor por mucho tiempo, pero finalmente decidió mostrar mi aprecio por vuestro trabajo! Pulgar hacia arriba, y mantenerlo en marcha!

  15. Hola, Gente! Gràcies pel missatge d’ajuda! Jo no hauria arribat a aquesta altra manera!

  16. Hola, Gente! Era una idea molt bonica! Només vull dir gràcies per la informació que han compartit. Només seguir escrivint aquest tipus de missatge. Jo seré el teu fidel lector. Gràcies de nou.

  17. Janacekian says:

    Hmm, it’s a matter of context, but I don’t think the first two are that good – without going into the energy, freedom, superb softness, intense look of the lovely model etc. in the others, they’re already just plain better composed, mostly thanks to the hair.

    And re: focus – you already wrote how slightly OOF photography to painting-like. But that branch of visual arts can be used otherwise too – I’d certainly rather have Renoir’s “Young Woman with a Veil” than the oeuvre of Bouguereau.

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