Blurred Backgrounds: Selfish or Selfless?

The sole reason to blur a background is to conceal a location. That is clear. Where ideas diverge is with the impetus for the effort to conceal.

The most obvious prong of that divergence could be described as selfish, and justifiably so. I will spell this out unapologetically.

If given a choice between splitting a particular location with no other boats or one other boat, I choose no boats. If it’s nine boats vs. ten boats, I’ll take nine. It’s just math and common sense. I tend to take pics with generic backgrounds for this reason more than any other. When necessary, I’ll blur to cover my tracks.

The crowded composition of a selfie negates the need for a blurred background.

This is the other prong. It applies to all, but to illustrate the point let’s say you are of the “I’ve got nothing to hide”, or “I don’t mind company” line of thinking. That sounds awfully nice on the surface. We will look at a couple scenarios, and see if full disclosure is really an altruistic route.

A friend brings you to his favorite yet recognizable fishing location. You catch the fish of a lifetime. This is a textbook situation for careful photo composition or a blurred background. Seems like common sense – right? He shared his spot and the sweat it took to find it with you, not everyone you know.

One level deeper is where the lines of blurring start to blur. You fish Location X regularly. You sometimes see another angler or two. Are they the same one or two? Probably not. I recall several years back running into a fisherman on a very small trout stream. It turned out we had both been fishing that same little stream for 20 years before ever crossing paths. What I am getting at is this; there are probably more fishermen on your spot than you think, but I digress.

Close up pics are a subtle alternative to blurring a background. This option is particularly suitable for colorful species like brook trout.

Back to those couple guys that fish your spot. Posting pics with a “no secrets” mindset is well within your rights to show & tell whoever you like as much you like, but here is the question. Are you comfortable making that decision for every single person who thinks of Location X as their spot too?

Location X is as much their spot as it is yours. It’s a bit of a moral dilemma. That is where a blurred background would truly be a selfless act. You would be protecting the interests of other people, even if you yourself are an open book.

Respect the work of those that came before you. Maybe those guys have been concealing your spot for years by blurring their backgrounds. Think good karma.

In this age of social media, we share images & information at an incredible rate. It’s hard to know where to draw the line. It’s easy to step on someone’s toes, or even stub your own. When in doubt; blur it out.