Focus or lack of it in photography can be used for multiple applications; to create movement in a medium that is typically static, to strip an image right back meaning depth and details are lost letting the composition and use of colour influence the image, another use of lack of focus is to evoke an emotion or create a certain atmosphere in a photograph.
The photograph I have selected is by Russian photographer Nikita Pirogov for his series “The Other Shore” focus has been used to evoke a certain emotion within the viewer, for me this image has a nostalgic feel to it almost as if it were a memory. The contrast between the crispness of the grass in the background and the blurring of the person in foreground indicates to me that the location is more significant to Pirogov than the person, for example if this photograph is recreating a nostalgic feeling it tells us that for the photographer place is more important that company within his memories. In photography we are used to seeing the closest object to the camera in focus and the background either being out of focus or softer this highlights the main subject of the photograph whilst also creating depth in the image, in this photograph the opposite has been done but the same effect has been achieved, there is still depth and the figure still stands out because of the bold red used. This technique made this photograph stand out from other photographs because of this difference from convention.
For me all forms of art including photography are completely subjective so the question “does it matter if a photograph is out of focus?” differs from person to person. My opinion is that as long as the lack of focus is intentionally used to create a certain feel to a photograph then no it doesn’t matter if it is out of focus because this a tool that we can use to add an extra dimension to our photographs.