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All rules and guidelines in photography are conditional, and thus somewhat confusing until you realize they sometimes demand breaking. One rule you hear a lot is that your subject should be tack sharp. Well that is certainly an ideal goal. I took a few shots of this flower and this one stood out because the outer and inner portions of the flower are out of focus and it works, giving the composition a kind of exploding motion.
Portraits of people benefit from a little softening, but at the same time we expect to see sharp eyes. Portrait effects are achieved in post processing unlike the flower above where the effect is caught in camera. Nevertheless in both cases a little softening is a good thing.