Flowers are beautiful, but their beauty often shortchanges them in some ways. That is, most people think of flowers as things you arrange and place on tables to sit and look pretty. Other people pick flowers carelessly, not knowing they will die quickly from being plucked out of their environment. Still, others want to preserve the beauty of flowers but are unsure how. Today, we’re going to examine how to photograph flowers so they can be preserved uniquely and responsibly.
Choose the Right Camera
Today, most photos are taken digitally and preserved on computers, but that may not be the best choice for your floral photographs. Flowers are often photographed in such a way that no background exists, which can make a digital photo seem empty and amateurish. The right camera depends heavily on the type of flowers you want to photograph. If you want a few shots of several clumps of pansies, vine flowers, or winterberry, a digital camera may be best. That way, the focus will be on the entire shot rather than one specific flower suspended in space. However, if you want to photograph single flowers, a single rosebush, or a bouquet as a still-life, go for an old-fashioned camera. In some cases, you might even try setting up a tripod.
Get to Know Your Flower
Every good photographer gets to know his or her subject before taking pictures. For example, someone who photographs toddlers doesn’t press the shutter while the child is crying or screaming; he or she entertains the toddler first or tries to lighten the mood with funny faces. Flowers are a lot less temperamental than humans, but you still shouldn’t photograph them carelessly. Study the flower to determine where you want to focus. With a layered flower like a carnation or peony, you might zoom in for close-ups of a few particularly colorful petals. With bulbs such as tulips, you may want to photograph from a distance, focusing on the background or getting several tulips in the shot for color contrast.
Consider Other Points of Interest
Flowers are beautiful, but they’re also static. They can’t smile, pose, or move much. Therefore, you may want to focus on what’s going on around the flower or garden. This can help the people who view your photograph recognize and appreciate the value of flowers in nature all over again. For example, daisies are great pollinators, so if you’re going to photograph them, try to focus on nearby bees. Thousands of flower species attract hummingbirds and butterflies – tiny creatures that are difficult to appreciate with the naked eye. Photograph those in relation to the flowers. You can also take “weather photographs,” zeroing in on a raindrop perched on a rose petal or the snow gathered around winterberries.
Check Your Angles
How the photograph turns out depends heavily on the angles you use. Close-ups are great if you’re focusing on petals or insects, but you’ll want distance if you’re shooting roots, leaves, or stems. Also, consider how the sunlight will affect your photo. If you’re shooting on a bright, hot day, the sun will likely blur your colors. Shoot upward such as from a hilltop, away from direct rays. On a cloudy or rainy day, shoot from a lower point to get as much light as you can; you may need to depend on artificial lights, though this isn’t ideal.
It’s not ideal to move flowers that are already in a garden, as this might require cutting them. However, potted plants or plants in vases are easy to move so you can get the best shot possible without background distractions or clashing lighting and colors. If you want to use humans in your photograph, have them hold the flowers at different heights or angles. For example, have bridesmaids stand close together, all holding their flowers at the same angle, or have them pantomime tossing bouquets.
Take advantage of petals – position the flower girl in the center of the petals she scattered along the aisle for a unique and adorable shot. For potted flowers, you can add interest by making the blooms the focal point of a modern still life. For example, if a wedding couple’s theme was country-western, surround the flowers with boots or spurs. If the recipient of Valentine’s Day flowers is a chocoholic, prop chocolate boxes around the vase.
Photo Credit: Photographer Tobi Firestone offered the photograph of Sunglasses on the Phlox under a Creative Commons License on Flickr
Photo Credit: Photographer Mike Jack offered the photograph of Calla lily under a Creative Commons License on Flickr
Photo Credit: Photographer r. Nial Bradshaw offered the photograph of Shasta Daisy Flowers under a Creative Commons License on Flickr
Photo Credit: Photography studio Pink Sherbet Photography offered the photograph of Child’s Hands Holding White Rose under a Creative Commons License on Flickr
Photo Credit: Photographer Vicky Sithy offered the photograph of Bridqal Bouquet (AJ119) under a Creative Commons License on Flickr