If like me, you live in the southern hemisphere, you’ll be well amongst the season of spring. Although this can mean the onset of the dreaded hay fever season, it’s a great time of the year for photographers to capture an amazing diversity of flowers that bloom in the warmer months.
Flowers make beautiful subjects for photography. In fact, they’re probably one of the most photographed subjects in history. An abundance of colors, species, and sizes means that flowers provide an endless array of photographic opportunities.
However, floral photography isn’t limited to spring either. If you aren’t currently living it up in the southern hemisphere, now is a great time to show some self-love and buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers…because you deserve it! And for photography purposes, of course.
No matter if you are in the thralls of spring or living vicariously through this post, this quick list is a great way to load up on ideas for that next floral shoot.
Macro photography is the photographic reproduction of small subjects at a size that is larger than real life. Through macro photography, a photographer can take extreme close-up photographs of small subjects, reproducing them at a much larger size. Macro photography is often used to photograph flowers because it reveals attributes that can’t be seen by the naked eye. It’s easy to observe a flower in passing. But it takes a photographer to reveal the hidden details of a flower’s complex shape and structure.
A variety of dedicated macro lenses, as well as extension tubes and filters, mean that macro photography gear is becoming more and more accessible. For my macro flower photography, I use a set of extension tubes. They’re simple, don’t break the budget and they produce lovely results.
Abstract photography itself is a little hard to describe. Wikipedia defines abstract photography as “…a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world”. Abstract photography relies on compositional aspects like form, shape, color, line, and texture without worrying too much about depicting identifiable subject matter.
It’s a complicated subject, but flower photography is a great excuse to explore abstract photography for yourself. Try focusing on the details that make up the network of organic shapes in a flower, or home in on the subtle lines that form the flower’s shape. Don’t worry too much about the bigger picture. Go for it – it’s a lot of fun!
Focusing on a colorful subject matter is a great way to form a dialogue between a photograph and viewer. Flowers are known for their abundance of color and variety. Their beautiful and sometimes surprising hues make them wonderfully diverse photographic subjects.
For vibrant color in your floral photography, you want to photograph a well-lit subject. If you are photographing outside, aim to shoot on a day with a good amount of sunlight. If you are inside or shooting on a particularly cloudy day, try incorporating on-camera flash into your photography. Direct flash will usually blow out a subject, so try using a diffuser or bouncing your flash for a softer effect that will lift a flower’s color without washing it out.
Black and White
Of course, not all flower photography has to be in color. Color photography can have the drawback of directing attention away from the subject itself. Black and white photography, on the other hand, enhances form and texture by minimizing distraction. And because flowers are associated with color, black and white photography also lends a timeless, surreal angle to your floral imagery.
To photograph flowers in black and white, you can set your camera to shoot in monochrome mode. Or, you can convert your images to black and white in post-production with programs like Photoshop or Lightroom. Either way, black and white photography is a great way to add a unique perspective to your flower photography.
Perspective dictates the way a viewer places themselves in a photograph. As a basic example, a high perspective can remove the viewer from the scene, inviting them to asses a photographic environment clinically. It introduces a sense of unease, as height is considered innately dangerous. A low perspective amplifies the height of subjects, lending a sense of grandeur to an environment. At the same time, it can also instill a feeling of ‘smallness’ in the viewer, as if they were an ant inspecting an impossibly tall building.
Viewers get drawn to images that are out of the ordinary. Creatively utilizing your camera’s point of view challenges the way a viewer sees their surroundings. For a unique twist on perspective, try photographing floral subjects down at their level. It’s amazing how much a subject can be transformed with a quick change in perspective.
Focusing on color, black and white, perspective, macro, and abstract photography are only some of the ways to approach flower photography. Even the smallest flower poking its head through the cracks in a path can bring a smile to someone’s face. So, combining photography and flowers is sure a sure-fire way to create beautiful imagery. I’d love to see your results below!