8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

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Do you think flower photography is boring? Or even too easy and obvious? I mean, of course, when you point your camera at a pretty flower you’re going to get a pretty photograph. Right?

But a subject that you feel is boring and easy is actually the perfect one to challenge yourself with. Can you make a flower image that is creative and dramatic somehow?

Here are a few ideas to get you started making more dramatic flower photos.

1. Dramatic light

Often flower photos are made under soft lighting conditions, either in the shade or on an overcast day. This is because of the soft and delicate nature of a flower which lends itself to that type of light.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. For a more dramatic image, try to find a flower that has direct light on it and shade behind it. High contrast scenes feel more dramatic and your flower will stand out against a darker background.

Flowers in the Light - 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

2. Change your perspective

Most flower photos are made from a perspective looking right into the open flower. Try other perspectives for more interesting compositions. You can look at the flower from above, from the side, or from underneath.

To make the image below, my camera was on the ground looking directly up at the flower. Because the sky was so much brighter than the flower, it created a more high-key type of image with light shining through the petals making them appear to glow.

Looking Up flower - 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

When I made the next image, I was interested in the lines created by the petals of a dahlia the size of a dinner plate. Most photos would include the whole flower, but I only included a small portion of the huge flower taken from a side angle.

Giant Dahlia - 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

3. Focus through

In one of my favorite techniques for flower photography, I use a telephoto lens and focus on a flower that is around five feet away. Then I position the lens so that another flower is right in front of it. Because the close flower is extremely out of focus, it creates a soft area of color in front of the main subject.

This is especially effective if you can find two flowers that are complementary colors (opposite) on the color wheel.

Focus Through Poppy - 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

4. Let the wind blow

One of the most frustrating things you encounter when photographing flowers is wind. A little bit of wind you can handle with a faster shutter speed, but sometimes the wind is just too much and your flower is blowing all over the place.

When this happens, just go with the flow! Instead of trying to get a sharp image, go with a slow shutter speed and capture the motion of the flower moving in front of your lens.

Flowers in the Wind- 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

5. Environmental portrait

Most flower photos contain only the flower with no context. But you can also make an environmental portrait that shows the flower and its surrounding environment, like the one below.

Storm Flowers - 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

6. Echo

Another of my favorite techniques I refer to as an echo. For your main subject, find a flower that has another virtually identical flower behind it. Use a shallow depth of field and focus on your main subject letting the flower behind fall out of focus. This creates a sort of echo of the main subject.

Yellow flowers - 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

7. Less than perfect flowers

When photographing flowers, most photographers search for perfect specimens to be the main subject. But perhaps more interesting subjects are the less than perfect flowers. They can be dead flowers, ones with flaws, or even flowers that have fallen over.

In the image below, I was attracted to the raindrops that were on the side of this fallen tulip. Flowers with raindrops are not uncommon, but the tulip on its side is a bit more unusual.

Fallen Tulip - 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

8. Emphasize edges in post-processing

You can also introduce effects in post-processing to make unique and dramatic flower photos. Try experimenting with textures or edge effects.

For the image below, I added an edge effect in post-processing to draw the viewer’s attention to the shape of the petals.

pink Dahlia - 8 Ways to Create More Dramatic Flower Photos

What else can you think of? Flower photography doesn’t have to be boring or predictable. In fact, any subject that you find boring and predictable is a challenge waiting for you to unleash your own unique perspective. How do you make more dramatic flower photos?

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Anne McKinnell is a photographer, writer and nomad. She lives in an RV and travels around North America photographing beautiful places and writing about travel, photography, and how changing your life is not as scary as it seems. You can read about her adventures on her blog and be sure to check out her free photography eBooks.

  • Bernie

    Great succinct discussion with perfect pictures to illustrate the point. Sharing ?

  • Krugler

    Excellent post. I like the way you go from the norm.

  • Charles G. Haacker

    I’m a flower freak, so these are terrific tips to evade boredom! Thank you! ( ?? ?? ?? )

  • jack

    I use #3 is my favorite way especially when I can get the colors contrast I am looking for.

  • Daniel Miller

    what program did you use for the edge effect??

  • Anpu

    Thank you excellent article.

  • Gilded_Lily514

    I really enjoyed this article. Great tips and techniques to think differently in photographing flowers. Thanks!

  • CathyAnn

    I enjoyed this article very much! One way I get some interesting shots of flowers is through using my Lensbabies.

  • Bozhidar Osikovski

    Anne, you don’t stop surprising me in a
    positive way! So far I knew you as a perfect photographer and writer in the
    field of landscape, now I can see you are perfect with flowers as well. I
    always find something new in your articles, although I have read tons of books
    and many square metes of screens…

    Thank you!

  • Nice fresh tips! Thanks for a great article!

  • I have a lensbaby, but I find it impossible to use. I like shallow depth of field, but for me something has to be in focus. With the lensbaby I can’t seem to get anything to be sharp. But it’s probably just me, I have seen other people’s photos that look really nice with them. When I tried, it just makes my eyes hurt to use it.

  • Hi Daniel, for that particular photo I used a program called Fractalius. It’s a really cool program, but it only works on PC. Since I switched to Mac I have been getting similar effects using Topaz Glow.

  • Jeff Besgrove

    I use a ring flash as well to create black to very dark back rounds to set the flower apart and make it almost float, in the shot. Experiment with light volume from the flash as well as colored rings and much more open your mind to the possibilities endless. When taking macro flower shots move all around the subject and take 10 – 15 shots of each subject at all angles.

  • Daniel Miller

    Thank you for your reply! I have used topaz and really like it. What is your favorite one for flowers?

  • I actually really like Topaz Impression for flowers. I like the painterly effect.

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