Late April, I have been approached by Abby Klacker, editor at Lawn & Garden Retailer magazine. She wanted to ask me few questions about photographing flowers, after reading my guest post on Light Stalking from few years ago. I always say ‘yes” to opportunities arising, and some of my tips ended up in June feature about shooting products for nursery owners. Much of the content I prepared did not make it into article, and I thought it might be worth sharing it on blog.
Question: A large portion of lawn and garden retail shops are outside. Do you have any tips for when you should shoot? Day or night? Sunny or cloudy?
Do not ever photograph mid-day on a sunny day. The colors are washed out and there is too much contrast. Wait for close to sunset, or use cover. Open shade (well lit, but covered from direct light) areas are best. Cloudy or even rainy days are also perfect.
Q: Should you use a flash or not?
I am not fan of flash. Do not ever use the flash on top of camera, pictures just do not look good. The off camera flash requires experience, I would suggest use natural light for beginners.
Q: Do you have any tips for close-up shots versus wider shots?
You should include variety of shots. Close ups look great, but you need to remember to choose flowers without blemishes. Wider shots have their place, too. If you have flower pots organized by color and type in rows, the wide shots will look great. See sample examples of both in my post from Forever Green Nursery.
I think more important is to pay attention to what else gets in the shot. No messy garden tools, flowers of too bright and ditching colors in the back. When you look at your picture, do you see only what you wanted to show?
Q: What should people know about getting the flower in focus?
Patience, many tries, high ISO to counteract wind movement and un-steady hands. Check on the back of the camera often if you are getting what you want. Zoom in to make sure it really is in focus.
Q: What type of camera and gear (tripod, etc.) should a beginner photographer and store owner look for to get “professional-looking images?
I am strong believer that any camera will do. Do not buy DSLR, if you will always keep it in Auto mode. Todays iPhones and point-and-shoots give you enough quality.
I would invest in a tripod, if you shoot indoors. It does not make all that much sense for outdoors, as, especially in Midwest, there is always a breeze- it just defeats the purpose.
The things I would invest in are reflectors to put some light back into areas remaining in shadows. The collapsible ones also have screem (something like this), usually, it is a translucent piece of cloth like cheese cloth, letting light through, but just disperse it a bit – it can be put between harsh, direct sunlight and a flower to improve light.
Also, I would take some pictures of grass or trees out of focus, and print them large – I do 11×14 inch prints, attach to white foam core, and use as blurry background to simplify composition. I talk more about it in an archive post.