How to Take Better Flower Pictures: Tips for Unique High Quality Photography

Updated on May 29, 2017
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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Flowers are one of the most frequently photographed subjects for both amateur and professional photographers alike. As they are readily accessible for months on end in many parts of the world and they offer a gorgeous aesthetic, it is not hard to understand why they are such a popular subject. However, as they are so popular, it can be difficult to take macro and close up shots as well as wide angle shots that are different from all of the other flower shots out there. The following tips will get you on your way to exploring new techniques and developing your own nature photography style.

General Tips

As you consider the techniques in this article, keep these tips in mind.

  • Learn your camera settings. Whether you are shooting with a smartphone or a high end Canon or Nikon DSLR or something in between, you must get comfortable with your camera settings. Read the manual and learn everything that you can about shooting with your camera.
  • Use basic editing techniques. Hopefully you're already using a basic photo editing program to crop and make simple light adjustments to your photos. If not, it's never too late to start. From there, you can decide whether or not you want to learn more advanced editing techniques to take your photos to the next level.
  • Brace yourself. There is a fair amount of controversy about whether or not you need to use a tripod for flower photography. It is up to you to do your research and decide if a tripod would be beneficial for the type of shooting that you do. The bottom line is that you have to figure out how to avoid camera shake so that you get crisp clear photos without any blurring. For some people, a tripod is the best solution. Any time you aren't using a tripod, get in the habit of bracing your arms against something (i.e. a railing) or pulling them in tight against your body to reduce blurring as much as possible.
  • Avoid harsh sunlight. Unless you are attempting a specific aesthetic that requires strong sunlight such as the appearance of transparent petals or leaves, steer clear of harsh sunlight. Look for areas with partial shading and consider shooting earlier or later in the day when the sun isn't as direct.
  • Avoid windy settings. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get clear shots of flowers when there is a lot of wind. You may be able to hold a single branch or flower in place to snap a couple quick shots, but this practice is not ideal for longer periods of time.

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Get Low

One of the most basic principles that separates amateur from professional photographers is getting on the same level as your subjects. For example, if you're taking pictures of young children, get down on their level by kneeling or even sitting on the floor. The same concept applies for flowers. Unless you're photographing exceptionally tall plants, such as full grown sunflowers, you're going to have to get down a little bit.

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Get Close

Resist the urge to zoom in on your flower subject and physically move closer to it. If you're using a smartphone or point and shoot camera, you'll compromise the quality by zooming. If you're using a DSLR with a zoom lens, you'll be able to maximize the potential of the lens by getting closer. Once you are closer, you can determine the right distance and zooming to get the effect that you want (i.e. shallow depth of field).

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Fill the Frame

You see tons of flower photographs in which the photographer simply saw a flower that he liked, snapped a picture of it, and moved on. It is likely that this photo is not very well composed and is filled with distracting elements such as people walking on the sidewalk and other nearby plants. Pick a single subject and fill the frame with it so that there is no question what the subject is in your particular shot. If you can't get a desired shot from a given position, move around so that you can fill the frame effectively.

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Shoot from Underneath

As people as taller than most plants, it is natural to photograph them from above or from the side. You can bring a refreshing perspective to a flower subject by photographing it from underneath. Don't be afraid to get really low, which may involve lying on the ground, to get the angle that you want. There are some amazing effects that you can achieve when you get that low that are not possible otherwise.

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Shoot From Straight Above

Alternatively instead of shooting from underneath or trying to get a creative side angle, shoot directly overhead, looking right down on the flowers. This technique can produce a striking effect that many people find surprising but pleasant.

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Isolate the Subject While Paying Attention to the Background

One of the most effective ways to isolate a subject in a photograph is with a shallow depth of field. The blurrier the background, the more the viewer can focus on the subject at hand. As you experiment with depth of field, be conscious of the background.

Even with considerable blurriness, you can still end up with distracting elements, such as bright colors or odd shapes (i.e. a big stick that looks as though it's coming right out of the top of the flower). The background should not distract from the subject. Ideally it can even enhance it.

Without careful control of the depth of field, this photo could have been completely blurry or could have had the focus in the wrong area.
Without careful control of the depth of field, this photo could have been completely blurry or could have had the focus in the wrong area. | Source

Control the Depth of Field

Think about the kind of photo that you're trying to create. Do you want a close up shot with a blurred background? Or do you want a wide angle shot with everything in focus? It is up to you, the photographer, to take control of the depth of field and make the photo that you want. If you are going for a shallow depth of field with a blurred background, make sure that the correct part of the photo is in focus.

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Look for Framing Elements or Other Items to Include

A great flower photo does not have to consist solely of a flower or a group of flowers. Are there other elements that would make the picture stronger? For example, maybe you can shoot the flower so that a bridge behind it frames it or you can include the beautiful leaves on the plant. If there is a butterfly, bee, bird, or other animal or insect flying nearby, wait a minute to see if it lands on the flower and capture it in the shot.

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Edit in Black and White or Sepia

As most people take pictures of flowers for their brilliant colors, they don't think of editing them in black and white or sepia. While these palettes are not ideal for all flower photos, they are perfect for high contrast compositions. As it is quite simple to edit in black and white and sepia in virtually every photo program, don't be afraid to experiment with these options once in a while. If you aren't satisfied with the results, simply go back to color and try again later with another photo.

Beautiful Flower Pictures - 3 Tips for Taking Better Flower Photos

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Rose Clearfield

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      • anusha15 profile image

        Anusha Jain 

        11 months ago from Delhi, India

        Those are some great tips. I love creating eCards and photos of flowers are almost always a fabulous starting point, so these tips would be especially beneficial for me. These days, adding textures to the backgrounds of flowers are also quite popular and help in getting a unique composition.

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        That means a lot to me, janshares! Thanks!

      • janshares profile image

        Janis Leslie Evans 

        4 years ago from Washington, DC

        This is a breath-taking hub, randomcreative. The photos are exquisite. Excellent tutorial, very informative for online writers who are serious about having the best photos to compliment their articles. Voted up, useful, and beautiful.

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        DealForaLiving, cell phone photography is not my area of expertise, but the iPhone 5 is the phone of choice for photography these days. There are tons of resources available for iPhone photography. Good luck!

      • DealForALiving profile image

        Sam Deal 

        4 years ago from Earth

        Do you have any recommendations on cell phones that take good flower pics?

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Glimmer Twin Fan, combining walking with photography is a great excuse to get out and do more of both activities. I look forward to seeing more of your photos.

        tillsontitan, any photographer, regardless of ability level, is always learning. :) I'm so glad that this article is helpful for you!

      • tillsontitan profile image

        Mary Craig 

        4 years ago from New York

        Very well done. I love taking pictures and am still learning. I found your tips well presented and helpful!

        Voted up, useful, and interesting.

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Claudia Mitchell 

        4 years ago

        What a great article. I have been trying to walk more and one of my motivations is to take a nice pic with my phone each time I walk 2 or more miles. Usually it's of a flower so I will definitely be using these tips.

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, oldiesmusic! Shooting from underneath a flower is not necessarily a great way to compose a flower photo, but it can certainly provide a unique prospective. Best of luck!

      • oldiesmusic profile image

        oldiesmusic 

        4 years ago from United States

        I love your photos. I didn't know that shooting underneath the flower makes a good flower photography, I will try that on my own. I'll take your cues there. This is really nice, thanks for the tips

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, Prasetio! Glad you enjoyed. I hope that you're doing well.

      • prasetio30 profile image

        prasetio30 

        4 years ago from malang-indonesia

        I love photography. Thanks for useful tips and I like all pictures here. Voted up and shared!

        Prasetio

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Dolores, it is always amazing how something can look so different in person and in a photograph. A cloudy day can definitely heighten the contrast, allowing those bright flowers to pop.

        pstraubie, I know what you mean about how the more you photograph, the more you find out that you don't know. Thanks!

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        4 years ago from sunny Florida

        No surprise here, my favorite subjects to photograph are flowers, plants, and trees. I am learning. The more I photo the more I find out I do not know. thanks for all of the helpful info...your photos are spot on...

        Angels are on the way to you ps

      • Dolores Monet profile image

        Dolores Monet 

        4 years ago from East Coast, United States

        Thanks for the tips on how to take great pix of flowers. As an avid gardener, I am always attempting to photograph flowers, often with some pretty dull results. How can something that looks so pretty look so dull in my picture. I guess I'd better learn to use the settings on my camera. I do find that taking pix on a cloudy day helps make the colors pop.

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        I'm glad that some of these tips are applicable for smartphone photographers, heidithorne! Thanks!

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 

        4 years ago from Chicago Area

        Such great tips! I've been able to get some amazing flower pics even with my iPhone by using techniques like these. And you're so right that cropping and editing can turn even a mediocre flower photo into a stunning nature portrait. Voted up, beautiful and sharing!

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        I'm so glad to hear it, FlourishAnyway! I hope that you get to visit some gorgeous flowers in the near future.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        You have some gorgeous examples and helpful tips. This makes me want to take a trip to the botanical garden soon! Voted up and more.

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        I really appreciate the feedback, thefedorows!

      • thefedorows profile image

        thefedorows 

        4 years ago from the Midwest

        Rose, this is beautiful! What a helpful resource. You are a wonderful photographer. I liked the idea of taking a photo of a flower from another angle...great idea. Great hub!

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        I'm so glad to hear that, MsDora! Thank you!

        partyplanetindia, you don't have to be a professional photographer to learn how to take great pictures.

      • profile image

        Roy Milson 

        4 years ago from Mumbai, India.

        Hello randomcreative,

        I love to take Pictures and I wanted to be Photographer but unfortunately, I got forced to be something different.

        great tips

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        4 years ago from The Caribbean

        A very well-presented photography lesson. Your pictures make excellent demonstrations. Voted Up!

      • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

        Rose Clearfield 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, Susette! It takes practice and patience to find the right techniques for taking close up shots, regardless of the specific camera and lens.

      • watergeek profile image

        watergeek 

        4 years ago from Pasadena CA

        You've got a couple of really gorgeous photos here, Rose. I especially like the daffodil one. With my little Olympus DSL camera I discovered the shallow depth of field accidentally. I kept getting great shots one session, then not again for awhile, until I finally read the directions. Then it was a wonder to experiment. Unfortunately, I can't get very close without blurring out, so do have to use the zoom most of the time.

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