A few years ago I wrote a similar article on my website. But I figured I rewrite it with some new content and new tips, as it’s that spring season again!
I love spring. Little flowers pop up everywhere. In your garden, in nature, in parks, next to the roads: basically everywhere. And these flowers are great fun to photograph. Often, you just overlook those tiny flowers. But if you get up close, suddenly you’re in a whole new world. Trust me, people will look weird at you when you’re lying down next to the road in the grass with your camera, but that’s fine :)
So here are a bunch of tips on how to get started photographing spring flowers around you:
1. Look around!
This may sound super obvious, but like I mentioned before: You often overlook all the little flowers around you. The tiniest little flowers can look the best in your camera. So really take your time and look for those flowers. They’re really everywhere. But if you want a quiet environment, just go to a nearby park and look around there.
2. Choice of camera and lens:
Ok, nowadays even smartphones can take great close up photos. If you are going to use your smartphone, I recommend buying ‘macro adapter’. This will allow you to focus up close and you’ll be able to take beautiful close up shots of flowers. Otherwise, I recommend a ‘professional’ camera with a ‘fast lens’. Your best choice will be a dedicated macro lens. Most of the shots in this article were taken with my 90mm f/2.8 macro lens. Or, like with a smartphone, there are 'macro rings' available that let you focus up close with standard lenses.
But a 70-200 f/2.8 or similar telephoto lens will work as well. Slower lenses like a kit lens are not great for this kind of photography. Simply because the background blur (bokeh) will not be so soft and smooth. You could also get a fast prime lens, like a 50mm f/1.8. These are relatively cheap and can give you great results (for portraits as well :) )
3. Get LOW!
Yes, you will want to be at the same height of the flower. You don’t want to be pointing downwards. So you have to get on your knees, or even lower. Bring a blanket so you can be comfortable. The reason why you want to be very low, is that you’ll then get a lot of depth in your photo. The background will go on in the distance, creating this beautiful blurry effect. Bonus tip: A camera with a flip screen is very useful!
The camera is inside the grass, all the way on the ground. The grass gives an extra layer of depth in the photo.
4. The BACKGROUND is more important than the subject.
And this brings me to the next topic: Background. When we are shooting these tiny flowers, the background is one of the most important aspects. You’ll want to have a ‘clean’ background that does not distract from the subject. You can also play with the background by simply moving your camera a little bit to the left or to the right. The background will then completely change. You can spend a lont time photographing just 1 flower and keep moving your camera just a little bit, just to get that perfect angle.
beautiful gradient of colours behind the subject makes this shot very pleasing.
Bonus tips: Photograph flowers next to a car road in the late afternoon or early morning. You can use the traffic lights as a backdrop with create bokeh effects!
Photographing early morning, with lights as a background bokeh.
5. Every SUBJECT can look incredible with the right light and angle
Even the most ‘boring’ little flower can really come to life with beautiful light in the background. Try out different little flowers that seem just normal when you look at them. You’ll be surprised how beautiful some of these look through your camera. Even simple leaves can look amazing. Yes, this gets addicting.
a simple leave with blue flowers in the aground looks very satisfying.
6. Get further, or super close.
Photograph a flower in its environment. Use layers on the foreground to create depth in your image. This can be grass, a branch , another flower in the foreground etc. Or do the opposite: Get super close to the flower and focus on its details. This is only possible with a macro lens. Focus on the pistils, or simply shapes and colours.
Here I chose to frame this patch of flowers a bit wider. I photographed through the branches of the tree that gives extra depth to this shot.
Here I went so close to only focus on the details of the pistils.
7. Go out early morning to photograph
In spring the mornings can be humid. If you go out early morning you can catch the golden light. But often, the grass and little flowers are covered in little dew drops. This can give an extra magical effect to your photos. If you wanna cheat: you can also bring a little perfume bottle and fill it with water and spray the flowers yourself. This can create a similar effect.
8. Creative angles:
I mentioned about getting low and photograph the flowers from a low angle. This works great. But if you want to get creative, try a top down view from interesting patterns of flowers. Or reflections in water. You’ll get some completely different results, which a great fun to try.
interesting pattern in a cactus plant, photographed from top down.
Cherry blossom trees, reflecting in water.
9. Shoot hand-held.
Lots of people will tell you otherwise, but by shooting hand held you’ll be able to be very precise in your composition. Also: You’ll often be able to shoot from closer to the ground. With a tripod that’s difficult. I always shoot hand held and often almost widen open (lowest f-stop number) to get that super dreamy look. I realise that’s not for everyone, but that’s how I do it.
10. Editing can make your shots even more magical.
When we shoot in RAW format, the images are often quite flat. Play with colours and saturation, and even consider adding some color/blur in some parts of the image. It’s entirely up to you! If you’re interested in my own editing workflow, I do have a full editing course available that also includes techniques on how to edit these kinds of shots.
GO OUT there! I often see people that are not really motivated, but once they go out there with their camera and really focus on these little flowers, they suddenly get addicted. Trust me, I’ve seen it a lot :) So if you like these kinds of shots, ANYONE can do it! Just go out there and try!
I hope you enjoyed these tips. Go out there and try! And feel free to show me your results. You can send me an email or simply talk to me on Facebook or Instagram.
Thanks for reading!
Shots edited with techniques that can be found in my Full Editing Course on Landscape Photography.