How To Capture Beautiful Flower Images With Your Phone Camera

 

How to Capture Beautiful Flower Images with your Phone Camera

How good is that unexpected knock on the door, or the delivery of flowers someone at work was lucky enough to have their name on, as they make a beeline to the chosen one, heads turning, oohs and ahhs only to find they are for you!  They’re vibrant, freshly spritzed with droplets of water comfortably clinging on, the smell and those perfect petals.  I need to take a photo to freeze the moment in time it’s all so perfect. I want to show these babies off.

As a photographer, I like to capture those emotions in a photo and share them with my friends.  And I know lots of other people do too, which is what inspired me to write this post.  This post was almost titled "Please Don't Take Bad Photos of Great Flowers" or "Ahhhh, My Eyes Hurt!" or "And The Florist Wept Silently".  I’m often found wishing the photo maker had stepped to the right or the left to where the light is so I can see the intricate details of a flower, instead of the muddy, blah look flowers get when they are in the shadows. Like these poor posts:

Not shown in its best lightNice wrapping...is that a banana in the background? Shame I can't see the flowers. Not show in its best lightWhen light isnt considered when you photograph your flowers, they can end up with this dull, muddy look.

I'm a strong believer in the simple rule "If you are going to photograph it, make it fabulous".  And while photography is subjective, most people can agree on what makes a photo "bad".  So how does the average snapper get great shots of their Valentine's bouquet?  Here are a few simple tips and all you will need is a phone camera and a bit of practice.

Light

You’ve heard it before, ‘make sure the light is behind you’. But often we forget when you do that, you end up casting your own shadow over your beautiful blooms.  Look around your home/office.  Where is the strongest light source?  If you are lucky enough to have natural light streaming in from a window, that is a great place to start.  But if you only have artificial light (overhead or lamps) see where you can position your flowers to get the most light.   Open doors and curtains, you will be surprised when you look for light, where you find it.

Once you have found your light source, your job isn’t done. Now look for how the light is cast on your flowers. Can you see areas of highlights? Move around the flowers, remember you are often the shadow in your own way! If not, try moving yourself again to a different angle or move the flowers. Try taking a few sample shots from different angles to find the best light.

Sometimes the light can be flat lighting (no clear areas of light or shade) especially if indoors at night or under fluorescent office lights.  In this case, try to add an additional light source from a lamp or window.  Don't be tempted to use your phone flash- the light is too harsh to make your flowers shine.  Shadows and lightBe aware of where the light falls on your bouquet

Tips to Remember:

  • Go to the light!
  • Look for the light and shade on your flowers.
  • Move yourself or your flowers to get the best angle.
  • Take test shots from different angles.
  • Don't use the phone flash- it's too harsh for your delicate flowers.

Background

Once you have found the light, have a good look around for what else will be in the picture.  Are there distractions that you can easily remove (think clutter, baskets of washing, hubby watching t.v.)  If you can't remove something, like a wall colour, have a good think about whether you can make it work with your photo.  Take a quick test snap and look at the result.   If you are not happy with the background, you have a few options.  You can either move your flowers to a new location, setup your shot so that you crop out most if not all of the background, or try to setup a new background.  If you are cropping your shot, the end result will be a tight focus on the flowers.  This is great, but won't work if you want a photo that includes the entire floral arrangement or an image that shows size and scale (think long-stemmed roses...up close it's just a rose). 

Setting up a new background can be done using a funky backdrop (think curtains, throws, fabric or even wooden furniture), or you may "style" your photo to include other accessories like books, jewellery, candles or a window.  You may photograph your flowers with the floral paper and ribbons on or remove this and put them in a nice vase.  Don't be afraid to try out a few options.  We're incredibly fortunate these days that we don't have to pay for film or wait for our photos to be developed!

Once you have your location selected and have re-checked your light you still have to move!  This time it's about moving yourself to gain a new perspective.  How do your flowers look when you are looking at them from above, below or straight on?  Stand on a stool or chair if you need some height or crouch down to get yourself in the best angle. Busy BackgroundBe aware of whats in your background. Tips to Remember:

  • Remove clutter and distractions.
  • If 90% of the background works you can always crop the final image.
  • Look for contrasting or complementary background colours that don't detract from your flowers.
  • Try out some styling options.
  • Go high, go low...for a new perspective.

Focus

Most phone cameras have an auto-focus feature that will do the job quite well if you hold the camera still and wait for the display image to come into focus.  Where most people get the focus of an image wrong is when they put the camera too close to the flower (like the image below) or they try to use the zoom feature.  Since we can assume that you are trying to photograph a floral arrangement in your own home or office (not from 25 metres away) its safe to say that you should not need to use the zoom.  The zoom feature on most cameras is not going to give you a a quality image.  And neither is putting the camera this close to the flowers.  You are better off taking a great shot of the flowers and then editing your image and using the CROP feature to "zoom" into the detail or remove distractions.  And if you find that your images are blurry, even when you are using the auto-focus this generally indicates there is not enough light.  See the tips below on light sources. Crop, never zoom with your phone cameraRemember to allow room to crop, as you shoot Tips to Remember:

  • Slow down and hold the camera still
  • Wait for the auto-focus to work- you should see a clear image in your screen display
  • Stand about 1 metre away and don't use the zoom.  You can always crop the final image to "zoom" in on detail.
  • If your images are still blurry, check your light source.

Interest

Before you reach for an Instagram filter to make your photo look amazing, remember that how and what you choose to photograph is what will really grab someone's interest and turn an okay photo into something fabulous.  Look for size, texture, pattern and/or colour.  Maybe you want a close up shot to show the delicate water droplets on the velvety petals of a blood red rose.  Or maybe you choose the highlight the contrast between the soft, delicate flowers against the rough hessian lining.  This is your chance to really have fun with your photography and take some chances. 

You can also use your background and other styling options to help bring the image together to create interest.  Maybe you have your flower vase to the far left of the image to highlight the long, sweeping stems of an orchid.  If you can't capture your rose just how you want it in a vase, try slipping one out and laying it flat on the wooden dining table or the stone tiles.  Capture the delight of your little person having their first real smell of a fragrant rose or the tickle of a sprig of delicate daisy's tickling their toes.  Styling and propsTry different backgrounds and try some styling options Tips to Remember:

  • Look for size, texture, pattern and / or colour
  • Use perspective (up high, down low, tight focus, wide focus) to add interest.
  • Have fun and be creative- these flowers are there to make you happy!

Post Editing

Don't be afraid to crop your images, or use the straighten and auto correct features.  If you have taken the time to work through the previous tips, you will find that your post editing is much easier as you are just refining a great shot rather than trying to work magic on a bad photo. Add text or display in a gridTry some apps to try some varied visuals

Tips to Remember:

  • Start with a great photo to make post editing easy.
  • Filters are fun, but be careful they don't take away from the natural beauty of your flowers.
  • Use apps to add words or create photo grids.

Share the Love!

Don't keep your beautiful flowers just to yourself.  Share them with your friends on Instagram and Facebook.  We'd love to see your photos so be sure to tag #smpflorist and #smpvalentine.

Want to learn more?

We do phone camera workshops, or if you are a florist we can even come to you with our Pop Up Studio.  Contact us to learn more.


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