Picture-Perfect Moments in Your Garden: 5 Tips for Stunning Photography

Are you one of those gardeners who likes to take photos of your plants as they grow and bloom?

You can catalog your garden’s walk through the seasons through photography that allows you to keep moments of nature’s splendor frozen in time forever. If you’ve got a garden, then the most beautiful and interesting subjects to photograph could be right in your own yard.

If you’d like to grow your garden photography skills, here are five tips that can help you keep the memories of those beautiful, vibrant colors of your garden oasis alive, no matter what the season.

View your garden through a different lens

You look at your yard all the time, but you’re probably noticing the plants, flowers, trees or birds. Keep looking at those, but this time, consider the garden as the sum of all its parts - flowers, plants, structures, decorations, furniture, perhaps a water feature.

With your camera or your cell phone capture vistas that include all the elements of your garden. Try to photograph the garden collectively first. Then work on medium shots that are zoomed-in a bit, and then get some close-ups. Shoot both horizontals and verticals. (Note from editor: In journalism school, I learned the rule of "wide, medium, tight, tight, tight!")

When’s the best time to take photos of the garden?

Almost any time is a good time. Something is always in bloom, or there’s a busy beetle, an elegant butterfly, or an interesting bird buzzing around. Look at interesting leaves and branch formations, and plants that are blooming in different colors.

Focus on medium distance for wider shots, and closeups for those cool branch or bark patterns, leaves, or buds in bloom.

During the colder seasons, look at those same parts of your garden and see how ice plays on the branches and leaves, and how some greenery always pokes through the snow.

Shooting when the weather is cloudy or overcast is best for lighting, but bright sun is also good. Remember, there’s always seasonal and weather variety and opportunity.

Think beyond the blossoms

Flowers and blooming plants are probably everyone’s favorite subject to photograph, but there is more to your garden than that.

Think about what gives your garden its personality. You may have structures, decorations, furniture, fences, interesting pots or containers, or flower beds. Even vegetable gardens have plenty of interesting elements.

Your garden is an invitation to get creative. You might try to photograph just part of a flower, or perhaps from the back instead of the front. If you shoot a flower close, you can play with ways to fill the entire frame with different angles of the flower.

Look at the backgrounds, make sure they’re either complementing the photo or at least not detracting from it. Varying angles leads to discoveries and allows you to determine how important the background should be in the photo. (Another note from editor: Watch out for mergers. That is, make sure it doesn't look like a tree in the background is growing out of a flower blossom.)

What kind of gear should you use?

You can certainly start out using your cell phone. But if you’d like to get a basic photography setup that’s not too complicated, you’ll need:

  • Entry-level DSLR such as a Nikon D3500 or Canon EOS Rebel 7i
  • Kit lens, such as an 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens
  • Entry level memory card

Try “lock focus,” which is available on the iPhone and many Androids. Tap and briefly hold your subject’s image on the screen, and the focus and exposure will adjust to fit the subject.

Take notes about your shots, and share!

People will want to know what the plants and trees are, and what time of year it is. Take notes. Be spontaneous and take more photos than you think you’ll need. And the best photos are shared. Put them on your social media and wait for your friends to respond.

Try submitting your photos, along with a brief story about your garden, to a local gardening blogger or news outlet and ask for their feedback on your work. (Yet another note from editor: Share with us on Vego Garden social media pages!)

Look back upon your work on dreary winter days and think about your color scheme for next year’s planting.


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