Striving for Better Flower Photography

The Flower Photography Paradox

Flower photography is popular. Probably the number one subject matter for new photographers is flowers.  Heck the first thing I did when I bought my first digital camera was to photograph flowers in my garden. Flowers have a lot going for them as photography subjects.

  • Flowers are beautiful
  • Flowers are eye catching
  • Flowers are colorful
  • Flowers are easily available to everyone

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To create better more interesting and intriguing photographs, it is said that one must stand in front of interesting and intriguing subjects.   Other than people, flowers are probably the most readily available subject available.  You purchase flowers from any florist or supermarket or grow your own or visit a local public garden.

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The problem is that readily available subjects means that everyone and their brother will also be taking photographs of flowers.  On Fine Art America everyday new flower photographs are uploaded.  There are probably millions of flower photographs already in the database offered for sale from thousands of photographers from rank amateurs to seasoned professionals.

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The challenge of flower photography is to offer something different.  Something new and exciting.   Something that will take your flower photography stand out from pack.  Let’s face it, flowers are popular and people buy flower photographs, they also take lots of flower photographs themselves.  In order to sell flower photographs you have to offer something that the general public can not take themselves.


Robert Mapplethorpe found a way to make flowers sensual.  He was under no disillusion as to the selling power of such works – which lent the owner an air of controversy even as they fit into a perfectly acceptable and aesthetically pleasing norm. “Sell the public flowers…” he once proclaimed, defining precisely this sentiment. “Things that they can hang on their walls without being uptight.”


Here are some tips for better flower photography, things that will make your images stand out among the zillions of bad flower photographs we see everyday on social media.   Note that these are technical tips, the creativity part is all on your own.

  1. Diffused Lighting – most of the bad flower photography we see has harsh, dark shadows.  Try photographing on an overcast day with soft diffused light.  Or bring a screen outside to diffuse the lighting.  You can also bring the flowers inside and shoot next to the soft window light coming in from a window.  Bottomline – look at the lighting and wait for the optimal time to shoot your flowers or create better lighting around them.
  2. Use a tripod.  A tripod will allow you to slow down and frame your shot as well as fine tune the focus.
  3.  Get down low.  Shoot the flowers from a low angle to see more of the flower.
  4. Try a shallow depth of field to blur out the background (called bokeh) and bring the focus in on a single flower.
  5. Create contrast with a background color.  By using a background that has a different color than the main subject helps to define what is important in the picture.
  6. Develop your own style.  The key to standing out from the crowd is to develop a style and vision all of your own.  This can be difficult in the world of photography because of the mechanical nature of the medium but if you push yourself long enough an individual style will emerge and this will separate you from the pack.

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More Flower Photography by Fine Art Photographer Edward M. Fielding