Photographing Your Flowers { Twin Cities Area Florist }

Hello! Here we are, again, preppin’ for all the Valentine’s Day fun that happens around the shop! This week, we’re planning to create, and shoot, a whole bunch of new flower arrangements for our website. Last week, we spent time photographing new chocolates to add to the mix, and the week before that, we cleaned up the Valentine’s page on our site so it’s all ready to add to, and show off. Now, after this week, all we have to do next is wait to start filling orders for the big day. ❤ Anyway, with today’s blog, we thought we’d take a little time to share some of our favorite tips about photographing flower arrangements. (We hear a lot of questions about this.) We’ll cover where to shoot, backgrounds, camera vs phone, lens type and more. So, whether you’re another florist looking to take better photos, have general questions, or you’re a amateur photographer who would like to learn a little more about the art of shooting flowers–this blog might help a bit. So, without further rambling, here are our favorite tips for photographing flowers…

{ Windows are a Flowers Best Friend. }

There is no need to bring in the big guns with professional lighting, backdrops and giant flashes to get really pretty shots of your flowers. (And, definitely, don’t worry about spending money and finding the space to store the fancy lighting, yourselves. It’s not worth it.) Placing your flowers anywhere near soft, natural, lighting, will do the trick beautifully. You want customers to be able to picture your arrangements on their own kitchen tables, in their own homes–we feel like studio lighting disconnects customers from the ‘feeling’ you want your arrangements to evoke.

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Natural lighting is pretty…and, well, natural.

{ Make like a Vampire. Stay out of the Sun. }

Yes. Natural, window, lighting is awesome–bright sunlight, not so much. Sure, we all love the feeling of bright, cheery, flowers on a warm, summery, day…but, for the sake of your photos, keep that sunny day feeling as just that, a feeling. Bright sun creates harsh shadows and super bright highlights on both your flowers, and in the background of your image. Both of those things are,well, kind of, not appealing in a photo. Shadows drown out, and muddy colors; blown out highlights distract your viewer. Below we posted a side-by-side. The first photo is, simply, window light. The second one is with the sun. The Hyacinth buds are super bright, and hard to see, on the side closest to the window, and the background is full of bright spots that distract the viewers eye from the flowers themselves. Cloudy days are your new bff for flower photography.

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No direct sun on the left. Sun on the right.

{ Keep it Simple, Sally. } 

We all have a tendency to want to add all kinds of cute stuff to our photos. Got a cute candle? Add it! An adorable photo frame? Stick it in there! Wanna show off some other products? Prop ’em up, and snap away! However, a cluttered photo feels, well, cluttered; and, I don’t know about you, but, I’m just not a huge fan of clutter. (Like most customers, probably.) Keep the colors coordinating. Shooting bright pink flowers, with a bright blue background feels (to me) like an 80’s music video–and, as nostalgic as that may feel, it’s also, well, a little crazy feeling. Keep the colors, the background and the props simple and calm. If you don’t have places like that to shoot (because your space is crowded, like ours), consider finding a big piece of wood to put behind your arrangements. You can hang different colors of cloth from it, lights, newspaper, etc., or just leave it natural. Having a neutral color of cloth/wood to go under your arrangement is helpful too. Having these two things basically means having a portable studio.

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Newspaper background, on an old table.

{ Angles }

Of course when you’re shooing for your website, or to specifically sell something, you want a solid, clear, face-forward, shot of your product. If you’re anything like us, however, you’re probably also shooting for social media, blogs, headers, Instagram, newsletters, etc. In those situations, you’re trying to catch an eye more than sell. Our favorite suggestion here…shoot from below, or shoot from above. It’s pretty and eye-catching–and, in the end, that’s all we really want.

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Top down…always pretty.

{ The biggest question we hear–should I get a good camera, or just my phone? }

Bottom line, use what you’re comfortable with. Investing in a ‘good’ camera, but not knowing how to use it, or being able to devote the time to learning it, will NOT make your photos better. In fact, they’ll probably end up looking worse–especially when you factor in the money that you spent trying to make them look ‘better’. If you get a bigger camera, you have to invest the time into learning what different lenses can do and how camera settings can assist you in different situations. Also, if you want to invest in a bigger camera, and go with one of those camera ‘kits’ that you see at Costco and such–be forewarned, the lenses that come with it will probably not get you what you’re looking for in your floral photography. Those lenses are great for outside stuff, and kids soccer games, and Christmas parties with Great Grandma Eunice. People always assume a big lens means pretty pictures, and a blurry, background; that’s, simply, not true though. I’m NOT trying to scare anyone away from getting a better camera, just giving out the warnings I wish I would have had when I invested in one, and quickly realized that my phone makes my photos look better than the 1,000 dollar thing I had just blown my tax return on. (Youtube, and photography forums, quickly became my best friend.) If you are shooting with your phone, and happy with your results, yet are debating on the upgrade–just make sure you have the time to learn. If you know you don’t have that time (and drive), then stay happy with your phone, and save yourself some major money.

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Photo on the left, shot with phone. On the right, with a big camera.

{ So, how DO you get the background blurry, then? }

So, you have the bigger camera–but, you aren’t getting the photos that you hoped for…what gives? Remember when we mentioned the whole
learning thing above? This is what we were talking about. (That was SUCH a mom thing to say. 🙂 ) We hear this all the time though–and, it’s all about aperture. (Again, more learning–check out a great description, here.) My favorite lens for this is a 50mm–often dubbed the’nifty fifty’. (I just call her my little work horse.) This lens is so versatile for your photography and it’s the only lens that I, truly, can’t function without. It will run you 300-400 dollars but it will ensure you get the backgrounds you’re looking for. My, wish-someone-would-have-warned-me-first-advice, with this lens is, is that it can be a bit touchy. If you don’t have a steady hand, you may want to invest in a tripod, as well. Again, learning, as well as trial and error, is so important–having the time to play, and experiment, with your new lens is crucial.

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A photo shot with the 50mm.

{ Being a Square is Cool. }

So, it’s no secret that we use Bloomnation for our shop–and, to make your arrangements show up beautifully on there, you gotta have a square-shaped photo. Remember, when shooting, that all of the little leaves dangling from your vase, and tall flowers jutting up from your arrangement need to be cropped, neatly, into a square later. Usually, for us, that means we need to back up a bit, and include lots of ugly background that we’ll be cropping out later. The square crop also works great on Instagram.

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A Valentine’s arrangement–headed for our website.

Well, those are our favorite tips; they pretty much cover all the bases of shooting flowers. We hope this helps answer any questions you might have when it comes to taking great photos of your flowers. We know that everyone does things differently and that some people really might like the looks that we aren’t crazy about–like pink flowers and a blue background. 🙂 It doesn’t mean you’re wrong, or that you should leave us nasty comments–it just means different strokes, for different folks, obviously. (It also means we would really LOVE to see what YOU can do. 🙂 )

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