How To Photograph Plants

succulents and cactus

Your plants are gorgeous. You look at them every day yet still can’t quite capture how beautiful they are. Today’s article is going to share tips and tricks for taking great plant photos so you can get your favorite green friends on the internet and show them off.

Why Do You Want To Photograph Plants?

If you are reading this, the chances are pretty good that you want to share your plants with the world. There are many ways to do so and a plethora of plants available to photograph, but we’ll cover that later. For now we’ll talk about why you want to share your plant photos with the world. There are three main reasons people want their photos in cyberspace:

To show off their plant collection and how beautiful they look on camera. To show off their plant they are selling. To get advice on how to care for their plant.

If you fall into either of the first two categories, you’re good to go for the most part with some basic photography rules. We’ll cover that later in this article, but if you’re looking for free advice on taking care of your plants, I can’t help you much—plant care is a completely different field than plant photography (and photography in general). You will have to look elsewhere.

Taking Great Photos Of Plants

Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years about taking great plant photos:

Use a macro lens

You can get away with not using a macro lens when photographing larger, more spreading plants, but for most succulents and small plants a macro lens is a necessity. Invest in a Canon 100mm 2.8 L IS USM if you have the money to spare or an affordable alternative such as the Sigma 105mm 2.8 EX DG Macro HSM Art. A macro lens will pay for itself many times over in the amount of plant shots you get in one day.

Photo your plants at the proper angle

When taking direct overhead pictures of small plants, you’ll need to take them at a slant to account for their flat sides. A slanted shot will ensure that your plant’s flat sides are facing the camera and giving you the best shot.

Use a tripod

You can get away without a tripod if you’re running around and moving your hands, but when you’re setting up for a long shoot it’s always better to use a sturdy tripod. Otherwise, everything will look wobbly and lame.

Don’t overdo the f-stops

Most people don’t realize this, but it’s important to expose your plants at the correct light without exposing them too much. The amount of light your plants receive is dependent on the size of the plant and on whether you’re shooting them in direct light or in shade. If you overexpose, your plants will end up looking a bit blue. If you under expose, they will turn out too dark or grainy.

Use fill flash

Fill flash will not only help bring back some color to your dark and gloomy shots with a lot of shadows, but it will also soften those high contrast areas that look harsh when taking direct overhead shots.

Take multiple shots and pick the best one

Shooting on a tripod doesn’t just give you the freedom to shoot without getting blurry images. It also gives you the freedom to take multiple photos of the same plant quicker and pick out your favorite when you look at them on your computer.

Put your plant in a natural setting

Rather than sitting a plant on top of some white paper, put it in a setting that isn’t contrived. Find rocks, leaves, and other plants to set your plant in front of and you’ll find that your shots look much more realistic. I also found that playing around with light and shadow at this point is easy when you’re trying to get the natural look.

Make your plants inviting

Think of ways to make your plants more inviting. Try putting some rocks in front of them or piling them on top. It’s a nice touch that makes the viewer want to get a closer look at the plant.

Know what kind of plant you’re taking a picture of before you shoot it

Many plants have a specific look that they need to achieve their best photo. For example, succulents with really wide leaves are hard to get a good shot of because there is no way for the light to hit all of the leaves evenly. A better choice would be a succulent with narrower leaves that can catch the light and give you a great shot.

Get down on your knees to shoot small plants

When taking photos of small plants sitting on the ground, it’s hard not to get down on your knees so you can really capture the whole plant. If you’re setting up for an all day shoot, I recommend getting wearing clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

Conclusion

Plants are great props for your shots, but you shouldn’t just grab any old plant and expect it to look good in your photography. Use this article as a guide to taking great photos of plants and to help you find the right plant for what you’re trying to achieve. While you may still have some learning to do about taking photographers, if you follow the advice I’ve given here, I think you’ll find that taking great photos of plants isn’t as hard as you thought.