6 Tips to Take Better Flower Photos

Photographing flowers is often rewarding.

However if the sun isn't at a good angle, or there is too much shade, or if the wind is blowing too strongly for your subject to keep still, or if the subject is hiding behind others in a place difficult to reach, then it can be frustrating.

Experts advise that early morning and late afternoon provide lovely lighting for capturing the best flower photos (as well as for sunrise and sunset photographs).

But these are not always practical times - you can capture good flower photos in all sorts of lighting and conditions.

Fringe Lily - Thysanotus glaucus - Western Australia.
Fringe Lily - Thysanotus glaucus - Western Australia. | Source

How to take flower photos

  • Tripods and image stabilization are useful (but not necessary) for capturing clear photos of flowers.
  • Macro lenses or settings are nice to help you focus on tiny details.
  • Software can help adjust, process and crop your photos.

The main ingredients of a good flower photo are patience, the ability to hold the camera still, and knowing how far away from the flower your camera and lens needs to be.

Plus you should enjoy taking many photos, and have an eye for detail.

Good balance is also an asset - perhaps those yoga classes can come in handy again?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lotus in full bloom, Aizuwakamatsu, Japan.Wasp on a daisy, Melbourne, Australia.Sakura on my balcony, against a brick wall.Common weed in the grass, Melbourne, Australia.Pink daisy, Melbourne, Australia.
Lotus in full bloom, Aizuwakamatsu, Japan.
Lotus in full bloom, Aizuwakamatsu, Japan. | Source
Wasp on a daisy, Melbourne, Australia.
Wasp on a daisy, Melbourne, Australia. | Source
Sakura on my balcony, against a brick wall.
Sakura on my balcony, against a brick wall. | Source
Common weed in the grass, Melbourne, Australia.
Common weed in the grass, Melbourne, Australia. | Source
Pink daisy, Melbourne, Australia.
Pink daisy, Melbourne, Australia. | Source

1. Backgrounds and lighting

To make a single flower stand out of a photo, a contrasting background is important. Dark backgrounds for lighter or brighter coloured flowers work well, but white will also bring out the colours in flowers.

A clear blue sky can work well, especially if you are photographing flowers that are above you. Play with shadows and rays of sunlight for different effects. Use a piece of paper (white or another light colour) to capture only the shadow of the flower.

The light from an overcast or stormy sky helps colours to stand out naturally, and raindrops on flowers lend a delicacy that is often not seen when dry. But make sure your camera is protected from rain!

If your flower subject is near, in or on water, the reflections can add a different feeling. You can focus on the reflection or the flower, or move the water to add gentle ripples.

Don't use a flash, unless you can diffuse the harsh, bright light. Flash photography often washes out colour, and introduces strong shadows, not something you want to happen to your flower!

If the single flower you want to photograph is on a busy or distracting background, you'll need to reduce the focus on the background.

If you have a camera that allows you to, select a wide aperture to narrowly focus only on the flower, and blur the background details. Alternatively, you could use a macro setting and get in close to the flower.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The center of a wildflower, Canon 650D, 100mm F2.8 L IS macro lens.Lavender, Leipzig, Germany.Lilium pollen, Bremen, Germany.Cherry blossoms, Melbourne, Australia.Autumnal sakura on my balcony.
The center of a wildflower, Canon 650D, 100mm F2.8 L IS macro lens.
The center of a wildflower, Canon 650D, 100mm F2.8 L IS macro lens. | Source
Lavender, Leipzig, Germany.
Lavender, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
Lilium pollen, Bremen, Germany.
Lilium pollen, Bremen, Germany. | Source
Cherry blossoms, Melbourne, Australia.
Cherry blossoms, Melbourne, Australia. | Source
Autumnal sakura on my balcony.
Autumnal sakura on my balcony. | Source

2. Macro photos of flowers

In macro photography the depth of field is very shallow because the aperture is large.

This results in blurred backgrounds (and foregrounds), perfect for focusing only on tiny details, such as the center of the flower, the pollen, or the veins in the petals.

You don't need to get the entire flower in focus, just spot focus on the details that you want to highlight in your photo.

If your camera allows, you should use low ISO settings, to reduce the amount of noise in the photo - you want your details to be sharp and crystal clear.

To keep your camera stable when taking macro shots, a tripod or some form of image stabilization, either built into the camera or in the lens, is highly recommended.

There are even small tripods available for cell phones and ultra-portable cameras!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A bee on ruffled prunus flowers.A field of tulips in the Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
A bee on ruffled prunus flowers.
A bee on ruffled prunus flowers. | Source
A field of tulips in the Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
A field of tulips in the Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. | Source

3. Wider angles for flower fields

To capture a field of flowers, you'll want to use a smaller aperture and a larger depth of field.

A landscape or portrait setting on most cameras will do this for you automatically. Include features like trees or buildings to show the flower field's size.

Or photograph the field from underneath the flowers for an insect's view.

If you are lucky, you can catch an insect on the flower. This will add interest to your shot and catch the eye of your audience.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dried seed head, Quedlinburg castle gardens, Germany.Dandelion seeds still attached, Melbourne, Australia.Wild grass seeds, Great Ocean Road, Australia.Old daffodil, Melbourne, Australia.Dried flower wreath.
Dried seed head, Quedlinburg castle gardens, Germany.
Dried seed head, Quedlinburg castle gardens, Germany. | Source
Dandelion seeds still attached, Melbourne, Australia.
Dandelion seeds still attached, Melbourne, Australia. | Source
Wild grass seeds, Great Ocean Road, Australia.
Wild grass seeds, Great Ocean Road, Australia. | Source
Old daffodil, Melbourne, Australia.
Old daffodil, Melbourne, Australia. | Source
Dried flower wreath.
Dried flower wreath. | Source

4. Seed heads and dead flowers

Don't give up on flowers as they are dying, or on their dry remnants. The textures of grasses, seed heads and dead flowers are completely different to flowers - devoid of colour, but often with strong sharp lines and shadows.

Photographing flowers against a back-lit white piece of paper can expose veins and features normally hidden. This is especially so for capturing delicately pressed dried flowers or foliage.

Don't forget to look around for grass seed heads, dying or dried flowers and fallen petals, when hunting for your flower photos.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sepia rose, Melbourne, Australia.Antiqued orchids, Hobart, Australia.Sepia wax flower, Melbourne, Australia.Sepia weed, Melbourne, Australia.
Sepia rose, Melbourne, Australia.
Sepia rose, Melbourne, Australia. | Source
Antiqued orchids, Hobart, Australia.
Antiqued orchids, Hobart, Australia. | Source
Sepia wax flower, Melbourne, Australia.
Sepia wax flower, Melbourne, Australia. | Source
Sepia weed, Melbourne, Australia.
Sepia weed, Melbourne, Australia. | Source

5. After effects

You can use most photo editing software to crop your photo and remove unwanted details, to fix lighting issues, reduce noise, blur areas, or make colour adjustments.

A bit more extreme - black and white, sepia and other effects can be applied to your photos, giving them a completely different quality.

To bring attention to texture and details that would otherwise be hidden, black and white is a good choice. The best flowers to turn into black and white photos are those with bold and contrasting colours, lines and/or tones.

Sepia makes photos look antique and nostalgic, often used in wedding and urban photography. You can also add noise to make a photo appear older.

6. Gear for photographing flowers

For close-up flower photography, a macro lens, or at the least a camera with a macro setting, makes capturing detailed crisp images much easier.

Tripods or monopods help with stability issues, you need to be able to keep the camera very still to capture details.

A camera with image stabilization, or lenses with built in image stabilization can also help to capture sharp clear details.

Various lenses and filters can be used to add lighting and colour shift effects. A polarizing filter makes skies bluer and darker, deepens the colour of non-metallic objects, and reduces reflections on glass, smooth surfaces and water.

A white wildflower, taken with my Canon 100mm IS macro lens and 650D camera.
A white wildflower, taken with my Canon 100mm IS macro lens and 650D camera. | Source

Upgrading your equipment?

If you are looking to upgrade to a DSLR camera, especially if you want to take macro photographs of flowers, look through the range of lenses available for the cameras you are considering.

I knew I was staying with Canon, as they had the image stabilization system that worked best for me, and the biggest range of lenses.

I chose the camera body to fit my hand - not too heavy or cumbersome, so I could get flower shots at any angle.

The 100mm F2.8 L IS macro lens has only recently been released, but received rave reviews. It was also the only IS macro lens available at the time I was looking. I'm delighted with how my flower pictures with my new lens and camera turn out!

→ How to decide which DSLR lenses you should buy when upgrading

Everlasting flowers, Wakkanai, Japan.
Everlasting flowers, Wakkanai, Japan. | Source

Final tips

You don't need expensive gear or extensive training to take good flower photos.

Most of the photos in this hub were taken by me, with no training, and a mid-range consumer camera without any add-ons (Canon Powershot S3 IS). I am often quite shaky, so the image stabilisation is necessary for me. But, I did not even use a tripod for any of these photos!

As with most photography, be patient, take many photos, and play around with lighting, positions and subjects. Especially with flower photography, expect that a great number of the photos will unfocused or have other aspects that detract.

Play around with your favourite photos in image editing software, both to make small image corrections and to make larger changes.

Most importantly, have fun, and enjoy the time you spend hunting flowers!

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24 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Wonderful hub! Beautiful as well as very informative. Photographing flowers is one of my favorite things to do. I can't wait for spring to get here. I have voted this up, beautiful and SHARING!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Thanks much for sharing your tips and for encouragement to use my camera more! Your flower photography is really beautiful. I'm also looking forward to spring flowers. I hope you are taking advantage of online opportunities to market your work!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

Nice images, however a tripod can prove very useful in many instances as can a zoom lens.


EyesStraightAhead profile image

EyesStraightAhead 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

Beautiful photos and great tips. I have a great digital camera and love to take pictures, but have still not learned all of the settings. I have seen what others do with the same camera and it is amazing! I love that you also shared after effects. Thank you for sharing!


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Thank you so much sgbrown! It will be lovely when spring arrives - it is my first time in exceptionally bitter cold weather (-15 Celcius today), so I'm looking forward to seeing some green and photographing some more flowers!


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

RTalloni - thank you! And I'm glad to be an encouragement!

I haven't looked at many places where I can market photos (only the DeviantArt shop so far). Most of the stock sites I've looked at need higher resolution images than I normally can provide (my camera is fairly old). I will definitely reconsider when I upgrade my camera!


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Thanks LuisEGonzalez! Tripods can definitely help, and if I were planning a trip purely for photography, I would take one. Most of my photos are taken while out hiking, or on unplanned stops.


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Thank you EyesStraightAhead! I'm also often awed with shots taken by others who have the same camera! I've only just started with modifying my photos (other than cropping), so I'm not overly comfortable with it just yet.


learner365 profile image

learner365 4 years ago

Beautiful photos and very informative Hub. I am sure your tips will come handy in the spring season ahead :)

My vote up and beautiful.Thank you for SHARING !!!


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Spring is up ahead? It's so cold here that it feels as if it is still ages away! Thanks learner365!


daisynicolas profile image

daisynicolas 4 years ago from Alaska

Gorgeous images! I have taken several shots of plants and flowers and felt compelled to publish them too after seeing yours. Still wish I have a better camera than a digital one.


crookedcreekphoto profile image

crookedcreekphoto 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

Beautiful photographs! It took me a good ten years to figure out how to create a good flower photograph.


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Thanks so much daisynicolas! There are good and bad points to film cameras - the cost of film production is very high now, so I'm happy to stick with digital.


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Thank you crookedcreekphoto! I take many more bad shots than good ones - my philosophy is to persevere, and take so many, that I'll get some good ones. The best have always been by accident!


Dale Hyde profile image

Dale Hyde 4 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

Thanks for a most informative hub! It is amazing to get such great shots with the camera you are using. I have always enjoyed taking photos of things in nature. The flower shots are well done! As you mentioned, taking lots of photos is sometimes necessary to get those that you truly like and are of good quality. One good thing about the digital cameras is that there is no expensive film wasted as well as developing costs! Voted up, informative and useful.


Keri Summers profile image

Keri Summers 4 years ago from West of England

I love to photograph flowers, but learnt some new tips here, thank you. It's a good point about balance, especially when needing to crouch low for a flower.


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Thank you so much Dale! I think I tend to push my camera to it's limit. I'd love to upgrade, but DSLRs plus lenses seem to be a little too heavy for me. I also wouldn't consider returning to film, the costs are too high, both monetary and environmental.


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Thanks Keri! I'm happy I could provide some useful tips. I always wonder what people in parks think when they see me contorting strangely, trying to get a close photo of something they often wouldn't even notice!


Keri Summers profile image

Keri Summers 4 years ago from West of England

My avatar photo comes from me doing the same in an Australian animal park - photographing the "weeds" when everyone else is looking at the kangaroos and koalas!


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Keri - I don't understand why weeds are considered by many to not be 'beautiful' or worth the time to photograph!


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

I need to learn how to do this as I love painting flowers and having a good photo really helps. Great photography and voting UP.


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany Author

Thanks Carol! Painting or drawing from a reference photo is so much easier and more relaxing!


Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 3 years ago from Oklahoma

Great tips! I have been trying to photograph many of my flowers, and I get really frustrated when the photos don't turn out being at least usable. I will definitely bookmark this page for future reference, as I dream of being able to upgrade to a better camera someday. Until then, I will experiment with some of your tricks.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

Great tips! I have a Canon Rebel XT. Sometimes it takes hundreds of tries to get the perfect photo in nature. I've been known to step out of my house and take 500 pictures of one flower or insect. But in the end it's so worth it if you get the right shot!

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