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Materials and Tools

Taking the perfect plant photo

Amanda Mackinnon

Amanda Mackinnon

April 12, 2014

A great plant photo is a beautiful thing. It’s a lot like a great real estate shot in many ways – it can really sell the dream. However I think that often a good plant shot is not given the credit that it really deserves.

Salvia Heatwave Radiance

Salvia Heatwave Radiance

There are many ways to feature a particular plant – we see close up (macro) images of gorgeous flowers, individual specimens in gardens and containers, mass plantings of lovely hedges and the more lifestyle photography that might include people, gardens and a whole variant of interesting backdrops.

But what does it take to get the perfect shot? If only there was one answer!

Often it begins with a lot of planning. Trying to showcase a new plant in all its glory takes time. This starts with planning the shots you’re after and planting the plants in preparation. If you need a hedge photograph for example this may take a couple of years of tending to the plants in order to get them to the desired level of maturity in the right location. When the plants are finally ‘ready’ it can often involve a bit of ‘luck’ as to whether they are all flowering nicely at the same time and looking their best.

Lavender Violet Lace

Lavender Violet Lace

The Princess Lavender

The Princess Lavender


Daphne Eternal Fragrance

Think about what else is going to be in the shot. If you’re after a photograph in a funky pot, on a new deck or beside an old door then obviously these ‘props’ need to be sourced. This can be time consuming in itself as what can look good in a shop might not work behind the lens. The challenge is magnified if people or pets are also in the shot – that old saying is definitely true about not working with kids and animals!

Photo day is always subject to change. The weather plays a key role in influencing the outcome. Usually overcast conditions are best for plant photography as harsh or bright light plays havoc with shadows and colours. Wind and rain can also jump into the equation at any moment causing all sorts of problems. Imagine trying to capture a close up shot of an insect on a flower when it’s windy.

Leptospermum Fore Shore 033

A great image might be the result of a lengthy photo shoot, playing with different camera angles, focusing on different individual blooms on a plant, or trying different techniques with multiple subjects – try getting that cat to walk past at just the right speed! If the plant is in the ground and can’t be moved, sometimes the background also needs to be changed to compliment the subject – think screens, fencing and outdoor furniture.


Acacia Limelight 046

Acacia Limelight

We are lucky in our industry that we have such beautiful things to photograph – but I would be interested to hear in your challenges. Perhaps you might like to share your ‘best’ and ‘worst’ plant photo experience!

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