An Almost Unknown, Counter-Intuitive Approach To Photographing Flowers That Produces Stunning Results

Secrets of Master Photographers Tip #1: Photographing Flowers

During my interview with master flower photographer Tony Sweet, Tony talked about an almost unknown, counter-intuitive approach to photographing flowers that produces gorgeous results.

Tony recommended that rather than starting with the subject (the flower), which is what almost everyone does, Tony first finds a background and then finds a flower to put in front of it.

Here is why Tony says this is so important, what to look for (and what to avoid!) in a background, and how to make sure your backgrounds add to -- and not subtract from -- your flower photographs...

Select the Background First When Photographing Flowers

Tony believes that the background is probably more important than the flower itself, because backgrounds can be very distracting.

Many amateur photographers don't even see the background when they photograph flowers. In fact, they are very surprised when they look at their images. All they see when their photographing is the subject -- but the actual image, of course, also includes the background.

An Important Rule in Flower Photography

An important rule is that the background should not dominate the flower. It should never overpower your subject. Keep it simple.

By first selecting a background that doesn't distract from the beauty of your subject, your photographs of flowers will improve.

However, if you take it a step further and choose backgrounds that complement the flower -- instead of compete with it, and perhaps even makes the color of the flower pop -- your flower photography will be enhanced even more.

What Color Background Is the Worst?

Tony says there is one color background you should never use: white. It will always distract your viewers from the subject, because it's bright and pulls your eye away from the flower.

A grayish white which almost turns bluish can be OK in certain situations.

Other things that don't work: really bright areas that compete with the flower, very black areas, and busy, competitive backgrounds.

Blurring the Background

Another way to make sure the background does not distract from the subject is to blur it. This is very important -- you usually want a nice, soft, blurred background to enhance the beauty of the flower.

My Flower Photographs

I must say that I love photographing flowers. I recently tried out some of these ideas, and the results frankly amazed me. Many subscribers have asked, so I'd like to share three photos with you.

(Click photo for larger image)

For the first photograph, I wanted to keep the background very simple -- just a nice blurry green.

I liked the drop of water on the flower (I didn't add it), and the feather and the flower provide a nice balance in the composition. There is no question that the flower is the subject.

(Click photo for larger image)

The second photograph again has a lot of blur: both in the other similar flowers and the rest of the background. The yellow in this image does draw the eye, so it illustrates what Tony said: this would have been nicer if those background flowers had been a darker color. Nonetheless, I like the composition a lot.

(Click photo for larger image)

Finally, my favorite image is the last one. I took a lot of photographs of this flower, and the backlighting is exceptional -- it makes the flower pop. The very soft blur of the colors in the background compliment the subject and make this particular photograph my favorite.

Some Final Thoughts

So that's Secrets of Master Photographers Tip #1 about photographing flowers. If you haven't yet, you can listen to Tony's entire interview on flower photography here.

Next week you'll find out about two websites you can visit (free) that will give you fresh, new and specific ideas on how to photograph virtually anything (even something VERY obscure) to make the your shots MUCH more interesting.

Until then, I'd love to hear your comments about this article. You can share them below.

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