Today, even with an inexpensive point and shoot camera or even a cell phone, it is possible to do garden photography that is beautiful. Here are five quick tips to help you get your best shots.
1. Know Your Goal
Is your goal to have an accurate representation of your garden, or is it more artistic? Are the plants the primary focus, or do you need to show the whole pot or garden? Knowing what you want before you take your pictures will help you figure out how to get what you need.
2. Don't be Afraid to Move
Don't be afraid to either move your self or move your subject. If you are shooting a garden pot, try turning your pot around or walk around it to find the best side. You might be surprised at which side gives you the best shot. Also, I often find that the best angle is shooting from above, so stand on a stepladder or shoot from a porch. Also try kneeling or lying on the ground to get a new view. Do close-ups and long shots. Try all kinds of different framing.
3. Notice Your Background
While you might think putting your pot on the grass works, often plants against a green lawn get lost. Wooden steps or a stone patio make great places to shoot a garden pot. Even a driveway can work. Also, as with anything you shoot, make sure you don't have anything distracting in the background. A tool or hose that shows up by mistake in a shot can ruin it or require lots of Photoshop shenanigans to get rid of it. Also, make sure to deadhead and tidy up your pot or garden before you shoot. Take a shot and check it to see if there is anything in the frame you don't want to see. If there is something you can't move, that you don't want in your shot, you will have to move to avoid it. Often, you can shoot around something unsightly.
4. Don't Shoot At High Noon
If you can possibly help it, do not shoot in bright sunshine in the middle of the day. Mornings and afternoons provide much easier and more interesting light to work with, so try and get out then. If you have to shoot at mid-day, grab a friend and a large bed sheet or piece of cardboard to help block harsh sunlight - though this will only work is you are shooting a relatively small area or a container garden. If you can't find someone to help, and you are shooting something small, try either using your body to block the light, or try out your contortionist skills and hold the cardboard in one hand and shoot with the other.
5. Shoot Lots and Then Shoot Some More
The beauty of digital is that shooting is essentially free. Give yourself lots of shots to choose from. Fool around with your camera settings and see what works. Many of even the simplest cameras have a macro setting (usually an icon of a flower) which can help you get great close ups. Read your camera manual or take some free online tutorials about using your camera. Most big manufacturers have websites with lots of great information. Try shooting the same spot on different days, or at different times of year. Try all kinds of framing - close-ups, medium shots and long shots. Also, play with your flash - even if you are outside on a bright day, sometimes it can really help.