Garden Photography 101: Why capture great photos of your garden?

Today I’m so excited to announce a guest post series on garden photography from one of my favorite garden writers, Maria at Sweet Domesticity. One of Maria’s signatures on her blog is stunning photos of the plants in her garden. She’s stopping by during the month of June to share some info with you in a series we’re calling Garden Photography 101, on how to capture great photos of your own garden this season.  

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Hello Minnesota Locavores! I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Amy on this series of guest posts! Not only is this topic near and dear to me personally, but it is a very timely topic as well since many of us here in The Great State of Minnesota are going about getting our gardens in for the year. I am excited to share some insights to help you capture some great images of your gardens this year.

We will definitely be getting into some technical tips and tricks for taking great photos, as well as some advice on capturing those perfect sharable garden photos, but to kick things off, let’s start with the first question you may be asking yourself: Why should I take the time to capture great photographs of my garden?


Because You Are Passionate About Your Garden

The main reason I photograph my garden is simply because I enjoy it. I am passionate about gardening, and photography has become a natural extension of my gardening over the years. Our gardens are filled with fleeting moments, and photography is a great way to capture and savor those moments.

Take a homegrown tomato, for example: you delight as the tomato starts to blush, the scent that fills the air as you brush against the foliage, the way the tomato softens as it ripens, the subtle differences in sweetness and acidity from variety to variety, and even the hazy buzz of the cicada, which serves as the soundtrack to late summer harvests. Gardening is all about the senses, and a great photograph of a garden tomato can evoke all of those senses and stir an emotional response of satisfaction, pride, and enthusiasm.


Because You Want to Document Your Garden

Garden journals are a great tool, but if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I’m not very good at keeping them. I jot down some notes here and there early in the season, but ultimately the primary record that I rely on from year to year are the photographs I have taken of the garden. I constantly find myself looking back through my photos to check the date of that late spring snowfall, or when the rhubarb started to emerge last year. Garden milestones tend to be the moments that we naturally want to photograph anyway. The photos serve as great way to track those key transitions that garden journals are meant to capture, like when seeds were sown, which varieties did best, when the harvest began, and when the plants went to seed.


Because You Are Looking for Inspiration

Photographs are also a great source of inspiration for future gardening seasons. From making sure you don’t forget about visual appealing varieties and color combinations, to planning for garden projects, photographs are a good way to hone in on what you love about your garden and what your next moves might be. I am always looking for ways to make my garden beds focal points in our home landscaping. I look for opportunities to draw the eye to the garden in the form of unique trellises, vertical gardening, container gardens, and mixing edibles in with ornamentals. When it comes time to plan how to implement those grand ideas, I rely heavily on my photographs to identify the perfect location for a dramatic arbor, a curious pathway, or uniquely colored foliage.


Because You Want to Be a More Focused Gardener

NPR recently ran a fascinating series about photographs and memory in the age of digital photography. One of the key takeaways for me was how we are much more likely to remember details and memories when we really take the time to focus on the subject of our photographs. When I photograph my garden, I rarely take photos of the entire garden or an entire plant. I’m usually down at eye level, looking specifically at a fruit, flower, or foliage that I want to capture. I’ve learned an incredible amount about plant anatomy, pollinators, garden pests, and seed saving by simply because I am intentional in photographing my garden. It forces me to slow down and pay closer attention. It makes me more tuned in to my garden, and I more readily notice when things are starting to change, or when something starts to go awry. Photographing my garden has made me a better gardener.


Because You Want to Share

Photographs have become an integral part of how we tell our stories through social media. When you put your heart and soul into something like nurturing your garden, you want to celebrate your hard-earned successes and that often means sharing a photo of that mouth-watering heirloom tomato you just picked on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. In fact, that might be your only motivation for photographing your garden, and that’s a great reason!

Sharing your gardening triumphs (and the tribulations, too) plays an important role in the local food movement. Photos of homegrown tomatoes on balconies, in community gardens, in small strips of alley green space, and backyard raised beds make gardening accessible to anyone. They inspire and push others off the fence into the wonderful world of homegrown vegetables, community gardens, and CSA memberships.


Sweet Domesticity profileMaria Slavik began Sweet Domesticity in 2010 to document her Minnesota gardening experiences. She and her husband grow on 170 square feet of backyard space and share recipes, photos and green thumb tips. Maria writes “my blog is equal parts inspired creativity and applicable practicality as I chronicle my journey towards a domesticity all my own.” 


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