Today Maria at Sweet Domesticity is back for our last installment of Garden Photography 101. During the month of June, Maria stopped by for a series on how to capture great photos of your garden this season. Be sure to check out her other posts: Garden Photography 101: Why Capture Great Photos of Your Garden & Garden Photography 101: The technicals of Great Garden Photos. Thanks Maria!
Over the past month we’ve talked about why you should photograph your garden, and how to compose a great garden photo, and now the time has come to pull it all together with some thoughts on what to photograph while you’re out and about in the garden and how to snap great share-worthy photographs.
Everyone wants that awesome, one of kind, right-place-right-time photo that garners “likes” and “shares,” but what is it in your garden that you should be looking for, how do you find those unique situations that one of kind photos are made of, and how do you capture your garden at its best? Today we’ve got you covered with a list of 10 sharable moments to help focus your garden photography efforts. Whether finding the right subject isn’t coming easily, or you’re just looking for some examples and inspiration, this list should help you capture some of those great moments in the garden and start spreading the good word about gardening and local food:
Garden Photos #1: Capture Transitions
The garden is a constant state of transition, so if you are looking to capture sharable garden moments, look no further than what is transforming right before your eyes: blossoms giving way to itty bitty fruit, blushing tomatoes, and plants going to seed are all great subjects for garden photography.
I’ve always loved this photo of ripening Sungold cherry tomatoes because of how it captures the progression from green to gold to orange as the tomatoes ripen. From a technical aspect, there are a lot of desirable things going on, not the least of which is the way the tomatoes form a diagonal line across the frame for a visually appealing and balanced composition that pulls they eye right through the transition from little green tomato to sun-sweetened garden candy.
Garden Photos #2: Capture Planting
In early spring, the garden is full of potential and anticipation, and those emotions are easily captured with a handful of seed being sown, peas or beans in a row of freshly turned black dirt, or in the little patch of soil that is heaving up as a germinating seed breaks through.
This photo of an onion set was taken late in the day as I was lining them up for planting. The sun is setting to the west (on the right) and the low angle is highlighting the warm tones in the papery outer layers of the onion. Not only is there a strong sense of the potential within this little quarter-sized onion, but the contrast created by the sunlight makes the soil feel incredibly dark and rich.
Garden Photos #3: Capture Flowers
Blossoms are the precursor to veggies, so it really is a momentous occasion when they make their appearance in the garden. Blossoms are a great subject for photographs because there is a lot of structure to even the simplest flower, and there are so many different aspects to focus on, like anthers, stamens, pistils and petals.
What I love most about this photo of a pepper blossom is the point of view. The from-above angle provides a slightly different look at a common sight from my garden. It highlights the structure of the flower in an unexpected way. I’ve taken numerous photos of pepper blossoms over the years, but this angle makes this one more memorable than any of the others that were taken from a more straight forward point of view.
Garden Photos #4: Capture Life in the Garden
Gardens are their own self-contained ecosystems and there is a lot of life in the garden in addition to the fruits, veggies, and herbs you plant. From pests and beneficial insects to the occasional toad or thorn in your side rabbit, capturing the life in the garden portrays a dynamic, living environment.
This is a great example of where the background really makes the photo. This photo was taken late in the garden season as I was checking on how my dry beans were coming along when I discovered this dragonfly camouflaged among the vines and supports. I love that this photo not only shows the life in the garden, but the environment as well.
Garden Photos #5: Capture Milestones
Gardening success is not solely measured in pounds of tomatoes harvested or the number of perfectly round pumpkins. Look for the things that define gardening success for you: the first time you were able to successfully start a tomato from seed, the cucumber that reaches the top of the trellis, or the first raspberry harvest of the season that requires a bowl to contain it.
One of the big milestones for my garden each year is when the tomato plants top the backyard fence. It has become a bit of a conversation piece with our neighbors, and so every year I get excited when the tomato plants start to peek over the fence. I captured this photo very quickly one day last summer, and while the original composition wasn’t that great, there was still something about that tomato leaf just starting to reach over the fence that I loved. With a little cropping to improve composition, and a little straightening to level out the horizon in the background, I ended up with one of my favorite garden photographs.
Garden Photos #6: Things that Make You Go Hmm…
Look for the things in your garden that strike you as odd or interesting: heirloom varieties that are especially colorful, oddly shaped or sized vegetables, and unique features of a particular plant or vegetable. These types of unusual and particularly interesting subjects make for photos that make others stop, take a closer look, and maybe even ask questions.
These crazy looking roots are the brace roots on the Calico Popcorn I planted in my three sisters garden a few years ago. Brace roots are an interesting feature to begin with, but the beautiful coloration of this particular variety made them even more fascinating.
Garden Photos #7: Things that Make You Go Yum…
Sun-ripened tomatoes, cool crisp pea pods, juicy strawberries are the stuff garden dreams are made of, so capture those moments that make your mouth water and engage the senses.
The lighting was certainly tough this day, but I still really like how this photo turned out. I love how the focal point of this photo is the split tomatillo husk, and you get a good glimpse of a mouth-watering green tomatillo peeking through. The idea that tomatillo is so large it is bursting at the seams just screams, Time to make salsa verde!
Garden Photos #8: Capture Harvesting
There is no moment that is more share-worthy than the successful harvest of something you grew yourself. The accomplishment and pride you feel should most definitely be celebrated with colorful bowls of mixed harvests, artfully arranged produce, and photos of a prized tomato that barely fits in your hand.
I’ve always liked this photo of one of my first dry bean harvests because it is more of an action shot. I take a lot of photos of plants growing, but not that many photos of myself actually picking, pulling, or tending the garden. Just looking at this photo, I’m reminded of that satisfying “pop” that a dried bean pod makes as you squeeze it, and how exciting it is to see pretty speckled soup beans inside!
Garden Photos #9: Capture the Change of Seasons
One of the best things about living in Minnesota is that we get to experience all four season (and as the saying goes, sometimes all in one week!). These changes in seasons are a huge part of our gardening experience, and an important piece to document. The seasons are also a great source of share-worthy photos. From perennials waking up in the spring to frosty winter mornings, there are lots of great moments to capture and share.
As much as I’m reluctant to think about frost already, this photo is still one of my all-time favorites. The early morning shadows in the garden created just the right light to allow all the details of the frost formations on this broccoli leaf to come to life.
Garden Photos #10: Capture Good Garden Vignettes
Sometimes there are things in your garden that require a little context. It isn’t enough to just capture a close up photo of a particular tomato; you really need to see the precarious way it is hanging off the trellis, or the way it has grown into an opening in a fence. Look for ways to frame up these sharable moments so they become short little stories about your garden.
I have always liked the way that this photo captures the story of a pumpkin that formed on the edge of the raised bed, and as it grew lager, it started to drop lower and lower in front of the side of the raised bed. The side of the raised bed creates a nice little story frame, and the long grass shows how it has been hanging just close enough the grass that I was no longer able to mow right up to the garden bed. The low profile of the angle puts you right there in the scene and tells a little more of the story.
Maria 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.”