Lying Down on the Job

By Geoff Harris

Using a Low Viewpoint to Photograph Flowers

When you’re photographing a flower, there are many different considerations and things to think about when you’re looking for your picture. One of the most important things to consider is your viewpoint - think about whether your flower will look best from your standing height, or whether it might be better to kneel down, or even lie flat on the ground.

Often the best viewpoint will be dictated by what is behind the flower. For instance, if you photograph a low-growing flower from above, it may be set against dark earth, which isn’t usually the most flattering backdrop for a delicate bloom. By lying down and looking along at the flower’s level, you can set it against other flowers or foliage which you can throw out of focus to make a lovely gentle backdrop.


osteospermums overview

There are lots of things wrong with the photo of yellow osteospermums (above) taken from standing height. The bright overhead sunlight is not helping, and some of the flowers look overlit, while the ground beneath them has gone almost black. Also, from this distance a lot of flowers are included in the frame, many of which have gone past their best.


osteospermum close up

The solution – as it so often is - was to lie down flat on the ground! I was then able to take this second photo by pushing my macro lens underneath the flowers. The problem of harsh lighting is now solved, because the petals above the camera are diffusing the bright overhead light and turning it into a lovely soft golden light. Also, by getting in so much closer I was able to select only flowers which were in perfect condition to be in the picture.

Many summer flowers are taller and so don’t require such a very low viewpoint. Even so, it’s always worth thinking about getting down a bit to be on the flower’s own level.

If you’d like to learn more about how to photograph flowers, you might like to consider taking my course “Creative Flower Photography”.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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