Homeowners and business owners alike have taken advantage of the newest trend of including plants in their interior décor. You can see it in any movie, television show, or magazine picture. There is usually some kind of plant in every room, especially in photo shoots for magazine layouts. Interior plants add texture and color to the room, and live plants will actually purify the air. In fact, portraits of plants are the most popular entries in the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. This prestigious competition has over 19,000 participants every year. But, how can you photograph plants effectively? They cast shadows, sway with air from the heating and air conditioning, and can offer challenges for depth of field. Here are some pointers for photographing interior plants.
Avoid Black Backgrounds
Many photographers are tempted to silhouette their flowers or plants against a black backround. This is intended to “pop” the colours in the plant, and is quite effective for strongly coloured plants with striking structure. However, black does take some of the energy out of the shot. Photography judges find that quite often, photographing interior plants against a black background will deaden the shot, rather than producing the dramatic response desired.
When you are striving for professional results, photoshopping the background is completely out of the question. While this may work for scrapbooking or a family calendar, it always looks obvious and amateurish, and should never be done for work you hope to publish or sell.
Balance of Light and Dark
Successful indoor plant photography is often a matter of balancing the shadows and light present in the image. The play of light and dark across the frame will direct the eye of the viewer. Just make sure that you don’t leave this to chance. Look carefully at the plant you are photographing and analyze the play of light and shadow. Place the darkest area of the shot carefully, with an eye toward where the brighter, more well lit parts of the plant will be. Adjust the frame so that there is interplay between the two. For example, place the darkest area just below center, with the lightest part around the edge s. Try to avoid a “bullseye” effect by keeping the lighter areas to the top or bottom.
Or, you can keep the darker segment to one of the corners, with the lightest part in the opposing corner. The texture of the leaves or blooms should contribute to the direction of eye movement across the screen.
Most photographers who shoot indoor plants use natural or ambient lighting. This provides a more natural glow for the shots. Artificial lighting can create harsh, unnatural lines and wash out the colors. This, of course, is completely contrary to the whole goal of plant photography. Consider using reflectors to direct light into interesting branching structures, but do so with caution, as this can also wash out the colors you are trying to capture.