Tabletop flower photography


“Know your camera” and “Practice with it as often as you can”.

I seem to have spent much of my 50 years in photography, making  pictures of people, be it portraits in my studio or on location at a wedding or other function. On the other hand I have spent the latter part avoiding people and photographing landscapes. In between the two I dabbled in macro and flower photography. The results have not only been surprising but I have found I was able to sell them as fine art or wall art for homes, offices, hospitals etc. 

Among the many things I impress on my students, two of the most important are “Know your camera” and “Practice with it as often as you can”.  So, in the spirit of practicing what I preach, if I cant get out to make images of people or landscapes every day, I go into my garden and photograph the flowers, plants, trees or anything I can find that allows me to keep up the skills I have accumulated. I take inspiration from anything and everything I see and in my garden so eventually I became inspired to develop the flower photography.

“Always have a roll of gaffer tape in your kit”

Shooting flowers in your own garden has its advantages. You have plenty to choose from, you have daylight and of course, the kettle isn’t that far away so if the weather turns nasty you can go back into the house. The disadvantages include wind and rain. Wind can be a real pain. From experience I can promise, as soon as you point a camera at a plant or flower, Sods law states that the wind will start moving it all over the place, the light won’t be strong enough and it becomes a bit of a chore to get a worthwhile result. Whilst at the supermarket I passed a bunch of flowers that had been marked down to £3.00 as they were past their best. There were some interesting colours so I bought them. From then on things got a bit interesting.

To isolate the flowers I needed to create a “black hole”. I had a small table and knew I could utilise the daylight from the widow, which had net curtains acting as a diffuser. In any photograph the light is key to success. if you find yourself in a position to control, or manipulate that light, grasp it with both hands.  Some months ago I had ordered some black corrugated plastic for a totally unrelated reason. I had 6 A2 size sheets, along with some black felt, I do tend to buy these things if I think they will come in useful in the future. Black or white card is always useful.  Using Gaffer tape, (always have a roll of gaffer tape in your kit),  I built a box and lined it with the black felt.  By turning the table toward and away from the widow, I can control the angle of the light. Pushing the flowers into the box, or pulling forward I can reduce or increase to level of light.  white card can be used as reflectors, and black card can be used to block light from chosen areas.  The possibilities are endless.