I’m super happy to welcome Agnes Kantaruk, a successful floral photographer boasting over 42,900 images on Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. Agnes will now discuss five useful tips on getting started with floral photography!
Floristic photography is needed by many industries in all countries, so there will always be customers for new photos. Here are some tips on how to take your first steps in this branch of photography.
Take the time to analyze who needs which kinds of flower photos
If you start photographing roses and tulips in your garden, you will get discouraged very quickly as the customers will not show up. This will be because there are already millions of photos of this type. To start and get sales quickly, think to whom and for what purpose you want to sell photos, it will make it easier for you to discover what they should be like. For example – if you would like your photos to be bought by companies producing calendars, you must remember not to include any logos or other symbols identifying specific brands in the photos. The composition should be classic – a large, nice bouquet in the center of the frame, surrounded by small elements. Other photos are chosen by manufacturers of paper napkins – they prefer photos with floral details. And again – other photos are needed for gardening magazines that need large amounts of photos of specific activities with flowers and other plants in the home, garden and balcony.
Go to a large home & garden store and see what flower photos are used on the products. Producers of those items are your potential customers willing to pay large amounts for photos. This is because the quality of the photos determines whether their products will appeal to customers (or not) and whether they will buy them.
Collect backgrounds and props
To create good flower arrangements, you need props. You will need large and small vases and various backgrounds. In the floristic photography industry, the vintage and rustic & country styles have been invariably popular for many years, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money on buying props. Perhaps you have the appropriate utensils in your attic or basement. You can also buy such vases very cheaply on flea markets. Ask sellers about things that are of no value to antique collectors (because they are very expensive) but are just old and have an old charm. It is cheaper to buy them directly on the flea markets than online, as the margins of online sellers are high.
You can also look for local handicraft manufacturers who make vases, bowls, and other decorative items. You can suggest that they lend you some props so that you can photograph the flowers in them, and in return you will also take pictures of the items you have borrowed. Small studios can be very pleased with such a proposal that will be as beneficial for them as it is for the photographer. They don’t have to pay for photographer, you don’t have to pay for lending props and here’s the deal!
Try to create your own, individual style
Pastel and soft photoshoots with flower are always popular, but they available everywhere and sometimes it seems that everyone makes them. It is impossible to say who is the author, you know what I mean? Try to be different, make your statement even though you think it is harder (yes, it is) than copying popular styles. My photos are often bright and bold, even flamboyant. I often use strong, vivid colors as red, orange, yellow. And, yes – not every client on earth wants that style, but also I don’t try to be a photographer for every client that exist. There is always enough clients that can appreciate your individuality, so be your true self and be patient to find those who choose your photos.
Photograph unusual flowers and plants
Roses, tulips, peonies, carnations and gerberas are the most popular flowers in the world. Their photos are the most sold, so breaking through with new ones is not easy. Finding customers will be faster if you have less typical flowers and plants in your photos. The fewest photos for customers are available with compositions of wild flowers and plants from fields and meadows, because they are the least durable and the most difficult to photograph them because they wither quickly. Wild poppies belong to such flowers. Bouquets with poppies, chamomile flowers and ears of cereal in vases and vintage cans are photos that I have few myself, but for years I have been selling the same sessions because there is not much competition, and customers need them for calendars for the summer months.
When it comes to other plants, photos of less typical ones are also more likely to be sold. For example, there are millions of photos of cherry and apple trees in bloom, and far fewer photos of flowering hawthorn or orange tree blossom are on sale. If you have a large selection of unusual photos of flowers and plants in your portfolio, you will attract customers faster than if you have the most typical flowers.
Prepare good keywords
Last but certainly not least, in order for customers to find the photos they are looking for, you must prepare good keywords. There is one good news – Latin names for flowers and other plants are used all over the world, they allow you to uniquely identify the plant. The second most popular is the nomenclature in English. Therefore, the most effective keywords will look like this: (Latin) Tanacetum vulgare, (official English names) Tansy, (common English names) bitter buttons, cow bitter, or golden buttons.
Additionally, it is good to add keywords related to the season when the plant is present. But first you need to recognize what plant you have in the picture to find its correct name. When I was a beginner and I was learning the names of plants, I used a typical plant lexicon, in which plants are shown in the photos with descriptions. I still use books like this from time to time when it comes to unusual plants, it’s much faster than searching online. If you are serious about floristic photography, it is worth buying a lexicon in English. The names do not change, you can buy the older edition inexpensively and it will also contain the correct information. And if you just want to try and wonder if this branch of photography is for you, you can first borrow such a book from the library, they are common so there should be no problem finding.
Hope these have been useful – Agnes.
Thank you, Agnes for giving us your tips and wish you great success creating more of these beautiful images – Alex