How to Shoot Natural Light Portraits in Flower Fields (And Posing People!)

The ultimate dream of mine as a photographer is to shoot in beautiful fields of vast picturesque flower fields.

Every spring and summer my clients know where to find me and my camera. Finding the perfect location for a portrait shoot is always one of the greatest challenges in photography. And once you think you have found the perfect location for your photoshoot, coming up with the creative idea for how to capture both the subject beautifully and the location cohesively can be equally as difficult to execute. The perfect combination of a beautiful location, stunning natural light and eager subject is all a photographer can dream of to create dramatic and ethereal images.

It’s Not Easy Being Natural

Contrary to popular belief in the photography world, working with natural light is not always the easiest thing in the world. I have had many photographers tell me that they are a natural light photographer and not really understand what it means to fully execute a well-lit photograph in a natural setting. There are so many wonderful examples of photographers that capture natural light beautifully and understand how to manipulate it to work in their favor for the subject and the stunning surroundings, such as my favorite photographer, Meg Loeks. Her ability to see the way natural light can surround a subject to make the most dramatic and striking photographs is incredible to witness. It’s important to study other photographers that understand the how’s and why’s of beautifully lit photos and I believe that learning by practice is extremely important when it comes to understanding HOW light works. As photographers, we must not assume that every form of lighting is easy to photograph.

Timing

When it comes to specifically photographing a subject in a beautiful flower field, knowing when the best time to shoot is extremely important. Lighting changes with the seasons and it can also vary with the specific location you choose. I choose to photograph during golden hour because the beauty of sunset and sun-flare are very particular to my style. I typically shoot with my subject facing me with the sun directly behind them to create the sun-flare and hazy look. Because I photograph during golden hour, I have to be cognizant that the haze created during this time could potentially wash out the flowers in the field. If it does happen to create too much haze, I will move myself to where the sun is not directly behind them but a little to the left or the right of my subjects, helping my pictures to still have a dynamic look without the overbearing haze from the sun.

“It’s important to study other photographers that understand the how’s and why’s of beautifully lit photos and I believe that learning by practice is extremely important when it comes to understanding HOW light works.”

You might think me crazy when I say that I don’t believe there is any bad time to shoot in a flower field when you understand what light creates when. For instance, if it is high noon, I try to find a shady spot that can help with the ugly shadows that happen to be created on my subject’s face. By finding a shady spot in a field, you can shoot much better, more flattering images of your subject without the shadows on their face and the blown-out highlights on the flowers. That might sound crazy to some but having the subject in the correct place during the shoot is the key to showing all of the flower’s glory. Honing into your particular style and understanding how you want to capture the flowers with the subject is the most important part of it all.

The timing of finding the perfect flower field is not always easy. Of course, the time of year has everything to do with what particular flowers you are looking to photograph. There is always spring time which can bring beautiful fields of wildflowers, whereas summer and fall you can have the expectation to find beautiful fields of sunflowers. Traveling around the world to find flowers fields has always been a top bucket list item for most photographers.  I’m sure everyone has seen the amazing lavender blooms famously photographed in France or the endless springtime tulips found in the Netherlands. The breathtaking beauty of any flower field can be amazing to photograph but if there aren’t flowers filling a field corner to corner with blooming flowers, you can still capture amazing photographs. If a small patch is blooming and the subject sits down in the area you can change the look of grandeur by lowering to the ground to photograph from a different perspective to trick the eyes to believe it is a huge field.

Here’s a Tip!

Another trick to making it look like a larger field is using a tighter focal length, such as, the 85mm focal length or longer. I have done this many times by posing my daughter and having her sit in a small patch of flowers just next to the side of the road where I saw a patch of blooms. It really can look like the real thing if you change your position of where you photograph your subject.

Posing Your Subjects

Learning how to pose subjects is one of the greatest priority’s photographers should have in mind when taking pictures in a flower field. Capturing both the beauty of the field and the portrait of your client is not an easy task, especially if the natural lighting is difficult to control. Remembering both flattering posing and creating intimate moments of your subjects is quite the way to push one’s self out of their comfort zone as a photographer. One particular thing that has helped me is to make sure that you are helping your subjects know they can be comfortable with moving freely so the portraits come out looking more genuine rather than stagnantly posed.

If it is a couple, I coach them to interact with each other through specific connections, such as, holding hands, walking, leaning in to hug, etc. If it is a single subject, I tell them to also move around by messing with their hair or clothing. As a photographer, we should be able to read the clients comfortability in front of the camera and be able to guide them to make them feel, not only at ease, but able to be themselves. Flattering posing is extremely important because we obviously want our clients to love their images.

Here’s a Tip!

One tip to help is to see that the client is never fully facing the camera for every single photograph. Have them shift their bodies by turning their shoulders from side to side or having them sit sideways with their body tilted and head closest to the camera. It can make the body seem slimmer and less focused on. The last trick I do is have them pick flowers of their own in the field and rest them on their lap. It can cover an outfit mishap or even other insecurity areas they might struggle with. Holding the flowers always bring out the personality in my clients as well, which is an added bonus!

Keep It Simple

I tend to keep my photoshoots simple in flower fields by not drowning the image with anything other than just the flowers. I truly think the beauty of the flowers don’t need anything extra to carry the image. I have seen other photographers bring chairs, props, and extra flowers to hold when I only bring along a small blanket for my clients to sit on just in case, they want to be careful with their clothing. I think keeping an image simple speaks volumes in a flower field portrait shoot. When it comes to the photography equipment, I typically shoot with in a field I bring only two lenses, my 24-70mm f2.8 for the wide shots and my 85mm f1.4 for the tight shots of my subjects. Creating a variety of images for my clients is extremely important to me so they have many options to choose from the shoot. Flower fields can be so versatile in looks and images you can create.

I don’t believe there are images I love more than the ones I create in scenic flower fields. We, as photographers, need to learn to truly appreciate our environment by capturing its beauty and natural phenomenon. We must also remember to respect our environment by taking care of the fields we choose to shoot in. Don’t forget to help sustain what we have so ungraciously destroyed over the years in the places we choose to photograph our subjects in. Through education and respect of our planet, more beauty will be created which will lead to awesome images.

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