Plant Photography

Plant Photography

Secrets of Plant Photography for Social Media

You don’t need expensive cameras and lighting equipment to take the perfect shot for Instagram. Here are six tips and tricks on how to get the most out or your smart phone camera when composing a great plant picture.

1. What’s it all about?

Choose one idea to focus on.

  • Think about what you want to say with the picture. What is the main subject?
  • For example, is the photo all about the colours of a single calathea leaf, your family of philodendron or the sunlight coming through the canopy of a forest?

2. Prepare the subject and scene.

The less distractions, the better.

  • Plants pop when freshly watered or the soil has been turned over a bit in the pot.
  • Pick out those few loose leaves or the odd weed and sweep up around the base.
  • Think about grouping plants to show how similar they are or to show contrast.
  • If a plant can’t be seen clearly in the shot, take it out.

Think about the background.

  • Many great plant pics are ruined by washing on the clothes line or a power cord running through the shot.
  • If it isn’t the main subject, think about cropping it out of the shot or, if possible, removing it all together.

3. Lighting your shot.

Natural lighting is by far the best!

  • Avoid using the flash or artificial lighting. They make plants look washed out or sick.
  • Harsh direct sunlight is also difficult to work with and tends to ‘blow out’ in your shot so, just like with houseplants, bright, indirect light is best.
  • Take the photo with the bright light behind you or to your side (but watch out for your own shadow!) It’s difficult to take a great shot facing into bright light.
  • When taking a photo, tap the screen on the subject and the brightness and focus will adjust to suit.

4. Horizontals and Verticals.

Let’s get one thing straight…

  • To add a professional edge to your shots, line up the verticals and/or horizontals such as walls, skirting-boards and pillars, so that at least one of these is perfectly square in the shot.
  • It’s tricky to get exactly right so Instagram has included an editing function to tweak these and get them perfect. Find it under Edit > Adjust.

5. Instagram Edits and filters.

Less is more!

  • Back in 2011 Instagram was all about adding multiple filters, grunge borders and hiding the poor quality photo from such a low-res camera. Smart phone cameras have come a long way since then and there’s no need to ‘disguise’ your photo anymore.
  • Skip right past the filters and go straight to Instagram’s built-in edit functions. You can use these to lighten and brighten your shots, bring definition to the shadows and make greys whiter and the greens pop.
  • Avoid any filter or edit that makes leafy greens less green. You want these to really pop!

6. There’s always exceptions!

When you know the rules, you can break them.

  • Get creative and have fun!


Five Boys with Plants worth checking out:



Scott Cain

Scott is the creator of Boys with Plants, an avid plant daddy and a work-from-home freelance graphic designer from Perth, Western Australia.

One Comment

  • Denis Carroll

    Great article Scott, but it’s still did not answer my burning question. I am trying to photograph my 7 ft tall terrarium and the LED grow lights are much too harsh. I’m wondering what temperature or style of commonly found light bulb would give me decent color for smartphone photography? Any help would be greatly appreciated,
    Denis in Detroit, Michigan

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