When you come across a beautiful flower it is more than likely that the only camera you have available is your smartphone. Regrettably, many photographs being taken on phones turn out to be poor. On some occasions, it could be blamed on lower quality cameras – but more often it is a result of poor photographic technique. So how do you take Instagram-worthy pictures with your smartphone? What follows is a list of simple tricks that will take your mobile flower photography to the next level.

Flower photography mostly fails for one of two reasons: terrible lighting or bad composition. While a single blog post cannot turn you into a pro this article will provide you with a list of simple and practical tips that will elevate your results.

1.) Composition is a deal-breaker

Good composition is the key to a good image and the rules of great composition are the same for all cameras be it a DSLR or a phone camera. Bellow is a short overview of those rules.

1.1) Rule of odds

Simplify the scene, you need an image with a clear focal point. The viewer needs to be directed towards the main subject. If you have multiple subjects a rule of odds will come handy.

Rule of odds

The rule states that an odd number of subjects is more interesting than an even number.

It is easy for the brain to organise objects into pairs and therefore pairs will bring symmetry and dullness to your image.

If you have one main object, accompany it with two supporting objects, not one. This way you will have one of them in the centre.

rule of odds, two or three flowers in photo, carry roses

Rule of odds rule works because human eye will naturally wander towards the centre of a group. If there’s empty space there, then that’s where the eye will fall. A good photographer makes the viewer look at the subject, not at an empty space.

This rule is important when trying to achieve a visually pleasant composition using several objects. It is common to have three objects in a frame as they will always form either a line or a triangle, both of which are pleasurable shapes.

Keep in mind, that the rule of odds works only for small numbers. The rule will not matter with larger groups, though. It does not matter if you have 36 or 37 flowers in your image.

1.2) Rule of thirds

Placing your flowers right in the centre can be tempting, but most likely will result in a boring image. Try composing with the rule of thirds with the main subject being placed off-centre. This will instantly give your images a professional look.

rule of thirds, juliet rose, mobile flower photography

Rule of thirds

Divide your image into 9 equal parts. This will produce a grid where both vertical lines and horizontal lines are equally spaced in relation to each other.

According to the rule of thirds if you place your subject along those lines, or at the intersections, your composition will look more compelling than had you placed the subject in the centre.

Most phones will allow you to turn on a grid, so you don’t have to imagine the separation.

1.3) Vertical vs Horizontal

Another common mistake for mobile photographers would be to compose all shots vertically. Just by looking at your flowers you may be able to tell which composition will work best. Approximately, flowers that are wider than they are tall will be captured the best as horizontal shots and those that are taller than they are wide will look the best as vertical shots. This is just a guide – so keep experimenting with a viewfinder to find the best shot.

2.) Flash and flower photography

Most phones today have flash and it can be quite tempting to go bananas with it when photographing flowers, but this should be avoided at all costs. In flower photography, as in all photography in general, flash should be used in moderation. If you have an off-camera flash it can be used for side lighting or backlighting. While the built-in flash should never be used to take pictures of flowers.

3.) Find a great perspective

As always we as humans find unconventional points of view to be the most interesting. Flower photographs look the most impressive when they have been taken from the subject’s point of view.
Another good viewpoint for flowers would be top-down, imagine all the flat lays that you saw on Instagram.

If you want a more creative shot you can try shooting from a lower angle. People traditionally look at flowers from a standing position, but if you lie down on the ground to take your image, you are guaranteed an interesting shot.

mobile flower photography, flower photos with iphone, violets

4.) Background is a deal-breaker

The background can either make or break your image. Flowers look the best against a soft, uncluttered background as these make them stand out; a cluttered, distracting background can easily destroy all your efforts by taking attention away from the main object.

If you struggle to isolate your flower(s) from the cluttered background you can carefully place a coloured card behind the flower and have a simple one colour backdrop.

No paper in sight? why not use the sky. After all, it is nice and clean most of the time. Simply shoot from a low angle, pointing your camera up towards the sky. This trick is especially useful for photographing blooming trees.

mobile flower photography, black background

5.) Hold your phone correctly

How you hold your camera is extremely important as it will determine the quality of your images. It is common for people to hold a phone with one hand, this may work for most of the tasks, but not when it comes to photography. You want as much control as possible and no shake; so try holding your phone with two hands. Hold it with both hands and use your thumbs and pointer fingers to set settings.

6.) Pay attention to the weather

It may come as a surprise but clear blue skies aren’t ideal for flower photography. Direct sunlight is harsh and unforgiving, this gives images too much contrast, leads to loss of detail in shadow areas and makes your images flat. The perfect weather for outdoor flower photography would be a bright but overcast day – it’s soft and diffused light is much more flattering.

7.) Reflector can save the day

A reflector will make a huge difference to your images on a bright day.These are typically used to shade the subject from harsh, direct sunlight and/or to bounce light into shadow areas to bring up detail and reduce contrast.

8.) Spray some water

You can make your image look more interesting just by adding a little water. Use a water spray to add a few drops of water this will add life and freshness to your photographs.

9.) Zoom in

Don’t like the background? Does the subject look plain on screen? Cropping right in on a flower will let you focus on the detail. Study each flower for colour and detail and identify what makes it unique: only when focusing on a flower’s character – a mass of fluffy petals, unusual leaf structure, etc … – you’ll be able to produce a pic that shows the true nature of the plant.

But don’t use digital zoom for getting closer to the flower as this will reduce the quality of your images. Digital zooming gets closer by cutting out the total megapixels used and this, in turn, reduces the overall quality of photos. A digital zoom uses part of the sensor and then crops in-camera. This is different for optical zoom, where the glass is actually moving to create a larger image, while still using the entire surface of the sensor. If needed you can crop image during the editing stage. Though, the best option for a zoom with your mobile phone camera at this point will still be to use your feet.

macro photography rose

10.) Try using mobile phone camera lenses

Can’t capture details perfectly with your mobile phone then why not to try Mobile phone camera lenses? They are cheap and will give your phone images a professional look.

A standard kit will come with three lenses: macro, wide angle and fisheye lens. For flower photography, I found the macro lens to be the most useful, but others may come useful too.

11.) Use natural light

Don’t underestimate the importance of natural light, such light is the most flattering for flower photography. When shooting indoors move your bunch close to the window and only take a single shot.

mobile flower photography, yellow rose

12.) Flowers as a detail of the image

Even if we want to photograph a bouquet of flowers to capture the moment and it does not have any specific purpose, it is worth thinking about relevance and proportions. We need to ask ourselves the question: are the flowers in this photo appropriate, do they create a single image with the object of shooting/background? If a bouquet is only a part of the image, the other components should also be carefully selected and follow good design principles. Harmony consists of many elements, frequently a perfect design is a result of trial and error, and there is nothing to worry about: we make several pictures, change elements in places, add and remove something – this is the only way to get the perfect shot.

13.) All good photos have a story!

Flower photography may look easier in some cases: a bouquet in a vase, a single flower, blooms in nature, just because we see such examples more frequently. But in order to get a good photo, it needs a unique angle and a story or it will be another photo vanishing a long photo feed. For example, if you open Instagram, then search for #flowers you will find hundreds of almost identical pictures of bouquets without a story that only have less than ten likes. So, if we face the task of creating something unique, we’ll have to work.

In order to get photos that get praised, you don’t need to be an artist. A bouquet lying on the surface of an old wooden countertop or on a marble surface next to a coffee cup, a bouquet on crumpled sheets in the morning bedroom and a bouquet sticking out of a shopping bag are all examples of photographs telling different stories.

14.) Use apps for edditing

Times when you needed an expensive software and a computer for image processing are now history. All you need is an app to get fantastic results.

There are many great apps out there so it will take you a while to try each. In order to save you time here are my favourites. All of those apps have general image tining, but each has a couple distinct features.

editing in Snapseed, mobile flower photography

Snapseed A free app that has such capabilities as “Healing” which will allows you to remove imperfections from slightly damaged leaves and “Selective” editing that allows you to lighten or darken a certain area of the image.

ColorStory Another free app that alows you to save your filters.

Want to know more about great photo editing apps then check out my article on top 10 best mobile apps.

Colour stories

15.) Mobile flower photograhy and technological progress

Mobile cameras and phone screens keep getting better! So if you just got a new phone you’ll need to learn all its capabilities and not be restrained by outdated expectations. Phones with dual cameras can easily produce a bokeh (blurred background) effect.

Try to also utilise modern screens they are pretty good these days as they are bigger and have a more accurate colour representation, allowing you more space to build better compositions.

Now go and shoot. And don’t forget that the key to getting better in photography is practice. You will never get better without shooting. Make mistakes and learn from them.