Each time I settle down to write a post here, I realise how important it is to get into the habit of photographing your own garden. I am building up quite an archive of plant portraits as I make my way through the Garden Photo Challenge I have set myself. I also have quite a collection of photos recording the landscaping projects as we were doing them. But I don’t have as many photos of the actual garden as it progresses through the year as I would like. So I am determined that I will change that, by implementing as many of the suggestions I have written below as possible
With the advent of Mobile phones with built-in cameras the average person probably takes more photos than ever before, as we live in an increasingly ‘visual’ world. So we really should make more effort to record our own gardens and not just those we visit! Photographing your own garden is not narcissistic, it can be an invaluable tool of reference. Remember we don’t have to have the skill of Clive Nicholls or Marianne Majerus to record our gardens!
This is NOT a technical post about equipment or Photography techniques, no, that is far beyond my skills. (There are plenty of tutorials and courses available online if you would like to improve your photographic technique). My aim is to encourage gardeners to record their gardens for reference purposes, and create a photographic journal of their garden year.
Ten Ideas for Photographing your own Garden
- Try to make a point of walking around your garden Camera/Phone in hand at least once a week/fortnight/month. Note it in your Diary or on the Calendar when you’ve done it and mark the next ‘due’ date.
- Decide which points of the garden give you the clearest views, and try to always take your photos from those positions. (It may be that you get your best shot of the garden from looking out of a window). By the end of the year you will have a month by month record of your garden
- Take photos of what was a success eg Container planting, Colour combinations, Bedding scheme or Hanging baskets if you have them. Take photos of your disappointments too eg disappointing planting combinations, colour schemes that didn’t work as you had hoped
- Take photos as a ‘location reference’ for when you need to dig up dormant plants to move or divide them
- If you save the photos to your computer do ‘name’ the folder for quick access. If you print your photos take the time to make notes on the reverse of them or use a photo album that has a space for notes beside each pocket.
- Photos mounted into Journals should also have space for any relevant notes beside them. If you keep a separate Garden Journal make a note of when you were taking photos so that you can cross-reference.
- Sometimes looking through the lens of a camera will give you a whole new view of your garden, if you only have the Camera on your phone try using a piece of card with a square window cut out of it and use that as a viewfinder. What you see may surprise you!
- Try taking some shots from unusual angles eg looking up through tree canopy, or whilst lying on the ground. You may then have some ideas about installing lighting in the garden
- Light levels change through the day and the seasons. Making a visual record helps you to understand how the light levels in your garden play an important part in plant growth, and why some of your plants may be struggling. This will also help you to assess how planting some lighter-leaved or variegated plants in the shadier areas will bring a sense of light to them.
- Don’t forget to photograph the Garden through the quieter months of the year too – looking at the structure or ‘bones’ of the garden – this will help you to make adjustments to the design and planting of your garden, possibly giving you some ideas about where you could increase the interest for an all-year-round garden
On a Winter’s evening……
When it’s blowing a hooly outside and the rain is lashing down, take time to sit and sort through all your photo’s. It is the best time to make notes about what you want to change as well as what can be improved. Photographing your own garden is probably one of the best tools you can have outside of your garden shed, for planning, as well as writing your Shopping List when the seed and plant catalogues arrive. It is also the best time to be reminded how well the garden grew, how much pleasure you got from working in it, and how much friends and family enjoyed it too.
No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. ~Hugh Johnson
I hope these Ten Tips for Photographing your own garden will have given you the encouragement to have a go over the coming year. I am going to try to make more of an effort to record my garden, and see how things develop and change. I know photographing the plants for the Garden Photo Challenge has made a difference to the way I look at the garden, I am looking more closely at plants as individuals. I anticipate that taking pictures of the different areas of the garden will help me to view the garden as a whole and in yet another way.
You can start it any time, you don’t have to wait for the beginning of January. Do let me know how you get on, I would love to hear!