Photographing Outdoor Living

Get the best advice for photographing life outdoors from our Digital Media Executive, Rachael. With her many years' experience in photography, she has written a few words about the basics of photography and what makes a good photograph. 

When the team are photographing the outdoors, they follow these tips and tricks to show client's outdoor spaces in the best way. Not also to mention when Garden House Design are at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. 

It doesn't matter if you are not a photography guru or just starting out, this guide will help you discover the inner photographer in you and help you live outdoors to your full potential. 

Still need some inspiration? Visit our Portfolio to discover all our projects and photography to get ideas for your dream outdoor space. 

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Top tips and tricks for beginners

Whether you have a smart phone, SLR camera, or even a film camera, taking images outdoors can be a breeze. It is just knowing a few basics that help you along the way. Photography can be daunting, and take it from a photographer myself, it doesn't always come out perfectly. However, there are some little things you can take into consideration when going out and about, in your garden or to a flower show, that can make a huge difference.

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What do I take pictures of?

The simple answer is anything that catches your eye! Whether it is flowers, outdoor furniture, outdoor kitchens, canopies, landscape; it really doesn't matter. What matters is what you love and what inspires you.

At the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I prepare myself by writing lists of things that I know I need photographs of. However, you can never really fully prepare yourself for the day, so anything that makes you go 'wow!' or catches your eye is really important to gathering photographs that you are happy with. If you are unsure, drawing out thumbnails or even looking through Pinterest is a great way of gathering inspiration.

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Camera Settings

Now for the technical bit! If you have a smart phone, your phone tends to do all the work for you, which is amazing! However, if you have a iPhone 13 and up, using Portrait mode, cinematic mode, and pinching the screen to make the angle wider, makes a huge difference. I swear by these three settings when photographing and videoing. The quality of smart phones is amazing these days, so there's no harm in using your phone to take some amazing shots!

In terms of an SLR, they tend to have 'Programme' setting which does a lot of the work for you. But if you have an old school heart, like me, I like to try and use manual settings to get the best shot.

When choosing your shutter speed, an average speed is 1/125sec, which is for daytime speed. If the day is really bright, you can have a faster shutter speed to let less light into your camera. (1/250sec and up.) In terms of your depth of field, think about whether you want to focus on one thing or everything in frame. For example, if I was taking a photograph of some styling details or flowers, I would use a low f/stop (f/2.8-f/5.6) which would open up your camera more and blur the background. This creates a shallow depth of field. Then if I wanted to make sure I got everything in the photograph, I'd use a high f/stop (f/8 and up) to make the iris smaller, to have a long depth of field.

Confused? Don't worry, it can be daunting with all the different settings, therefore I just suggest whatever suits you. Putting your settings on 'auto' does take the stress away so you can snap happy with your photographs.

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What to look for

When I'm out taking photographs of the Garden House Design stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show or photographing our amazing outdoor products, I follow these little tips and tricks to help my photographs stand out.

Composition is key, there are three different composition rules that I follow that help me. Leading lines- Look for pathways, hidden lines in a garden, the direction that the outdoor space is going and you can create some interesting photographs. Rule of thirds is a fab one that you can use all the time! If you have your subject/focal point in one third of the image, your eyes go directly to that focal point. Whereas, with landscape images, you want the sky or the landscape in two thirds of the image, so you focus on the more interesting element in the photograph. You can add a grid setting on your camera display and your smart phone to help you with this. Finally, focal point- back to the short depth of field and blurred background, this will emphasizes the focal point. (The main subject of your photograph.) For example, a flower, insect, styling detail. Something that you want your eye to be immediately fixed on in the photograph.

By looking for these three things, you are guaranteed to have a fabulous photograph!

Most importantly...

HAVE FUN and get out there! It doesn't matter if your photographs don't come out right or too dark, there is always next time. Photography is a fun thing to do and when you're living outdoors in your perfect space, there will always be opportunities to take some amazing pictures. At the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, there are plenty of photography opportunities, so if you are there this year, head over to Garden House Design's stand RHW242 and we will be pleased to see you.

Author: Rachael Crooke- Digital Media Executive at Garden House Design.

Date: 16/05/2023

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