A while back I posted about getting one of my gardens professionally photographed. I’ve been going through photos over the last week as I am having my website revamped, and need to make sure it showcases the best images, and it has made me more aware of a few simple tips to bear in mind when either having a garden photographed, or doing it yourself.
Number 1: landscape format is best for the website, especially if you are going for full screen images. It’s frustrating when you have gorgeous photos but they won’t work on the website because they are simply the wrong shape! I love these two shots, but won’t be able to use them on the website.
Number 2: take time to prepare the garden. I thought that it would be straightforward for a professional to photoshop out flaws, dirty marks, brightly coloured plastic trugs, hosepipes etc, but I was being unrealistic, and once again, I find I have some otherwise gorgeous pics which I can’t use because my eye is instantly drawn to the flaw. Of course some of this also comes down to designing for the expected level of maintenance: if your clients are quite casual about maintenance, then any pale surfaces near falling water will always sport green moss or algal growth, and it would have been better to use a surface where this wouldn’t show. Shame about the yellow hose below, but this garden's in Yorkshire and I can't just pop back...
Number 3: learn to take great photos yourself! (or give a clear and thorough brief). I have found this on a couple of occasions – the photos taken by the professional are technically excellent, but my own snaps often capture particular angles better, because I know the garden better. I know what to look for in a way that someone who has just seen it for the first time can’t hope to do. Also for nearby gardens I may be freer to go there when the weather is best, rather than being constrained to a slot booked into the photographer’s schedule. I have made a mental note to read up on how to use my camera better, and maybe go on a course. I love these reflections below but sadly this shot wasn't captured by the professional photographer - I guess I should have asked.
Number 4: think about the end user. If you are hoping to have any of the photos published, it is good to have a wide variety of formats. Magazines may want to have a large blank area which they can use for text, for example, so they are not just looking for a beautiful garden, they are also interested in how the photos will fit their layout. They may also have a particular angle, maybe more interest in flowers than structure, so try to consider all possible interest groups.
Number 5: make sure you have your camera set to a high enough resolution for the end purpose. Pics I took a few years ago are not usable on the website as they aren’t big enough. Nowadays most cameras produce high res images as standard, but the same may not be true for some phones, so it’s worth being aware of this. The size of image needed will differ, so worth speaking to your website designer about this if you are planning a professional revamp. With websites being so much faster to load these days, clients expect bigger images, which speak volumes, so it’s worth getting this right. I love this photo, but blown up to full screen, it lacks detail (and it's a pity the garden furniture doesn't match!).
Number 6: think ahead. At the end of the day, although all this is time out from the core business of designing gardens and getting them built, we ignore keeping publicity up to date at our peril. Cotswold Living are going to do a feature on one of these gardens, which is great, but magazines have a long lead-in and it won’t be published until this Autumn, a year after the photos were taken. Fingers crossed it will pay off!