Plant Photography: Take Better Photos at Home for Instagram | Tabitha Park | Skillshare

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Plant Photography: Take Better Photos at Home for Instagram

teacher avatar Tabitha Park, Product & Food Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. Plant Portrait

    • 4. Edge to Edge

    • 5. New Growth

    • 6. Macro

    • 7. The Selfie

    • 8. Editing

    • 9. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

In this class I’ll share 5 ways to photograph houseplants and tips for best success along the way! Whether you're looking to take better pictures of your plants, document your plant parent journey, track growth over time, or green up your instagram feed, this class is for you! Use any camera you like; I’ll be sharing tips and tricks for capturing and editing photos with an iPhone.

We will cover:

  • Simplifying for better composition
  • An easy hack for shooting on white
  • Using light to create texture
  • When and how to use 1x vs 2x
  • Macro photography tips
  • Self Portraits with plants
  • How to edit in the Instagram app

I can't wait to see your beautiful plants in the project section! Let's dive in!


Here's the Macro lens setup I use with my phone:

Moment Macro Lens (affiliate Amazon link)
Moment Phone Case required to attach lens (iPhone Xs+ version, just make sure you get the right one for your phone!)

Meet Your Teacher

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Tabitha Park

Product & Food Photographer

Top Teacher

Hi! I'm Tabitha and I teach photography classes. I'm a lifestyle, product, and food photographer living in Portland with my husband and Smallcat! I love plants and chocolate and I had my appendix removed in 2014 and sometimes I worry that I might need it later to talk to aliens. Other than that I'm pretty normal.

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1. Introduction: Hi. I'm Tabitha, and in this photography class we are going to be photographing houseplants. I'm so excited to share my houseplant collection with you and my five favorite ways to photograph them. This class is going to be quick and easy. We're going to keep it really simple. All you need is a houseplant, a window, and a camera. I'm going to be using my phone throughout class to keep it really easy, breezy, and we're going to be editing using the Instagram app. Whether you are a beginner photographer, a hobbyist, a plant enthusiast, or you're just looking to green up your Instagram feed, this class is for you. I'm going to guide you through composition and technique, and I'm basically going to give you a shot list. Here's the pictures that you should take and you can capture these at your leisure, post them in the project section and share them with us. I started collecting houseplants eight years ago. My very first one was a succulent, I loved succulents. They were so fun, but they don't grow very fast, and so of course you got to get a few more so that you can watch the excitement happen. I absolutely love my monstera. I've had it for a few years now and I compare the photos of it now to how it looks when I first got it and it's insane to see how much it has grown. That's one great reason to take pictures of your plants, is to track their growth over time. You can keep a plant journal or you can just look back on your feed, look back and see how much your plants have grown over time and it's very satisfying and enjoyable to do. My name is Tabitha. I am a lifestyle product and food photographer and a teacher here on Skillshare. I'm really excited to dive into this class with you, so let's get started. 2. Class Project: Thanks so much for joining me. For the class project we are going to be photographing our house plants. I would love to see you share your favorite one pictures that you took of your plants after watching each of these techniques in class and share them in the project section so that we can all take a look. If you know the scientific name of your plant, that's always fun to share as well. I always like to see other people's plant collection so I can get inspiration for mine as well. Before we begin shooting, I want to talk about our camera. I'm going to be using my iPhone 10. It has the two cameras. The top is the regular angle camera and the bottom is a telephoto, which we'll talk about later in class. But before you start taking pictures, it's important to make sure that your lenses are clean. Just take a microfiber cloth and clean them off before we get started. Sometimes they get greasy or dusty and that does affect the photos and so in order to get really sharp, really beautiful photos, we have to make sure that the camera lens is clean. Next step, we want to make sure that we are not taking live photos. Make sure that the live photo icon is turned off. Make sure the flash is turned off and we can begin taking pictures. I also like to enable the grid to help aid in composition. It just gives you a tic-tac-toe on the screen, you can line up horizons and it makes it very slick. Then lastly, in order to get a really sharp photo, make sure that you tap on the screen to focus on just the spot in the photo that you want and then hit the shutter button, hold very still with your hands so that you don't get any shake and that's going to give us the best opportunity for the cleanest, sharpest picture as possible. Now that we've talked to camera's settings just a little bit, let's dive into the first type of photo I want to share with you, which is our plants classic portrait. 3. Plant Portrait: The first photo that I want to talk to you about is a classic portrait. We want to capture our entire plant in its planter. This is a great way to measure your plant's growth over time because you'll be able to see it grow. You can compare it to the first time you've photographed it. This is something that I like to do. I keep plant journals so I can watch my plants grow and change, and so I wanted to show you a very simple way to set this up and how I use the light for this type of photo. Let's take a portrait. To get started, we want to make sure we pick the most aesthetic side, the best angle of our plant, and we want to gently wipe down the leaves if they have any dust or soil on them so that you get the best looking photo possible. I have set up this spot here in my kitchen. I've got this backsplash and countertops, super clean, very aesthetic, really close to my favorite window in the whole house. I get a lot of really pretty sweeping light here. This is where I have chosen to take pictures. Plants like a lot of light, and so typically they're already near windows, so that helps a lot with photography. I've got this space here, I'm going to go ahead and open up my camera and begin composing. I want to place this plant so that it covers up this electrical outlet. Then when I back up for a good crop, I'm getting the underneath of the cabinet, so I'm going to hit the 1x button that'll zoom in. I'm going to have to back up, but it allows for a more dynamic crop. We have a lot of space around the edges. It's really clean. I'm going to match up, make sure my horizon is nice and straight. Let us get this over there and then take our picture. Now we have this damaged leaf in front, so I may want to favor a different side of the plant. Over here you can see some of the Pilea babies. This is a Pilea peperomioides, or peperomioides. I'm not sure how you say it, and I absolutely love this plant. This works great if you happen to have a really aesthetic spot in your home to photograph your plants. But if you're like me, usually it's a little chaotic over here and we want to be able to clean it up quickly so that we can photograph our plants very easily. I have a piece of poster board. This is just a really simple dollar poster board. I use it as reflectors on other things. I'm going to tape this up to my cupboard and make essentially a clean sweep. This is a seamless background, so we have nice whitespace. I can go ahead and put my plant right in the middle. I'm going to raise this up just a little bit. This is masking tape. Then we are ready to take our pictures. Same story goes. We want to make sure we get in close enough that we don't see any of the edges in the kitchen. If you've taken my light-box class, this probably looks pretty familiar to you. This is a very similar concept. But again, if you have to get too close and it looks a little distorted, just moving in, then I would hit that 1x button that brings the background to closer, which gives you a little more flexible cropping around the edges and then we take our picture. Now, this plant is a little bit tall for this example, this is probably the max height of plant that you would want to take in this setup. Let's say that you have a tiny little plant. This is actually that plant's baby, isn't it so cute? We will want to photograph this guy right here. This is plenty of space to photograph this plant. I would come down here and take a picture. Let's say I wanted to get really low, but my countertop was in the way and I can't move my camera any further down and I really want to get at the plant level. You can actually turn your camera upside down and that will move the camera part closer to the bottom of the plant so that you don't get any of the soil coming out of the top. That's a fun way to add a different angle to your picture or to get maybe the underside of the leaves. But yeah, either way, you take it, that will be a nice, clean shot. Now that we have our picture of our plant, you might be looking at it and thinking, "Wow, that looks really gray, and, drab and sad, my pictures don't look very good, what do I do?" Stick around because I'm going to show you how to make this white background actually look white when you edit the photo so that it looks at its best for Instagram. 4. Edge to Edge: Photo number 2, this one is what I like to call edge to edge. We are filling the frame with foliage. We're going to get closer into our plans and make sure that we are experimenting with color and texture. This is going to basically be the opposite of what we did in the previous shot, where we have no negative space, it's just all green all the time. This either looks like photographing a section of many leaves, like maybe right in here, filling the frame, making sure that it's all one color, it's a big bold portrait of texture. Or maybe you're photographing a very large leaf and you can really fill the frame with that beautiful, gorgeous texture of the leaf. I like to play with movement and a lot of contrast with this type of shot. I think about the way that the veins of the leaf go and try and get it to move throughout the image. I also like to make sure that I'm photographing really close to a window and playing with the way that light will scrape across the surface of a leaf and really highlight all of the interesting texture on that. This is a really fun way to practice your composition and find ways to make something that might of be, normally overlooked, look really beautiful, and stand out in your feed. I challenge you to experiment with this. Maybe that looks like capturing a whole bunch of leaves or maybe you're putting your camera into your plant and you're getting a lot of fun depth where we have a leaf out of focus that's close. In-focus in the middle and the out-of-focus as it gets further away, whether it's blurred or it's a full color, full focused portrait of the leaf. This is where those type of photos shine. Think pattern, texture, depth, and full color when you are composing this type of shot. 5. New Growth: Next up is probably my favorite, new growth. This is the most exciting time in your plant's life for you as a plant grower, observer, carer, is when it produces a [inaudible] leaf. I like to highlight that that's a very exciting time,, especially if you're sharing your plant journey on Instagram. Let's see if we have a new leaf on here. I'm going to try not just filter all over again. I have a couple of new leaves on the end here. This is a Raphidophora tetrasperma, like I said before, it's a gorgeous vining plant. It grows so quickly and beautifully and I love it so much. You can see that it has some new growth here in the front. Basically, I trimmed this so that I could propagate it, and so it's putting off some more growth down here at the node and growing up here. I would want to photograph this new growth. One fun thing that you can do for new growth shots is to incorporate some contrast. Show the brand new leaf next to some of its older leaves and you can really see the new leaf is very light and shiny and fresh, and then the older leaves are darker, more green, lots more chlorophyll, and so there is a fun contrast there. Let's say you want to photograph this sprig right here, but you've got a lot going on. One quick way that I like to simplify is to just take a piece of card stock and slip it behind the plant. I'm shooting at 2x and I'm able to frame this a lot more effectively, getting only the white in the background rather than a more distracting shot where the other leaves are back there. This is a great way to just really easily simplify your shot. This is awesome for monitoring your plant's growth, again, if you are keeping a record, a journal of your plants over time. But I think everybody can relish in the excitement of a new leaf, especially on a monstera for Monstera Monday. Definitely take this as a fun opportunity to experiment with that type of photo. I like to make sure that I'm capturing fenestrations. The best part about having a new monstera leaf is to see how many fenestrations the plant has and so as soon as those show up, as soon as it's uncurled enough to see, I am just snapping away. I'm sending videos to my siblings and my mom and being like look at my monstera, it's so fun. That is definitely a photo to make sure to capture. 6. Macro: Next up is macro. We can't be photographing our plants and not capturing all of those teeny-tiny beautiful microscopic details, so strap in because a lot of people believe that they have to have an actual macro lens to take macro photos, and I want to show you that you do not. When you open up your camera there is a little 1x button, and if you push the 1x button, it switches it to the 2x. This goes from the top camera to the bottom camera. This is just the telephoto lens, but what it does is it brings everything forward. I like to use this for macro photos because it lets you get a little bit closer and it crops in just a little better, so you do get the feel of a macro photo. If you wanted to explore macro photography in greater depth, there is a set of lenses that I highly recommend. This is Moment brand lenses. This is the macro lens. Basically, I have a case that goes with this lens. This is a Moment brand phone case, and it has a little slot where I can line up my lens and then twist it in place and then take off the lens cap. What I have is a lens that's attached right onto my phone's camera. If you look at my screen it's all black, that's because I'm still set to 2x. If I switch it to 1x, now it's using that top camera again. This lets me get really close to my subject. I can get probably an inch away and capture a lot of the very intricate details of the plant. The lens comes with a little diffuser hood, which is nice. You don't actually bump into your leaves when you have that thing on there, but I always forget it. It's downstairs, so I just use it without. But I really love this lens because I feel it's basically like putting a magnifying glass in front of your camera. I've had other camera lenses before that clip-on, and it's a little trickier to get them to line up just right so that your photo ends up really sharp. That's what I love about the Moment lens, it doesn't move around. It's not blurry on the edges, it's just really nice and I love the way the photos come out when I use it. When we're photographing macro, we want to make sure that we have enough light. I like to make sure that I get really nice and close to the window, and I like to look at the way that the texture is on, on the leaves. Sometimes backlighting is really fun for macro photos, you can see through the leaves. You can see the way that the cells are shaped and the veining and everything. Then lastly, one quick trick that I like to do is get a spray bottle. This one is just for my key. You want something that's got a fine mist spray because you can mist your plants down, and then instantly, it is covered in beautiful little dew drops that are very fun to photograph especially at a macro level. You'll get the sparkling dew, and it just feels fresh and beautiful. It's a fun way to add that little bit of magic to your photos. Let's jump into the next one. 7. The Selfie: The last photo that you should absolutely capture of your plants is the one one you and it too. Getting a selfie with your plants. It might sound cheesy, but it's so fun to see people with the things that they love. It is so fun. I created a portrait with my plants a couple years ago and I absolutely loved to this jungle vibes. You can experiment with different ways of getting yourself in the frame. From as simple as the camera shy hand holding up the pot, just the hand type of photo here. That would be really easy on the white like I showed in the portrait one. This adds a little bit of visual interests and scale. You can really see how big or small a plant is when it's next to a person's hand. You can hold your plant up in front of you and capture a half body type shot, or you can go all in and put all your plants in one room, sit in the middle in your plant kingdom, and have the picture done there using the self timer mode on your camera. It has a countdown and you can hit the little "Go" button, get in position, see your screen while you're sitting there, take your picture and you are well on your way. This is such a fun photo to share on your feed. It adds a lot of variety, adding a person into it. It's a little bit of complexity in there and it puts you in with things that you love. That is the last photo that I wanted to guide you through. In the next section, I want to show you how I would drag a couple of sliders. Before I post these pictures on Instagram, I'm going to show you how to get your photos from mere to really nice, really easily, you don't need any other special equipment or software, just the Instagram app. Stick with me, and let's get some editing done. 8. Editing: Now that we have taken all of our photos, let's get to editing. To start out, we are going to tackle one of the photos that we took on white. As you can see, all of them are just a little bit dingy. The white is kind of a grayish color and it's just not as remarkable as we want. But I'm going to show you how we will get it there. I'm going to go ahead and edit this one. I just selected it, and then I'm going to double tap it so that it shows the full image. This is the four by five. We're going to go into the next menu, and I'm going to start out by correcting my crops. So I'm actually going to toggle over into the "Edit" menu and then hit "Adjust". I want to get this centered, so I'm just going to pinch and zoom until it fits the center of the frame really nicely. I might play with the angle a little bit. I like the idea that the planter is parallel with the horizon. But I actually like when that little bit of space after my thumb and the crop edge is there, because that angle may touch the edge there creating a tangent, I don't like that, so I'm just going to take the angle off, and I'm happy with this. I'm just going to drop it down just a little bit so the edge of my hand doesn't go directly out the corner because that's distracting too, and I am happy with this crop. I'm going to hit the "Done" button. We're going to toggle back into the "Filter" menu. I actually like the look of a Clarendon filter, but make sure when you tap it, you tap it again and adjust the strength. We just want to bring that to about 25. Here is before and after, it's subtle. But the Clarendon filter adds a little bit of blue, a little bit of sharpness, and I just like the overall result with it kind of stylized. Now that we're done with the filter menu, let's go back into the "Edit" menu. We want to crank up the brightness here, so I'm going to hit "Brightness" and pull it up quite a lot. I am going to 66, here is before and after. We're going to hit "Done", we might come back to that. Let's crank up the contrast. I really like a nice punchy image. This one got pretty gone dress in pretty quick because the soil is so dark, but I really like the way that it looks. I'm going to warm it up just a little bit to contradict the coolness that the Clarendon filter added, and it also will help bring my skin tone back to normal. I've got it to set to 15. I like to slide over to the "Sharpen", which is at the very end. Click on that and sharpen it up about 40. The sharpening is really subtle. You won't be able to see it on my screen, but remember to sharpen your images because they're going to look so much better on your feed if they have been sharpened. At this point, I am super happy with how we have gotten it, just with those few simple tweaks. Let's boost the shadows just a little bit and see if we can get some detail in those leaves. You can see they're dark and now we can see the veins a little bit better. Then the highlight slider, this one, I like to test both ways. I take it down and see, that makes our brightest spots a little dimmer, which includes the background, and if we bring it up, it really adds that starkness, which I like in this image. So I'm going to bring the highlights up. Then let's play with the saturation. I like a very green photo, but I don't want to go overboard, because that will make my hand look unrealistic. I'm just going to do five on the saturation. I'm going to bring the warmth up again just a little bit more, and I'm really happy with where we're at. I don't usually touch the other sliders besides "Brightness", "Contrast", "Warmth" and "Saturation", "Highlights", "Shadows", and "Sharpen". The rest is just extra. But one thing I do like to check is the "Magic Wand". Sometimes the "Magic Wand" does really cool stuff and sometimes I think it makes it look a little grungy. Actually like the effect in this shot, but maybe a little less strong. Yeah, just a subtle lux adjustment. It adds some nice shadow depth right here, which gives the planter a nice shape. I'm going to hit "Done". Here is our before and our after and we are ready to post. The second image that I wanted to run an edit through with you is one of our bird of paradise photo. I've got a few that I have to choose from and I want to make sure I pick the best one. They're all super similar. I actually like this last one because the line doesn't go directly out the corner, and we have a lot of great depth and dimension in the texture of the leaf. Actually between those two, it's a pretty close tie. I actually think I like this one a little bit better. Let's go ahead and hit "Next". This one's going to get a slightly different edit. We're still going to do the Clarendon gently, go into the "Edit" menu. I don't really feel like I need to adjust the crop at all, but let's go ahead and jump into "Brightness". For this one, I want to show off the texture of that leaf. I'm actually going to bring the brightness down because we have quite a lot of highlights happening that is making the leaf look less saturated. I'm going to bring the contrast up. This is going to add a lot of punch. Let's go ahead and bring the warmth up, because right now I'm getting a lot of blue tones and I want to make sure we show off the green of that leaf. Before and after on the warmth. Then let's go ahead and take our sharpening up. Then I want to bring the shadows down. This is going to add a lot of drama. It's still just a little bit blue. Let's touch the "Lux" and see. I love that. I like the moodiness that that adds. It's still feels blue to me, so I'm going to bring the warmth up just a little more. Then I'm actually going to take off our Clarendon filter because I think that's contributing to a lot of the cool tones. Just a little bit. Let's boost the contrast again. I'm actually getting some cyan highlights here, and I want to tone those down just a little. That's in the "Color" menu, so we want to toggle over to "Highlights". This is just going to affect the lightest part of the image. You can see if I press "Yellow", it turns those blues more yellow, orange. I like to toggle through the colors just to see what's going to give the best effect because the green looks good, the yellow looks good and the rest just seem off. I'm going to actually stick with the green if you feel like this is a little too intense, for example, if you've got the purple on, you can tap it again and do a more subtle edit, or a more dramatic edit if you like that. But I'm going to just go green and then I'm going to boost it up just a little bit. Let's play with the shadows while we're in here and see if we can do anything fun there. The blues in the shadows gives it a very like film feel. Very modern edit there. I actually like the way that the pink looks. But now we're toeing into that stylized feel, so that's up to you whether you like the look or not. I'm going to go ahead and take it. Let's do it. Then here is what we have before and after. We just really emphasize the veins in that plant and we showed off the texture really well. I feel like we really toned out those blue highlights and made this photo look awesome. So would you ever guess that this was taken with a phone? I am super pleased with how this looks. Let's zoom in here and really enjoy those details and all the texture. Yeah, hopefully this was helpful and you found something useful that you can use to just make your photos just a little bit better before you share them on Instagram. 9. Final Thoughts: That's everything. Thank you so much for taking my class. I hope that you had fun, and I hope you feel inspired and excited to photograph your house plants. If you do take a picture of your plants, please share them in the project section so that I can see and we can all share our love of plants over there. I always love to see what you guys are creating, and if you decide to share on Instagram, tag me in your photos so I can come take a look. My handle is Tabitha Park. If you enjoyed this class and you want to take other fun classes by me, I highly recommend my pet photography class if you're already at home taking pictures of your plants, why not take a picture of your cat or your dog? You may also like my nature photography class, which talks about getting outside and doing some more macro-type photos. If you are going to step up your photography, I have a bunch of classes on product and food, we photograph donuts and coffee, we make our own backdrops and it's really fun. Don't forget to take a look at my profile and see if something over there excites you. If not, or you're looking for more, I always love to hear what kinds of classes you want to see me teach. With all that being said, thank you so much for joining me, and hanging out with me, and watching me nerd out over all my little plants. I will see you in or the next one.