We tend to associate exploration with long distances, sometimes extending into the far reaches of uncharted space. However, we can also explore entirely new worlds at very close range through the macro lens of photography. One popular route to take while exploring macro photography involves photographing flowers, which most of us can find at a nearby park, in the backyard, or even in the house. Talk about convenient! What’s more, macro flower photography yields some of the most beautiful and inspirational stills out there.

Flowers provide a unique range of colors, tone, texture, and other attributes that make them perfect subjects. In fact, it is in the details of these attributes that we find ourselves inspired. To prove it, we’ve curated a collection of inspirational macro flower photos that we’d like to share with you. For those interested in taking a more hands-on approach, we’ve also put together a list of tips and the gear you’ll need to practice macro flower photography.

The Gear You’ll Need for Macro Flower Photography

macro flower photography gear

While you can’t overstate the importance of education when it comes to exploring new territory, there’s also something to be said about the gear you use on your journey, especially when it comes to macro photography. A number of point-and-shoot cameras offer a macro “mode,” which can get the job done, but I’d like to encourage you to explore other modes (such as aperture priority or manual mode) as they’ll give you more creative control along the way. This might require an upgrade in gear, but use what you have available until you’re ready to take the next step.

  • Camera (DSLR or Mirrorless): Most DSLR or newer mirrorless cameras offer more creative control in terms of exposure, stability, file type, and more. Here are a few great, hi-res options from Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Fujifilm.
  • Macro Lens: First, know that you can capture macro-style photos without a macro lens, using distance or other techniques. For example, you might photograph a flower from a close distance with a longer distance between the flower and the background in order to achieve a shallower depth of field; however, a dedicated macro lens or extension tube will simplify the process and offer more creative options. The focal length of macro lenses varies, but the wider the angle, the closer you’ll have to get to the flower. 100mm (or its equivalent if you’re using a crop sensor camera) is a good go-to focal length.
  • Tripod: When shooting close up, motion becomes more exaggerated. Even with image stabilization in the camera and lens, you still risk camera shake, and the last thing you want to do is spend any significant amount of time setting up a shot only to have it come out blurry and destined for the digital trash bin. You can help eliminate (or at least minimize) camera shake by placing your camera on a quality, sturdy tripod.
  • Lighting: Natural light can work, but a ring light or off-camera flash will come in handy when ambient lighting is less than desirable. You will need to modify the lighting.
  • Light Modifiers: We want to create soft light, so we’re going to need a scrim (which you can get as part of a 5-in-1 reflector) and/or soft box to diffuse the light.
  • Spray Bottle: The unsung hero of macro photography, spray bottles work well for adding a touch of mist to flowers for additional texture.

Tips for Shooting Macro Flower Photography

Now that you have your gear squared away, it’s time to shoot. Well, almost. Check out these tips before you head out into the unknown to capture your macro shots.

  • Composition: Whether you’re photographing buildings, people, or flowers, you should begin setting up your shot with an emphasis on composition. Consider the rule of thirds, depth of field, and other compositional tools to help you create a visually compelling composition.
  • Focal Point: Focus is always important, but it’s especially important in this genre. Use manual or autofocus to pinpoint the exact area of the flower you want to highlight. If the depth of field is too shallow, for example, make adjustments (via stopping down the aperture or by increasing your distance from the flower) until you can see in detail the areas of the flower you want in focus.
  • Angles & Perspectives: Storytelling is key in photography, even when photographing flowers. Capture wide, medium, and tight angles so that you can put together cohesive sequences (perhaps in a blog, social media post, or album). Shoot each of these angles from a different perspective (top-down over the flower, side angle, or underneath the flower, looking up toward the sky) to add visual interest.
  • Lighting: Early morning or late afternoon (perhaps golden hour) sessions work best for getting softer, more pleasant light. Try to avoid the harsh, midday sunshine, if possible; otherwise, look for shade or use a reflector or scrim to diffuse and soften the light falling onto the flower(s). If using natural light, position yourself so that the natural light creates subtle directional light when it falls across the flower. Otherwise, position your flashes (and your camera) in a way that allows you to create directional light.
  • Depth of Field: It’s really quite simple. Opt for a shallow depth of field (f/1.2-f/4) if you want to focus on key elements and blur out the rest of the flower’s surface; otherwise, dial your aperture in to f/18-f/22 to capture a broader range of detail in the image.
  • Shutter Speed: Unless you’re indoors with absolutely no breeze, there’s a good chance the flowers you’re photographing are going to blow in the wind and/or move a bit. Along with a tripod, you can dial in your shutter speed to a faster setting (1/200 or faster) to help freeze the action and eliminate camera shake.
  • Backdrops: Unlike other genres of photography, macro photography makes it very easy to control the background, especially for those super tight closeup shots. The focus typically falls on the shallower side while backgrounds blur into oblivion. Please note, however, that you should still be mindful of any distracting elements in the background and opt for a clean backdrop. You can even use a piece of paper or some other surface of your choosing to create a unique backdrop.
  • RAW Files: Shoot in RAW (rather than jpeg) to allow for more dynamic edits.

Macro Flower Photography Inspiration

Without further ado, let’s jump into a collection of inspirational macro flower photography portraits, featuring talented and award-winning artists from around the world.

Ecaterina Leonte: Website | Instagram

Alan Shapiro: Website | Instagram

Anne MacIntyre: Website | Instagram

Esther: Instagram

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Garden treasure 💜 I’m still surprised about how well they’ve held up in the rain and they were looking pretty good too up until two weeks ago..! Spanish daisies survived the Dutch fall 🌧#aintbad . . | #sigmaphoto 70mm f/2.8 macro art | f/4.0 | 1/200 sec | ISO 100 | . ❁ #tv_flowers #inspiredbypetals #sonyherfst #flower_beauties_ #flower_igers #bns_flowers #my_daily_flower #petal_perfection #flora_addict #kings_flora #thisweekoninstagram #charming_nature_ #macro_delight #top_macro #dark_macro_art #macro_brilliance #macro_perfection #flowersandmacro #macroandflora #macroturk #mindtheminimal #freshairclub #moody_tones #moodynature #moody_arts #picture_to_keep #global_ladies #ourclickdays

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Bruno Militelli: Website | Instagram

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Pink Chrysanthemum – Nature always fascinates me, looking this flower through this macro perspective is so intriguing, we can find nice patterns everywhere in nature! For more images and information visit my website. link on bio. #brunomilitelliphotography • • • • • • • • #gardens #beautifulnature #flower_perfection #flowerpic #lowkeyphotography #fineartphoto #fujifeed #fujixt3 #xf80mm #flowerart #botanicalphotography #formsofnature #fineartphotography #fineartmacro #macroart #macro_perfection #macro_freaks #macroworld_tr #macro_secrets #raw_macro #macro_delight #fineart_photo #macroabstract #macro_vision #br_macro #macroexperience #flower_macro #chrysanthemum #chrysanthemumflower

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[Related Reading: The 2020 Macro Art Photo of the Year]

Fred Paulussen: Website | Instagram

Darren Gentle: Instagram

Slava Semeniuta: Behance | Instagram

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GRANULAR CREATURES

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Philipp L.: Instagram

Alina Dotsenko: Website | Instagram

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↘ ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ Be so busy loving your life that you having no time for hate, regret or fear. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ #macro_drama #nature_brillance #naturehippys_ #flowersandmacro #pocket_moody #magic_marvels #whywelovenature #dof_brilliance #macro_holic #dofnature #tv_fadingbeauty #macroclique #macro_perfection #igbest_macros #tnhusa #top_macro #marvelouz_world #9vaga_naturemiracles9 #amazing_fs #macroworld_tr #playoftones #macro_vision #moody_tones #pocket_allnature #duskmac #fa_fadeaway #magical_beauties #soulful_moments #bns_macro #bokeh_bliss

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[Related Reading: Backyard Macro Photography Made Me Fall in Love with the Art]

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this collection of inspirational macro flower photography portraits. The list is not exhaustive, of course, but hopefully serves as a starting point to encourage you to further explore this unique genre of photography.