Garden photography captures anything you can find in your gardens - from objects such as trellis supports, pergolas, fountains, ponds, stonework and structures, to fruits, vegetables, blooms, buds, berries, wildlife, insects, landscapes, weather, pets, people and places.

Gardens lure the curiosity of children and people of all ages. Gardens attract beautiful birds that can capture our imagination and become the setting for a photo opportunity.

One of the treasures of photographs is that they capture memories for us to later reflect on, for as long as the photo is preserved.

Garden Photographs

Teach us about Agriculture, Health, Foods & Nutrition

Photographs are an aid to educators, who understand there is a complex web that exists between visual stimulus and visual perception. Photos are an excellent tool for getting help in determining the ID of an unknown plant or insect; they also influence bridging the gap in overcoming education and cultural lantuage barriers. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Brussel Sprouts, Photo by (2manyplants)

Runner Up DG 2007 Photo Contest: "Brussel Sprouts"

Photo by: (2manyplants) Phoenix, AZ

Teachers communicate their messages using verbal, written and visual images, such as artwork and photographs. Seeing foods such as fruits and vegetables can help us learn about agriculture, health and nutrition; and they can be especially effective when coupled with actual tasting and sampling of the food(s). Photographs of food convey messages that affect our senses and can stimulate our mouths to water just by the sight of a tempting culinary delight.

Photographs are powerful. Photographic imagery is an outside factor that influences our food choices, affecting our dietary habits and lifestyle behaviors. Pictures are often used to sell or market products and are incorporated into menu designs to entice us to order particular foods.

Photos Teach us about Nature

Garden photographs can teach us about nature. Seeing a bird, insect or wild animal that we have never seen before may entice us to learn more about it, its habitat or species.The owlet photo (pictured right) was taken by DG member (Dionosaur) in Sierra Vista, AZ.

Those of us who have never seen a barn owl before may read more about them after looking at their photo. Barn owls, Tyto alba, are spread around the world and vary in size and color. They are nocturnal and are North America's only member of the heart shaped, "Monkey-faced" owl family known as Tytonidae.[1]

Owlets, Photo by (dionosaur)

Runner Up DG 2007 Photo Contest "...these are the owlets that grew up in my yard. The picture was taken shortly before they left the nest"

Photo by: (dionosaur) Sierra Vista, AZ

Photographs evoke Emotion

How we see images is quite complex. Light passes through the cornea of our eyes, through aqueous fluid, through the lens and something called a vitreous body, resulting in images forming on photoreceptor cells in the retina of our eyes. The eye's optic nerve then transmits the signals to the thalamus in our brain.[2] Perception of the visual images varies among individuals, but overall can be categorized as pleasing, unpleasing or neutral.

Garden photographs affect senses and emotions, evoking feelings of happiness or sadness. Pleasing images seem to be more sought after by garden photographers, conveying messages of diversity, color, texture, life, peace and harmony.

The photographer may choose to capture unpleasant images that convey the message of struggle, suffering, survival or death, such as a pile of feathers left behind in the garden by a hawk after a kill, or a devastated bed of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplant ruined by a losing battle with fusarium or verticillium wilts.

Studies have shown a correlation between pleasant, unpleasant and neutral content in photographic images. Pleasant or unpleasant were better remembered and even yielded a change in heart rate, compared to visual images considered to be neutral in content.[3]

Runner Up DG 2007 Photo Contest

"Oh, to be entertained by a stick in the dirt"

Photo by: (broncbuster) Waxahachie, TX

Bluebird Photo by: David Kinneer

This photo was shared on DG Bird Watching Forum

Photo by: David Kinneer, Fredericksburg, VA

Amazing Amateurs

Dave's Garden (DG) members represent a diverse group of individuals, with many of us working in careers other than gardening or photography, but who at every opportunity love to get outdoors, travel, explore and take pictures. As amateur photographers, every now and then we may have the good fortune of a spectacular shot, some of us more often than others.

There are over 200 public interest forums from cottage gardening to bird watching here on DG, with many amazing amateur photographers posting and sharing their photographs taken in their garden environments.

Backyard Wildlife

The spectacular bluebird photo above was taken by DG member David Kinneer, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, who has bluebirds that regularly nest in his backyard. He maximizes his photo opportunities by supplying the birds with mealworms, to attract them to a particular area. Then he starts shooting, taking as many as 300 pictures in a day. "When you shoot that many, you are bound to get lucky once in a while," David says. One of his secrets to taking good photographs is his professional grade equipment, "I have five Canon DSLR's, among them an EOS ID Mark III, two EOS 40D's, and a number of Canon telephoto lenses, including a 300mm f/2.8, a 400mm f/4 and a 500mm f/4." He added, "I use the 300mm mounted on the Mark III most often."

Nature has always fascinated DG member (Dinu) from Mysore, India, who uses a Panasonic FZ8. He says, "One should not lean on photo editing too much to enhance shots." Besides keeping a keen eye on nature and those little things that keep happening around you, he added that swift fingers and a knack to see special things in the ordinary are helpful.

"You will do better and better with every shot. Have patience and a free mind, a will to experiment without fear, and steady hands. Develop the knack to recognize those trivial looking little details in all things (I love macros, personally). All these things matter in addition to the equipment we use."

Lemon Butterfly, Photo by: (Dinu) Lemon Butterfly

Photo by: (Dinu) Mysore, India

Dave's Garden Annual Photography Contest!

Gardeners here on DG gather up their best shots of the season for the DG Annual Photography Contest that is held every fall. "They are a lot of fun. It's amazing to see such a huge variety of beautiful photos and to enjoy the talent that is represented by our members," says Dave. The first photo contest was a Brugmansia and Datura photo contest, held in 2001, that attracted 80 entries.

Versicolor Orange Brugmansia, Photo by: (Brugie)

Winner, Best Brugmansia in DG 2001 Photo Contest

"Versicolor Orange"

Photo by: (Brugie) Chariton, IA

Over the years the themes have expanded and continued to attract more and more participants. This year's contest attracted 1,730 entries, and the DG tradition continues.

Dave's Garden administration keeps all the photos entered since 2001 available online, so that members can go back and revisit them. The photos are all a pleasure to view. To find them, click on the 'home' link on the DG toolbar, then go to the 'Extras' link.

"There are no rules for good photographs,

there are only good photographs."

~Ansel Adams (American Photographer 1902-1984)

For further reading enjoyment:

Click here to read Garden Photography ~ Part 2

Basic Photography in the Garden & the Wild by Ian Maxwell

This article is dedicated in memory of DG member, Trois Helvy - SantaFe, TX. Trois contributed 417 images to DG PlantFiles, four of his photos have been featured on

All photographs were used with permission and are copyrighted as indicated by their respective photographers. Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved by the respective parties.

Thumnail photo credit: Heartfelt thanks to DG member (SingingWolf) for permission to use her father, Trois' 2004 photograph, "Beautiful Water Lily growing in my daughter's yard."


[1], Barn Owl. Accessed Oct. 10, 2008.

[2] Solomin E., Berg L., Martin D., Biology 7th ed. Thomson Learning, Inc.;2006. p801

[3] Palomba D., Angrilli A., Mini A., Visual evoked potentials, heart rate responses and memory to emotional pictorial stimuli. International Journal of Psychophysiology; 1997. p55-67.