Let’s dive right in.
1. The Abstract Rose
Roses are a staple of macro photography. They have it all: colors, curves, and beautiful details.
So whenever you see a rose, get in close, and start shooting.
I observed this rose from up high and focused on its curves.
2. A Black and White Dandelion Macro
Pretty much every well-known macro photographer has a dandelion shot in their portfolio.
Dandelions are amazing subjects–if you get close enough. The details are just stunning!
For this shot, I was using a dedicated macro lens, and focusing as close as it could go.
That’s how I was able to magnify the single droplets of water.
3. Shooting Through the Flowers
There are all sorts of techniques you can use to capture creative macro photography.
And here’s one of my favorites.
The shooting through technique, also known as cramming.
All you have to do is find some flowers to put close to your lens, in front of your subject.
If you use a wide aperture, the foreground flower will be completely blurred, giving you a lovely wash of color.
I shot through the tulip on the right to get this macro shot.
4. Broken Backlight Poppy
Most macro photography shots are soft and subtle.
Step 1: Shoot during the golden hours, when the sun is low in the sky.
Step 2: Angle yourself so that the sun is directly behind your subject–and is shining through some object, such as tree branches.
The tree branches will break up the light, and create dramatic background effects.
5. The Painterly Grape Hyacinth
Most photography is about keeping things sharp.
But abstract macro photography? Not so much.
You can use all sorts of techniques to create creative, unique macro photos. For this shot, I found a good-looking grape hyacinth–and I focused slightly in front of the actual flower.
The result is a photo that looks almost like a painting.
6. Leaves on the Forest Floor
But leaves make amazing macro subjects, too!
I especially like shooting leaves in fall. The key is to find one leaf that stands out from the pack, which can anchor your composition.
Notice how the lighter leaf pops in relation to the darker surrounding leaves.
It’s also important to simplify. Make sure that you only have one or two main elements in your frame!
7. Birch Tree Bark
One of the great things about macro photography is that you can use pretty much anything as a subject.
So go outside. Look around. See what you can find!
And then focus as close as you can–for an unusual take on an ordinary thing.
That’s what I did for this birch tree image.
8. Deep Depth of Field Dahlia
I love soft-focus macro photography.
But sometimes it pays to take a photo that’s sharp throughout the frame. This is especially true if your subject is (mostly) flat.
That’s why I chose to use a deep depth of field for this dahlia. I wanted to create something graphic and powerful.
So I dialed in a narrow aperture and grabbed this shot.
9. The Dying Daisy
A rule of thumb for macro flower photography is to shoot good looking subjects. Subjects without blemishes. Subjects without brown spots or holes.
But you don’t always have to do this. Sometimes it pays to shoot dying flowers, like the daisy above.
This requires a certain mindset–where you try to embrace the decay of the flower. Try to make your photo stark and desaturated to fit the mood.
10. Abstract Ice
If you’re struggling to find subjects in the winter, why not shoot frozen lakes, rivers, or streams?
You can use the bubbles and lines to create crazy abstracts.
I suggest you look for water that normally moves. It tends to give you the best details. This shot was taken in a small, barely-frozen stream.
11. Aster With a Creamy Background
Macro photographers tend to focus on the main subject.
But I urge you to think about the background, too! Because a great background can really enhance your photo.
I recommend shooting a simple background. One that’s smooth and uniform. You can achieve this with a shallow depth of field. By making sure there’s a good distance between your subject and the background features.
The aster above was far from the background. And I used a wide aperture for the best background blur.
12. Berries in Winter
One of my favorite photography tools is contrast. Because contrast can give you a really breathtaking image.
These berries pop out at you as soon as you see this photo–because of the contrast between the red subject and the white background.
In general, more contrast is better.
So include contrast whenever you can!
13. The Power of Curves
Dahlias are a wonderful macro subject–one of my absolute favorites.
They have amazing curves. Curves are great for photography because they lead the viewer through the frame.
In this photo, the dahlia curves take you on a journey, from bottom to top.
14. The Freelensed Flower
I’m a fan of more unconventional macro photography techniques.
Which is why I love to freelens.
Just focus your lens to infinity, turn off your camera, and detach the lens. Then turn your camera back on, and tilt the lens in different directions.
You’re sure to get some interesting shots, like the flower above. Notice the light leaks in the upper left corner of the frame, which are effects caused by the freelensing.
If you want to create the same effect, try it yourself!
15. Tulip Curves
Macro photography is all about getting close.
And the best macro shots show your subject from an entirely new perspective. This tulip shot isn’t initially recognizable as a tulip–and that’s what I like about it!
Plus, the curves really lead the eye through the frame!
16. Foreground Leaves, Background Flower
Putting a flower as your subject makes a lot of sense. But have you considered putting a flower in the background?
17. Out-Of-Focus Lily
If you want really stunning backgrounds, you can use a combination of the broken-backlighting technique (see above), and the front-focusing technique (also discussed above).
This trout-lily shot used backlight broken by trees in the evening, as well as a slight front-focus.
18. Blue and Green Harmony
The more you take macro photos, the more you’ll realize that colors matter. And if you can make colors work for you, your shots will look so much better.
I love harmonious colors: colors that are similar in tone, such as green and blue, or yellow and orange.
For this shot, I combined a blue flower with a background of green trees around sunset.
That’s how I captured a very peaceful, soft shot.
19. Flowers and Evening Sky
If you want to capture stunning backgrounds, the sky is always a great place to look.
For one, it’s always there.
For another, the sky is often full of great light.
I got down low for this macro shot, so that I was below the flowers.
And I made sure that the bright parts of the sky were all across the background.
20. In the Center of a Hibiscus
Flowers are great macro subjects–but it’s easy to photograph them from a distance, and never really appreciate their details.
I recommend you always check out the center of any flower you come across. Because flower centers are all sorts of interesting colors and shapes.
This is a hibiscus, and the hibiscus center steals the frame. The colors are just so powerful!
21. The Grass Is Always Greener
Let this picture be a lesson to you:
Anything can be a macro subject. Anything at all!
These are some tall stalks of grass–taken with a wide aperture for a softer look.
22. Sun and Shade Cosmos
To capture this cosmos photo, I used something I like to call the sun-shade technique. That’s how I got such a soft, creamy background, almost like a watercolor.
Here’s how it works.
Wait until late afternoon, when the golden hours are in full effect. Then find a subject that’s in the shade, with a background that’s bathed in the golden sun.
If you use a wide aperture, this sun-shade combination will give you something smooth and chocolatey.
23. Autumn Leaves
Leaves are beautiful macro subjects–and the best leaves are autumn leaves, which are all sorts of wonderful colors.
I used freelensing to create this soft-focus effect, and I used backlight to get a bright background.
24. Two-Toned Tulip
Keep your macro photography simple.
Include one subject, two at most.
And include two to four colors.
Anything more will start to get messy. And that’s exactly what you should avoid.
This tulip photo has one clear subject and two clear colors.
It’s simple, just the way I like it.
25. Moving Osteospermum
This isn’t your usual photo of a flower, for one main reason:
I moved my camera when I took this shot.
In other words, I used a style of photography called intentional camera movement (ICM).
To do this, slow down your shutter speed to 1/20s and below. Then experiment with moving your camera in different directions while snapping photos.
26. Single-Subject Rose Center
Here’s the thing about shallow-focus macro photography:
Even if most of the photo is soft, you have to have one thing that’s sharp. At least, it has to be sharp relative to the rest of the frame. One point of focus that the viewer can grasp onto.
In this photo, it’s the rose stamen, which stands out among a sea of softness.
27. Shell and Sand
One of the best places to do macro photography is the beach.
Because shells are amazingly photogenic.
When I took this photo, I looked for a high-contrast situation, where a bright shell would stand out against dark sand.
I also looked for lines in the sand that would lead the eye toward the shell.
It took some time, but I found the shot I had hoped for!
28. Only Snow
In winter, finding macro subjects can be tough.
But one thing you can do is look at the ground!
Because snow can make for an amazing subject. For this photo, I crouched down low and made sure the snow was backlit (so I could have a bright bokeh effect).
29. Battered Leaf in Autumn
I’ve emphasized the beauty of autumn leaves above.
But I want to note that, unlike flowers, your leaves don’t have to be in great condition.
In fact, a few holes or broken edges will give a leaf personality.
That’s what drew me to this scene, and that’s what I love about this photo.
30. High-Key Poppies
I love the simplicity of high-key macro photos. That is, photos with bright white backgrounds.
The white really sets off the subject. Look at how the poppies stand out in the photo above!
The sky is my go-to white background in these situations. A bright, cloudy sky will give you a high-key look pretty easily!
31. Succulent Swirl
One of the greatest things about succulents are their centers.
In this photo, you can see the way the center of the plant swirls about the frame. And it’s very easy to incorporate that into a composition. It’s just so compelling!
32. Dandelion at Sunset
If you’ve never shot a macro subject at sunset, then you’ve been missing out.
Because the sunset sky looks incredible. And it’s such fun to incorporate that sky into your background.
For this dandelion photo, I got down low. I made sure that the dandelion seeds were framed by the orange sky (the area near to the setting sun).
33. Fairy Light Magic
Fairy lights are a great macro photography accessory.
They’re cheap, and they’re great for producing beautiful, dreamy bokeh.
So grab some fairy lights, and put them a few inches behind your subjects. Then use a wide aperture, and see what effects you can create!
I took this Black-Eyed Susan photo right after sunset, with a string of fairy lights I purchased off Amazon.
34. Low-Key Tulips
High-key photos are great. But low-key photos are beautiful, too–in their own somber way.
(Low-key photos have a completely black background.)
Create a low-key photo choosing a subject that’s well lit, in front of a background that’s in deep shade.
You can also try using a blackboard or sheet, which will make the low-key effect even easier to achieve.
I painted some plywood black and positioned these tulips in front of it. Then I made sure the tulips were bathed in light, while the board was in shadow.
35. Movement in Blue
Flowers are stationary subjects.
But you can still use them to show movement.
In this grape hyacinth photo, the stem stretching upward, along with the small flowers, brings the viewer up through the frame.
36. Sand Ripples
One of the best ways to create more intimate macro photos is to capture patterns.
And one of the best patterns you can find is ripples in the sand.
Sidelight is great for enhancing textures like this, so I waited until late in the day when the sun was low in the sky.
The light hit the sand from the sky and made the ripples even more present.
37. A Leaf in the Snow
Here’s another winter macro photography subject for you:
Leaves in snow.
The dark leaf against the white snow makes for some stunning contrast. And I love the way the snow often looks like a powder, just dusting the main subject.
38. The Redbud
An important macro photography tip is to look all around.
Don’t get stuck looking at the ground.
Because then you might miss what’s right above your head!
I took this redbud photo while looking up into the sky!
39. Flower on the Sky
One of the best ways to create original photos is to use multiple techniques at once.
This photo used two. Shooting out of focus, and shooting against the sky.
That’s how I captured this graphic, 2D-style photo.
40. Leaf and Twigs
That’s when I took this shot.
Here’s a macro photography tip:
For these intimate shots, it’s important to keep them sharp throughout the frame. You’ll need a narrow aperture to make that happen.
Hopefully, you’re now feeling inspired!
Just remember. There are so many macro photography subjects out there, just waiting to be photographed.
So take some of these macro photography ideas, get outside, and start shooting!