What’s the best way to guarantee a fantastic outdoor photoshoot in the sun? Pick a stunning natural location to use as your background. And one of the top examples of a beautiful backdrop? A sunflower field! Today, I will guide you through eight sunflower field photoshoot ideas you can try.
The Best Time of Year for Sunflower Photography
As the sunflower is a symbol of summer, you would be right to think it’s the best time to take pictures of them. You can find them flowering from mid-July to September. Sometimes you will find them still in bloom as late as October.
Perennials can bloom for 8-12 weeks during these summer months. This long time in bloom means you have plenty of time to consider and compose your photoshoot. Farmers plant sunflower seeds often to have the constant yellow colours in the summer sun.
Where Are the Best Sunflower Fields?
The best sunflower field is most likely the one closest to you. Hopefully, this information is on the internet somewhere.
The best way to track an area down is to do a Google search. Put your location and ‘sunflower field’ afterwards in the search bar. You can also look for sunflower festivals near you.
You are looking for a big enough field that fills the frame with sunflowers. But the field’s environment is also crucial to a successful photoshoot, so keep this in mind.
For instance, an area on a hill will naturally help fill up your frame. At the same time, a field with trees around the edges will take away from the blue sky. But it adds excellent depth when shooting with a wide aperture.
Where to Find Sunflowers in the United States
Sunflower fields are abundant in America. Kansas is known as the sunflower state because its climate is ideally suited for its growth. If you’re lucky to live or travel near there, you will have no trouble finding these beautiful flowers.
The Dakotas produce the most sunflowers in the United States. So these are the best places to head for an abundance of them in the summer. Minnesota, California, Colorado and Texas are other states to find them easily.
What to Bring for a Sunflower Field Photoshoot
As always, the best camera is the one that you have on you. Even a camera on a modern smartphone has excellent capabilities for a small photoshoot with sunflowers. If you use a phone camera, use portrait mode to make your subject jump out of the background.
Ideally, you want to shoot on a mirrorless or DSLR camera. These cameras give you the flexibility and control to shoot the various styles we will touch on in this article. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get great images from a point-and-shoot camera. It will just be a lot harder.
I suggest using a lens with a long focal length to amplify the endlessness of sunflowers in your photos. If you were to take a portrait of someone from far off with a long lens, you get a background with a smaller range of view than a wide-angle lens. Shooting the same shot using a wide-angle lens, you would potentially see the edges of the field, ruining the ‘endless’ effect.
A tripod is always handy. But it won’t be of too much use when shooting with a sunflower background during the day. But you may want to use a tripod to shoot during golden hour, especially if you will be shooting into twilight.
A polarising filter could help with the styling of your photo. It can remove glare and help amplify the colours.
Our Tips for Sunflower Field Photography
There is a balance of colours, light, and details you want between your subject and background. Plus, outdoor photography often relies on weather conditions. So choose a good time for this kind of photography.
Wear Complementary Colours
In your sunflower photoshoot, you will be surrounded by a brilliant yellow. Because yellow is bright and vibrant, you do not want people to wear colours that clash with it. You want to accent the light feeling that yellow gives off. Colours like white, blue, brown and orange are ideal for a sunflower background. The idea is to stand out but complement the shade around you. Wearing black may be too dark, but a vibrant red could make your subject stand out from the scenery.
Choose the Right Time of Day
The time of day is another crucial factor to consider. Lucky for us, younger sunflower heads will always turn towards the sun as it moves across the sky. It’s almost like having a photography assistant turning your props for you!
Sunsets are incredible for sunflower field photography. The highlights on the top of the person’s head will reflect the same colour and intensity as the petals on the flowers.
8 Sunflower Field Photoshoot Ideas
This list will show you how to make the most out of a tapestry of sunflowers. These ideas focus on portraiture. The height of the flowers engulfs our subjects, thus giving you great photographic moments.
1. Hold Up a Sunflower for Scale
A stereotypical picture can sometimes be the most effective. Sunflower heads can grow to a similar size as our own.
Take advantage of this comparison by having your subject hold a loose flower up to their face. Have people cover their entire face or just a tiny section, similar to this photograph. Make sure you focus on your subject’s face.
2. Create an Endless Sunflower Background
Another idea for a photoshoot is to frame your photograph to look as if the yellow flowers take up most of the frame. You either need a field below a hill or a higher perspective to do this. You could also take a step ladder with you, or if you have an assistant, get on their shoulders!
I like this idea because it emphasises the sheer mass of flowers. My favourite part is how we lose sight of the stems further in the distance, so we are left with a band of yellow on the horizon.
3. Photograph at Their Height
When you position your camera around the height of the flowers, you get a viewpoint similar to images shot right above a waterline. This composition is ideal for producing dramatic photos of people amongst sunflowers. It’s especially true for sunset images like this example provided.
For this composition, I suggest using a shallow depth of field to bring attention directly to the person. Be conscious of your foreground and focus on your subject. This composition technique works best when the foreground is full of hints of colour. You will also want a fast shutter speed to capture any movement.
4. Style Clothes
Photographing a group of people with a sunflower background can be tricky. But the result can be a wholesome picture that is perfect for displaying in your house.
Notice below how each person is wearing white clothing, highlighting them amongst the flowers rather than making them stand out. Style your subjects in matching family outfits will make your photos look more professional.
But the success of this shot again comes from the perspective. As the photograph is taken from high up, you do not see the end or edge of the field. This gives the impression that the family is fully immersed in nature.
5. Go Macro!
The main attraction of sunflowers is the brilliant yellow. You may want to focus all your attention on this specific detail, filling your frame with as much colour as possible. The flowers are so big that you can get up close and personal with a macro lens.
The macro style will open up a range of subjects to photograph with these flowers. You can capture images of insects, like bees, in the example. Or, you can get creative by shooting the back of the plant or maybe even the petals with the sun shining through them.
6. Take Full-Body Shots With Flash
The only way to guarantee controlled lighting is to bring it yourself! Using an external flash allows you to light your subject perfectly. The light will also bring out the unique details and colours of the sunflowers.
It is also worth studying this image for the full-body shot. Most of the sunflower fields you will come across will have gaps between each row of flowers planted. Typically, these walkways can be pretty ugly in the photograph.
This photographer has managed to fill the bottom of the frame’s path with leaves from other plants. It’s a great way to fill the frame with more attractive details and emphasise a sharp focus on your subject.
7. Find a Lone Wolf
Having a single subject standing out from the masses makes for a great photo. It’s true whether in a busy city centre or with a sunflower background!
Find a lonely sunflower that has grown higher than the ones around it. And make it the centre of your focus. Make sure you use a shallow depth of field to make it stand out that much more.
You can also incorporate this technique to have a person stand or jump higher than the flowers around them. Not only will this add attention to them, but it will also look as if they are in a sea of yellow flowers.
8. Take a Sunflower ‘Wall’ Shot Against a Sky
Even though this composition looks simple, it is hard to perfect. This photographic technique will have you spending more time looking for the location rather than taking the actual shot!
You will want to look for a sunflower field on a slight hill. You will then want to position yourself at the lowest point in the area and shoot toward the highest end.
This will give you a ‘wall’ of sunflowers. Make sure there is nothing on the horizon as that can ruin the effect. If one tree disturbs the otherwise perfect composition, you can remove it later in Photoshop.
With this list of ideas for sunflower photos, there is no shortage of photographic techniques to try. Part of photography is taking advantage of these natural places of beauty. Feel free to use them and fill your frames with as much visual goodness as possible.
Plan what gear and equipment you need. Decide on what time of day you want to shoot your images. And if there isn’t a sunflower field near you, take those extra couple of hours to travel to a place that does. You won’t regret having a sunflower field photoshoot!
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