Tulip Tips: Give Your Photos Wow Factor

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Photos by Andre Gagne

With some ridiculously gorgeous weather this week the Canadian Tulip Festival is attracting quite the crowds for their colourful star attractions. While hundreds of photos are being snapped daily most are not going to turn any heads or turn up in a gallery like those classic shots by Malak Karsh. Here’s a few ways you can give your shots some of that wow factor.

Often, photographers will bend themselves all out of shape for a good shot. We have to be part contortionist in that way. The tulip beds generally get shot head on which makes for a colourful shot but one so many others have snagged. Getting down low will give you a unique perspective on the flowers and, on bright days, give you a nice blue sky backdrop. Don't be afraid to have a little fun, too, while you're down there. I mean, everybody is going to be wondering what the heck you're doing anyway. Tilt your camera or body for different angles (see feature image).

NOTE: I've seen this before and it's bad festival etiquette. Do not move the flowers for a better shot. I've seen people bend the plants, break them and even pick them to put somewhere else. Move your body.

The tulips provide a wealth of shots
as they are in such abundance during
the festival and while shots of the overall
collection in each flower bed are great you
can really get some interesting shots if you
find ways to take individual photos as well.

Find those flowers on the edge, the antisocial
ones and give them a little attention with your lens.
Combine with the above tip and, as an extra
suggestion, bring a spray bottle of water to give
the plant a bit of a drink. The result will look
like fresh morning dew. 


Yeah, I know this one sounds weird with the bright, beautiful palette in front of you but don't underestimate the power of a strong black and white image. Here you can use the sun and shadow to really paint your images in darker tones (some you can touch up in Photoshop or Lightroom). While the "Golden Hour" is always great for those beaming colour shots, high noon is good for some hard shadows you can play with. The image below was shot at about 12:15 in the afternoon and required only a little touch-up.

Also, if you have a camera that allows you to make a single colour pop us it or toy around in an editing program. Having that single colour (usually red or a yellow) will be very eye-catching in a stripped down image and you can create some very interesting results if you plot it out while shooting instead of after the fact.

Don't be shy!

This one kind of ties in with angle but don't be afraid
to really work your zoom to pinpoint the fine detail of these plants.
Get right above and look straight on down, if able.

Of course, don't
step on other tulips to do it.
That's not the tiptoeing they are
looking for.

If you have a macro this is
the time to bust it out and get creative.
If you happen to catch an unsuspecting
insect on one of the petals even better!

With so much still subject matter this is the perfect time to get wild and whacky with your shots.

Create more abstract pieces by only snapping a portion of the tulip or throw your shots out of focus for a blurry splash of colour.

Play with your settings and move your lens or body to great patterns or, as I like to, flower whirlpools.

Sure, most of those shots are going to come out wonky but the one that works will usually be that shot that sets yours above those not taking some fun photography risks. 

TIP: Get there early to avoid the crowds.

Not everybody is going to be happy with the person hogging some choice photography spots because you want to flex your creative muscle.

If you are there with others waiting take a few shots and find a less densely populated area to continue to play.

Finally, if you have the time and equipment you can snap away at the tulips to create a
360 interactive shot like these taken by Ottawa Life Magazine's 360 Guru Martin Smith: