Tips that will make your annual bluebonnet photos the best yet!
By: Lisa Snell
Feeling the spring time blues – the bluebonnet blues that is (or are they really purple)? Bluebonnets (lupines texensis) or the Texas lupines are the state flower and grow in beautiful patches throughout Texas, especially the Hill Country, in March and April. Every year folks clamber to find the perfect spot to gather their people (and pets) to take pictures in these iconic blooms. Here are tips for planning your perfect photo shoot.
The Texas highway medians have some of the most amazing floral fields, but seriously, these are not safe, and highway obstruction is illegal. This may sound obvious, but find a safe spot, away from traffic. Sometimes that perfect spot, or even your only available one, is on the side of the road, that can be okay. As long as it isn’t a high traffic location and the photographer will not have to stand in the road to get the photo, you should be okay. Oh yes, and make sure to look carefully before your sit- spiders and ants and snakes (oh my!) could be hiding beneath the flowers or rocks around you.
You may think you have found the perfect spot, but there are just a few more things to look out for. The flowers are nice, however that electrical box or telephone pole right behind them does not make such a great backdrop. Look for a natural background with either no obstructions or even just some simple trees and bushes. For that rustic look an old barn or barbed wire fence adds a nice touch.
Now that you’ve found your spot it is time to prepare for the shoot. Cell phone cameras are better than many inexpensive digital ones and have become the preferred method for capturing the moment. Either way, charge the camera or phone battery and make sure you have enough memory. Professional photographers even bring a back up camera just in case, so if you have that option, by all means take advantage of it. You do not want to have done all that work for nothing.
Texans love their wildflowers and have gone to great lengths to preserve them. The bluebonnet is regarded just as the wildflowers are, as a natural beauty meant to be preserved for all to see, so there are ethics around how they are treated. It may seem impossible to do, but try your best not to trample them, look for a wide gap or a rock outcropping that is surrounded by the flowers and use that open area to sit or stand. Also, don’t pick them, this will ensure that the flowers are able to flourish and spread seeds for the next year’s flowers…and your next round of photos.
The photo should showcase your style and personality. Dress for the season, light spring colors will be a great compliment to the colorful flowers. Are you a family that likes the matching look? If so, then go for it, but remember to mix it up just a little bit. Yes you can all wear yellow, but maybe not from head to toe. Accessorizing a basic white outfit with yellow could have a more appealing effect, and denim is a great compliment to the Texas rustic look. Get creative, but don’t overdo it, remember the flowers will be your best accessory. Also, pants and long skirts may be a more comfortable option for sitting on the itchy grass or hard rocks.
Before heading out, know when to go. The “magic hour” as many photographers call it, are the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise. A simple online search engine can tell you approximately when sunrise and sunset will be that day. Also taking photos in the shade or on a cloudy day are easier to brighten with the many different editing tools available online. Photos taken in the middle of a sunny day often have harsh shadows and washed out colors. The direct sunlight will also make everyone squint and, let’s face it, that’s never a good look.
The shooting angle can also be tricky. Take photos from a low perspective, but not from the ground looking up at them. Have them sit or stand in a variety of poses and heights. No squatting – it doesn’t look natural. Posed and smiling photos are great, but remember to also take a few candid and playful ones. Have them smell the flowers or dance, twirl and laugh. Follow them as they play, and shoot, shoot, shoot!
Finally – all these tips will be helpful for that planned photoshoot, but never be afraid to be spontaneous! Sometimes the best photos are the ones that weren’t planned. And hey, if you really want that perfect photo, put it in the hands of a professional. We take the stress out of the process, you just show up!
There are so many spots throughout our area and the many surrounding backroads. The best ones change from year to year, so it really is all about where you look. Here are a few of my favorite reliable and safe places that are easy to travel to for an afternoon adventure filled with beautiful bluebonnets:
Lisa Snell is a local Texas Hill Country natural light photographer specializing in families and individuals. Contact Lisa on Facebook or Instagram @lisasnellphoto.