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The Flower Show

How to Best Capture Your Garden for the PHS Gardening Contest

June 17, 2020

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resized photography for 6 17 20

For the first time, our PHS Gardening Contest will be completely virtual! This means all submissions and judging will be conducted entirely online through PHSonline.org/GardeningContest. Contestants will submit photos of their garden and answer an online questionnaire for judges to decide scores in these five areas:

  • Aesthetic appeal including beauty, creativity, and effective design
  • Plant Health & Production
  • Sustainability Practices & Resourcefulness
  • Habitat for Beneficial Wildlife Including Pollinators
  • Connections to Family/Neighborhood/Community

Each garden, undoubtedly, has unique traits but a great photo this year could be the difference between finishing as a garden of distinction, a blue ribbon, or a participation award.

Debbie Laverell, Vice-Chair of Photography for the Philadelphia Flower Show and GCA's Focus Photography Editor, gave a recent presentation with the best ways to take photos of your garden. She recommended proper planning and preparation by studying good gardening photographs, visualizing how you want to capture your garden (thinking about how you want the photo to look before the photo session), learning the basic rules of composition, and taking more photos than you need. Here are the five elements of a great photograph according to Laverell:

  • Lighting
  • Color
  • Telling a story
  • Correct composition
  • Distance to subject

“The most important things are good composition and lighting,” Laverell says. “The best time of day to take photos is in the early morning or late afternoon. The worst time is midday.” If you can master these parts of photography, Laverell feels you’re on your way to taking some great gardening photos.

Debbie’s online webinar and other photography webinars are available through PHS below. Please note that passwords must be typed (not copy and pasted) and are case sensitive.

PHS Post Processing Garden Photos, Recorded by PHS  June 10, 2020, 
Access Password: 7x+!!ir$ 

Tips for Photographing Your Outdoor Garden, Recorded by PHS May 26, 2020, 
Access Password: 2s?4=77*

Registration for the 2020 PHS Gardening Contest ends Monday, June 22, and it's free to enter!