If you are a Texan whether native or newly relocated, you learn quickly that Texas bluebonnets are a must have a backdrop for photos of your family! Working as a professional photographer for over a decade I have seen many do’s, and don’ts when it comes to grabbing that perfect portrait for your kids during this popular Spring season.
Here are seven tips when planning your next Wildflower shoot.
1. TIMING – Bluebonnets typically bloom around late March. Though a word to the wise, I know you may be eager, however, I encourage you to resist the urge to photograph when you see the first blooms. In my experience, the best crops are most abundant towards the END of the wildflower season. I know it’s tempting, but hold off as long as possible when planning your picture time. It will be worth it when you grab a full field!
2. LOCATION– This one is critical, while the majestic hill country roads boast beautiful patches of flowers, avoid pulling over and attempting to take shots off of busy roads or highways. While we can thank our former first lady and native Texan Lady Bird Johnson for these bountiful roadside treasures, for the safety of your family scout a location that’s off the backroads and more secluded when possible. Not sure where to begin? Check out social media for local photography clubs or moms’ groups to share great spots that are safer than off a busy road. (Be aware – It is illegal to take photos on private property so be respectful of boundaries when searching)
3. WILDLIFE! – Most of our images we’re aiming for are our little ones. When I shoot professional photos in wildflower fields often, I ask my clients to wear rubber rain boots. It is very realistic to come across Texas wildlife such as snakes and fire ants while trekking through fields.
4. PRESERVATION! This is my most important tip. Once you find your glorious field, be kind and allow those blossoms to stay alive by avoiding trampling, stomping, or sitting directly on top of the flowers. Very quickly you can position your child or family either on a stool (Bonus to avoid “wildlife from tip #3) or alongside the flowers. This is a courtesy to all of us who wish to enjoy these flowers through the spring season long!
5. LIGHTING – Bluebonnets are tricky when it comes to lighting. They can become over-saturated with the high sun, so avoid shooting mid-day. Early morning (before 10) and late afternoon (after 4) are the peak times when shooting.
Now that you have your location and shooting tips here are some handy tips on what to wear!
6. CLOTHING. I always suggest solids. Your eye will want to be drawn to the busiest pattern so let it focus on the backdrop of the flowers and your child’s face. Keep the outfits simple — coordinate outfits with soft solid colors.
7. PROPS – Stools and Boxes are great props to avoid crushing the flowers and to keep tiny bodies off the ground (see wildlife!) though keep the props to a minimum. Many a time I’ve seen a new mom or budding photographer lug multiple props, and accessories out to the field. Again, just like clothing, in my opinion, less is more and I just want to see the flowers and faces! (Keep in mind blankets flatten bluebonnets, try a wooden chair or old crate instead!)
I hope these tips will help you with making this Spring bluebonnet season a success! Remember you don’t need a fancy DSLR to shoot the perfect photo- a great location, happy kiddo, and a safe environment are all you need to make your memory picture perfect! Save the date for the Chappell Hill Bluebonnet Festival on April 13, 2019.
Jen McDonald has worked as a photographer and graphic designer for over ten years. She lives locally in The Woodlands where she enjoys shooting her favorite subject, her ten-year-old son.