Flora Photography burnout

So flowers, though we love them, just don’t generate the photographic interest, nor the public interest that scape or wildlife photographs do. Sometimes that is discouraging for those of us who are driven to photograph flowers. Even looking at the featured photographers on this site’s homepage- only one has a floral gallery of sorts. I do not mean this as a complaint about this site-far from it. But it does seem that the floral expression is not valued generally in the photographic community as a whole. Where do we go for inspiration or do we bother? Painters, it would seem, are valued for the expression of floral art but most photographers do not seem to be. I am not saying this site does not help, it certainly does. Even my own dear husband says he would rather have my Teton barn photo on the wall than most of my flower photos.
What do my fellow floral photographers do when they reach this stage? What do you look to? What sources of inspiration? Or is our best bet to shelf it for awhile and try wildlife or scapes?

Good questions, Kathy. In the previous NPN site, there was a permanent discussion thread started by Bill that somewhat addressed your question. You might go back and review it. As for me, however, I can definitely relate to what your are saying. I have always been more interested in landscape photography but, living in Ohio and having limited travel opportunities, it was difficult to find compelling landscapes. I started shooting floral as a default (“If you can’t shoot the one you love, shoot the one your with.”). I became quite enthusiastic about it but, after about 12 years, it’s harder and harder for me to find floral subjects that spike my meter. I feel like I am at the “Been there, shot that” stage of diminishing returns. Participation in the floral gallery at NPN has also dropped significantly, which does not help with motivation for shooting, processing and posting floral photographs. (Just go back a few years and compare participation to what it is now). Maybe the new NPN will bring some interest and participation in the floral gallery back. Hope so. I am also hoping that after I retire, I can travel to bigger and better gardens in other towns and states, and this will rejuvenate my interest in floral photography.

Hi Scott

Thanks for that reply. It helps to know someone else faces this. I did see the old site at least 6 years ago. I used to peruse it on a regular basis (felt I wasn’t good enough to join) and really liked some of the flora photos there. There were so many more and people were going off on different approaches and it was inspiring! Not that the photography here isn’t , but there just isn’t as much of it as you say. Some of the same people are here, but they just don’t post as much for whatever reason. Of the ones that I have not seen, I particularly liked a guy nick named “Ram”, if I recall right. Great photographer.

I know what you mean about finding subject too… Earlier this summer, I decided to try floral scenes to mix it up a bit. That was more challenging and sometimes successful.
I started my recent (10years) acquaintance with photography in landscape same as you did .(My background before that was intense black and white , and a lot of people photography - I quit that and sold the equipment when I went to law school.) I was doing landscape and flora both until two years ago and then somehow the flora bug hit- hard!. and I quit landscape. I have some excuses in terms of family obligations, but hey I do live in Colorado so I just have to get back into it… I retired 4 years ago - so don’t have that problem anymore. Was putting my pack back together last night and could not even lay my hands on my ND filters.
I will look for that old “burnout” discussion. Maybe that will help. I certainly don’t want to give up on flora - just looking for something to get the juice flowing.


Kathy, it’s the thread titled “The Tyranny of High Expectations” in the flora discussion forum.

thanks again Scott - I will look for that. Appropriate name, huh?


Kathy, I too enjoy taking pictures of flowers. I even have one hanging on my living room wall. However, along the lines of what you’ve said, that image has “something extra”. It was a Pasque flower in bloom that was covered with a mix of ice and water drops following an overnight snow event, with some thawing going on as I took the shot. In my mind, the issue of wall hanging flower shots, is about the “story” while most flower shots are “portraits”. I liken this to the difference between a “portrait” made by a known portrait artist and the head and shoulders school shots that we all know and don’t love. BTW I think that Bill’s “high expectations” discussion applies to all of photography.

Kathy, I understand the pain. I have just a few places I go to regularly for any nature photos. I got back into Photography after a long absence, around 2002, when my first wife passed. I joined here in 2006. Other than sporadic trips to Alaska (my middle son lives there, so it’s a fairly cheap trip), I have been to the same relatively few places over and over and over, photographing the same flowers and birds. Every once in a while I will get a pleasant surprise. I get tired of the usual, but I live for the moments when I get one of those “wow” moments, usual and otherwise, that lets me realize that I am not only gaining knowledge and pleasure for myself, but I am passing it on to friends, family and strangers.

I try not to have high expectations so much as to have high moments that I can make the most of, as well as those chores (family, church, requests, ad infinitum). For me, that is what keeps me churning,

Good points made here. Sometimes, we can focus too much on photography and not on those other things in life that makes our life worth living.
For me, due to some injuries, I had to give up many of my sports that kept me centered. Golf and ice skating used to take a lot of my time, refocusing on photography has filled the space. I find it more cerebral and maybe thats why I get so frustrated with the results???
Anyway, I decided to consciously strive to do other avenues of photography (avian, landscapes) for awhile and that seems to be helping. Just like I suggested in the original post. I still get frustrated that floral gets so little attention but it is what it is. As far as inspiration for the floral, I’m still working on that one. Been doing a lot of internet surfing of late.
I know what you mean about those high points. Sometimes it happens and its just magical.

Kathy: I know what you’re saying and sympathize. Here’s a link to the discussion Scott mentioned The Tyrany of High Expectations
I’ll echo Scott in that my first love is landscape photography but I think its as much about the locales we’ve been blessed to see as the photography. We used to with some justification call the Flora gallery “The Finest Flora Gallery on the planet.” Sadly that’s not so anymore. I am blessed to have a wife who is a master gardener so I have plenty of subjects right outside my door and in Texas we have a relatively long growing period. I for one hope you keep posting because I really like your work. Keep it up.

Hi Bill
Thank you for that reply

We used to have a super perennial garden here until the gardener (me) became more and more immersed in photography. Have tried to interest my spouse in garden upkeep to no avail.

On a more serious note, I know what you mean about the Flora Gallery. I visited it regularly for inspiration long before I became a member. I too bemoan the fact that interest has decreased. Where has everyone gone and why? I belong to some Facebook groups that are fairly good but do not allow critiquing. Just “atta-boys”. I understand the thinking behind that but it makes for a different experience. I certainly intend to hang around, although the new format has made fora totally different experience. Pluses and minuses, like most things.

How to attract the old members to come back and attract new members?

On the burnout topic, I read the whole thread- very helpful. I’m also exploring some new avenues and my postings in the future will hopefully show that.


OK, I’m going to take a risk and throw out a hypothesis that I have no idea if it is true. It’s something I have wondered about though, and I would be interested to hear other opinions. Is there a masculine and feminine style of nature photography? Men outnumber women on these forums, and in photography forums in general. So it would make sense that the masculine “style” would be more popular. The masculine style would be grand landscapes. The feminine style would be intimate landscapes. (Of course, many men and women do both styles, especially in this forum, and many of the masters have done both). Floral photography (one of my favorites) would be a subcategory of intimate landscape. What do you think?

I think this is a topic that many people might weigh in on, pro and con but I don’t think it directly relates to my “burnout” issue. Maybe move it to a separate post so more people could weigh in??


Yes there is.

Men generally prefer sharp detail throughout an image. Women are more open to images with a shallow DOF. Focus stacking is more of a preference for men.

Women seem to be more creative with their imagery, more willing to take chances and explore new things. Let’s face it, women take less cliche shots than men. The old NPN had fewer female members than male yet they garnered a larger percentage of WP (per person). I believe that was largely due to more creative, more imaginitive, imagery.

Well now I have to reply!!! Igor- is there a male /female count someplace of WPs? I’m chuckling about this!!
Seriously though, and to address Igor’s post and the original post , I believe as well that there are some differences but that it’s pretty complex.
We could write a long treatise on the subject,
I know some women might debate this, but I think women face physical and practical limitations in pursuing certain avenues of photography, Landscape photography is the biggest problem area for women. Many women find it physically difficult to carry the necessary equipment, hike for miles , and perhaps sleep overnight on location to catch morning light. Many of us just don’t have the strength. We might want to do it and really find landscape photography fascinating but we just aren’t able to capture anything more than we can see close to roadways. Now this also affects men who physically aren’t able to fully pursue landscape, due to age, injuries or general physical ability.
The other issue that applies mainly to women is safety. Many women(not all) just don’t feel safe venturing out to remote locations or any location not near other people, alone. It’s hard to find companions who want to get up in the wee hours , hike and then stand someplace waiting for great light. So you choose to do something else. Either iconic locations where you are surrounded by many people seeking the same shot or “intimate landscapes” that can be found in safe locations. Or that person abandons landscape photography entirely.
I’m not at all sure that female photographers are more creative or daring. Appreciate Igor paying that compliment to women but I don’t know that it holds water. In my own opinion ( and men may scream about this possible sexist remark), I’ve found that men seem to get overly rapturous about technology while not focusing enough on what that technology can actually do for them and using it! It’s not necessary to know everything about every piece of new technology or equipment to get good results. I see this more at one of my camera groups than I do here.
My two cents about possible differences. It’s snowing out and I’m debating going out to capture it on film or staying warm at home to work on my latest photoshop adventure.

There are 7 contributors here - 5 men and 2 women. Compare.

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Doesn’t burnout happen in all types of photography? After moving I no longer had access to the numerous locations previously available for flower and avian photography. It doesn’t mean that I no longer love to photograph flowers and appreciate their color and grace even more when I do find a great subject. In my case several things happened to prevent posting regularly… my computer crashed and it took months and months to put the images and software back on the repaired computer and I moved three times in as many years. Unfortunately I have been unable to find fellow photographers in my new location who like to “roam” to find new places and subjects. This limits where I dare go on foot (too many bears),

Took a brief venture into avian photography, which for me is the most challenging. Not thick skinned enough or brave enough to get critiqued in that category although the images look great to me. (My technical camera skills are not up to par with others on NPN ) Now software on the other hand gives me hours of pleasure in photo art category.

In summary, the subject of my photography is dictated by my surroundings. Whatever presents itself to me is fair game for a photo and I appreciate its presence in my life (especially if its a bear).