The Society of American Florists’ Outstanding Varieties Competition delivers a ton of inspiration, eye candy and olfactory delights each year to members and hotel staff and guests during the association’s annual convention.
Immortalized in a Floral Management cover story, the winning flowers’ exquisite attributes remain available for ogling long after the competition ends. Orlando, Florida, photographer Betsy Hansen has been behind the lens for a number of SAF conventions since 2010. An award-winning photographer, Hansen has been published internationally in magazines, ad campaigns and billboards. She dished to E-Brief editors about the Outstanding Varieties Competition (one of her favorite assignments), what makes flowers such great subjects and simple ways to make blossoms look their best.
Hansen began her career focusing on portraiture for commercial and editorial clients. Then, she started getting requests to shoot static items, such as food, product packaging and flowers. “Those clients came to me because they loved my lighting,” she said. “The comment I’ve heard the most is, ‘if you can photograph people like that, you can photograph what I need beautifully!’”
Even those it means enduring “frigid” temperatures (necessary for the floral entrants’ wellbeing), Hansen described photographing Outstanding Varieties as “quite the experience!”
“I love flowers, and the ones entered into the OV competition are some of the most stunning ones I’ve ever seen,” she said. “Every stem that we pull out of the vases is so unique, even though they are all part of the same bunch. Every flower is a surprise. As a photographer, I line up what I am seeing based on the lines and shapes, so with every flower being so individual, every photo is special.”
Capturing flowers’ beauty doesn’t require years of training or expensive equipment, Hansen said. Here are her tips to instantly improve the quality of your portfolio:
- Designate a photo spot in your shop — preferably next to a window or natural light source.
- Place a large, white board parallel and opposite the window. “This will help you bounce some of that natural light back onto the flowers and light up the shadows,” Hansen said. “You can find gator board or foam board at the local craft store for a few dollars.”
- Turn off overhead lights before you take photos to avoid strange colors tungsten or fluorescent lights.
- Go gray. “Lots of catalogues use white backgrounds, but white actually washes out color in photographs,” Hansen said. “A gray background brings out the vibrancy in each color.”
- Be consistent. “If you always photograph your flowers in your designated photo spot, you will have a beautiful catalogue to show your clients.”
To see Hansen’s latest floral photos and to learn more about the winners of the 2018 Outstanding Varieties Competition, check out “Uncommon Beauty.”
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing editor for the Society of American Florists.