Picture This – Photographing Abundance

– Posted in: Edible Organic Gardens, Garden Photography, Garden Photography

There is still time to send in your photos for this months contest.  The theme is Abundant Harvest which we kicked off with a smorgasbord of photos, all of which are interpretations of the theme.  Rules and prizes in the October 5 post. I should remind our readers that the photos do not have to be recent ones, nor do they even have to be in the garden.  A farmer’s market or a jar of homemade pickles can say abundance.

What does matter is good composition and a photo that has ‘abundant’ in its impact.  Extra points for color; and when I think of harvest I think of edibles, be it fruit, veggies, or herbs.

I thought it might be fun to analyze my construction of a photograph that was commissioned to show abundance, the lead photo in the original post.

weighing the crop

I was assigned to shoot the abundant harvest from Rosalind Creasy’s 100 square foot edible landscaping demonstration bed that she created for a story to appear in Mother Earth News.  Ros weighed every piece of produce that came out of the garden and came up with some incredible numbers.  (You will have to read the story next spring…)

The cluster of tomatoes on the scale is placed in such a way to suggest overflowing abundance, and because the scale is actually part of the story, this photo or one similar will probably be the cover of the magazine.  But I tried other combinations during the photo shoot.


Here we see more of the actual harvest with the same cluster of tomatoes still in a position of prominence.  Note a cell pack of young lettuces that were to be tucked into the garden as things are harvested and the summer progressed.  The composition, focus on the lower frame, gives room for the magazine headlines and type.


The same cluster is prominent in this photo where we used a shallow trug to showcase the harvest.  The shallowness gives more prominence to the produce and placing the abundant harvest on the ground, in the garden, gives the viewer a stronger sense of connection to the plants themselves.


It is hard to resist a close-up of the basket, again the tomato cluster is a prominent feature.  The cluster motif is hard to resist as a subliminal visual that reinforces abundance, healthy produce, and vigor.  Even in the big food stores, we now see premium tomatoes sold as clusters – the marketeers knowing the value of “vine-ripened” produce.  Of course the supermarket version of “vine-ripened” are hot house tomatoes with little taste.  I can assure you first hand, the tomatoes in our shoot were the ones of your dreams.

For those of you still thinking of the Picture This photo contest, note the composition of the grouping in the basket above.  A seemingly casual collection of vegetables, they are arranged so that every part of the frame is used.  There is a balance of shapes, colors echo each other, and the alignments keep the composition from being too static.


Any one of the photos in Ros’ garden could illustrate abundance and the sheer variety of produce helps tell the story.  But an overflowing basket of one crop gives a similar idea, as in this basket of Perlette grapes from my old garden in Sonoma.  Truth be told, the bottom of this basket was stuffed with newspaper to give the illusion of a fuller, more abundant harvest.  The camera always lies, telling the story the photographer wants to say.


Even a simple photo of digging potatoes evokes abundance.  Certainly to any gardener who has grown potatoes, we need little photo embellishment to know how much produce comes from such a small space.


And another photo interpretation of abundant harvest.  This plastic bin makes harvesting and washing of baby greens an all-in-one process.  Spreading the leaves out evenly for the photo only helps enhance the abundance message, a message I am often expected to convey in my work.

I look forward to seeing what you readers think will Picture This message.  The deadline is only a few days away.  Do send along your own interpretation.  Part of the fun of doing our contest is to see the body of work we create together.

All you have to do is select one photograph, post it on your blog, and leave us a link in a comment below. We will only accept entries sent from blogs. The deadline is 11:59 pm Eastern time on Thursday, October 22nd with the winners announced on Tuesday, October 27th. Here again, is the complete link to rules and prizes.

Saxon Holt
Saxon Holt is the owner of PhotoBotanic.com, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at www.photobotanic.com. https://photobotanic.com
Saxon Holt

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marmee October 23, 2009, 1:51 am

i guess i accidently found this new detailed descriptions for the abundant harvest photo contest.
i love the the perspectives of these photos…it does evoke the essence of abundance and a real connection to the garden itself. beautiful.

Am so glad you found the abundant harvest photo contest and that you are enjoying it. Fran

Radhika October 23, 2009, 7:57 pm

Thanks for the explanations, allows me to view the beautiful pictures with a different perspective.

healingmagichands October 25, 2009, 6:20 pm

Yes, this was certainly an education as to how a photographer views a garden photo shoot. I have enjoyed many dazzlingly photographed and presented gardens and fruits and vegetables in books and magazines over the years, and I figured there was a lot of cleaning up going on beforehand. It never occurred to me that when I framed a photo I needed to leave room in the shot for the titles on the magazine, but once you mentioned it it made perfect sense.

I look forward to your choices and comments when you finally look us all over. I don’t envy you your task! There are some amazing pictures entered this month.

We have been fortunate to have so many great submissions – abundance does bring about it’s problems though. How can there be abundant winners ? – Saxon

jeff-nhn October 26, 2009, 12:09 pm

I remember digging potatoes with my family growing up. I was always amazed at how many potatoes were in a hill when dug up. I used to love picking them up and putting them into a 5 gallon bucket. I was too little to carry the bucket when full but I could sure help fill it up.

Jeff – Only a gardener would appreciate your insight, which is why our contest is for gardeners. The judging too will reflect a gardeners understanding. Results very soon. – Saxon

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