What do you think "front of plants”?

Hello , I’m photoglapher in Japan.
My main photo target is wild plants.
I have recently come to wonder what the “front of plants” is.
Because,I started thinking about shooting at the same angle all the time.
By doing so, it is possible to compare at the same angle.

I think of the flower entrance as the “front of flower”.
But,I don’t have a clear answer for the “front of plants”.
※“front of plants” contains the whole plant.

What do you think "front of plants” ?
And If you know botanical art,Please tell me how it is defined in botanical art.


Maybe “front” means a view from the side of the plant instead of a view from the top, such as when photographing a small shrub or flowering forb. The view from side might better illustrate the leaves. But I am not certain.


I don’t think plants have “fronts.” Plants should be photo’d from the side. If they are small, it’s also good to photo them from the top. The flower has a “front.” The front should be photo’d and also the side. Leaves have a top and bottom, and both should be photo’d.


A top view would certainly not be a “front” view (in my opinion, which is worth exactly what you paid for it)

To me the “front” of a plant would be based on where it is growing. Like, if it grows alongside a trail, the “back” is the side opposite the trail. A very windy area can have permanently leaning plants and I’m not sure I can say if the side facing the wind or the other is the “front” but the angle showing the lean most clearly is the “side.”

But it’s subjective! That is only my view, there isn’t a “right and wrong answer.”


Maybe you have to sit and watch the plant for a while to see which way it is heading. Once you determine that, you can tell which side is the front.

I’m joking of course.


A week or two ought to do it… :joy:


“Front View” in my mind would be based on the main direction light is coming from to the plant. The growth and leaves would be showing towards that. This of course would also be the angle you would usually take a photo from ie with the light behind you. When going for a Habit of plant image I look for the best angle that shows the growth as well as a well lit one. I don’t think you can really have a standardised view for plants as their growth habit is many and varied.


Yes, the closest thing wild plants have to a “front” would be the direction from which most of their light comes. In the northern hemisphere if they are growing in the open this would most often be from the south. Occasionally, really interesting things come out of trying to force concepts to apply to organisms where they don’t seem to apply. Good luck!


main direction light !!
I’m understand.
Certainly, I know that sunflowers turn in the direction of light.
I thought it was a very good idea.
Thank you for your idea :)


If you have the time, it’s a really good way.
I think that what you think is the front can be the front.

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Thank you for your opiniion.
I agree that the front is on one of the sides.

Not sure on the “front” but I’ve heard in photographer forums that the reproductive structures are the “eyes” of a plant. When photographing animals, it is recommended to make sure the eyes are in focus. Similarly if you take pictures of plants, focus on the flowers, or in macro shots of the flowers focus on the stamens and/or stigma.


perhaps more important is the ‘back’ of a plant as it may not want me photographing its posterior :grin:


Interesting question. I suspect there are many great answers already, but I want to add some thoughts.

The first key idea is that plants as a general rule are radially symmetrical, rather than bilaterally symmetrical. Animals, as ourselves, are bilaterally symmetrical, having what you can recognize as a left and right side, which may or may not be mirror images of each other.

The second key idea to understand is that symmetry and the idea of “front” and “back” generally relate to direction of movement. Since the whole “body” of a plant does not move, it doesn’t make sense to differentiate between the front and back of a plant as a whole. I will say though, for individual organs, you can speak of fronts and backs, but the direction of movement is the direction of growth. Botanists often speak of “proximal” and “distal” parts of a plant body or organ. Proximal means further from the tips of new growth, and distal means closer (or at) the tips of new growth. We also speak about the “axis” of growth, which you can imagine to be a sort of imaginary arrow drawn along the main direction of growth, along which we can apply the terms “distal” and “proximal”. Understanding the idea of the axis of growth, and orienting your thinking around it, is probably the biggest advice I would give you. It really will help you conceptualize the geometry of plants fully.

In a sentence: Plants just have a very different arrangement of their bodies that makes it difficult to apply the terms “front” and “back”. I will highlight, the same is true of other sessile (non-moving), radially symmetrical organisms like fungi, and sponges and corals (which are animals). It is really just bilaterally symmetrical and moving organisms for which the front and back mean anything.

All of that said, I would suggest you could standardize your photos by taking multiple photos. I generally try to photograph all of the below:

  1. Leaves, both sides (that’s one organ that does generally have a distinct top and bottom).
  2. The stems and/or larger branches.
  3. The reproductive parts (flowers or cones), and if possible I photograph those from three angels:
    3a. Above, i.e. camera in line with axis of growth, and pointing in the proximal direction.
    3b. Below, i.e. camera in line with axis of growth, and pointing in the distal direction.
    3c. Side, i.e. camera perpendicular to the axis of growth.
    Note: because some flowers are bilaterally symmetrical, “above” may actually be an angle from the “side”, but it will be “above” the end of the axis of growth. Much as you were saying in your post - I think of the flower entrance as the “front of flower”. You are thinking in terms of the axis of growth there without using that exact term.
  4. A general shot of the plant from the side (and above if possible), that shows as much of the whole plant as possible.
  5. Fruits, if available, with up to 3 angles, similar to as described for flowers and reproductive structures above.

If you were taking photos in a thorough fashion as outline above, you will find yourself very capable of making arrangements of photos where you can compare the organs and forms of plants in a fair way.

Sorry for the very long response. This topic really grabbed my interest.


Place the plant sideways to the light and face it. Such lighting gives a very pleasant effect. One side of the plant is better lit than the other, creating an impression of depth and emphasizing the texture of the leaves and the whole. Place the plant on a plain background. Not too close to the background, as an unnecessary shadow will appear. If you want, gradually add additional items to diversify the photos. I like bright and minimalistic photos.

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Thank you for your opiniion!
Your opinion was very suggestive.
“axis of growth” is a very good idea.
As you said(flower front), that way of thinking makes sense.
Also, thank you for the specific shooting items.
If we can cover all the items you suggest, it will be a perfect observation record.
With “axis of growth” idea, I will continue to shoot.
Thank you :)

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It’s good to keep it simple to take easy-to-understand pictures.
I like minimalistic photos too.

I think the photo on the back is very important to enhance the database.
The more you don’t want to see it, the more valuable it is when you see it.

Glad to hear the info helps. :)

It was a great question you asked. I am thinking of including this question as a discussion topic next time I’m teaching a class about plants.


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