Updated: Aug 18, 2021
As summer comes to an end, I wanted to share the photos I took at the sunflower maze back in June and share some tips for next summer.
It was the first year our city had a sunflower field. There are other options for sunflower fields but this was the first time it was in our own backyard. Trader's Village had 10 acres of various types of sunflowers and photographers all over the city were beyond excited. I've seen sunflower field photos from other photographers and they're always so magical looking with the sun peeking over the tops of the flowers.
But, I knew it'd be wise to check out the fields first before I start inviting clients to this new location or plan on offering mini sessions. I do this for all of the locations I offer to my clients. All photographers are constantly scouting for new locations. We look into various factors for what makes an ideal location for different types of photo sessions. What may work for an individual's portrait session may not be the best suggestion for a family of six.
Two of my fellow photographer friends met up with me at the sunflower field one Saturday morning along with a family who offered to be our models. It's one thing to go to a location and see what it looks like, its another to see what it looks like with an actual client. How the sunlight falls on their face, how tall grass is compared to a child, how easy it is to find or maneuver around for parents, all become more obvious when you bring someone with you on location scouting. Also, having sample photos of what one's images could look like at that spot is helpful to show a client.
The sunflower maze was only open on the weekends for a few weeks in June. It was supposed to open earlier but because of how crazy our weather had been this year, the flowers weren't anywhere close to being in bloom at their initial opening date in May. By the time it was ready, it was really hot outside. We ran into a few obstacles and ultimately decided against minis here.
Since the maze was only open from 10 am until 5 pm, that meant you were out in the filed during the hottest times of the day, when the sun was high. The higher the sun, the more shadows there will be on your face. For example, shadows under your eyes, nose, and mouth will show up naturally. Then there will be harsher shadows (higher contrast) from anything between you and the sun, like a 5 ft tall sunflower. This makes posing more limiting or more of a challenge. As you can see from our images, it's definitely doable but its a different look from the soft morning light or warm golden hour glows in the evening.
Not only was it open during the hottest time of day, but it was only open on Saturdays and Sundays. This limited window meant everyone who wanted to visit was there at the same time. We arrived right at 10 am and the line was already very long by the time we entered with our wrist bands (another less favorable aspect from a style/editing point of view). Although there are a few locations in San Antonio where photographers go for photos that are pretty crowded, especially during busy season, we try our best to go places when the spot is free of other people. When a location is busy, you spend a lot of time find areas where people won't be in the way. It can also be noisy and hard to hear the photographer's directions. Also, being in front of a camera can already be an uncomfortable feeling for many, having an audience doesn't help. Though we were able to find rows with only another person here and there, you still needed to take time walking through the maze to find a more secluded part (making a mini session set up difficult).
Another obstacle was how hot it was in the middle of June during the operating hours. There was no breeze in the maze, making it feel hotter. With no real shade, it was hard to escape the heat, too. We were all sweating a lot by the time we reached a spot to start taking photos. Again, not a huge deal if a client was prepared for this with water, a hat, a fan for in between photos, and proper wardrobe. But, for a family with little ones it may be a bit difficult to combat as our model family discovered.
With all that being said, I would still very much be open to Sunflower Field photos during the summer of 2022 and beyond. There is a sunflower field in New Braunfels on private property so photographers can reserve a spot during a time of day when the lighting is softer and its not as hot. I'd also be open to visiting the Trader's Village field if they do this again, but only if they make changes to their times.
If you would be interested in sunflower photos during the summer, message me in the Spring! Timing will depend on the field and whether the flowers are in bloom. This means these sessions are difficult to schedule too far in advance. These sessions would likely occur May through August.
Above photo by Brittney Welch Photography