Who doesn’t feel the urge to take a photo when driving past a purple field of lavender? Most people do, and since Instagram took its rise, Valensole, in the south of France, is flooded with tourists. Many come from China and you can even find signs warning car drivers to watch out for Chinese people crossing the roads inadvertently. People are running around in these fields, strapping bunches of lavender to hold while they get their photo taking or taking selfies. This ruins the ‘vintage’ atmosphere that the Provence still has, as it was not built for mass tourism.
Fortunately this is mainly limited to a few fields close to Valensole, while there are still plenty of fields that are a lot less crowded. Of course you have to look for them and drive a little more, but it’s worth the effort. In these fields you can still have the whole field to yourself and immerse yourself in the colour and perfume of the lavender. You can still hear the bees buzz around and just admire the scenery, taking it all in. That why we have decided to keep running our Provence Photo Tour. Apart from the few lavender fields that are overcrowded the Provence has a lot more to offer. Like we said before there are still many lavender fields with few people. And there’s not only lavender, there are also fields with wheat or sunflowers and vineyards The little towns are picturesque as well with their painted doors and shutters.
My 5 tips for taking photos of the lavender fields
I wanted to share a few photos of lavender that show different ways of seeing and photographing the lavender fields.
1. Take the rows of lavender head-on
The classical photo from Valensole looks something like the one below. Here we stand between two rows of lavender looking down the rows. The rows of lavender work as leading lines, leading the viewer into the photo towards the tree. This field has two trees on the other side of the field, making for the perfect eye catcher that the rows lead to.
2. Take the lavender rows from the side
But if you move aside a few rows and take a photo of the other tree on the edge of this field, the photo looks entirely different. Now the wave in the field is accentuated and the earth between the rows is not visible anymore. The rows are still very distinct thanks to the low sunlight creating shadows on one side of the rows. The out of focus first row in the foreground helps to create depth.
3. Take vertical or portrait oriented photo
Don’t be afraid to use the portrait orientation. I often see that many photographers hardly use it, but it gives you different possibilities. Here’s another example of a vertical photo. Here the converging lines lead to the top of the hill and the clouds show the clearly what is horizontal and that the field is not. The vertical lines of lavender make the rows look even longer. The blue of the sky and the purple of the lavender create a cool effect now that the was no direct sunlight.
4. Take a close-up
After you have taken your photos of the landscape, take a look at what is close by. This bee was staying on the same helm just long enough to focus and the the photo. Using a wide aperture creates a beautiful out-of-focus background, making the bee stand out even more.
5. Take an abstract photograph
The next photo reminds me more of a painting than a photograph. There was a lot of wind and the wheat and lavender was going left and right. Even though the wheat is not in focus, I like the end result. You can still see the wind, and the division between lavender and wheat creates almost a geometric shape instead of a nature photo.
These were my 5 tips for taking photos of the lavender fields in the Provence. Next year we go to the Provence again to photograph this beautiful area with its spectacular colours. We’d love you to join us, so we can help you take great photos of these perfumed fields. If you’re interested, have a look here or contact us.