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A Guide to Photos of People Holding Plants

May 23, 2011

I bet the last time you saw a photo of someone holding a plant, you thought to yourself “What an unique and original way to illustrate their ideas!”

Except not at all.

For some reason, the popularity of the “Plant in Hands” (PIH) photo persists, despite the wisdom of graphic designers. I was searching through photos of trees for a project and was amazed at the number of photos of people holding saplings or whatever in their hands. I thought that with so many variations of these photos, it might be helpful to know the minute differences among the photos.

Plant 01

This photographer implemented the double whammy of the dramatic PIH shot, and the “make everything black and white except one object” editing. This is an oft-used technique of teenagers who just got a new camera and photo-editing software, and people who were laid off and started their own photography business. Best used on sites featuring other black and white photos of families and smiling children.

Plant 03

Most PIH photos use the shot of both hand holding the plant, but this photographer went a different route with one hand sheltering the plant. Fancy! I would use this on a site about protecting fragile things like the earth, children, and bags of Doritos. (Nobody likes a bag full of broken Nacho Cheese triangles of awesome.)

Plant 04

Whoa there! Mixing it up by having not one, but TWO people in the photo. I would reserve this special photo for sites about family and traditions. You know—traditions like planting stuff with your family and Arbor Day celebrations. People celebrate Arbor Day, right?

Plant 05

I can’t imagine that this photo is for anything other than a commune. Do communes have websites? That seems to be the opposite of what they’re about. But if you ever need to illustrate your fourth grade report about the commune where your grandparents spent the 60s, this photo would be perfect.

Plant 06

I’m pretty sure this photo is meant to be used for a movie about a robot that is left on Earth to clean it up until it’s ready for humans to come back and Earth can once again support plant life. Or maybe they’re offering it as a sacrifice to the sun god? I can’t really be sure, but I would use this photo for your website about the dangers of deforestation or to illustrate the Roman gods. Or Greek gods—whichever you prefer. It’s all Greek to me. (Ah snap!)

Plant 07

All right—what I’m seeing here is the future, and the future is all about plants. Get it? Because they’re hovering around the plant like someone reading a crystal ball? I slay myself. But seriously, this photo would be perfect the next time you’re trying to tell the world that they need to plant more trees, or protect something fragile, because fragile things are our future. Or something like that.

Plant 08

Wait, is she floating in space? And why is she gardening in a white t-shirt? Even if they’re saying you need to protect the Earth before the apocalypse, why would you be wearing such insensible clothes to the apocalypse? Think less “clean t-shirt” and more “army jacket with combat boots.”  I don’t know why you’d use this one. Skip it.

Plant 02

Probably the most common type of PIH photo—man-hands in the dirt. This photo can be used for just about any endeavor you have where you’re trying to convey something meaningful, but are working on a limited budget and you don’t want to listen to your graphic designer who says this type of photo has been over done. I’m just saying.


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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2011 6:31 pm

    You are consistently raising the bar for bloggers!! What a profound and oft ignored topic in photography and web design at large. Bravo, Tiffany, for your boldness in this post; I can only hope this reaches the world in a huge way.

    **This sarcastic comment was brought to you by Lindsay… You should know that I do really appreciate your posts on a regular (as in when you post) basis!!**

    • dtdorrin permalink*
      May 26, 2011 2:47 pm

      Thanks Lindsay! I’m glad you like my blog and I certainly appreciate your reading it (and commenting!) 🙂

  2. May 23, 2011 7:15 pm

    LOL! This is awesome… I am definitely linking to this on a couple of photography groups I’m apart of… Thanks, Tiff for a good laugh today.
    (And no, you won’t find any PIH or color separations on our website..)

    • dtdorrin permalink*
      May 26, 2011 2:46 pm

      Thanks James! And thanks for passing it on. And I’m certainly not surprised you don’t have PIH or color separations on your website!

  3. Heather Coates permalink
    May 24, 2011 7:08 pm

    Next, do one about the different kinds of photos featuring people in business suits carrying briefcases. I’m sure that’ll be a huge hit.

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