Garden photography – the power of observation and composition with Jacqui Hurst

Ref: SLW29853

Book now

Places available

About this course

This course is designed for garden lovers who wish to gain a greater understanding of plant photography. Looking at vistas, plant combinations, portraits and horticultural details and also experimenting with abstract images, explore how to slow down and compose your images to communicate what you observe, while honing your camera skills.

Course Description

Come with your camera and explore the gardens at West Dean and further afield. Immerse yourself amongst the early summer flowers: geraniums, irises, roses, cow parsley and buttercups. Slow down, unwind and take time to compose your pictures.

This course is designed for garden lovers who wish to gain a greater understanding of plant photography. We’ll be looking at vistas, plant combinations, portraits and horticultural details and also experimenting with abstract images. It is important to slow down, observe and consider what you wish your picture to say to yourself and others. Time will be spent honing your camera skills, using different modes and settings to get the most out of the available light and weather conditions.

We will be out in the garden most of the time, working on a series of projects to produce vibrant and well framed photos. The emphasis of the course is on the aesthetics of composing images with the camera, rather than the technicalities of post image manipulation. However, there will be ample time to download and select your favourite pictures to be shared amongst the group at the end of each day. The workshop is suitable for those with a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

Be prepared for one early morning photography session before breakfast.

The aims of the course are:

To increase your sensitivity to the ambient light and how it influences your images

To gain a greater understanding about depth of field and how different aperture settings can change the emphasis and impact of a picture

To bring out your own unique style and approach to garden photography


Learn how to frame garden vistas.

Master depth of field and working in aperture priority mode.

Learn the importance of using different ISO settings.

Become aware of what available light conditions suit different types of garden photography.

Gain a greater understanding of your camera.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Please have a web link or book of a photographer whose work inspires you and you would be happy to share with the group.
  • Ensure that your camera is in good working order and that you have a spare battery, plus a charger and a blank memory card to start the course with. A DLSR or mirrorless camera is suitable.
  • A tripod, if you have one
  • Clothing and footwear suitable for outdoor sessions at this time of year (this may include a sunhat and waterproof trousers)
  • Bring a note of your own Adobe ID login. If you don’t already have one, please register for a free account at prior to the course, and remember to bring the details with you.
  • On one day we will be visiting a local garden, which is to be decided; it will either be a National Trust property or an RHS Partner Garden. There will be a garden entrance fee to pay. However, if you are member of either of these organisations, please do bring your membership card and then you will be able to get in for free.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop/outdoor sessoions, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Jacqui Hurst

Jacqui Hurst has been an editorial photographer since the mid 80's working with publishers and magazines, illustrating art, craft and gardening books and features. She is a member of the GMG and the NUJ. Recent books featuring her work are: 'Textile Landscapes' and 'Pat Albeck: Queen of the Tea Towel'. Jacqui started teaching at West Dean twenty years ago and found that she loved sharing her expertise and knowledge. She runs workshops in the UK and Europe.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.