Flowers are one of my favorite backgrounds to use for portraits because they create a romantic and timeless look. They also provide opportunities to do shoot-throughs, which add an artistic vibe.
Unfortunately, due to Alaska’s extreme weather, these beautiful blooms are only available for a short window. Most make an appearance in June, but there are other blooms that are available in later summer. Here is a basic schedule of the common blooms seen around the south central region to give you an idea of what might fit the timing of your portraits.
Crab apple trees provide some of the first blooms in the season, within the first week or two of June. Ranging from white to pink they have delicate blossoms that only last about a week and a half depending on the weather. Many of the trees are pruned to be shaped more like a bush which makes them easily accessible for portraits.
Lilacs usually bloom in early to mid-June and last about a week. These fragrant clusters of blossoms can be white, pink, or a light purple depending on the variety. Many of the spots I’ve found are a large bush but some are shaped as a tall tree that can spill over or peek through fences for a unique look. Each color of lilac has its own specific meaning – white lilacs represent purity and innocence, while purple lilacs symbolize spirituality.
Native iris have an extremely short bloom in mid-June. They usually like boggy or damp areas, but I’ve also found some dry areas where they have spread over the years. Iris symbolize wisdom, hope, trust, and valor. The majority are various shades of purple but there are also rare instances of white found in the wild here.
Lupine are tall purple and white spike-shaped flowers that bloom in mid-June. Occasionally there are all white varieties as well. They usually grow in dense clumps but can sometimes spread to fill a field or large area. They are very similar to the flowers you see in my logo, which are actually lavender.
Daisies are my favorite flowers, especially when I find a whole field of them! Due to their bright and cheerful nature, daisies are most often used to symbolize purity and innocence, which came from a Celtic legend. These simple wildflowers bloom in July and last into early August. Some grow waist high while others only reach mid-calf. Like many wildflowers, they self-seed and can spread over a large area quickly.
Yellow sweet clover is typically considered an invasive weed because it can spread quickly and choke out native flowers, but it does look pretty along paths like this and wide open fields. They seem to last for several weeks and because they are invasive there’s no need to be cautious about damaging them.
Fireweed is the time clock for Alaska’s summer. They start blooming mid-way up their tall stalks in July and reach the top in mid-August, then send off wispy fluffs of seed, which is supposedly the 6-week warning of winter.
The Athabaskans legends say that each individual fireweed represents the soul of a tree that died in a forest fire, which is why they bloom beautifully, then go to seed looking as if they had burnt up. Seems a fitting comparison since fireweed is often the first thing to grow in fire ravaged areas.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of flowers in Alaska. I just highlighted the ones I tend to use for portraits because they provide large natural backdrops. There are also peony and flower farms, as well as gardens that feature a variety of blooms during the summer.
Whatever type of flower you include in your portraits be prepared to have company from pollinators such as honey bees, bumble bees and butterflies. So if you aren’t comfortable with hearing or seeing these insects around you I would recommend we plan a different option for your session.