At first we walk right on by.
During one of my Longwood Gardens outings last Spring, I came upon garden beds filled with blue Anemone. There’s nothing like coming out of a long winter and feasting your eyes upon a sea of deep blue, almost purple, Anemone. But, they’re not huge, dazzling flowers, and I was on my way to an incredible tulip display, so I snapped a couple of photos and moved on.
On the way back, maybe we slow down, wondering if we missed something.
On my way back, I bent to see if there was something to be made of this sea of blue. At first, it wasn’t the individual flowers that captured my interest, but the artful manner in which the gardeners at Longwood had displayed them. There were literally hundreds of them, maybe even thousands.
Things suddenly come into focus.
As I took my time to really look at them, they truly came into focus. Like most flowers, these beauties were worth slowing down for. They’re an elegant flower with round buds sitting atop long slender stems. With the slightest breeze they wave back and forth, earning their nickname, Windflower. While they look a little like poppies, they’re actually from the buttercup family. They grow in clumps and stretch tall to the light, with a little outshooting of green providing a collar-like framing effect.
Our hearts start pounding.
My biggest challenge when I’m photographing flowers is that I get way too excited when I find a great shot in my viewfinder. As my heart pounds, my mind tells me to slow down; it tells me I should get my tripod. While I know I ‘should’ do these things, I don’t. I scramble around, somewhat frantic, shooting away. During this phase I sometimes get great shots; I always get a bunch of blurry ones.
We zero in.
I used to fight this and try to force myself to ‘get a grip’. That doesn’t work. What I’ve learned is that I need to follow the energy and go with the flow. I need to snap away. It’s somehow during this process that I begin to zero in on the one or two or several blooms that really warrant attention, so I’ve come to learn that the frenzy is part of the process. It’s the sign that I’m in the exact right place.
The shots I find most interesting are the ones I take when I am at the same level as the flowers. They become different beings than they are from above. As I get down on my hands and knees, or on my stomach, people give quizzical looks because they don’t see what I see. They look at me; they look at where my camera is pointed; then they look at me; then they look again. This is where I get self-conscious sometimes. If I’m lucky, I don’t notice them shrugging their shoulders as they walk away.
We’re not sure what it is.
Often, other photographers think I’ve found some magical flower and they wait behind me, wanting to get in on the action. I always find this curious because there are literally thousands of flowers all around us, but maybe they assume I know something they don’t. I’ve thought a lot about this and have come to realize that we all do this in some form or another. We become interested in what others are interested in; we follow the crowd; we do what the experts tell us to do.
Then suddenly … there it is.
We can walk right by a thousand beautiful objects on our way to finding something we think is better. Or, we let others tell us what is worthwhile or what is beautiful. Or, we can check inside and notice what lights us up. If we can get quiet, the beauty that is all around us can find us.
What if we followed our own intuition and took our own journey? What if we decided what is most beautiful to us? Maybe we’d have a better chance of finding what we’re looking for.