You would think that flower photography would be a simple thing. I used to think that too, until it really got a hold on me. It’s like I’ve gotten myself into this complex multi-layered relationship.
It began simply enough … a desire to somehow capture the beauty inherent in a flower. At first, I resisted, thinking it wasn’t ‘real’ photography. In fact, other photographers I knew had ‘flowers’ on their list of things they’d never photograph. Too cliché. That kept me from it for years, and then layered on top of that was the resistance that comes when we are confronted by something powerful within us. I turned away from it, maybe because it felt like it was making me a promise that I didn’t think it could keep. That, and I didn’t understand the heart-pounding need to document all these flowers. I still don’t, but I’ve given in. It’s easier that way.
At first, my photos, in no way, matched the vision in my head. So, I kept working at it. I kept taking courses and taking photos, developing the photography skills required to pull the vision in my head into the world. At first I worked in a dark room, spending delicious hours succumbing to the slow, timed developing process. As digital took over I emerged blinking from the wet dark room to the digital dark room, stunned by the technology and carried along by all the changes that came with it.
Through all this, more and more often, magic happens. I see, or rather I feel, the beauty of the flower being pulled through my lens, into my camera and eventually onto my computer screen, and then to some sort of substrate (that’s code for ‘paper’). In the end, what I want to share is that beauty. I want to look deeply into it and understand its message and then spread it into my little corner of the world. Beauty matters. Nature matters. Whether it’s a tree, an indigo sky, or a magnificent dandelion. The feeling is important. Every day.
This strange compulsion takes me to some curious places. Most of them kneeling or lying in dirt as people exchange looks as I contort myself to get closer. Sometimes someone looks over my shoulder, wondering what could possibly warrant so much attention. When you’re shooting macro, it can be as small as a blade of grass or a tiny Lady Slipper. You never know.
It’s like anything, if you take a closer look, there’s beauty within. One thing I know for sure is that when I feel a pull at my heart to take a photograph, I need to listen because something is happening. I don’t need to understand it with my head; my heart knows.
To this day, I’m still haunted by flowers that I passed by years ago, thinking I’d come back another day only to find the flower gone. I realize it sounds a little crazy, but there it is. I don’t understand it, but it is what it is. I’ve ignored the call, but it just keeps knocking. Resistance is futile. I’ve realized I can find peace if I just take the darn photograph, from every possible angle. Then I can move on.
I am also beginning to understand that they are a portal into nature. Something that wants to be seen and heard. They’re something to fall in love with and we protect what we love. The more I fall in love with flowers, the more interested I am in honoring and protecting nature as a whole living ecosystem.
So, to conclude, I don’t completely understand why I am so moved to take these photographs, but I am. If I question it, all I need to do is walk through a garden and my heart begins to pound, and almost immediately, I’m fumbling with the zipper on my camera bag.
Some people’s callings are more concrete, like a lawyer or a doctor. Mine’s a little fuzzier, but one thing I know for sure. It’s in the shape of a flower.
Check out the Feature Flower!