As a flower photographer, if you really wanted to, you could just focus on orchids. There are so many types — shapes, colors, sizes, history, meaning. I haven’t researched orchids in particular, but I’m sure there’s an interesting story behind every single variety. That’s what I’ve come to learn about flowers … there’s always a story.
The Story Behind These Photographs
Today’s blog is a quick story about this series of orchids that I photographed. These were taken a couple of winters ago at Longwood Gardens. Longwood usually has their Orchid Extravaganza this time of year, so the place is lousy with orchids.
That particular year, these orchids weren’t center stage, but down a hallway. The light in that hallway made them interesting to photograph. If you’ve heard me take about light, you’ll know that I think we’re always just photographing light reflecting off surfaces. I choose flowers as my reflective surface because. well, they’re gorgeous. 🙂
Backgrounds Are Always Important
These orchids were silhouetted against the window. Outside, the deserted water lily pond created an interesting backdrop. Closed down for winter, gray and cold, it created a contrast for the steamy, green hallway. Screens on the windows created texture and a tangible barrier between inside and outside. They diffused the hard, white, winter light.
I didn’t want the background to appear in the photograph, so I planned for it to be completely blurry. Backgrounds are so important when it comes to flower photography. You really need to pay attention to them. In this case, the end result is a feeling of warmth and icy blue cold mixed together.
Start With What You Have
I really liked these photographs because the orchids are wild and rangy, unlike the composed and gathered orchids in the main room. These ones are reveling in the light, reaching for it, needing it. They’re a little wild, a little dangerous.
They’re not really that pretty. For that reason, I couldn’t really figure out what to do with the final result. I didn’t think anyone would want to hang these awkward orchids in their living room, so I left them alone, every once in awhile returning to them because they called to me.
I Can Make It Better
Last night, I noticed some blue in the background of one and I thought about how the blue offset the yellow and pink. It created some contrast and softened the wildness. With that as my inspiration, I found a digital blue background and digitally inserted it into the photo. (If you want to know how to do this, let me know. I can do a flower photography tutorial on this. It’s pretty easy.) I have to say, I liked the effect. It changed the feel by softening it, without taking away the wildness of the flower.
The Moral of the Story
Sometimes you have to let the story gestate. You have to let it tell itself. That means that sometimes you need to wait a couple of years for the happy ending.