Ever look at images that other photographers create and wonder? Me, too. Sometimes I wonder how an image was made, where in the world it was taken. Sometimes I wonder what technique or what tools were used. Sometimes I wonder how photographers come up with their unique perspectives of common subjects (often flowers, but not always). I wonder, sometimes, but far less often, if the work I’m doing is “good enough.” Do I “need” to be more technical in the execution of my ideas in order to move further into my vision? I wonder about a wide range of things. I’m betting that you do, too.
I recently returned home from co-leading the CNPA Creative Flower & Garden Photography event with Mary Presson Roberts. At the end of each full day of shooting in Sarah P. Duke Gardens with my groups, we met for a wrap-up roundtable. I asked them to share three things from their day: something new, some challenges and some successes. The answers were both common and unique, and out of this dialogue comes this blog because of the response of one photographer, Michael. He shared that his challenges and his goal in photographing flowers was to make images that go “beyond the seed packet.” He wants the flower images to look and feel more artistic. As a landscape photographer, one of his “battles” was between f/2.8 and f/16. The f/16 image would likely not grace the wall of a retreat center but could easily make it to a seed packet.
On the flip side, for me, I have a much harder time photographing flowers for the seed packets or shooting the “big picture” of the entire plant with flowers. My tendency is to dive into the petals, edges, flow, softness and the intimately subtle details. Liken this to me being asked to photograph a portrait; I’m more likely to be drawn to light dancing around a ringlet of curling hair than finding the best side and light for the person whose portrait I’m supposed to photograph. Invite me to photograph an antique car, and you’re lucky if there are more than a few “whole car” images. It is more likely that what you would see are hood ornaments, headlights, door handles and emblems. That’s what I’m drawn to – parts and pieces, in close and leaning heavily toward the “woo woo” interpretive style.