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Nobody sees a flower—really—it is so small it takes time—

we haven’t time—and to see takes time . . .

Georgia O’Keeffe

Flowers are as individual as people. Each flower holds itself differently: some are naturally elegant and almost always take a pleasing  picture, while others remain resolutely unyielding.

Snake’s head fritillaries, for example, were difficult to photograph because their dark tones block out the light. It wasn’t until eight days later, when the petals had started to shrivel and curl, that a different aesthetic presented itself: each dying flower appeared to echo the human form in an individual pose that could be graceful or awkward.

I set out to capture the luminousness and ethereal quality of flowers in natural light, but a photograph would sometimes surprise me by creating something new. An orange parrot tulip revealed itself in a two-dimensional plane as an abstract arrangement of colours, while a spray of freesias became a pyramid of subtle tones and forms.

 

Close up, flowers open up a different world. These pictures highlight things about flowers that are not normally seen—structures, hidden details, the way in which petals fold around one another, and how the light strikes different elements.

 

The petals at the centre of a rose are not unlike the overlapping blades of a lens aperture, while a seam on a tulip petal is reminiscent of the fitted bodice of a dress. As petals curl and dry up, they may take on alien forms or create otherworldly hills, valleys, or caverns in semi-abstract landscapes.

The key is finding the moment—the conjunction of form, light, and colour that feels right. As André Kertész said, ‘Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.’

 

Sometimes the camera is able to capture that momentary feeling and to allow us to hold on to it for a little longer.