In the course of photographing flowers and plants, my intent has been to respond to the allure of each subject for the qualities it possessed at the moment of seeing.
Even though I see beauty as a doorway which leads us into deeper metaphoric dimensions of feeling and emotion, my efforts were not directed toward finding the most perfect botanic specimens, nor to photograph them with the purpose of making beautiful pictures. That is to say, my focus of vision remained the same as when photographing any other subject – to see clearly and directly.
The photographs from these portfolios were made between 1978 and 2005, mostly in the 1990‘s when my work required traveling for magazine and book assignments. During those years, photographing flora was like a hobbyist’s form of obsessed relaxation as well as an opportunity to create uncomplicated images.
Some of the photographs were made where the plants grew; in gardens or a friend’s yard; along the side of the road; or on hikes into isolated places. Other specimens were gathered and brought indoors to my home studio setting.
Like skin on the human body – or the surface textures of paper, stone, concrete and metal – flowers and plants are fine modulators of light. They provide an occasion to explore formal visual qualities and nuances of light, shadow, form, texture, space and composition.
Although these formal qualities were interesting for me, there was another unknown dimension that attracted my vision to the flowers and plants in much the same way as insects, butterflies and birds are drawn to their essence. This was an atmosphere of deep emotional layers of beauty, sensuality and metaphor which were further expressed in the photographic printmaking.
I used traditional processes for all of these photographs: black and white films and printing papers with medium format cameras and natural light. The process of printmaking was an opportunity to explore various vintage silver gelatin papers – with their different colors, surfaces and tonal properties – as well as subtle unique colorization of the print through the use of chemical toners, tea and coffee.