I introduced this new small body of work at the studio for June Art Walk. I produced 6 - 16x24 prints for exhibit and an exhibition poster. Here is the artist statement for the work:
Magnolias are ancient. Evolving before the appearance of bees, their flowers have a primitive beauty that is both delicate and structural. With a limited lifespan after cut from the tree, each flower has a small window of opportunity to be photographed before the pedals go limp and a brownness overtakes the pure white. My curiosity about these flowers peaked when Dorian showed me her snapshot of a beauty. It was the center green fruit covered with numerous stamens and surrounded by follicles…these structures of green, yellow, and brown were fascinating.
I posted a request for flowers on Facebook, as I felt too self-conscious to clip these from a public park. To deny anyone a view of these would be presumptuous. Dave Engdahl, a local sculptor and former architect, answered my post first, “come and get some from 3 large trees in my yard.” I was there by the afternoon. Dave grabbed his large loping shears and headed out to his backyard. The flowers grow throughout the canopy, and for large trees this can be rather high off the ground. We managed to find 4 large specimens. As Dave cut each one I carefully caught them as they fell to the ground, being careful not to damage the package. Four blooms went into a box lid and were off to my home studio, where I set up a large softbox and a desklamp.
Photographing flowers is not easy. I find it similar to doing portraits, although dealing with a flower is infinitely easier than an 18 month old. Each flower has its own personality and characteristic. Finding these innate qualities is the challenge. Usually I work with a single bloom, placing it in a receptacle (usually a small box or in this case a bowl with water) and placing it on top of another small box that can be easily rotated. I position the lights and camera and then rotate the subject. It takes a while and a few shots to get warmed up. Shooting straight on, then slightly above, then below all at various angles gives you plenty of options. For me it is all about the way the light finds its way around the folds and crevasses, creating gentle sweeping arcs and sharp angles, shadows of mystery, and highlights of subtle features. The contrast of the petals and leaves with their the similarities and differences, are explored. It is the abstract and not the literal that reveals the essence of the bloom. Anyone can take a picture, my mission is to create a photograph.
When all was said and done, 300 images yielded about 30 “keepers” and from these, 6 were chosen to be printed. Please enjoy the results.