Throughout my photography career, spent almost entirely as a Garden Photographer for the editorial sector, work has centred on my own individual style and matching it to the style of a magazine. My editorial style is a more shallow depth of field, highlighting detail and blurring the background to create a certain dynamism. When I say, ‘highlighting detail’, this is within my chosen point of focus. Use of light and composition also play their very significant parts.
I moved towards still life at a low point in this career, the vagaries of weather and opportunity, coupled with going completely full time as a photographer. This should have been a very exciting time and one I had been working towards for years. Initially, this was indeed the case. Then the already mentioned factors, combined with a very competitive market and slow paying times, it became more worrying than fun. During a period of excessively hot and bright weather, (useless for garden photography) I turned to still life to concentrate on plants and photography as a means to switch off the chatter of economics and learn something new. A meditative process not altogether acknowledged by me at the time but very much evident.
I look back on those early attempts as highly cringe-worthy but now marvel at how it developed over time. I posted them on Instagram and learned to style from other people. However, I had to acknowledge eventually I really hated the styling bit and use of props. I wanted it to be all about the flowers.
I had noticed how light photography shows the general form of flowers but discovered lower light accentuated the details, rather like my intention with a shallow depth of field. I loved the depth created by the shadow of side lighting. Another interesting inspiring element is of the old botanical prints of a single plant, alongside its seeds and roots. What really catches me about the single plant is their ‘gestures’ -how the twist and turn and bend. Oddly, I had also moved away from the shallow depth of field towards one of more detail. When enlarged to print size, blur can sometimes turn to sludge.
The process of this personal work came to be my rescue at something of a dark time and I can now acknowledge so much good has come from it. Giving myself time to create personal work has led to the opening of this shop and more avenues to follow as a result. I have been in this world long enough to know that good times can very much follow the bad ones and this situation is indeed one of many. Hence the name of the series… Light in the Darkness.
Incidentally, I went back to my former career as a physiotherapist, working a few hours a week to take the strain off the income situation and this has allowed me to create without descending into commercialism. Nothing wrong with that but there are plenty of others around happy to do it, just not me. Returning is not a backward step as I still love that work but to think creatively and remain authentic, I needed to take the money element out. I have Elizabeth Gilbert and her book ‘Big Magic’ to thank for that life changing insight.
Thank you, Jacqui, Kai, Anna, Annie and Claire.
I appreciate your comments and kind words!
Love 💕 your dark series and your blog – so from the heart, open and courageous. You are an inspiration and I am sure staying true to yourself is the only way forward, however hard it is. Keep going and never doubt xxx
PS. Leave the doubt part to me and I am only half joking :)
Thank you for this eloquent piece Dianna.
I was struck by the suggestions of how you allow the object to speak. The idea of a stem or a flower making or conveying ‘gestures’ is lovely. One might read much of what you say as the ways in which the photographer intensifies or articulates the voice of the object.
The Zen of Still Life Photography?
Thought-provoking and inspiring post Dianna. I particularly applaud your flexibility in responding to circumstances, being able to go back into physio with a positive mindset. And your images are quite beautiful 💕
As you know, Dianna, I love your work – the detail, the colour, the light…..
Thank you for the insight of how it came about, I would love to have your skill and talent!
Also, if you can work at one thing you love you’re lucky, to do two……!