Why I Don’t Photograph Flowers
Why I Don't Photograph Flowers
There are possibly more photographs of flowers in existence than of any other subject. This is because a lot of people, including photographers, think that flowers are beautiful. The photographer is, in effect, saying to the viewer here is something that we both agree is pleasing to look at.
If a photographer took a photograph of an acknowledged work of art, say for example the Mona Lisa, would the resulting image have any merit at all? After all, the photographer has made no real decision – he or she has stood in front of an object and pressed the shutter. Assuming that the photographer has the bare minimum of technique at there disposal, colors will be accurate and exposure will be correct and a very good likeness of the original will be produced.
The problem is that the photographer has merely made a record of something – there is nothing of the photographer in the resulting image. I realize that the flower is a three dimensional object whereas the painting only really has two dimensions of interest but if say, The Thinker by Rodin was substituted for the Mona lisa the same logic would apply. The photographer would have more input with the statue but he or she is still getting an image of something that, by common consensus, contains its own independent beauty.
It is very easy to take an acceptable photograph of a flower and flowers don’t move.Also, get the exposure right and bring out the colors and a large percentage of the population will think that you are a good photographer and that can be very seductive. For these reason many photographers start out by taking lots and lots of photographs of flowers. Some photographers are happy to photograph flowers for the rest of their lives and good luck to them but there is another group that gets stuck on photographing flowers (and maybe possibly sunsets which are also agreed to be things of beauty by just about everyone) for as long as they are picking up a camera.There are a few extremely gifted photographers who see things so clearly and so differently than the rest of us mere mortals that a lifetime of flower photography is justified and more importantly, satisfying for them. These rare individuals are the exception and not the rule.
It is nigh on impossible to take memorable photographs of things that our society has already deemed beautiful. A photographer can add nothing to a painting and very little to a statue but what about architecture? To me architecture is the real middle ground and a bridge to where I am taking this mini essay. I enjoy photographing architecture. As a photographer who regards himself as a non strict minimalist I really relate to modern building design. But and this the big but, a creative mind was here before me and therefore I am not the first to be noting the angles, the lighting, the proportions, the way the building occupies its space or much else for that matter. Architecture is a much more satisfying as a subject than fine art but still too much of the work has already been done.
The conclusion that I’ve reached is that it is much more satisfying to choose objects and settings that are not generally considered beautiful or even interesting.
The art of photography has two goals:
Showing that what was previously thought to be mundane or banal can be beautiful – it just takes one pair of eyes to see differently from the rest then it is unlocked for everyone.
Taking a subject already considered beautiful and adding to it.
Many of us are capable of the first and very few of the second. Maybe, one day, I’ll be good enough to take photographs of flowers but I doubt it.