Fotographia Florilegia

Before I became a photographer, I was a gardener. Over many years I have spent countless hours working in my garden, at first trying to make it conform to my plan for it, but finally realizing that the better course was to learn where it wanted to go so I could help it get there. How to do that? Be still and observe. My garden is the place I first learned how to see - which is of course the essential skill for a photographer.

My journey into photography began six years ago when my husband Richard, who is also a photographer, decided to buy a new camera. I picked up his old one and began to take photographs of the plants in my garden.

In my botanical photographs, I want to show not just beautiful flowers but to reveal the visual drama of the life cycle of plants: sprout, bud, flower, fallen petals, seed pod, withered leaves. This drama is sometimes beautiful; sometimes mysterious; sometimes even a little frightening. I want to show that plants are at every moment engaged in transformation, moving from one form to the next before our eyes.

I call these photographs my Fotographia Florilegia - my photographic flower books - in homage to one of my sources of inspiration: the Florilegium of Basilius Besler. Besler was, like me, not a botanist. He was a 17th Century Nuremberg apothecary who loved plants, learned all he could about them, and designed a lovely garden for a wealthy Austrian prince, eventually becoming so obsessed with this garden that he wanted to create a visual record of the plants in it. Even though he was concerned in his Florilegium to depict accurately the forms of the plants, his prime motivation was not scientific, but rather to show the visual gorgeousness of those forms.

I am a retired lawyer, having worked at the firm of Baker Donelson for over thirty years. I have no formal training as a photographer. My husband first taught me how to use a camera. Sharing the pursuit of photography with him is one of my greatest pleasures. Chattanooga photographers Mike Daniel and Steve Gustafson, along with Michael Moats, helped me understand macro photography. Another of my teachers has been Alan Ross of Santa Fe, New Mexico, an outstanding photographer who worked with Ansel Adams. He has helped me begin to understand the nuances of tonality, as well as providing other invaluable insight and guidance in his excellent workshops.

The paintings of Georgia O’Keefe are for me the touchstone of the artistic portrayal of flowers and have no doubt influenced my photography. I have also been inspired and influenced by the botanical photography of Kim Kaufman, Carol Henry, Harold Feinstein and Karl Blossfeldt.

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