Wednesday, November 19

What's The Story With Flowers?

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Have they anything to offer but beauty? Must you justify them because of their prettiness? They share a force with babies, puppies, and kittens which squeezes an, “Awwww!” out of us. Now I can understand our hard wiring to young mammals, evolution’s hooked that up for obvious reasons. But why to flowers? What primal instinct is served by us feeling so much from blossoms?

They rarely signal the presence of food. Nor water. They’re lousy shelter. They’re never warm in the cold, hell, they’re not around then. And since the most colorful thrive on direct sunlight, they don’t advertise relief from heat. So if it’s not survival or sustenance, what’s the deal?

Let’s go back to the baby thing. We’re drawn to the big eyes and helpless movements in an instinct to hold and protect. And their memories certainty are one motivation for procreation. Hmmmm…. Are flowers wrapped up in our protective or procreative instincts? Certainly Georgia O’Keefe discovered Freudian metaphors in blooms for – well you know where I’m going… Or where she went.

Oddly though, flowers seem to appeal even more strongly to women than to men. Perhaps it’s cultural, but in most societies, aren’t flowers a coveted gift by men to women? I suspect there is some gender correlation to the intensity of their appeal.

Regardless, I have taken flower pictures, hasn’t everyone? And each time that I do, the best of the shoot seem to resonate among the better images I’ve captured. Until I wonder about them. Yes there are all the classical elements of texture, form, shape, and palette. And they can be easily framed in any of the most powerful compositions.

But once you’ve done that, what have you captured? April has found ways to speak eloquently through her flowers. I cannot find that voice. But what do I get? A pretty flower picture, like the ones that come with new picture frames. Beauty does not resonate, it merely attracts. We use it up quickly - it is monotonous.

Perhaps the problem with pictures of blooms is that they do not die. They do not wiggle, sway, or glottal together to create new patterns. Perhaps it is the persistence of photos which may distill out the beauty of the original flower, but not its impermanence . Perhaps it’s the fragility that they share with babies, puppies, and kittens that make the real things more interesting than their photo representations?

I want an image to bring me beyond itself. I cannot find those stories in my flower pictures. Nor can I find the feelings that are larger than the blossoms. Which probably leads to my disappointment with my images since I can’t seem to visually answer the question: What’s the story with flowers?


Barry Armer said...

Beautiful shot Ted!

Perhaps the answer to your question is Hope? Hope springs eternal afterall ... and so do flowers!


Andreas said...

Hmm ... hope? Interesting proposition. I guess I like that.

Flowers are short-lived, beautiful and fragile. They work as a strong metaphor for everything that we cherish, for all the beauty in life, and they remind us of our own mortality. Flowers are metaphors.

Yes, April can work them nicely and so can Dawn LeBlanc. Have a look at her floral work on the Fine Art Photoblog.

April said...

For me, the story with flowers is that they are alive as we are. They are tactile -- can be gently touched or (visually) stroked. They have a voice, a gesture, and unique personalities. Some are prickly!

And I delight in Dawn's work with flowers.

This image, I think, is beautifully lush but not blatant.