THE FLOWER is a very personal image for me — I have a framed print of it on my wall. But like anything that’s personal, it’s difficult to be objective about it.
I bought this flower at a florist’s shop with the specific intention of photographing it. I had only recently been teaching a photography class and one of the students had brought in a copy of one of Robert Mapplethorpe’s beautiful Calla Lily photographs, and I’m quite certain that I had those pictures in my mind when I set about making this photo.
I photographed it that evening in my garage. I can’t remember the exact details of the lighting setup that I used, but I do recall that I used four speedlights and a bunch of modifiers of various sorts to get the soft, subtle look that I wanted yet to retain the detail and texture of the petals, stem and leaves. It took a while, but I was happy with the result.
This image was recently critiqued by another professional photographer whose work, experience, and insights I admire enormously. He was questioning the composition of the image and the reason that I positioned the flower on the right side of the frame and chose to retain as much of the leaves as I did. I could only answer that at the time it seemed right to me, and it still does. It seems to me that the flower leans into the frame on its stem which is balanced tentatively on the lower right-hand corner, and is supported in its position by its leaves that hold it upright by leaning against the left side of the frame. It seems to me that the composition plays with the notion of delicacy and strength — the delicacy of the flower head — the petals — and the strength of its stem and leaves that it relies upon to hold it up.
I’m sure this idea is a metaphor for something. I leave it to you, the viewer, to decide what.