What is work in the garden ? For a garden photographer in his own garden, work shifts as the garden speaks.
There are times when the garden cries out for care, and the work is sweaty, grimy, intensely physical. Then there are times when the garden sings and the work is quiet, aesthetically sensual, even joyful.
The division of labor is often predictable. In spring I can gloriously plan for camera work. In autumn I expect to clean up and rake. But sometimes in autumn when the trees drop their leaves, abstract expressions carpeting the ground, my work changes and I switch tools. I put my rake to rest. It is one of those unspoken moments when the garden doesn’t need to say a word. Capture this fleeting beauty now.
Garden photography is interesting work. It is far more than having a camera in a pretty garden, and I go into it in depth in my book, The PhotoBotanic Garden Photography Workshop. One part of the work though, is anticipating how I can sell my pictures in various markets and venues.
When I am working on location, working an assignment, I know exactly who is paying for the work; but in my own garden when it calls out to be photographed, I try to think of every useful angle, every way I might utilize the pictures I make.
As the leaves began to drop on my Pistache tree over the past two weeks I took a few photos. I love to frame the patterns in my camera, studying lines and repetition of color. I even tried to make a photo with my gray hose left uncoiled.
But then the leaves began to fall in earnest. Rain was about to arrive and the leaves needed to be cleared as a garden chore. I got my rake, and at that moment the garden said “get to work, now; for tomorrow I will change”. So I switched tools, put the rake at rest and went for the camera, lenses and tripod.
Now working with a deadline, I let every idea become a picture. I shot through the low branches.
Oh, and I better take a shot of the leaves on the branch.
And maybe one way off center. You never know if a publisher needs a wide photo with lots of space and soft focus to drop in some type.
Oh, and don’t forget vertical photos:
As I began to realize I really was going to have to rake the leaves, a new idea of how I might actually use the photos bubbled in to my brain. What if I made a video from a series of time lapse photos as I do the raking ? Brilliant ! Since the work of a garden photographer, in his own garden, is to garden and to photograph, I could do both under the guise of creating content for the YouTube channel all my advisors say I need to have.
Little did I know that after all the “work” as a garden photographer, the real work would be figuring out to make a YouTube video of the raking. Real work is the kind that is no fun. It has taken me long frustrating days to get the video done, complete with voice over and connected to my new YouTube channel. Crude perhaps but a rewarding experiment. See below.
Even more rewarding, as I spent these past few days on the computer and living with the photos, the leaf carpet now composting, I remembered the mood of the garden. I yearned to transform the photos into vibrant swirls of yellow.
Photos can bring back the past and I wanted photos that could bring back the mood more than the detail. So I spent time with PhotoShop.
Oh the ways a garden photographer must work.