The mechanics of the natural world

It’s time to talk about another of my photography heroes, someone who has inspired me greatly, and whilst the sun is shining and summer is in full swing, it seems a timely moment to look at the work of German botanical photographer Karl Blossfeldt.  

Taking photography to new levels.

As I touched upon in my blog, The Path to Passion, the photographers I studied at university shaped how I work today; inspiring me in my photographic technique, defining the subject matters I would choose and how I would portray them. Blossfeldt became well known during the late 1920s for his close-up images of plants and flora. He used a camera that could magnify the subject up to thirty times, which followed the typical German tradition of taking photography to excessive levels.   

From natural to mechanical

It is as much his technique as his subject choice that inspires me. Blossfeldt took a delicate natural living organism and transformed it into something industrial and mechanical. By taking the subject out of context, magnifying it to show every detail, it almost contradicted its original form – from delicate to robust and from natural to mechanical. He usually photographed from the same angle; head-on and rarely from a diagonal, on a plain background so that the subject took full glory.  

Inspiring and utilising 

This portrait style of photography is very much in fashion today and is often used for archiving. My work at Kew Gardens involved photographing plants using the top-down method, where I would photograph flowers stuck to acid-free paper on a flat surface from above. These would then be archived for easy reference.

My style may not be as extreme as Blossfeldt’s, but taking a very natural or simple form and portraying it in an innovative way to show its complexities, is an area I continue to explore. In a nursery of full of colour and life, the individual beauty of each flower or plant could easily get lost, until I pitch up with my camera and bring it to life.


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Until next time… 

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