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Telling Tales: The Heart of Garden Photography

Articles: Telling Tales: The Heart of Garden Photography

Overcast light made possible the intense color of this thorny rose (Rosa sericea subsp. omiensis) in my November garden. A shallow depth of field threw the background out of focus but kept the vague shapes and related colors of nearby stems and leaves. I sense a human narrative, a body dancing in everyday clothes, and that makes me smile. Author’s photographs

A garden is a story told and retold, day by day, year by year, at unlikely paces, often too fleeting or too slow. A camera—no, a photographer—can help tell the story, shedding light on its characters, plots, dramas, jokes, and songs. For the camera is no more than a shovel is to the garden, simply a tool.

The garden photographer has many narratives to tell of the relationships between elements in the garden: stone and foliage, plant and structure, blossom and pollinator, what is visible now and the memories evoked, the real and the imagined. There are relationships among the gardener, the photographer, and the viewer of the image. But within every image, the primary relationship is between the subject and the light. Each image also reveals something o...

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