Why I Don’t Photograph Flowers


 …nature photographs downright bore me for some reason or other. I think: “Oh, yes. Look at that sand dune. What of it?”
— Walker Evans

 As I look at photographs shared on Facebook and other web sites, I’ve noticed that grand landscapes, wildlife, and flowers are the most common subjects. Perhaps living in Colorado has exposed me to a larger number of landscape photographers. If I were living in Kansas I might meet a lot fewer landscape photographers; after all, there’s a lot less landscape there.

I have to be honest. I don’t get it. For some reason–perhaps because I grew up in very flat eastern New Mexico–I’ve never been attracted to mountain scenery. It’s nice. That’s about as far as I’m willing to go. Stands of golden aspen, mountain peaks topped with snow, and picturesque mountain cabins–meaning piles of rotting logs–don’t excite my interest.

My contacts with wildlife are limited to watching rabbits eat my tulips and swearing at raccoons. I don’t mind the bunnies. The tulips were from a former owner, and I’m not terribly worried about them. On the other hand, the latter beasties have a habit of stealing apples from my tree, then sitting on my fence to eat them. Unfortunately they leave traces of their night time snack along the fence, and somehow I always manage to step in it when I mow. I’m not much into wildlife.

I think the same thing is true about flower photographs. I’m just not attracted to botanical images, no matter how striking the colors and interesting the shapes. Some of Maplethorpe’s calla lilies are wonderful, but mostly as a study of form. Most flower photographs don’t exhibit that kind of finesse. Flowers don’t interest me. I don’t photograph them.

Having said that, you may wonder about the two photographs in this post.  The first was taken as a joke for a friend, showing my disdain for the genre. The second was taken while I was waiting for a train to show up, and it never did. It was stopped on a siding out of sight. I was frustrated standing around for twenty minutes. As a means of keeping my sanity I turned around to the weeds growing next to the right of way and took this shot of a Russian thistle.

Why a thistle? I have no idea. I fight them constantly in my yard, and as they seem to be tolerant of most weed sprays I am armed with heavy gloves and a strong grip to pull the devils out of the ground. I detest Russian thistles.

But it is a pretty purple, isn’t it?

This entry was posted in Opinion, Photography.

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