The Tyranny of Tulips

I bought my Nikon in June of 2006. By July I was taking “serious” photos of flowers. I even went to a local greenhouse and asked permission to take photographs of their flowers and then spent several hours lugging my tripod from row to row – from Asters to Zinnias .“Wow,” I thought to myself looking at my flower shots, “these are fantastic!” I posted the best of them  to Flickr and was stunned hardly anyone was impressed enough to fave them – or even look at them! These Flickr philistines fail to appreciate my great art!

They were right. My flower shots were pretty enough but there was nothing about them that made them stand out above the other twelve million photos of flowers on Flickr.

Flowers are great subjects. They are easily identifiable, brightly colored, most often symmetrical and quite pleasing to the eye. They are also tyrannical, severely limiting your compositional options if your lone subject is a flower. A photo of a flower taken head on in ordinary daylight is lovely, but it is no more art than the flower itself.

That’s fine if all you want is a pleasing snapshot (and there is nothing wrong with that). However, if you want to produce something more, something original, something striking to both the eye and mind, you must find a novel way of framing, lighting, exposing your shot; or you must find a creative way to add (or subtract) elements to or from your composition.

I have put together an annotated Flickr gallery of photographs of flowers I find original. I’ve added comments describing why I believe each photo stands out. As always, these are just my opinions and I could be wrong:

THE TYRANNY OF TULIPS: The Difficulties in Photographing Flowers

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