plant photography

Student Work: Creative Explorations in Botanical Photography

Photo credits: Merrill Saltzman, Jonathan Harris, Scott Royer, Anne Blumberg, Bill Sargent, Suzie Mullally, Stu Schaffner, Sara Gray, Dianne Roberts, Bill Snyder, Judy Fletcher and Gary Biasucci.

I recently completed teaching the first of two photography workshops this year at Maine Media Workshops. The twelve students in Creative Explorations in Botanical Photography split their time between Maine gardens and the studio, taking a closer look at plants and exploring creative ways to capture their personality. Students came to the workshop with varying degrees of photographic experience. Some have photographed plants for many years; others were just exploring the subject in-depth for the first time. Most were color photographers, but a few shot in black-and-white. They all came wearing different hats: artist, journalist, street photographer, designer, documentarian, gardener and more. It was fascinating and inspiring seeing their work evolve throughout the week. The slideshow above showcases this work, with six images from each student in random order. And yes, the lupines were in bloom!

My second workshop at MMW is Advanced Explorations in Botanical Photography, which will run October 8-14 at what we hope will be peak leaf season (though these things are difficult to predict). It is a continuation of this initial workshop, and will delve more deeply into studio techniques and the development of a personal project. We will spend a bit more time in the studio and visit different gardens and nature preserves. The advanced class is open to anyone who has taken a previous botanical/garden workshop from me or by portfolio review.

It's a Succulent, Not a Cactus

Agave parryi  var.  huachecensis . ©Lee Anne White.

Agave parryi var. huachecensis. ©Lee Anne White.

I've never met an agave I didn't like, though I've learned the hard way to treat them with respect. Those spines are mean. They not only hurt when you have an accidental encounter with them, they can irritate your skin. Beyond that, I really love agaves (and not just because they are the source of tequila). What compels me about them is the way one leaf imprints upon another. They start life as tight balls and slowly open up, revealing the imprints of adjacent leaves. 

This one is an Agave parryi var. huachucensis (commonly called Parry's agave or mescal agave). It grows in rosette fashion up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter and is considered a good landscape plant in dry climates such as its native home in New Mexico, Arizona and parts of Mexico. This agave, by the way, is not the source of tequilla; that would be Agave tequilana, also known as the blue agave. And for the record, an agave is a succulent, not a cactus. A cactus is a different kind of succulent.