I love to incorporate ceramics into my work, and here I had the opportunity to speak with the founder of one of my favorite brands. I chatted with Sarah from Notary Ceramics about my photography, how I choose the perfect vessel for my flowers, and my thoughts on why her ceramics make the perfect additions to my seasonal series.
You can find these beautiful ceramics here, here, and here. I've also included a small tutorial on how to build an interesting arrangement. Below you can find my full article with Sarah from Notary Ceramics.
It’s been a lifelong dream to make my very own artwork and create pieces that will elevate a room - let that be in a coffee book, a cookbook, a fine art photograph, or your phone background. My intense self-quarantine over the past several months (I have four autoimmune conditions) sped me along. Day after day, I turned to photography to keep my spirits high, stay in a positive mental state, and focus on the good. Creating became my motivation to get out of bed. As quarantine soldiered on, I craved the outside more and more. I wanted to connect with nature again. I wanted to walk by the lake and feel the mist from the water on my skin. I wanted to smell the magnolia trees and touch their creamy petals with my hands. Flowers have always spoken to me, so this was the piece of nature I chose to bring into my home. Week by week, I ordered different seasonal ones to photograph. They made me happy. Every blossom captured at its prime made a unique impression on an image - and on me too. They brought joy and purpose to me in isolation.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, and where/how did you learn photography? Did you study floral as well or are you self taught?
I was born in Romania, raised in Canada, and now live in the US. A few years ago, I began the amazing, yet incredibly challenging journey of living life on my own terms. I walked away from my job (and a steady paycheck) after fourteen years to pursue a more creative path. It was then that I picked up a camera and began shooting. I didn’t know how to take a photo, I didn’t even know what contrast meant, but I knew I had a vision. I knew that I could translate a feeling into an image. So I taught myself everything - I watched tutorials, played with settings, practiced over and over until I developed a style that represented me. With every image, with every passing week, I was better. I learned more and I came to expect more of myself. I still feel like I have so much to learn, but I like to think that I am a sponge ready to absorb new knowledge and sprinkle it over my craft. As for floral photography, I didn’t study it in school. Arranging flowers comes naturally to me. I grew up in a commiunist country - there was very little to play with as a child. Flowers, fruits, and vegetables were my toys so I’ve appreciated their exquisite beauty from a young age. I actually used to collect flowers, press them into books, and talk to them as if they were my friends. It’s funny to look back now and see that they’ve always been such an important part of my life!
- Get inspired. I like to work from some of my most personal memories, shooting with people, places, or nostalgic feelings in mind, but nearly anything that connects to your heart will work.
- Pick colors. Different shades and pallettes are one of the most powerful tools we have to convey something visually. Decide what’s resonating with you (perhaps your shoot is centered on a day you spent driving around the coast of California with your best friend - so lots of turquoise and deep blue would be appropriate) then create a mood board like this one. Add in colors that contrast and complement your central ones.
- Choose flowers. Look into different species, get a feel for what’s out there, then start to hone in on a couple of favorites that fit your mood board and concept.
- Organize yourself. Once you have your flowers, separate them by color (this is what feels most natural to me) and place them in individual vases to breathe. Wait 24-48 hours for the blossoms to hydrate before shooting, and in the meantime, brainstorm ways you can arrange them with other props (ie. vases, water, sand, scarves, etc.).
- Select a backdrop. These are usually large painted boards or a painted canvas for me - I always have a couple different colors on hand.
- Fall in love with your props. Your vase and your other ingredients are just as important to the photo as the perfect flowers are, so make sure to select each item with care. They should all contribute to the whole. Some of my favorite things to include are glasses, fruit, wine, candles, linens, silks, and velvets. As you can see, a lot happens before you actually touch the flowers!
- Arrange your masterpiece. Center your perfect vase in a clear workspace and build a work of art flower by flower. I always go one at a time. Include the other props last.
- Bring in your camera. I recommend shooting while connected to your computer so that you can see the image instantly, and use this visual feedback to make adjustments in your arrangement.
- Play with light. I love shooting the same image at sunrise and sunset, as the feeling of the natural light is completely different. Adding in shadows is super fun too. Play and shoot and repeat until you like what you see!
- Edit to your hearts content!
Lastly, tell us about this floral project you have embarked on!
It all started on May 5th - my birthday. I was on my 10th week of isolation due to my health challenges and I chose to photograph flowers. I had done a couple of shoots prior to this, but on this day, it was special. I ordered a massive bouquet and I worked with a Dutch Masters spread. I was on fire. I loved the results. This shoot turned up the volume of the little voice inside - the one telling me to go for it, to put my work into the world - I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
With that, I want to introduce you to my first seasonal series! I am incredibly excited to share that three of my prints include your gorgeous vessels. I absolutely love Notary Ceramics’ collection and the way you approach your craft. I can feel the love and care that goes into every single object you create. I knew from my first visit on your website that your pieces were perfect for me! I can’t wait to see what else we can dream up together.
This article was featured on Notary Ceramics.