Following the Light

Three Floral Photographers

by Susan Thompson

Gertrude Stein famously said “A rose is a rose is a rose”. Yet throughout human history flowers have been used not only to beautify our homes and lives, but as symbols and metaphors for everything from romance to femininity to the cycle of human existence itself.   These three floral photographers all emphasize the learning curve they followed to become better able to capture their own visions of the world with a camera. Just like the flowers they photograph, they are constantly seeking the light.

Klaus Peters

Tulip Petals

Klaus Peters first got into photography in 1993, taking photos for his wife Rika Peters, a painter. She needed something to use as subjects for her paintings, but Klaus found that he enjoyed taking the pictures for himself as well as for his wife. “From there it developed,” he explains, pun perhaps intended. “I started out with beauty. I see a scene, and say oh, that’s a picture, that’s something I want to capture.”

In 2003 Peters went digital, and his photography took off. “I think that the price of a photo in those days was about one dollar a photo. Now I was taking pictures left, right and centre and it didn’t cost me a thing. It freed me up to learn. I could take ten pictures instead of two pictures, and that learning curve really helped me.”

However, Peters still credits his wife’s artistic eye for helping him learn to compose a photo. “I was a carpenter by trade and everything had to be straight and level. I had to relearn what crooked meant. She taught me a lot about composition.”

“Flowers are my passion, and then comes birds. With the flowers, I go into macro, and then you can learn to take pictures that are out of focus, instead of the carpenter’s way.” Peters now spends each winter taking photos of flowers, such as a recent photo shoot of daffodils. “In the wintertime it’s an indoor sport.” However, he doesn’t limit himself only to flowers, making sure to capture images of everything from the birds at the feeder outside his window to the nesting blue herons he hopes to see this spring.

Peters’ work is regularly displayed at Picture Perfect in Grande Prairie, and most recently a dozen of his photos were also displayed at the Ovations Theatre.

Sharon Krushel

Wild Roses After Rain

Sharon Krushel is a floral photographer who, like Peters, began photography almost accidentally. Her first nature photography was for the purpose of Powerpoint backgrounds. She found that song lyrics were more visible on dark backgrounds, and started looking for images with a dark background but a few flowers catching sunlight.

The images came to symbolize something for Krushel, a meaning she continues to pursue in her photography. “There are certain images I find speak to me. I’m looking for images of hope, grace, survival, and perseverance.”

“Sometimes we get feeling trapped in a work situation or other environment where we feel that the artist in us is being paved over. I remember heading for the hills feeling extremely weighed down and depressed on a very dreary day in late May, when I came upon a tiny wild violet barely visible under a dump of snow. It was at the topmost point of my hike, and I had not brought my camera.

So I walked down through the snow, the slush, and the mud to get my Nikon, and I don’t even know how long I was on my belly on the ground photographing this little Johnny Jump Up smiling bravely at me from under that heavy, wet blanket. I went back the next day with my camera, and there it was open to the light, with only one drop of melted snow remaining on one petal.” For Krushel, it was a profound message, a sign in flower form.

“I seem to see life in pictures, but I so often couldn’t capture what I saw. A lot of times it would be specific lighting, but the photograph would turn out differently,” she explains.

Krushel now feels that her work has progressed to the point where she can capture the way she sees things, showing tiny pieces of light in the darkness.

Kim Scott

Untitiled

Kim Scott was recently invited by the Prairie Art Gallery to show the photos she has taken of the gallery restoration during the last six months. This exhibit will be her first public show since she left school. Scott studied photography after high school, and also took architectural photography for three years at university but eventually put photography on hold for two decades.

During that hiatus, Scott noticed her vision deteriorating. “Due to my perseverance in finding a doctor who took me seriously the brain tumor pushing against my optic nerve was removed. I noticed when it came back a second time, and had more surgery plus radiation. The radiation left me with some memory and attention troubles, but luckily, most of my vision came back.” This very literal change in Scott’s vision still affects her and her photographic works.

“Every day I am consciously aware of and thankful for my vision. I regained nearly normal eyesight after both surgeries. Because of the remaining double vision, I do need to turn my body more than my head to look left or right. And, I read with one eye closed, just like I take pictures. One eye is for close, the other for far away. Each eye sees colors a bit differently, so I have a choice.”

“It is so thrilling to learn different ways to photograph and process, and my favorite has been macro flowers. Macro photography shows us hidden landscapes, sometimes populated with their own now visible creatures.” Scott adds that flowers celebrate life, something she has also learned to do since her surgeries. Scott also finds that she has not only become fascinated with floral subjects, but the very light that illuminates them. “Light hides and light reveals. It is the glow of backlight, the texture of sidelight, and the strike of front light, the last of the light and the first, especially when I am up all night. Sunshine shows textures, shadows, and drama, while cloudy days reveal shape and form,” she says. “I follow the light.”


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