holt_1054_0297.CR2Every garden story needs details and vignettes, especially include plant portraits – but the portraits needn’t be mug shots. The plants should be “of the garden” and give some sense of connection to it.

For a recent Garden As Creative Source workshop with fellow garden photographers David Perry and Allan Mandell I created a new individual workshop just for plant vignettes. My teaching cohorts established their own themes that made the day full and interconnected.


Allan Mandell in PhotoBotanic workshop – looking for lines


David Perry in PhotoBotanic workshop – telling stories

Allan worked with ideas of seeing a garden in broad lines and composing images in brush strokes; while David urged students to tell a story, and to find compositions that would fit into a magazine layout.

For my session on plant portraits, I introduced the idea of an “extraction”, pulling plant details out of the scene in the manner of the PhotoBotanic illustrations I have been doing in the Plants Illustrated section of the Learning Center.  The extractions are intended as illustrations from the garden, rather than the drawings of botanic illustrators in a studio.  They are time consuming, computer intensive labors of love that are quite satisfying, but far behind the scope of our recent workshop.

Before and After Slider

A PhotoBotanic Extraction of Arctostaphylos ‘Monica’

However, the idea behind an extraction is rooted in the Details and Vignettes chapter of my eBook, Think Like a Camera, and is also availble a single lesson iBook download.  In our workshop planning, David and Allan helped me see how I might connect the extraction idea of a PhotoBotanic illustration to students who are learning to look for the details.  Thanks, guys.

This now becomes a special Workshop Tip lesson for all Photobotanic.com members, and begins….

“A plant portrait begins with looking, really looking, at a plant.  When we feel joy and exhilaration in a garden it is usually because of the plants.  Take a moment and listen to what the plants say.  Whether a flamboyant shrub shouts at us, or a unfurling leaf whispers, go to where the garden calls you and take a picture of that plant.”

More for members. Membership to the Learning Center is free.