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« Love Thursday Featured Fotographer: Kristal | Main | "mistakes" »

Beyond the Bloom


I love a garden in full bloom as much as the next photographer and yet I find myself equally compelled to capture the phases of plant life that are less about the obvious grandeur and more about the subtleties of growth and change; the various stages that celebrate the entire journey of life, from beginning to end.

Flowers in full bloom boast and brag through vibrant color and a round and robust shape, but as they wane they often leave behind curious shapes and textures. Petals soften and slowly let go. Colors change and fade as mysterious curves, curls and creases begin to appear altering the plant into something that can be even more captivating, more poetic than before.

And as flowers in their heyday boldly declare their magnificence to the world, the shrinking bloom speaks in a whisper, to only those that will listen, revealing it’s secret that the muted and understated offer an unmatched and inimitable beauty that deserves to be recognized and held in reverie.

Have you had the privilege of capturing a part of life (of a flower or otherwise) that might have normally been missed if it hadn’t been seen by your lens? Something perhaps less than perfect that murmurs softly of the unseen, proving that the delight of life can indeed be found in the journey. Do share it with us.

Reader Comments (35)

Wonderful post. I actually prefer to photograph flowers either before or after their prime:

This is a sunflower - not yet in full bloom:

This is a flower I found all wilted and almost dead:

And these are ordinary geramium buds:
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarcie
Nice post. Such decaying beauties do need to be recognized. :)

1. This is of a strawberry.

2. This is of a few wilting flowers
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermekhala
Our pansies are less than perfect, but interesting:

And here's two posts from my blog. I'm not sure what the plant in the second post is, but think I remember it having little red berries in the summer (winter here!).
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeana
Yes! Sometimes a kind of stark beauty lies in lines and light:

and the softness of a faded bloom:
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermary
I love the curl of this...

Who says the top of the poppy should get all the attention?

And I've always liked this moody one. A dried flower on a cloudy day, the exact opposite of my normally sunny shot.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
Whoops...sorry about that, ya'll. I haven't had my coffee yet. :)
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
Here's a milkweed pod that had open, emptied its seeds and been mowed over.

And here's a cone flower - the first one to go south in the patch!
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen
And as flowers in their heyday boldly declare their magnificence to the world, the shrinking bloom speaks in a whisper, to only those that will listen,.........What a lovely description!

I have been really into capturing form after the color has faded....

And then here is a TtV shot I roughed up of some past it's prime cow parsnips, texture was also added.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWayfaring Wanderer
This is a leek bloom that's shedding it's cover. I love to watch the transition and the beauty of the process.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMycrazylife
This photo from a late spring walk in the woods just makes me feel good...
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteramanda
I think this counts, may be streching it:
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMelodyA.
great post tracey, great perspective...yes, i have been thinking this lately as in texas our blooms are all but withered and burnt from heatstroke while i see flickr full of bragging blooms. it makes me search out the beauty like i'm on a hunt, and sometimes i only find one flower blooming but usually a few ones on their last legs. they are still beautiful even if not boastful, in their shy manner still standing proudly with curled petals.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercamerashymomma
I **love** taking pictures of flowers -- almost more than my kids! (OK, almost...) Macro is my current fav; and I loved this shot for it's geometry -- i didnt' see it on the flower....
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLyn
A winter branch (west coast, we get rain not snow).
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDaisy Sharrock
I love sunflowers for this! They just seem to have so much texture, at all stages of their bloom. Here are two:
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMeryl
I often find myself taking pictures of the end of a flower's life. This one from our desert canyon hike of a flower all dried up from the relentless sun: (3rd pic in post)

And this one. The end of my geranium planter last January.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKacey
what a wonderful subject. As a botanist, I often appreciate flowers "differently" from others...

Poppies are beautiful from bud to flower to fruit:

thistles are much cooler after flowering:

Fallen mimosa flower:

July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElena
Wow Elena, I really like all of those--they're almost otherworldly.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMeryl
Oh yes. I do this too. My latest was a dying hydrangea. The colors were so amazing even as it was wilting and fading, as if the color was clinging to the tips.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLawyer Mama
Thank you so much, Meryl! That means a lot, particularly since I have watched this blog for a long time, but never had the nerve to post.

oh and one more from just the other day...
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElena
Not too faded yet, but picked and man-handled (or should I say, 8-yo-at-summercamp-handled.) I love(d) this Dahlia:
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertonya
He's ready to be independent. The "tween" years...not so cute as a toddler but not the thrill of a teenager either. Asserting his independence yards at a time, I think I captured a moment in his life that reflects this age of not needing Momma so much any longer. {{sniff, sniff}}

July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermnkathy
I agree the end of the process is as interesting as all other aspects.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl Doran-Girard
i enjoy this also...considering the various stages of life...i think i'm noticing these things more as i'm seeing people around me like my grandma aging....while she is old and slow, and doesn't remember much these days...she's still got life in her...and that's noteworthy in itself...

here's some recent shots i took around the house..
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermika
A friends Christmas cactus' bloom...a few months after Christmas.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterUrsula
I know this isn't a flower but when I saw this dead branch I thought the color inside was beautiful!
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJackie
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTracie
amusingly, i just put this post up today:

it also has an internal link to another picture of a non-perfect flower. i love photographing flowers, but you're right in that they don't always have to be in full bloom to be beautiful.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLara
I don't think I've taken many good shots of decaying flowers. I think I have a preference for life emerging - though there's such beauty in the above photos that I might have to rethink that!

I do love things decayed though - looking to the past and thinking of a "life" well lead:

July 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
July 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMariah

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