Flowers have always been a favorite focus of mine, an exercise in fleeting beauty posing many challenges.
Like music, images of flowers trigger memories of Time and Place: hibiscus is a return to the South Pacific, edelweiss to the Alps, orchids to Southeast Asia.
Yet, flowers have a multiplicity of associations, and they are revealed in the eyes of the beholder more often than not:
Sternwood: Do you like orchids?
Marlowe: Not particularly.
Sternwood: Nasty things! Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men, and their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption.
— Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
I believe I learned more about visual composition from flowers than any other single source. Visual composition, like other creative aptitudes may be something inborn and at some level an un-teachable skill (I am grateful that I learned at a young age that I was not born with the musical gift; no matter how hard I worked, no matter how many scales I played, I would never attain the level of musicianship I wished. I explored my abilities and turned elsewhere).
Some decades ago I studied various schools of Japanese Flower Arranging as a window into Japanese culture. What grew from this was unexpected: new lenses through which to see the interplay of Composition and Nature as well as Untouched Wildness as Fine Art. The exercise also took me onto a path regarding the control of Nature; an altered, or simulated creation of Nature is not the same thing as Nature Herself, perhaps a dichotomy of Art and Fine art, but this remains unresolved to me.
I have been asked questions about Composition I cannot answer with any depth. Certainly, the Japanese aesthetic of balance without symmetry is one lesson that can be verbalized, but most others exist in deeper, inexpressible realms. I am a poor Composition instructor; I rarely know why I fancy an image I am drawn to or why I see it before I raise my camera. And I like it this way.