One glance at photographer Cynthia Dickinson’s ethereal Botanics series, and it’d be easy to assume she set up her shots in a studio, carefully selecting and arranging the flowers, lighting and background. But Dickinson’s photos were all shot this summer in gardens at the Arboretum.
Dickinson, an Arboretum member, has taken pictures at the Arboretum for the past few years, and during a visit in June, she became inspired in the Iris garden. “The last year I struggled with what I was shooting, and how I was shooting, and what I wanted to say,” Dickinson says. “As I was shooting at the Arboretum this summer, something clicked.”
She explored the grounds finding herself drawn to exploring different stages of flowers as the summer progressed. “I like images where the flowers are starting to decompose because they are more sculptural,” she explains.
Dickinson, who went to art school for sculpture and photography and works as a chef, started thinking about her photo subjects in terms of sculpture, and she realized she wanted to edit her compositions. She started taking things out of the background, selecting one component of the photo to highlight and sometimes subtly superimposing multiple images into the piece. “I shot a lot this summer,” she says. “My membership was worth it.”
The resulting work is dramatic and sculptural. Although she’s still working on the Botanics series, she submitted six images from it to the 14th Annual Julia Cameron Photography Awards. The series earned an Honorable Mention in the Nature Category and her work will show at the Fotostrum Gallery in Barcelona in March. Her photos were selected from more than 6,000 images sent by 805 female photographers in 67 countries.
This winter, she’ll continue editing the photos she took this summer. “I’m learning that I don’t have to edit as much in the summer,” she says. “I’ll be editing all winter.”
In the future, she’s interested in working on a series of portraits of prize winning gardens and flowers, and hoping to connect with local gardeners about their prized plants.
Find Dickinson’s portfolio here.