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Quiet and unassuming - Flowers at Dusk by Esther Whyatt

6 years ago


Esther Whyatt is shortlisted in the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards with her series ‘Flowers at Dusk, Regents Park, London’.


Hi Esther. Can you explain to us the project? Where did the concept for this series come from?

I was looking at flowers in Regent's Park one evening last year, and I felt they had such a strong presence, that I wondered if I could capture it, even though the light was dim. I had never photographed flowers, but each one had a personality, a voice. With each visit, and as they aged, they became more beautiful, so I decided to capture this by returning at frequent intervals to photograph them and record the changes as they aged.

Why remove the backgrounds?

Many of the backgrounds were already dark, and I further darkened them slightly. I wanted them to be like portraits, and contain nothing that might distract from the beauty and the atmosphere the flower created around itself.


Do you have a photographic philosophy?

This would be the same as the themes that preoccupy me in life generally, and which perhaps the flowers convey better than my words. Our culture praises superficial beauty, loudness, overconfidence. The best things are frequently quiet and unassuming, often unseen or ignored.

Aging and dying – it’s also a theme I think about a lot. I am concerned about the deep seated prejudice in our society towards older people, which I believe is becoming worse. The refusal to see a life lived and a real deep beauty in the lines and the faces, and the contribution lost to all our lives when we fail to see this.

Openness and vulnerability – something our society seems to despise – in its quest to cover up, pretend.  And the pressure to hide from each other the biggest things most of us will face: suffering, aging.  

And on a different note: Paintings. I love the dark backgrounds where the light falls in a certain way on the portrait or still life, (Rembrandt, especially), and creates a melancholic,  reflective, mood.


Do you plan to develop this series further?

There are many different ways this project could develop – firstly to look and sort through all the photos in this series which I took last year (I have hundreds). I need to think what I will do with them all.

Sometimes the tendency is to do something new, when perhaps returning to the same place is what is needed, to see what happens, to see what new perspective may occur. So I’m not sure where the new path will lead.