Photographer David Watkins Jr. creates dramatic and painterly floral portraits. Visit his website to see more of his photography.
I have two great passions: gardening and photography. Now retired, I have the time to pursue both in more depth. They are connected so intimately that they are almost impossible to separate.
Spending time in a garden with my camera is more relaxing than I can explain. There is a peace associated with being in a garden, or wild place, that makes time disappear.
Satisfaction comes from finding nature’s own compositions and happy accidents. The feeling returns sitting in front of the computer and assessing images for what they are, and/or can become.
For me, the camera is just a tool used to record color, patterns, textures, light, and weather. I’ve never been an expert on f-stops, shutter speeds and lenses. I know enough about my tools to achieve what I’m after. In the final analysis, it’s how an image can evolve that drives me—with what’s in my head, not in my camera.
Recently, I’ve been focused on creating images based on an early inspiration—the great floral paintings by Dutch and Flemish painters of the seventeenth century. Their use of rich color on dark backgrounds has pushed me to create, not a replication of their images, but my own versions that become more abstract as I work.
I am constantly surprised when revisiting old images and seeing something new, some new way of transforming it, or creating a work that I didn’t see then. I suspect that working digitally allows that to happen a bit more easily than when I was using film.
Currently, I use a variety of software to process an image much the way a painter uses a variety of mediums and tools to create. The image is duplicated, blurred, processed with a blending mode in Photoshop, and flattened. Then, I either dodge and burn, or paint in or out parts of the image in order to achieve a final vision.
Lately, I’ve been merging the processed image with background textures or filters to modify it yet again. The goal is to create images that achieve the “Old Dutch Masters” look but with a contemporary feel.
I am influenced by Eliot Porter. His landscapes and intimate portraits of the natural world move me to try and experience the natural world as he did.
I am also influenced by the Dutch photographer, Bas Meeuws, whose painstaking digital recreations of traditional Dutch still life and floral paintings are unique and inspirational.
Photographer David Watkins Jr. invites you to follow him on Facebook.
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