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Stephanie Dolen Finds A lot Love in Documenting Floral Patterns


“Seeing patterns in nature encourages me to create patterns of my very own,” says San Francisco-based photographer Stephanie Dolen relating to the inspirations behind her distinctive floral venture. She enjoys documenting a lot of them in a flat lay structure in numerous patterns. These pictures are minimally retouched, if in any respect, and he or she considers them a type of portraiture in some ways.

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I recall the women in my summer time camp from many many years in the past, poring over their notebooks with flowers and leaves preserved between the pages. I’d by no means seen this type of preservation earlier than in my life. As a younger pupil, it was fascinating to look at how these leaves have been rigorously pressed between skinny pages, leaving imprints whereas barely drying up. After I noticed Dolen’s photographs, that was the very first thing my thoughts went to. A a single {photograph} triggered a reminiscence tucked away at the back of my mind after so a few years. An unrelated image however, nevertheless it goes to indicate how a photograph can convey again reminiscences.

The Important Photograph Gear Utilized by Stephanie Dolen

Stephanie advised us:

The Phoblographer: Hi there Stephanie. Please inform us about your self and the way you bought into images.

Stephanie Dolen: I’m a photographer based mostly within the San Francisco Bay Space, California. Dwelling and dealing within the Bay Space means a lot of my work consists of photographing different folks at work — within the type of portraits, capturing inner company tradition, merchandise, and visualization of product use, or documenting occasions. I really like my job, because it permits me to get a glimpse of what’s occurring throughout the area. My industrial work helps my private work. I most likely wouldn’t be doing one with out the opposite.

I grew up about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, in what was thought-about the center of nowhere. As a child, I took my little plastic movie digicam in all places I went, continually taking pictures, particularly of what I noticed on the bottom. I used to be fortunate to have mother and father who allowed me this curiosity — in a monetary sense, but in addition in an emotional sense. They gave me just a few rolls of movie at a time, and that movie was mine to do as I happy with it. The sensation of anticipation I had going to the grocery retailer photograph lab to select up developed movie and prints is a vivid childhood reminiscence of mine.

My curiosity in images continued to develop as I took black and white movie lessons in highschool, and following that, each images class I might join at my area people faculty. At that time, I knew I needed to pursue images professionally and went on to review portraiture at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara beginning in 2008. After graduating in 2011, I started working at an in-house e-commerce studio as a product photographer, which was the place I had essentially the most formative expertise with flatlay styling/images. A number of years later, I give up [my job] to begin my very own enterprise as a industrial photographer.

The Phoblographer: What digicam gear do you employ in your images initiatives {and professional} work?

Stephanie Dolen: Nowadays, I primarily use the Canon R5. The R5 has actually modified the best way I {photograph} flowers as a result of I don’t need to tether to see what I’m taking pictures from in entrance of the digicam anymore. I steadily maintain flowers in a single hand and {photograph} with the opposite hand on the shutter, with the display screen flipped down so I can compose and focus with the digicam on a tripod.

Other than the R5, I’ve relied closely on the 5D line of DSLRs since 2008 and have steadily used the Sony Alpha line as properly (A7SII, A7RIV).

For years, I solely used prime lenses, and have since shifted away from that strategy a little bit bit. For flatlay pictures of flowers, I nonetheless typically use a primary lens, although which of these is determined by the scale of the composition and the way a lot room I’ve, normally the Canon 35 1.4L, 50 1.2L, or 85 1.2L. I steadily shoot in low mild, and with the ability to shoot huge open with any of those lenses is useful.

For a time, I took a Rollei 35 loaded with Portra 800 in all places I went. I nonetheless love the shape issue of that digicam, how tiny and mechanical and delicate it’s. From a technical standpoint, it’s most likely the least fascinating analog digicam I personal, and it’s one way or the other my favourite. Movie isn’t part of my industrial workflow, however I get pleasure from utilizing it for myself, particularly whereas touring, to see how the colours and distinction of a sure scene render — I discover it useful to make use of these photographs to information my strategy to digital coloration. For lighting flowers indoors, I generally use window mild with numerous reflectors for fill. If I would like extra management, I usually use a Profoto D2 (1000Ws) monobloc. My go-to modifier is the Profoto Umbrella XL Deep White with the diffusion panel, which is simply actually versatile.

The Phoblographer: Is that this a documentation venture, or is there one other story behind it?

Stephanie Dolen: This venture positively has a documentary side to it — it’s seasonally pushed. The leaves are a sure coloration for just some days per yr, some flowers are plentiful for under a short while earlier than dying again as the warmth of summer time units in, different vegetation want an entire summer time’s price of sunshine and heat earlier than their flowers make an look simply because the climate begins to chill. All I do is  {photograph} the whole lot because it occurs, season by season. Seeing patterns in nature encourages me to create patterns of my very own. I spend a whole lot of time documenting vegetation outdoors within the floor as properly, and though making cuttings, bringing them indoors and intentionally putting them is in a manner the precise reverse of photographing them in situ, I nonetheless see it as a type of documentation.

The Phoblographer: Are these sourced out of your instant environment?

Stephanie Dolen: These are all vegetation rising in and round my backyard, and after I select which vegetation I’m going to {photograph}, they have an inclination to have some private significance or that means to me.

The Itoh peony, as an illustration, is a kind of peony extra suited to my local weather than the extra generally seen herbaceous normally peonies grown for reduce flowers, initially hybridized by a Japanese horticulturist, Dr. Toichi Itoh. These peonies grabbed my consideration on the nursery, as a few of them are nonetheless marketed within the US underneath Japanese names: Yumi, Keiko, Takara. The one pictured here’s a selection named Keiko, which occurs to be my mom’s given Japanese title. It finishes its annual bloom cycle proper round Mom’s Day.

The Phoblographer: Many of the petals and flowers look fairly contemporary. Do you are taking these pictures shortly after plucking them, or is there a technique of preservation you employ?

Stephanie Dolen: I consider the photographic course of as my manner of preserving the flowers as they’re in that second within the season. My purpose when bringing flowers out of the backyard is to maintain them as hydrated as doable and {photograph} them rapidly. In between setups, they normally return right into a bowl of water, and I hold a towel useful to dry the stems as I place them. I like seeing water droplets on the flowers, however I’m normally taking pictures on rolls of seamless paper, which present water spots simply. I attempt to not retouch a lot, if in any respect if I will help it. In a picture or two of this yr’s peony flatlay, there are water droplets seen on the paper. I felt like they barely resembled little drops of blood. I don’t thoughts that, so I left them in.

However, I additionally {photograph} a whole lot of flowers simply earlier than throwing them within the compost as a result of I discover them attention-grabbing and exquisite in their very own manner at that stage.

The Phoblographer: What flowers have you ever discovered make one of the best preparations and why? Which of them don’t fairly make the reduce?

Stephanie Dolen: For me, it’s much less of a visible/bodily high quality and extra of an emotional high quality. For instance — in idea, nasturtiums don’t work properly in any respect for a flatlay. When reduce, they start to wilt immediately, and the best way the flower itself grows makes it close to not possible to sit down flat on a floor with out a whole lot of propping. However I cherished bringing them inside to work with, as a result of I see them spreading in all places for months and months, popping up behind rubbish cans, uninvited in flower beds, poking by means of holes within the fence. I personified them lengthy earlier than I photographed them. They’re a little bit difficult to rearrange, however as a result of I’d hung out watching them develop, I actually loved working with them.

Leaves virtually all the time technically work properly for flatlay, as a result of they have an inclination to have  much less dimensional form and weight than flowers, so that they keep put when positioned. Nevertheless, I discover it tougher to rearrange them, as a result of I need to stroll a wonderful line between natural form and a human-designed sample, and that may be difficult with many small objects of the identical dimension and kind. I normally discover myself the least happy with my preparations of leaves.

The one flowers/vegetation that wouldn’t essentially work for me — no less than for this venture —  could be reduce flowers I went out and bought as a result of I wouldn’t really feel a lot private attachment to them.

The Phoblographer: They’re not all the time stationary; I see some motion and movement blur in just a few photographs. What are the ideas or emotions that affect the composition?

Stephanie Dolen: I see flowers as residing issues greater than nonetheless life objects, so for me, it is sensible for some motion to be concerned now and again. Since these are vegetation from my backyard, I see them swaying round within the wind as a rule, and I generally try to mimic that as properly.

I don’t assume it’s overt in any respect, however I’m additionally drawn to compositions which can be barely unnerving. Typically one thing has to really feel a little bit off for it to really feel proper to me, whether or not it’s a blurry hand getting into the body that appears a little bit bit like a claw, or using mild at nightfall that’s extra eerie than classically flattering, or symmetry that borders on creepy or otherworldly.

The Phoblographer: These appear to be some nontraditional images backgrounds, however backgrounds nonetheless. Would you say this may be thought-about portraiture of some type?

Stephanie Dolen: Completely. I take advantage of the identical backgrounds for folks too! Like many introverts, although I really like portraiture, I discover photographing something apart from folks to be restful and meditative. However I additionally assume that I strategy photographing flowers and other people equally.

I additionally incorporate my arms usually, and I see something with my arms in it as a self-portrait of kinds.

The Phoblographer: What occurs to the flowers after the images are taken?

Stephanie Dolen: They normally go right into a bowl of water or a vase till they begin to disintegrate, and generally I’ll {photograph} them once more at that time. Different instances, they go straight to the compost — for instance, California poppies gained’t final a day as a reduce flower.

The Phoblographer: You even have an attraction for the outside. When did you start to develop a want to {photograph} nature and its intricacies?

Stephanie Dolen: After I was a child taking these pictures of the bottom I discussed earlier — that was after I was additionally first making an attempt to {photograph} nature. I’ve been engaged on it for a very long time. It’s been slow-going. It took me a very long time to determine tips on how to even start to {photograph} landscapes. I get actually hung up on issues that I see at medium-close vary, and now I simply lean into that. Certainly one of my favourite elements about touring is simply seeing what’s rising wherever I’m, and generally I handle to come back again from a visit with largely pictures of various grasses and sedges.

All photographs by Stephanie Dolen. Used with permission. Try her web site and her Instagram web page to see extra of her work.





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