World-famous garden photographer rock star Saxon Holt (blogging at Gardening Gone Wild) made his way to Humboldt County last week in search of gardens to photograph. I set him up with a few friends, and he stopped by my place to take revenge for an act of photographic treachery I committed against him at a garden show earlier this year: a bad cell phone photo, posted directly to the blog. (Note to self: Never take a bad picture of a good photographer.)
Anyway, the revenge I promised him was that he could take photos of my disheveled garden (or disheveled self) and reveal to the world how un-glamorous my own garden is. He took me up on it: he spent an hour or two here with his tripod and his fancy camera, and I ran around trying to shoo the chickens away from him. Not that he dislikes chickens, but nobody wants a hen flying up on your tripod just as you’re lining up your next shot.
I promised Saxon he’d be off the record (in addition to a couple hours in the garden, we kept him up way too late the night before at one of our local watering holes, causing him to sleep right through the pretty early morning light), but I think I can report on what I learned from hanging out with a real live professional garden photographer:
1. Light is very, very important. Overcast days are best. Very early or very late sunlight can be good. Harsh, middle-of-the-day sunlight is awful. Late evening, after the sun goes down, can deliver very pretty light, but you’d better have a tripod for those long exposures.
2. Wind sucks. Saxon happened to arrive in Humboldt during one of our windy spells. Those damn plants just don’t sit still for their portraits this time of year.
3. Sometimes, garden photographers can be put to work in the garden. To the right: Saxon deadheading
my irises. Awesome! He carries his own pruning shears, a handy little broom, and other assorted gear.
4. EVERYONE — not just me — says "Oh, you should have been here a week ago/month ago/year ago" or "You really should see it in another week/month/year when the (fill in the blank) blooms." Just try not saying that to a garden photographer who is trying to find a decent shot of your garden. I dare you.
It was fun to watch him work, and I even got a few weeds pulled as I stood around and chatted him up. Now if only I could get him to come back in September, when the salvia are in bloom, we’d really have something….