Capturing the garden
Photographers have long turned their lenses on gardens and those who create them to shine a light on social trends
When photography was introduced to the public in 1839, it immediately began to displace the record-making function of other art forms, such as drawing and painting. At the time, photographs seemed to be a direct transcription of reality, precisely recording what was put in front of the camera or in contact with the photographic materials. In creating these early transcriptions, it is not surprising that the first photographers turned to their gardens for inspiration. The earliest processes worked best when the photosensitive surface was fresh or still wet. They also required long exposures to an intense source of light. Thus, photographers engaged with subject matter found in their own backyards since those spaces were close to their darkrooms, provided abundant light for their compositions,
Above James Cox, photographed by Vaughn Sills, demonstrates the resourcefulness of gardeners, recycling old paint cans and animal troughs as planters in his Georgia garden in 1987. Right The British tradition of allotment growing is celebrated in Andrew Buurman’s series of portraits Allotments from 2004. Facing page Noor Damen’s portrait of a worker harvesting delphiniums in the Netherlands in 2000 captures the commercial side of flower growing.