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In 2006, I decid­ed that it was time to open my own pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dio in Batavia, IL. I had been work­ing free­lance for sev­er­al com­pa­nies and mag­a­zines, and even­tu­al­ly spent two years work­ing for a pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dio in Naperville, IL full time, the only time in my life that I have ever held a full time job. It is a strange feel­ing to go from con­sis­tent employ­ment to inde­pen­dence. My expe­ri­ences had pre­pared me for design­ing my own stu­dio, and I was well versed in the intri­ca­cies of work­flow and pric­ing. What I was not ful­ly pre­pared for is all of the paper­work involved with set­ting up a cor­po­ra­tion. It is a com­mon­ly held believe that artists have lit­tle or no busi­ness sense. I am for­ev­er grate­ful for a long list of peo­ple that instilled a fun­da­men­tal under­stand­ing of the pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness in me. Per­haps what I was nev­er taught is how to blow off steam and relieve the frus­tra­tions of new found free­dom. As fate would have it, my stu­dio in Batavia was three stores down from a beau­ti­ful and quirky flower shop. A small crew of peo­ple spent long hours assem­bling beau­ti­ful flo­ral arrange­ments with great dili­gence and care. These arrange­ments were far out of reach from my mea­ger start­up bud­get, but as fate would have it, quirky flower shops pro­duce a good deal of trash in the way of dying flow­ers and oth­er castoffs wait­ing for the right per­son to bring them back to life. 

It is seem­ing­ly odd to talk about an artist process when it comes to pho­tograph­ing dead flow­ers. In real­i­ty, it was nev­er my goal to form one, yet end­less paper­work cre­ates end­less frus­tra­tion that needs an out­let, and thus a process was born. Judg­ing from the refuse in my favorite flower shop, it is evi­dent that my view of beau­ty and how the world views beau­ty is quite dif­fer­ent. Imper­fect ros­es do not find their way into a bou­quet from the hands of a skilled florist. Ros­es that are in full bloom are near­ing lat­er stages of life, and flow­ers with creas­es and torn petals don’t look par­tic­u­lar­ly at home in elab­o­rate arrange­ments. I see an entire­ly dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. As flow­ers age, a cer­tain archi­tec­tur­al qual­i­ty begins to evolve as creas­es and veins become more promi­nent, tex­ture forms and their true char­ac­ter shines. Real­iz­ing this was an epiphany, and dig­ging in that trash can I real­ized that I was not pho­tograph­ing flow­ers, I was cre­at­ing portraits. 

Book of Ros­es” is a col­lec­tion of por­traits telling the sto­ry of flow­ers that may have oth­er­wise gone noticed. The ros­es are gath­ered from trash­cans or from a back cool­er where they wait­ed to be thrown away. If you look close enough you will see flaws in every one of them. If you look close enough, you’ll see all of the things that I find beau­ti­ful in them. 

error: Copyright Michael Barton Art