18 January 2016
Documenting the garden on Instagram
I was speaking to a friend of mine yesterday, generally putting the world to rights, when the subject of photography came up. Photography, like reading, is something I have grown into and grown to love. I first started taking photographs around the time I started gardening; I am privileged to be surrounded by so many beautiful things every day and it seemed only natural to want to capture moments to print and have around the house.
Summer is such a rush in the garden, there is so much competing for our attention; so many flowers, wild and cultivated, that many things get overlooked. In the winter there seems to be far less on offer. Dark damp days spent huddled up inside your biggest coat can feel like the least inspiring days, when a hot cup of tea and an early finish seem about the best things to hope for. I remember a day a week or so ago on just such a bleak, depressing day when I spotted a daisy flowering on the common. In summer such a thing would never cause me to look twice but on that damp January day that little flower stopped me dead in my tracks and cheered me to a point that is hard to explain. I think it is about hope triumphing over experience. Sometimes we have to dare to dream and these ordinary little flowers seem to offer a token of hope on an otherwise fairly dreary day!
When I started to take pictures for Instagram I planned to try to post a picture taken in the garden that day every working day of the year. Sometimes it's not easy and days like the one I mentioned above are the hardest. Often the light is rubbish, the garden sodden and there is nothing obvious to post. What Instagram does for me those days is to keep me looking. When there is a break in the cloud and the sun suddenly shines through you'll find me frantically chucking my wet muddy gloves on the ground and searching through pockets for my phone. A lot of the time I miss the moment but occasionally I manage to capture what feels like a fair representation of the scene and it's those posts which mean the most to me.
Linked to this is something that should perhaps become a New Year's resolution. I never take pictures when things look bad, and that's a shame. Gardening is about looking at the garden and assessing what could be better and working on it either for a short term benefit or a long term one, but usually both. Those all important 'before' pictures give you a real sense of having made progress in a way that always taking pictures of the nice bits never can.
Getting to spend every day outside in winter can feel like a mixed blessing, but being able not only to enjoy every hour of natural light on these short winter days and getting to experience those wonderful fleeting moments that I'm forever trying to capture is usually reward enough. Add a cup of tea into the bargain and I'm sold!
Words and photographs: Steve Lannin
You can follow Steve and Arne's posts on Instagram here.