As you may have noticed from my work, I love flowers, gardening, and all things vintage. Peonies, poppies, and bleeding hearts have been in bloom recently and at the heart of my photos. These timeless flowers hold a fresh beauty of today while also reminding us of Grandma's gardens, wild fields, and the heartiness it takes to come back year after year, winter after winter to bloom once again.
All of the blossoms in my peony, poppy, and bleeding heart still life photographs are from my own garden. While it pains me a bit to cut them, knowing it will cut their time short, I so appreciate that their beauty will live on through these images.
While I don't have the greenest thumb, I enjoy gardening immensely. My first fascination with gardening and flowers came when I was around 5 years old and was introduced to my grandfather's garden with it's raised beds overflowing with snapdragons, delphiniums, and so many more of which I didn't know the name but knew their sweet smell and brilliant beauty. There were rows of raspberry bushes we would go out and pick in the quiet of dawn, followed by bowls of fresh berries and cream with a little sugar - makes my mouth water just thinking of it. A lifelong love was born that year, though I doubt my grandparents had a clue what it all meant to me, nor did I appreciate the lasting impact it would yield. They had given me a quiet, unsuspecting gift of the love of nature, of being outdoors, and enjoying one of the purest pleasures of life.
My other grandmother's garden left it's mark on me, as well. Every time I see peonies and yellow roses, memories of her arise and warm my heart. Funny, isn't it? We spend so much time buying gifts for our children and grandchildren, planning things to awe them with the intent of making memories, but it is often the everyday things that leave the indelible mark on their hearts and minds, things that are honest, simple, natural.
Flowers fade so quickly, we need to appreciate them while they are here. My hope is that these images stir a sense of sweet memories, peace, and joy within you and allow you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty nature provides each time you lose yourself in them.
Still life painting was very popular in the 1600s to 1800s. It is reputed to simultaneously boast about the opulence of the era while remarking on the unavoidable deterioration of all life in time.  The Dutch still life paintings are highly detailed, nearly photographic in their accuracy, deeply symbolic, and lush in their vibrancy and tonal ranges. They manage to give report on the status of the economy, lifestyles, and values of individuals and a society without ascribing the status to any one individual.
Much of the still life paintings from the Dutch reflected the gluttonous affluence of their economy which was rich in trade and commodities. Their bellies were stuffed, as were their cupboards and closets and banks. For those that had affluence, they relished it. For those who didn't, the possibilities of achieving it where tangible and desirable.
These same paintings also showed the promise of a decline, a decay in such abundance. Whether this narrative of the cycle of growth, reaping of the harvest, and decay was intentionally infused into the art or not has been debated. It is left to the viewer to decide for themselves whether these paintings are to glorify good times or signal a foreboding of the dangers of excess and inevitable loss. Perhaps you can't truly have one message without also having the other.
Today, we are fortunate to be surrounded by similar opulence in America. We have been dubbed a "throw-away society" where items are used and discarded and replaced in rapid succession and with little regard. Items are not made to last, but to be cheap. This keeps us buying, keeps companies turning a profit, and keeps us always looking for the next best thing. If I were to do a still life photograph in the same vein as the Dutch Masters, I would have not one but three smart phones on the table, cables running amok like spaghetti, computers of all sizes stacked on and around each other, clothes, shoes, fast food wrappers, house keys, car keys, and miscellaneous gadgets all in a heap. But, while a scene like that certainly makes a statement, it isn't something you see in today's still life images - whether mine or someone else's. No, instead there seems to be a yearning for simpler times, calmness, balance, quiet, serenity, safety, and authenticity. As I scroll through the gorgeous still life work I see online, I see photos of quiet contemplation of lazy mornings with a book or paper, a cup of coffee or tea, a cozy bed, soft light, and gentle comforts. The food hasn't changed much, but the attitude about food has changed. Now, we revel in the simplicity of whole foods, the beauty of simple garden goodness, the genuine connection food can nourish. We have a lot...a lot of stuff. What we long for today is authenticity and simplicity, to have enough (even if we struggle in knowing what "enough" is).
The mood in modern day still life imagery has changed, though it still reflects what we crave and what we cherish. The symbolism, the values, the lifestyles are all still there, still full of hope and sadness, love and loss, hunger and satiety, life and death. These are the elements of still life that leave me enamored. To me, it is a beautiful paradox.
 Metropolitan Museum of Art: Still Life Painting in Northern Europe, 1600-1800
 Artsy: In Dutch Still Lifes, Dark Secrets Hide Behind Exotic Delicacies